Pros and Cons of the Top 10 Video Editing Tools
If you want to create compelling videos for YouTube, social media, promotions or any other purpose, having the right video editing software is crucial. The tool you use can make the editing process incredibly simple or frustratingly difficult.
There are countless options out there for video editing programs, both free and paid. They all have their own unique combinations of pros, cons and capabilities.
Adobe Premiere Pro
Final Cut Pro
Adobe Premiere Elements
VSDC Video Editor
Frequently Asked Questions
In this guide, we will cover the core strengths and weaknesses of the top 10 options for video editing tools. Comparing the leading programs head-to-head will help you determine which one best fits your budget, experience level, platform and needs.
By understanding what each video editor excels at and where they fall short, you can confidently choose the one that will empower you to make amazing videos. Let’s get started!
Here are the 10 video editing programs we will be covering:
- Adobe Premiere Pro
- Final Cut Pro
- Adobe Premiere Elements
- DaVinci Resolve
- VSDC Video Editor
Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe Premiere Pro is considered one of the most robust and powerful video editing programs for professionals. It’s part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite of design apps.
- Packed with advanced tools and features for professional editors and filmmakers. Allows extensive editing capabilities.
- Tight integration with other Adobe CC apps like Photoshop, After Effects and Adobe Audition. This workflow makes complex creative projects easier.
- Extensive audio editing tools like auto-ducking, hardware integration and effects.
- Ability to handle editing of up to 8K resolution footage and HDR color. Built for large projects.
- Industry standard pro tool used widely for everything from YouTube to Hollywood films.
- Only available through an expensive Creative Cloud subscription of $20-50 per month. Significant cost for individuals.
- Very complex interface with a steep learning curve. Can be overwhelming for new users.
- Overkill for simple video edits. Too advanced if you just need to trim or combine clips quickly.
- Requires a powerful computer to handle large file sizes and 8K footage.
Overall, Premiere Pro lives up to its reputation as a premiere pro-level editing program, but is likely excessive for casual users who don’t need advanced functionality.
Final Cut Pro
Final Cut Pro is Apple’s professional-grade video editing software for macOS. It offers robust tools and performance optimized for Mac computers.
- Powerful and versatile tools for professional editors and filmmakers.
- Designed specifically for macOS to take full advantage of system hardware and performance.
- Allows extensive multi-cam editing with support for up to 100 angles.
- Integration with apps like Motion and Compressor improves workflow.
- Used widely by professionals so skills transfer broadly.
- Only available as a one-time purchase for Mac, costing $300. No Windows version.
- Still requires learning complex professional-level tools. Steep curve for beginners.
- Best suited for intermediate to advanced Mac users. Too robust for simple quick edits.
- Costs money up front, unlike free options.
For Mac users ready to upgrade from entry-level software, Final Cut Pro offers a professional toolset and optimal performance. But the cost and complexity limits casual use.
iMovie is Apple’s free video editing app available on Mac computers and iOS mobile devices. It offers an intuitive editing experience for beginners.
- Completely free to use, pre-installed on Apple devices. Very low barrier to entry.
- Easy to learn interface ideal for first-time editors, students and home videos.
- Decent selection of templates, effects and creative features for basic projects.
- Seamlessly edit videos on iPhone or iPad and transfer to Mac for finishing.
- Integrates natively with other Apple apps like Photos, GarageBand and more.
- Only available on Mac and iOS. No support for Windows, Android, etc.
- Very limited in terms of advanced tools and customization options.
- Not suitable for professional use or complex creative edits.
- Restricted file type support beyond .MP4 and other common formats.
Overall, iMovie shines as the perfect introductory video editor for beginners, especially those in the Apple ecosystem. But creative pros will quickly outgrow it.
Adobe Premiere Elements
Adobe Premiere Elements offers a more affordable and approachable version of Premiere Pro focused on beginner and home users.
- Significantly lower cost at $100 one-time purchase vs. Premiere Pro subscription.
- Friendly, easy-to-use interface ideal for video editing newcomers.
- Guided edits walk you through effects and creative techniques step-by-step.
- Decent selection of templates, effects and titles for basic video projects.
- Automated moviemaking feature produces edits for you from clips.
- Lacks the advanced tools, customization and performance of Premiere Pro.
- Primarily for basic corrections, edits and combining clips. Limited creative control.
- One-time fee still puts it out of reach for users that need completely free software.
- Limited format support and effects compared to pro software.
Premiere Elements hits the sweet spot for casual users wanting quality beyond free editors without the complexity of pro tools. But advanced creators will require Premiere Pro or similar eventually.
DaVinci Resolve offers professional-grade color correction and video editing all in one app. The free version makes this high end software accessible to everyone.
- Completely free version available with no watermarks or export limits. Remove all barriers to entry.
- Industry leading tools for color grading and corrections for cinema-quality images.
- Compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux computers. Not limited to one platform.
- Strong multi-camera editing support and lens correction tools.
- Paid Studio version used widely in Hollywood films. Skills translate broadly.
- Very steep learning curve due to professional nature. Can be frustrating for beginners.
- Free version lacks certain features like motion graphics, advanced noise reduction and more.
- Requires strong computer system specs for smooth performance. Not ideal for older computers.
- Primary focus is color vs. effects, so not as fun for casual editing.
The free version of Resolve brings professional caliber tools to everyone, but you’ll need patience and a capable computer to harness its capabilities.
Filmora video editor offers an affordable one-time purchase option with beginner-friendly tools and interface.
- Intuitive, easy-to-use drag and drop interface perfect for video editing newcomers.
- Affordable pricing starting at $49 for a lifetime license. Updated versions supported.
- Good selection of templates, effects and design assets. More than free basic editors.
- Imports footage from various devices and supports common formats.
- Large library of royalty-free music, stock videos and images.
- Limited capabilities compared to more advanced tools like Premiere and Resolve.
- Won’t grow much with users who gain proficiency and want more features.
- Subscription option is expensive at $150 annually considering limited scope of software.
- Primarily useful for combining clips, applying some effects and very basic edits.
Filmora hits the sweet spot between free intro editors and paid pro software, but won’t satisfy creators seeking more advanced functionality.
VSDC Video Editor
VSDC Video Editor offers a free, cross-platform editing program with a decent selection of tools and effects.
- Completely free to use with no watermarks. Removes barrier to try video editing.
- Automatic scene detection makes it easy to split clips logically.
- Supports GPU acceleration for smooth editing and playback performance.
- Over 50 visual effects and filters included like chroma-key, blur and color adjustment.
- Exports to common formats like MP4, AVI, MOV, MKV and more.
- Dated looking interface is less intuitive and attractive than other options.
- Limited selection of transitions, titles, animations and other creative assets.
- Confusing tools and excessive menus for true beginners. Steep learning curve.
- Windows focused with no Mac support. iOS/Android compatibility limited.
The free price makes VSDC Video Editor appealing, but the outdated interface and limited effects leave much to be desired.
Blender is a popular free, open-source 3D creation suite that can also handle the basics of video editing and VFX.
- Completely free and open source. No subscription needed.
- Excellent for 3D animation, modeling, simulations and rendering.
- Massive selection of powerful tools for gaming assets, VFX and more.
- Active community provides learning resources and support.
- Can do basic to intermediate video editing like imports, cuts and transitions.
- Not designed primarily for standard video editing, so tools are limited.
- Very steep learning curve due to expansive nature of the software.
- Difficult for beginners to use smoothly. Interface is complex and dated.
- Primarily useful if you plan to create 3D content. Overkill otherwise.
While Blender excels at 3D content creation, traditional video editing is better handled in other dedicated tools.
Lightworks offers a free version of their professional grade editing program used in major films.
- No cost for Lightworks Free version. Remove barrier to try this editor.
- Used in major films like Pulp Fiction, LA Confidential and The King’s Speech.
- Robust multi-camera editing tools support complex projects.
- Timeline focused workflow similar to pro NLE editors.
- Fast and flexible trimming.
- Steep learning curve for beginners. Designed for professional editors.
- Must pay to unlock pro features like 4K support and streamlined sharing.
- Limited export formats on Free version.
- Primarily focused on Windows. Mac and Linux support weaker.
The free version of Lightworks offers a taste of professional tools, but most will want to unlock the Pro version for real work.
Shotcut is an open source, cross-platform video editor with a good selection of free tools.
- 100% free and open source. No payment required.
- Compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux computers.
- Supports up to 4K resolution video at 60 fps.
- Supports wide range of audio and video formats.
- Constantly improving via frequent updates from the development community.
- Counterintuitive interface has difficult learning curve.
- Limited built-in effects, transitions templates and other creative assets.
- Weak collaboration options compared to cloud editors.
- Not well suited for anything beyond basic video editing.
Shotcut offers plenty of capability for free, but its quirky interface and average features limit its appeal.
Determining the best video editing software for your needs depends heavily on your budget, experience level, platform and the complexity of your projects. The options with the broadest appeal balance affordability, ease of use and breadth of features. While all of the covered programs can handle fundamental editing tasks, they vary widely when it comes to professional capabilities.
For absolute beginners looking to start video editing for free, iMovie or Shotcut provide approachable interfaces and decent toolsets to get started. For budget-friendly software with more capabilities, good choices like Filmora, Premiere Elements or VSDC fit the bill.
Professional filmmakers and serious creators will appreciate the creative freedom unlocked by Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve. There’s no one size fits all solution. But now that you understand the core strengths and limitations of the top video editing tools, you can confidently choose the one best aligned with your needs. Dive in and start creating spectacular videos!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the easiest video editing software for beginners?
For absolute beginners, the easiest to learn video editing tools are iMovie, which is free on Mac devices, or the similarly straightforward VSDC Video Editor and Filmora, both of which offer free versions.
What is the best free video editing software?
The best fully free video editing software options are iMovie on Mac, DaVinci Resolve, or Shotcut on Windows and Mac. All provide good toolsets at no cost.
Is Premiere Pro worth it?
For professional filmmakers and video producers, Premiere Pro is worth the cost for its expansive tools, ecosystem integration, and performance. But it’s overkill for casual users and beginners.
Can I get Premiere Pro for free?
Unfortunately, there is no fully free version of Adobe Premiere Pro. There is a free trial available, but it requires a paid Creative Cloud subscription after 7 days.
Is Final Cut Pro better than Premiere?
There is no definitively “better” option between Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro. Both offer professional grade editing. Premiere works on Windows and Mac, while Final Cut is Mac only. For Mac users, it comes down to personal preference.