I'm in a budget phase right now and even if I fell in love with Lightroom, it was just too costly for me. And my machine haven't even experienced pirated stuff (yes I use GIMP not Adobe CS6 as I wanted) ever since I had it (a good 5 years I think?) and I just can't lose that streak.
So, after all the research I went through ( a good 10 or 20 minutes earlier today) I ended up downloading LightZone.
It used to be a commercialized product only to become open source for cheapskates like you and me. I would have tried Darktable but I can't seem to make Linux work (after 5 minutes I gave up already so I wouldn't know if I've pushed to 10 minutes I would have succeed who knows). So let's just hope they'd release a Windows version. For now, let's use Lightzone.
It's a bit like Lightroom, they have tools on the right, filters on the left. You don't need to do imports here though, just simply click on an image.
I'll come clean to tell you that I honestly don't know what I'm doing with both tools. I understand what Sharpen means obviously, Gaussian Blur has been there ever since I started using Photoshop back when I was much much younger. Histograms I have no idea what and yes, by now you must know that for me to spend in Lightroom is such a waste since I don't do an all out learning of what each tool means. I try them out and if it doesn't look good for me I'd just choose another tool. See how "efficient" I am?
Here's a sample of before and after pics of an ignoramus like me can do:
I missed a few things from Lightroom, like watermarks, being able to see the original photo vs the one you are trying to change and how Lightroom makes the tools on the right follow a specific step by step on which to change next.
Oh well, from the looks of it, the convenience this has brought me is not costing me anything so why be bothered by small things like that, right? Anyhow, this is a recommend if you really must have an editing tool other than Picasa. I would definitely use this for a very long time and I'm beginning to love it! You probably would to especially if you understand what everything means.
To download, simply sign up on their website and let the magic begin!
NOTE: I'm not a paid advertiser for Lightzone. Duh, how would they pay me if they give this out for free? Anyways, go on! If you can't afford Lightroom for now, give it a try :-D