HitFilm Express vs. DaVinci Resolve: The Free Video Editor Battle
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Video editing tools can be expensive. After all, their main users are often studios which potentially make billions of dollars if a movie is successful. When your customers are making that much money with your software, why wouldn’t you charge accordingly?

However, most home users aren’t making much money from the videos they create. And if you’re not raking in the same money as the pros, why would you spend the same money? Fortunately, free video editors like HitFilm Express and DaVinci Resolve mean we don’t have to.

In this article we pit HitFilm Express vs. DaVinci Resolve to see which one wins the free video editor battle.

Download: HitFilm Express

Download: DaVinci Resolve

Hardware Requirements

Looking around the DaVinci Resolve website, you’ll be hard pressed to find any system requirements. Even once you do locate them in the PDF manual, they’re somewhat vague. They point out that you’ll need a monitor in order to see what you’re editing, but not how much RAM you’ll need. That said, references to Mac Pro computers and 32 GB RAM make it clear that DaVinci Resolve is still attached to its roots in Hollywood.

HitFilm Express is more concrete when it comes to its requirements, which seem far more modest. Most computers made in the past five years or so should have no problem at least running it. Like all video editing apps, it will benefit from a dedicated graphics card and will use all the RAM you can throw at it. Still, you can run HitFilm Express with 4 GB RAM and integrated graphics if you need to.

Winner: HitFilm Express

Upgrade Pricing and Add-Ons

When it comes to pricing, DaVinci Resolve is all or nothing. You either get the capable free version or the paid version which includes all the bells and whistles. The price for the paid version is $299, which is actually quite low when you compare it to other professional video editing software.

HitFilm Express vs. DaVinci Resolve - Add-ons in HitFilm Express

HitFilm Express takes a much more modular approach. You can go entirely free, buy HitFilm Pro, which is also $299, or add upgrades to HitFilm Express. This means if almost everything you need is included in HitFilm Express, you could pay a few dollars to add the features you’re missing and get back to work.

Winner: HitFilm Express

Resolution and File Support

To get one of the most important aspects out of the way, yes, both of these apps support editing 4K video. That said, they may not support every frame rate unless you upgrade. For example, if you want to edit 4K 120 FPS video with DaVinci Resolve, you’ll need to pay up.

HitFilm Express vs. DaVinci Resolve - Resolutions in DaVinci Resolve Free

Now we’ll look at another important aspect: file formats. Both apps support commonly used file types in their free versions. That said, you may need to buy an add-on for certain file types in HitFilm Express. On the other hand, DaVinci Resolve supports a positively gargantuan amount of different file types in its free version.

Winner: DaVinci Resolve

Features

Both of these apps support all the features you need for basic editing. You can import your clips, cut them, apply transitions, and export them in a variety of formats. Overall, both are quite capable.

DaVinci Resolve frequently ends up on lists of the best free video editors. As a matter of fact, it’s on our own list of the best video editing apps The 10 Best Video Editing Apps The 10 Best Video Editing Apps You don't necessarily need a powerful PC to edit videos. Here are the best video editing apps for budding video editors. Read More . Its advanced feature set can be intimidating, and it’s growing all the time. Some of the best features include smart automatic syncing of audio and video across multiple clips and Fusion compositing.

HitFilm Express is also full-featured but, as mentioned above, you may need to dive into the add-ons. It’s telling that there are a number of “starter” packs of add-ons for additional formats, behaviors, and editing features. You may never need to buy any of these, but it’s more likely that you’ll need to purchase HitFilm Express add-ons than you’ll need to upgrade to DaVinci Resolve Studio.

Winner: DaVinci Resolve

User Interface

One of the biggest knocks against HitFilm Express is that the app is covered in prompts to purchase add-ons. As soon as you load up the app, an entire sidebar on the left side is dedicated to all the various bits of functionality you can add for a few dollars. Even though this is just on the home screen and disappears when you actually fire up a new project, the prompts are an eyesore.

Once you actually begin working on a new project, HitFilm 4 Express looks, well, like a video editor. A few minor differences aside, video editors look like video editors.

HitFilm Express vs. DaVinci Resolve - HitFilm Express main window

DaVinci Resolve gains major points in this category due to one feature in particular. While it has its own keyboard shortcuts, you can also set it to use shortcuts from Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X, or Avid Media Composer. If you’re coming from one of these editors, this will be very handy in helping you make the transition.

Winner: DaVinci Resolve

Ease of Use

HitFilm Express is a powerful tool, but it’s clear from using it that it’s aimed at YouTube creators. Overall, the app is easier to use and you need to be well-versed in editing to use it. More niche features that are often front and center in other editors aren’t missing, but they aren’t featured as prominently.

HitFilm Express vs. DaVinci Resolve - DaVinci Resolve main window

DaVinci Resolve’s Hollywood background is apparent throughout the app. This feels like an app meant for people who are familiar with editing video and want the more powerful features placed front and center. This doesn’t make it impossible to use, but it isn’t as friendly as HitFilm Express.

Winner: HitFilm Express

HitFilm Express vs. DaVinci Resolve: The Winner

HitFilm Express is absolutely the easier of these two apps to use, especially if you’re fairly new to editing video. That said, some of its other advantages aren’t as pronounced as they once were. Its focus on compositing was once a bigger strength, but with the addition of Fusion, DaVinci Resolve has caught up considerably.

DaVinci Resolve’s roots as a tool mainly meant for color grading still show, but that’s a good thing. As a tool for editing video, it has caught up not just to HitFilm, but to other popular video editors like Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X. It has a decidedly steeper learning curve, but DaVinci Resolve will scale as you learn more about video, exposing deeper functionality in the process.

This is a hair’s breadth from being too close to call, as both of these are very capable video editing apps. Still, if we had to choose, we’d choose DaVinci Resolve.

Overall Winner: DaVinci Resolve

What Kind of Project Are You Working On?

More than anything, the above question should inform your choice between these two fantastic video editors. If you have one eye on eventually working on feature films, familiarizing yourself with the advanced features in DaVinci Resolve could come in handy. On the other hand, if you just want to make simple videos, HitFilm Express will likely get you up and running faster.

If you’re looking to make a YouTube video, either editor will work just fine. Just pick the one you prefer the look of. And if you’re just starting out, be sure to check out our tips for making great YouTube videos How to Make a YouTube Video: 5 Tips for Beginners How to Make a YouTube Video: 5 Tips for Beginners If you're looking to start a YouTube channel, you need to know the basics. Here are our top tips on how to make a YouTube video. Read More .

Explore more about: DaVinci Resolve, HitFilm Express, Video Editing, Video Editor.

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