Well, obviously there are many and each has its own speciality. Here, I am listing some of them I have been using for the last few years being a VFX/Animation student. (not ranked in any order)
1. Autodesk Maya -
Main Uses – 3d Modeling, Animation, Dynamics, Simulation
Maya, hands down, is the most used 3d application in the Industry. Although, I was a bit hesitant at first in making the transition from 3ds Max to Maya because the complex UI scared me, Ive never looked back once I moved to Maya, be it for modeling, animation or, most importantly, dynamics/fx.
2. Adobe After Effects -
Main Uses – Motion Graphics, Compositing
Almost every VFX artist’s first love! Simple yet powerful.
AE has the most user-friendly interface as opposed to any other VFX software that exists. Although its mostly used for motion graphics these days, its a great tool for both fx and compositing. Remember to check Andrew Kramer’s http://www.videocopilot.net/ if you haven’t yet!
3. The Foundry Nuke -
Main Uses – Compositing
Used by most of the post-production facilities all over the world. While it's an excellent VFX system, Nuke isn't a motion-graphics tool. I never wanted to switch from AE to Nuke cuz I was in love with AE’s interface and although I still use AE for some motion design stuff Nuke is my main compositing tool.
4. SynthEyes -
Main Uses – Camera/Object Tracking, Match-moving
The easiest tracking software. SynthEyes’ super-simple UI is its biggest asset and it didnt take more than an hour to know it in and out. I haven’t tried PFTrack yet but I have heard that its much more complex.
5. Adobe Photoshop
Last, but not the least, the software used alike by both advanced users and noobs. Photoshop has been a part of almost all of my projects ever! Used by almost every one in the multimedia industry, it never gets old!