LUMINAR – Photo Editing Software for Mac
First Impressions & Review
Luminar is a new and complete photo editor developed by Macphun, a software development company based in California and committed to creating the best award-winning software for creative people with a Mac.
Update 11/10/2017: Luminar 2018 is Coming
Get the special introduction price here.
Luminar is More than Creative Kit
Luminar is their next generation photo software, which has everything their Creative Kit products offer, plus more.
So if you are into photography, own a Mac, and you don’t have Creative Kit yet, then buying the new Luminar Photo Software makes complete sense. And if you already have Creative Kit, it makes sense too, because Luminar is now the “one-package” solution for all your needs.
It does however not replace Aurora HDR 2017. If you use Aurora, you want to keep using it for your HDR work and do finishing touches in Luminar.
Photoworkout.com has been testing the new Luminar Beta Version, and at first sight, it seems the photo editing software can do all the photo editing tasks that Lightroom can.
Luminar Review | PhotoWorkout's Experience
Luminar does however not organizing your photos into libraries and collections. But that’s just fine because there is a plug-in for Lightroom.
For now, it makes sense to keep on using Adobe Lightroom for organizing all your photos and edit them with Luminar.
Note: his may change in the new future. Macphun has confirmed that they are already working on an update which will make it possible for users also to catalog and store images (this means serious competition to Lightroom!)
What’s better in Luminar vs. Lightroom?
Luminar is Faster
Luminar opens faster and applying presets and filters in Luminar seems to be much quicker than in Lightroom (tested on MacOS Sierra, 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5).
So speed is a big plus, considering that Lightroom sometimes freezes and loads for several seconds before the presets are applied.
Some functions take some time, though, e.g. the “Denoise Tool” for example took quite some time to load. Overall we find the Luminar photo editor runs smooth and fast 🙂
Ease of Use
We have taken no tutorials, watched no videos. Just downloaded the Luminar software, opened the app and loaded one sample images from our image folder. And we were ready to go.
Macphun’s Luminar Photo Editing Software is easy to use, and even photography beginners should find their way around quite quickly.
60 Artistic Presets
The installed presets which come with the Luminar photo editor for Mac are easy to apply, and you can preview each of the presets in the thumbnails below the images (it’s called the “Preset Panel”).
This is something which has been annoying with Lightroom because you have to click on each presets.
Luminar comes with 60 presets divided into six presets groups:
- 12 Basic: Clarity Booster, Classic B&W, Detailed, Fix Dark Photos, Foggy Day, Foreground Brighter, Gloomy Morning, Image Enhancer, Sharp & Crisp, Sky Enhancer, Soft & Airy, Vivid;
- 8 Street: 60’s B&W, Centre of Attention, Cold Morning, Enhanced Reality, Noble, Only Yellow, Peruvian Desert, Subway;
- 8 Outdoor: Abandoned Place, Auto Smart Enhancer, Bright Day, Colors of the Fall, Daydreams, Fix Dark Landscape, Landscape Soft B&W, Misty Land;
- 8 Portrait: B&W Fashion Magazine, Enhanced Portrait, Glamour, Mysterious Girl, Noble Beauty, Portrait Soft Glow, Smooth Portrait;
- 13 Travel: Dark Moon, Dull No More, Explore Dark Alleys, Final Frontier, Ghost Ship, Happy Memories, Impressive, Marco Polo, New Discovery, Silver Crystals, Sleepy Valley, Vivid Dreams, Warm Sunset;
- 11 Dramatic: Artistic Copper Strong, Bloody Mary, Cold Mood, Dramatic Grungy, Dramatic Look, Enigmatic Vision, Film Noir, Lost Soul, Mood Enhancer, Tears in Rain, Vintage Look;
Plus, the users can save custom presets and can mark presets as favorite presets.
Luminar Advanced Features
The fact that Luminar is easy to use and that even beginner photographer can figure out the basics quickly does not mean that there are only a few things one can do with this new photo editor.
Luminar comes with plenty of functionalities.
Here is the full list of the adjustable Luminar “Filters”:
- Color: Adjustable Gradient, Advanced Contrast, B&W Conversion, Bi-Color Toning, Channel Mixer, Color, Balance, Color Contrast, Color Temperature, Cross Processing, Curves, Foliage Enhancer, HSL, Photo Filter, Polarizing Filter, Remove Color Cast, Saturation / Vibrance, Split Color Warmth, Split Toning;
- Creative: Dramatic, Fog, Grain, High Key, Image Radiance, Orton Effect, Soft Focus, Soft Glow, Texture Overlay, Vignette;
- Tonal Enhancement: Brightness / Contrast, Curves, Exposure, Highlights / Shadows, Tone, Top & Bottom Lighting;
- Detail: Clarity, Details Enhancer, Micro Structure, Polarizing Filter, Sharpening, Structure;
- Utility: Color Temperature, HSL, Remove Color Cast;
And to make even these advanced functions/filters easy to understand and learn, Macphun has added short explanations and sample images to each of their filters.
Just click on the plus sign next to the filter, then click on the left arrow and the description with sample images will show.
After playing around with the software for 10 minutes and you will be able to master the basics of these 36 photo adjustment options (they are called “Filters”).
Lightroom & Photoshop Like Features
In addition to the filters, Luminar has a brush, gradient mask, and radial mask tools at the very right panel to select certain parts of the image for selected adjustments. These tools are similar to the one’s you find in Lightroom under the histogram.
Four more tools complete the Luminar photo editing app a robust photo editing solution for your Mac: a size transform tool, a clone stamp tool, an eraser, a noise tool and a crop tool.
And the Photoshop-like layers make sure that you have control over all your adjustments and can quickly compare different settings. An easy “before and after view“, both “side by side comparison button” and “on/off button”, helps you to see what effect your changes had on the image.
Easy Export & Sharing
Once you are done with editing your photo in Luminar, you can share it on Twitter, Facebook or Flickr or send it by mail or open it directly in other photo editing apps like Photoshop, Lightroom or iPhoto.
If you open the image from Lightroom and click apply the edited image saves in the Lightroom folder.
Luminar is Now Available: Try it today for Free!
Or buy it for $59 (for $49 if you already own a Macphun software). This is a special launch price (Normal Retail Price is $69).
We feel it’s worth the investment, considering that you get 60 presets and Lightroom & Photoshop-like functionality.
To see Luminar in full action you can watch this video by Macphun showing 3 example images:
Luminar for Mac | Update: 17 December 2016
Earlier this month Macphun brought an update to Luminar to support the new Macbook Touch Bar as well as some other improvements.
Today they just released the latest major update to Luminar, called Pluto.
The Pluto update for Luminar is available since December 16th, 2016 as a free update to all current users and new users and includes new key features such as:
- Batch Processing
- Dehaze Filter
- A new Golden Hour Filter (We Like it :-))
- Improvements to the Color Temperature Tool
- and much more.
You can follow this link to the full blog post about this new Luminar for Mac “Pluto Update.”
Is Luminar available only for MAC users?
Yes, currently Luminar is available only for Mac computers.
Do I need to be a Pro Photographer to use Luminar for Mac?
No, not at all!
We just edited an image of the Taj Mahal. We applied the “Outdoor” > “Auto Small Enhancer” Filter at 50%.
This it is. Super, simple. It took us only 10 seconds (!), with no tutorial/instructions.
Doing this with Lightroom or Photoshop would have taken us much longer (and would have been much less fun to do).
Luminar is very intuitive and works without any special photo editing skills. Yet it is powerful and comes with over 300 tools and features.
Here is the result of our 10 second edit (drag the yellow button to the left/right to see before/after):
Does Luminar work with Adobe Lightroom?
Yes, Luminar comes with a Lightroom plugin that you can activate during the main installation. Luminar works great with Lightroom!
Buy & Download Luminar for Mac now Now
10 Photography Beginner Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
The PhotoWorkout Team is always curious about the latest photography gear, post-processing software, up & coming photographers, and amazing photos from around the world. Stay tuned for more to come 😉
Latest posts by PhotoWorkout (see all)
- BlueMelon vs PhotoShelter - September 27, 2017
- Amazon Prime Day Deals Live NOW! - July 9, 2017
- Stock Photography Legal FAQs (Types, Releases and Licenses) - June 19, 2017