Luminar 2018 Review 7

Review of the New Luminar 2018

As a creative amateur, hobbyist, or professional photographer, you no doubt know about professional editing and some pro editing software. In your time as a photography enthusiast, you’ve probably heard about Macphun's (now Skylum) revolutionary editing software called Luminar, new to the market but breaking and setting records.

If you have used the Luminar photo editing suite before, you may have noticed how it improved on the features offered in some established brands such as the Adobe Lightroom, and the general user-ability, which makes Luminar a better photo editor. Brace yourself, because Machphun (“Skylum” will become officially effective from December) has just launched their 2018 version of the photo editing suite, and it is packed with awesome new Luminar features.

Luminar 2018 was released for pre-order on November 1, while on November 16, it was released for everyone. In the last few days of using the new Luminar 2018 features, we have our verdict and we’re happy to share it with you.

First off, Macphun is a company devoted to enhancing photography and making the editing process more fun, by giving photographers a wide range of pro editing features and tools, thereby allowing photographers to manually create their filters – the workspaces can be customized/personalized by the user. This also makes editing with Luminar photo editor quick.

Macphun does not offer basic automatic filters that can’t be manipulated by the photographer editing with it. This is a standard common to all their flagship products which includes Luminar, Aurora HDR and Creative Kit, and the standard has been improved on in Luminar 2018.

Luminar for one is quite fascinating, as it can be used as a plug-in to your Adobe Lightroom, which allows users to load raw file/pictures from Lightroom to the Luminar photo editing suite to edit. So for a price way less than $100 (Luminar is selling at $69 to be precise), Macphun has made a futuristic photo editing suite available to everyone, and the photo editor with the new Luminar 2018 features boasts of quick user-ability – it is more user-friendly, that is the user interface is easy to navigate more quality tools and filters.

The New Luminar 2018 Features Reviewed

I’m not going to talk about all the new features that Macphun added to Luminar 2018, they are so many, and they are already certified gold (well, according to me!). If you use any of the filters too, I bet you will be able to say the same for the “perfect photos in less time” company.

I guess the most loveable feature of the Luminar photo editing suite is the adjustability feature of the photo editor, users can edit and save filters without the old one, the default filters or the new ones, it has non-disruptive editing quality.

Also, the Presets are amazing! The new Luminar 2018 photo editor offers seven default Presets: basic, dramatic, street, portrait, travel, aerial, and outdoor; however, it offers more Presets on the SkyLum website. The manual usability of Luminar allows users to create their own Presets and save them. Mind you, it won’t be long before the Luminar 2018 photo editing suite will be awarded for the quality features, as Macphun has already won several awards for their editing apps, including the 2017 Lucie Technical Award for Best Plugin.

Here’s our review of some of the most intriguing features in the Luminar 2018 photo editing suite.

Luminar 2018 Single Image View

Single Image View by Macphun Software, the Company behind Luminar 2018

Enhanced Performance and Speed

This is the reason Luminar 2018 is getting great reviews. The makers do not slack at all with the upgrade. The codes were written from the bases, which enabled Macphun to fix bugs and other bad features that users have complained about in the past. The Luminar 2018 version runs at an optimal level because of this; the photo editor doesn’t lag as it used to (although this not to be compared with counterparts such as Lightroom).

Macphun improved the RAW engine and the RAW Develop panel, and the result is obvious – RAW images now open more that 150% faster than they used to on the previous version. The RAW Processor on the Luminar 2018 photo editor is greatly compatible with RAW files, so much so that it can convert FUJI X-Trans files and retain the quality of the RAW images.

All the tools in Luminar 2018 have been greatly enhanced – Crop, Transform, Erase, among others, have been optimized for better performance. Users also won’t be able to get enough of the Artificial Intelligence API that has been built into the photo editor. Some other tools to love are advanced noise reduction, sharpening, and the new masking feature which is used to blend layers and filters; all these tools now help produce better image quality.

Luminar 2018: Before/After Sample Image


As mentioned, the user interface is great and it has also been improved. It appears more professional now, but not more complex/technical that an amateur won’t be able to navigate it. In fact, the user interface is easier now than on the previous version, especially because it’s more professional.

LUT Mapping

The Look Up Tables (LUT) just got added to the new Luminar 2018 features. This helps to add professional quality color grading. It is used to create classic film styles and it gives the pictures a cinematic appearance. The LUT files are free to download on the internet.

Sun Rays Filters

This is one of my favorites, it so easy to love; this feature creates sun rays on the layers of your picture. Macphun is the only company with a photo editing suite that can do that; well, maybe you can do that with Photoshop but we both know how long the process will take. Using the sun rays filter, you can add sun rays, of course.

This is not automatic, don’t worry; Macphun allows you to manually select the kind of sun ray you want on your image – it can either be X axis or Y axis. Then you choose where to put it on your image. You can increase the rays or reduce them if you want to, and you can also reduce the intensity of the sun rays. This filter is great for pictures taken in the woods when there is no sunlight, for example.

If you know how to use this filter well (it’s not so hard, even a hobbyist photographer can use the Luminar tools easily), you can add the missing sunlight to your pictures and voila! Everyone is happy. You can even use it for pictures with sun rays already; it’s not restricted to dark images.

Some pro photography critics do not like this filter because they think it’s creating a lie. But, really, photographers don’t have to paint the world as it is. Photography can also create a nonexistent reality, I mean isn’t that what HDR does?

RAW and PSD Compatibility

The new Luminar 2018 will also let you open PSD files and TIFF files that were saved in Photoshop with multiple layers. Although Luminar won’t save the layers on the image, it will open the image as a single layer combining the other layers, just as it was in Photoshop before you decided to open it in Luminar. Before you say “oh! That’s bad for Luminar then”, hold on, because Photoshop cannot open Luminar’s PSD files – .lmnr extention.

Luminar 2018 is compatible with RAW files from a wide range of cameras on the market. It’s unreal, the photo editing suite supports Fujifilm X-Trans sensor, GDX, Capture One Pro, and even the new Nikon D850. This is a good move for Macphun, as their wider compatibility will attract users of Adobe Lightroom, since Lightroom has refused to support GFX and the X-Trans cameras.

Multiple Export Option

Exporting images on Luminar just got easier. Included in the new Luminar 2018 features, there are a few tools that make multiple sharing possible. The export panel allows users to save images to any folder of choice; you can also share images on social media such as Facebook, SmugMug, Twitter, Mail, etc., right from your Luminar photo editor. Users can also share/send images to any of the other Macphun software, such as Snapheal Creative Kit or Aurora HDR, or any photo editing suite on your computer.

The Batch Processing tool also makes this sharing/export feature even more cool – you can save or export as/to PNG, GIF, PDF, JPEG, PSD, TIFF JPEG 2000. Luminar 2018 allows users to choose from any of these color spaces, the Adobe RGB, sRGB, and ProPhoto RGB.

Luminar 2018 Batch Processing

Luminar 2018 Batch Processing

Our Verdict

Macphun, soon to be SkyLum, really improved the Luminar photo editing suite with the new features and improved tools, however, there are still some expectations that are not met. As already mentioned, Luminar does not have a library so it looks like our edited images will still be unorganized until they update the suite with Digital Asset Manager (DAM).

Secondly, Macphun seems to remain biased, in favor of Mac, against Windows. As it stands, Windows doesn’t have up to 14 new Luminar 2018 features, although some of those features have been promised, so we wait.

Despite these drawbacks, the Luminar features are sufficient to warm their way to our hearts and make us look the other way. All in all, Macphun is changing the game and we are loving it.

History Panel of Luminar 2018

The Luminar History Panel (as a drop down menu)

Technical Details

Luminar 2018 is an all-in-one universal editing suite with new features that offer photographers everything needed for modern photography editing. Well, all that a modern photographer needs but one – the new Luminar 2018 does not come with data management. It has no library, although Macphun has promised that there will be a free update for data and asset management in 2018, so we wait again.

Luminar 2018 has 24 new features and surpasses the new Lightroom CC Cloud with more than 30 features. Since Luminar photo editing suite is compatible with Windows and Mac, here’s a comparison:

The New Luminar 2018 Features

The Features                                                               Mac PC                         Windows

Advanced bi-color toning                                         Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

Advanced masking with filters                                Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

Advanced cross processing                                      Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

Advanced image radiance                                        Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

Advanced microstructure                                         Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

Advanced split toning                                                Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

Advanced real-time noise reduction                       Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

Advanced structure                                                 Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

Advanced contrast                                                               Yes                       Yes, newly added

Workspaces                                                                          Yes                                 Not yet

New & better RAW processing engine                 Yes, newly added          Yes, newly added

Dodge & burn                                                           Yes, newly added          Yes, newly added

Brilliance filter                                                          Yes, newly added          Yes, newly added

Expanse/collapse Mode for filter                          Yes, newly added          Yes, newly added

Improved user experience                                      Yes, newly added          Yes, newly added

Luminosity masking                                                         Yes                                Not yet

Sharpening & resize on export                                       Yes                                Not yet

Feather & density for masking brush                           Yes                                Not yet

Lens correction                                                       Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

Matte filter                                                              Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

Sun light rays filter                                                  Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

Raw Develop Filter                                                  Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

New brush mode in layers                                     Yes, newly added         Yes, newly added

Speed increase – over 150%                                 Yes, newly added          Yes, newly added

Accent filter powered by AI                                           Yes                          Yes, newly added

New user interface for faster workflow             Yes, newly added          Yes, newly added

Adaptive user interface                                                  Yes                          Yes, newly added

Adjustable gradient filter                                               Yes                          Yes, newly added

Bi-color toning                                                                 Yes                           Yes, newly added

Black & white module                                                     Yes                           Yes, newly added

Brightness adjustment                                                    Yes                           Yes, newly added

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom classic Plugin               Yes                           Yes, newly added

Adobe Photoshop plugin                                                Yes                           Yes, newly added

Adobe Photoshop elements plugin                               Yes                                Not yet

Support of Adobe 3rd party plugin                     Yes, newly added                 Not yet

Channel  mixer                                                                Yes                             Yes, newly added

Clarity filter                                                                      Yes                             Yes, newly added

Color contrast                                                                 Yes                              Yes, newly added

Color temperature                                                         Yes                              Yes, newly added

Color balance                                                                  Yes                              Yes, newly added

LUT support                                                         Yes, newly added                      Not yet

Dehaze                                                                             Yes                              Yes, newly added

Crop                                                                                  Yes                              Yes, newly added

Curves                                                                              Yes                              Yes, newly added

Batch processing                                                            Yes                                     Not yet

Vignette                                                                           Yes                              Yes, newly added

Whites & blacks adjustment                                       Yes                              Yes, newly added

Zoom                                                                                Yes                              Yes, newly added

Tone                                                                                 Yes                              Yes, newly added

Vibrance adjustment                                                    Yes                              Yes, newly added

Top & bottom lighting                                                  Yes                              Yes, newly added

Straightening                                                                 Yes                              Yes, newly added

Structure                                                                         Yes                              Yes, newly added

Texture                                                                            Yes                              Yes, newly added

Rotate & flip                                                                   Yes                                     Not yet

Soft focus                                                                        Yes                              Yes, newly added

Soft glow                                                                        Yes                               Yes, newly added

Split color warmth                                                       Yes                                Yes, newly added

Split toning                                                                    Yes                                Yes, newly added

Sharpening tool                                                            Yes                                Yes, newly added

Smart Tone adjustment                                              Yes                                Yes, newly added

Sharing to social media                                              Yes                                Yes, newly added

Highlights/Shadows clippings                                  Yes                                Yes, newly added

Remove color cast                                                       Yes                                Yes, newly added

RAW support                                                               Yes                                Yes, newly added

Transform tool                                                            Yes                                         Not yet

Details enhancers                                                       Yes                                Yes, newly added

Dedicated presets for DJI drones photos             Yes                                Yes, newly added

Eraser (object removal)                                            Yes                                Yes, newly added

Stamp layers & merge layers                                   Yes                                        Not yet

Gradient masking                                                      Yes                                Yes, newly added

Fog filter                                                                      Yes                                Yes, newly added

Foliage Enhancer                                                       Yes                                Yes, newly added

Blend modes fore layers                                           Yes                                         Not yet

Grain                                                                            Yes                               Yes, newly added

Histogram                                                                   Yes                               Yes, newly added

High key                                                                      Yes                               Yes, newly added

Highlight and shadow                                             Yes                                Yes, newly added

Real-time image processing                                  Yes                                Yes, newly added

Image Radiance                                                       Yes                                Yes, newly added

HSL filters                                                                 Yes                                Yes, newly added

Masking brush                                                          Yes                                Yes, newly added

Masking with filters                                                 Yes                                Yes, newly added

Orton effect                                                               Yes                                Yes, newly added

Noise reduction tool                                                Yes                                Yes, newly added

Non-destructive editing                                          Yes                                Yes, newly added

Micro structure                                                        Yes                                Yes, newly added

Native format saving                                              Yes                                        Not yet

Clone & stamp                                                         Yes                                         Not yet

Polarizing filter                                                        Yes                                Yes, newly added

Photo filter                                                                Yes                                Yes, newly added

60 professional presets                                          Yes                                Yes, newly added

Radial masking                                                        Yes                                Yes, newly added

Apple photos extension                                         Yes                                    Not applicable

Apple HEIF files support                                    Not yet                                 Not applicable

Digital Asset Management module (DAM)    Not yet                                      Not yet

Your system is compatible with Luminar 2018 if it has these specs:

For Apple Mac Devices

  • MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, Mac mini
  • Processor: Intel 64-bit Core 2 Duo or better
  • Memory: 4 Gb RAM or more
  • OS X: Sierra 10.12.6, El Capitan 10.11.5, Yosemite 10.10.5
  • Hard disk: 2 Gb free space, SSD for best performance
  • Display: 1280 x 768 size or better

For Windows

  • Windows-based hardware
  • PC with mouse or similar input device
  • Direct X 10 compatible Graphics Cards of better
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 or better
  • Memory: 4 Gb RAM or more
  • OS: Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10
  • Hard disk: 2 Gb free space, SSD for best performance
  • Display: 1280 x 768 size or better
Luminar 2018 Promo Code "PHOTOWORKOUT"

If you want to buy Luminar 2018, use our Promo Code “PHOTOWORKOUT” to get $10 OFF

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Jennifer Berube

Jennifer Berube

Jennifer is a freelance writer specializing in photography, music, and travel writing.
She has published hundreds of articles and is a regular contributor to various photography websites like and
Jennifer Berube

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Jennifer Berube

Jennifer is a freelance writer specializing in photography, music, and travel writing.
She has published hundreds of articles and is a regular contributor to various photography websites like and

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