Luminar 2018 Review

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

Image Before

Image After Editing with Luminar

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.

Related Post: PhotoDirector 9 Review (Comparing Lightroom & Photoshop)

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

Luminar 2018 Review (Mac vs. Windows Version)

The FeaturesMacWindows
Advanced bi-color toningYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Advanced masking with filtersYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Advanced cross processingYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Advanced image radianceYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Advanced microstructureYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Advanced split toningYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Advanced real-time noise reductionYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Advanced structureYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Advanced contrastYesYes, newly added
WorkspacesYesNot yet
New and better RAW processing engineYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Dodge and burnYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Brilliance filterYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Expanse/collapse Mode for filterYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Improved user experienceYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Luminosity maskingYesNot yet
Sharpening and resize on exportYesNot yet
Feather & density for masking brushYesNot yet
Lens correctionYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Sun light rays filterYes, newly addedYes, newly added
New brush mode in layersYes, newly addedYes, newly added
Accent filter powered by AIYesYes, newly added
Adaptive user interfaceYesYes, newly added
Bi-color toningYesYes, newly added
Brightness adjustmentYesYes, newly added
Adobe Photoshop pluginYesYes, newly added
Support of Adobe 3rd party pluginYes, newly addedNot yet
Clarity filterYesYes, newly added
Color temperatureYesYes, newly added
LUT supportYes, newly addedNot yet
CropYesYes, newly added
Batch processingYesNot yet
Whites & blacks adjustmentYesYes, newly added
ToneYesYes, newly added
Top and bottom lightingYesYes, newly added
StructureYesYes, newly added
Rotate and flipYesNot yet
Soft glowYesYes, newly added
Split toningYesYes, newly added
Sharpening toolYesYes, newly added
Smart Tone adjustmentYesYes, newly added
Sharing to social mediaYesYes, newly added
Highlights/Shadows clippingsYesYes, newly added
Remove color castYesYes, newly added
RAW supportYesYes, newly added
Transform toolYesNot yet
Details enhancersYesYes, newly added
Dedicated presets for DJI drones photosYesYes, newly added
Eraser (object removal)YesYes, newly added
Stamp layers and merge layersYesNot yet
Gradient maskingYesYes, newly added
Fog filterYesYes, newly added
Foliage EnhancerYesYes, newly added
Blend modes fore layersYesNot yet
GrainYesYes, newly added
HistogramYesYes, newly added
High keyYesYes, newly added
Highlight and shadowYesYes, newly added
Real-time image processingYesYes, newly added
HSL filtersYesYes, newly added
Masking with filtersYesYes, newly added
Noise reduction toolYesYes, newly added
Non-destructive editingYesYes, newly added
Micro structureYesYes, newly added
Native format savingYesNot yet
Clone & stampYesNot yet
Polarizing filterYesYes, newly added
Photo filterYesYes, newly added
60 professional presetsYesYes, newly added
Radial maskingYesYes, newly added
Apple photos extensionYesNot applicable
Apple HEIF files supportNot YetNot applicable
Digital Asset Management module (DAM)Not YetNot 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
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