For as long as I can remember, Adobe Photoshop has been the king of image editing software. It is used by professionals in the photographic and graphic industries to work wonders with any form of image, even allowing you to create an image without using any camera at all.
But the consumer revolution left Adobe a bit behind, with savvy semi-pro and enthusiast photographers looking for image editing options that were reasonably priced and didn’t require a college degree. To Adobe’s credit, they saw that demand and Adobe Lightroom was born. But recent moves to subscription services and releases of updates users didn’t want have set them back a bit. Room for others to step in? Now we have a new player in this arena – MacPhun’s Luminar.
Luminar is a photo editor, period. It has been built from the ground up to provide logical, versatile image editing. You can work exclusively from a wide variety of predefined workspaces and presets, making just a few tweaks to sliders, or you can create your own master workflows from over 300 tools and features.
The creators of Luminar, MacPhun Software, describe their product this way:
Luminar is the world’s first photo editor that adapts to your style & skill level. It is designed to make complex photo editing easy & enjoyable for everyone. Take advantage of over 300 powerful, yet simple photo editing tools that allow you to perform all kinds of image editing tasks.
You open Luminar by opening the image you want to edit. RAW, JPEG and TIFF files are supported, along with PSD, PNG and GIF. The resulting default workspace is clean, logically laid out, and frankly familiar to anyone who has worked with either Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. But it is also easy to understand for those who have not used these products. And the available tutorials make short work of the introduction to Luminar.
The preset panel appears at the bottom. There are many free and paid preset option packs available, easily downloaded from the MacPhun site. Presets load quickly and smoothly and are easily reviewed to select just the right starting point (or the right finish point) for your project.
There are dozens of filters available, again nicely straddling the boundary between the capabilities of Lightroom sliders and Photoshop adjustments, filters and plugins. Each filter is explained (with samples) before you select it, so you need not memorize any obscure labels as you need to do with Photoshop. But if you are already familiar with Photoshop, you’ll take great comfort in the familiar aspects of Luminar, like blends modes, layers and masks.
Luminar enables you to share your completed image directly to various social media and shared image sites like 500px and Flickr. The makers of Luminar also encourage user feedback and enable users to share their own custom image treatments with others in the Luminar community. Very definitely software that is user designed and driven. Updates are regularly issued, improving the capability of this already impressive product.
One of the big challenges with image editing is making edits non-destructive. Luminar solves this simply and elegantly. When you save your edits, they are saved in a proprietary format called a Luminar project file, with extension .lmnr. When you want a finished copy of your image file, you simply export it, as you do with Adobe’s Lightroom, to the format that you want. Your original image file is never altered.
Unlike Adobe Lightroom, Luminar is not a file management system – it is strictly an image editor. It is capable of both individual and batch edits, but the import, naming and organization of your files happens outside the product. Luminar can also be installed as a plugin for products like Adobe Lightroom, so that the two interact seamlessly.
Luminar is a Mac app – sorry, no Windows version. So if you are a Mac user and want an alternative to either the native app that came with your camera or the beast that is Adobe, take a look at Luminar. You won’t be disappointed. The onetime price is $99 in Canada for the app, and that includes continuous updates.