At the time of writing I have for a couple of month's been trialling the current version of 'Skylum Software's' latest iteration of their long running 'Luminar' series of photo editing software. I was approached and asked by Vanguard Photo UK, for whom I work alongside as an ambassador, if I would be interested / willing to take a look and give some impressions, so here we are with my initial thoughts!
The Luminar software range has always been on the periphery of my radar, especially as I use Skylum Software's other big hitting software 'Aurora HDR', a powerhouse for high dynamic range photography, but as is so often the case with photographers, potential disruption to workflow and the time needed to learn new software, just to be able to get yourself to the perceived level you are at with your current choice of software, it can certainly make a change a bit off putting on many levels, especially when additional costs are involved for purchase.
Upon loading up I was pleasantly surprized to be greeted by a familiar user interface, one that is similar to what I have been using in the aforementioned Aurora HDR, so instantly felt comfortable and at home before diving into some editing. Whilst preparing for this trial I thought it maybe interesting to take some images that I could not achieve a 'Desired Result' within my current software workflow, so essentially scrap pile images....what could possibly go wrong??
As is always apparent in Skylum's software, the team have worked incredibly hard to have a streamlined interface to house the incredibly powerful tools on offer, many that other rival software does not have, or simply do not work as well as some of the features on offer here, everything just feels very user friendly. The uncluttered interface sit's comfortably alongside an unencumbered image filing system, they really want you to be working on your images rather than looking for tools to get the job done, this is definitely a major bonus and I easily slipped into a workflow that worked for me.
In a bid to stand apart from it's rival's, Luminar 4 introduces a range of tools to help you along the way, these manifest in the form of some impressive AI algorithms that do a surprisingly efficient job of putting you on the right track, a sky replacement tool and a portrait enhancement tool, to name but a few. What Skylum have put together is essentially a suite of programs embedded into one piece of software, yes there are standalone pieces of software that have similar tools, but why have have a handful of software to do different aspects of an edit, when most can be done with one?
This platform for editing made me feel very much in control of what I was editing, allowing me to tease out more detail and depth through very efficient treatment of shadows and highlights, and for the most part very clever light adjustments to the overall image when using the sky replacement tool.
As you can probably tell I have enjoyed the limited time I have spent so far with
Luminar 4, but as always there are a couple of little niggles!
The sky replacement tool is a pretty amazing piece of programming, with some versatile options to be able to tweak settings, but on a number of occasions I had some really strange anomalies appear, mostly on water reflections / lighting, but also on some clouds with odd grey patches becoming present. Another thing to consider is shadow placement within your image, nothing worse than replacing the sky and the shadow casts not tallying with the sun placement.
Whilst it is nice that they have included the option to use as standalone software or as a Lightroom plug-in, it is a shame that there is no mobile editing option like the aforementioned Lightroom. So much editing and sharing online these days are done from mobile devices, and in the case of Instagram it is a necessity, so to be able to use this as your sole editing solution puts up hurdles with regards to social media posting, something not ideal for most photographers in the modern era.
It's never nice to end on a more negative tone, especially whilst by and large I enjoyed and continue to enjoy my time with Luminar 4. Skylum continues to push the boundaries of what is achievable within editing software, and it is impressive to say the least. Niggles aside I have been left wanting more, and more importantly looking forward to what can be produced once more time has been spent learning the inevitable quarks & intricacies.
So, recommended? Most definitely.
Vanguard Photo UK: www.vanguardworld.co.uk
Skylum Software: www.skylum.com/luminar