refinements you feel are necessary to the
adjustment in each filter by moving the
appropriate slider as you would in other
imaging programs. Very simple, intuitive
WHAT WE LIKED
For an initial release, I found little
to criticize regarding either the user
interface or the included tools. There is
a histogram that you can cycle through
to see the contribution from each of the
primary colors and luminance, and you
can also display highlight and shadow
clipping warnings. The filter sliders have
sufficient range for any adjustment I
needed to make.
The batching of filters into a
workspace is an interesting approach,
but my work doesn’t usually lend itself
to repeated application of the same
adjustments. I found myself populating
the filters pane with a rough selection of
the filters I normally use for adjustments.
Since I could easily turn the filters off and
on within the panel, I imagine in time
I would likely populate the filter pane
with many of them and end up with a
Lightroom-type right panel.
One quirk to Luminar that I can’t decide
if I like or not is the ability to add a mask
to make local adjustments. I like that you
can add any global adjustment locally,
including sharpening and noise reduction.
The way you do this is to add a new
adjustment layer, apply the adjustment
you want globally and then paint a mask
over the local area you want to adjust.
This creates a layer mask revealing the
adjustment on the local area and hiding
it from the rest of the image. This same
process is used to combine images. As
counterintuitive for me as I found this
process at first, it does work.
WHAT WE DIDN’ T LIKE
What I discovered as I was
working with the various adjustments is
that they often do more than their title
suggests. For example, noise reduction
seems to also have a hidden clarity, or
at least a sharpening effect. A shadows
adjustment tool not only increases shadow
information, it also adjusts saturation and
sharpness at the same time. While this can
be helpful to many users, I would prefer
to make these secondary adjustments on
my own and in the amounts I wanted if I
While Luminar generally delivered to
my satisfaction on the features included,
I was disappointed in the features it
lacked. There are really no selection
tools. Making a selection is handled by
masking, which is at best rudimentary.
While you can have several images open
in the program at once, you can only
view them one at a time, and only by
using the Window menu, not by clicking
tabs as in Photoshop.
Luminar’s Clone Stamp tool works
okay, but it is literally that: not a healing
brush, nor does it have content-aware
capability. In version 1. 1.0, Luminar
lacks lens corrections, a dehaze and
red-eye removal filter, perspective
correction, and above all, the equivalent
of Lightroom’s Library module to do file
organization, rating, adding metadata,
etc. These are all promised for the future
but are shortcomings at present.
HOW IT COMPARES
Luminar in its current form is a mix
of features from Photoshop, Camera Raw
and Lightroom—only considerably less
expensive. Like Photoshop, it can only
process one image at a time; there is no
Lightroom equivalent to adjusting one
image and pasting those adjustment on
others. Luminar is capable of processing
RAW files, but the camera selection is
more limited than Camera Raw and
Lightroom, and medium-format backs are
notably not supported. It lacks the image
cataloging capabilities of Lightroom as
already mentioned but includes some
adjustments not available in Lightroom,
such as a channel mixer, a color balance
filter, a high key filter and more.
As Luminar matures, it seems likely
that it will move closer to supplying the
capabilities of other image-enhancement
software. It will be interesting to see if
it can mature while keeping the user-friendliness that it now has.
Stan Sholik is a photographer based in
Santa Ana, CA, specializing in still-life and
macro photography. His latest book, Shoot
Macro, for Amherst Media is now available.
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