Skylum Luminar – another look

Skylum Luminar

I use RAW converters a lot – I shoot in RAW 99% of the time and need my RAW converter to be working with me and not hindering me. Luminar is in my toolkit, and I thought it was time to give it a difficult image top process.

My last test of Luminar didn’t yield a pleasing result but yesterday I looked at a photo that I thought fitted well with Luminar’s strengths.

Luminar’s Strengths

Luminar has, in my view, two strengths where it is head and shoulders better than anything else:

  • Shadow recovery
  • Sky enhancement, particular with seascapes

Nothing I have tested can pull detail out of and brighten shadows as well as Luminar. But, with correct exposure, this capability is not a must have.

Luminar’s most important strength, for me, is its ability to work with a blue sky without making the rest of the scene have a blue cast. And it can do this without the need for masking the image to make local edits.

The Test Picture

Seascape
Seascape that is too blue

It’s not an exciting picture, to be honest. The light was hazy and flat and so is the image. And the light was very blue. Yeuch.

I tried editing this in Photo Ninja. I could deepen the blue sky nicely, but it didn’t suit the scene – the sky looked too blue and the sea looked wrong. So, I sent it to Luminar…

One of the nice things about Luminar is that it auto-analyses the image and suggests the filters it needs. It suggested its Accent AI Filter, its AI Sky Enhancer and its Structure filter. I added the RAW filter as I wanted to use its lens correction settings. I also added its Polarisar filter as I hadn’t used a polarisar on this image, although it would have benefited from it.

The settings used for the filters was as follows:

  • Accent AI Filter – 100%
  • AI Sky Enhancer – 47%
  • Structure – 43% (Softness 50, Boost 67)
  • Polarisar – 11%
  • RAW development – Remove Distortion and Chromatic Aberrations, Straighten horizon

Here is the result:

Processed by Luminar

The result is a big improvement. There’s still work to do. A dust spot to remove and Luminar has introduced some noise, particularly in the sky. Both are easily dealt with…

Before and After view

Click an image for a larger view.

Luminar’s result is impressive.

Conclusion

Luminar always produces pleasing results and has an enormous range of filters and presets to choose from. To my mind, it is unsurpassed at improving skies, especially blue skies where a polarisar should have been used. Additionally, underexposed images are better processed with Luminar than any other tool I’ve used.

Skylum have announced Luminar 4 which includes better image processing and the ability to replace entire skies without the difficulty of making selections. It will be released in the Fall and is available now as a pre-order at a very reasonable price

I don’t think there is, or ever will be, a single tool that will do everything. But Luminar is a tool that should be in every photographer’s toolkit. It is more flexible and has more features than Lightroom. If you have Luminar, Photo Ninja and DXO Photo Lab in your toolkit then you’ll be equipped to process any image…

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