Luminar 2018 is powerful photography software. With so many options for photo editing, from phone apps to immersive desktop suites, finding a program that stands out from the rest is a difficult task. Luminar 2018 accomplishes this feat easily.
Full disclosure: I am a photography enthusiast, but I am in no way a professional.
Perhaps this is part of why I was so impressed by Luminar 2018 the moment I started using it. I've worked with other professional-level photography software, and most of the time, there is a learning curve that can be difficult to adjust to. On the other end of the spectrum, there are far too many options for the amateur photographer, especially in the age of Instagram.
The simple software and apps for photography are typically not useful enough, typically only offering a limited number of filters with minimal ways to adjust the photograph. Where Luminar 2018 excels is that it bridges the gap between the amateur and professional levels of software, and it does so to perfection.
Upon opening Luminar 2018, the first thing to notice is the simplicity of the controls.
If the basic user wished, they could use the software for some simple filter applications and be finished with it. The assortment of filters included in the program are already beautiful as they are, but they go the extra mile with multiple adjustment factors for each, including temperature, tint, exposure, contrast, and more.
These components of the template filters are easy to use, and they make the program easy to approach. With each filter and adjustment, the screen shows the breakdown of color distribution and saturation in the upper right corner, which is useful in making sure you keep your photo balanced, as well as giving you good information to help your eyes when you might have been staring at the screen a bit too long.
Additionally, if you find a certain set of adjustments for the filters that you enjoy, you can easily set them up to be your own custom filter to use again at another time.
Included below are a before and after of a photo of mine to demonstrate the quick and easy adjustments Luminar 2018 made by using their basic filter templates.
As you can see, the user interface is not intimidating at all, and it's easy to jump right in. Any effects you wish to try out are easy to remove, and comparing before and after of any effect applied is as easy as clicking the eyeball icon in the upper right corner of the effect chosen.
After playing around with the basic template filters, I dove deeper into Luminar 2018, and I found the true power: the layers and the filter catalogue.
The layers are nothing new to photography programs, or any other graphic design program for that matter. If you wish to create layers of effects and filters to your work, you may do so here, and it is incredibly intuitive.
The filter catalogue, however, is where it's at. The catalogue is extensive and so easy to use that it encourages play. The program has extensive filtering that you might expect with any other comparable program, but it goes on to include easy ways to divide and affect specific areas of your photograph, add sunlight effects, bring in LUT mapping from outside film effects packages to match any other work you have going on or emulate another style, and a nice palate of their own takes on great effects such as dodge and burn, which is something to be seen.
The list of effects is far too extensive to breakdown here (I've included a video below that goes through some of the more exciting effects below), but the main points that impressed me were the ease of use, the intuitive layout, and the seemingly unlimited power available to the user. In a very short time toying with the effects, I was able to make adjustments to one of my photos, and the before and after are included below.
Are my photos professional grade? No, and that's part of the point of why I used them. If I put up two photos that I took while making sure my aperture and F-stop settings were perfect, then that would be a distraction from what Luminar 2018 can do. Both photos featured were quick photos taken with an iPhone 7, and all adjustments took only a few minutes. Below is a good before and after demonstration of Luminar 2018's power when applied to a professional photograph.
I highly recommend Luminar 2018. It is a complete software that bridges the gap between amateurs and professionals. Its user interface is simple and intuitive enough for any user to jump right in and have fun, and its settings, power, and capabilities are extensive enough for any professional to respect.
At $69, the price is reasonable for how incredible the software is, and the company is organized, has great ratings, and regularly updates the software. If you are unsure about the price, there is a free trial available at https://skylum.com/luminar. Available for both Mac and Windows.
Michael Haase is a writer and novelist, with his first novel, "The Madness of Mr. Butler," was published in March 2017 after winning the Inkshares/Nerdist Space Opera contest. When he's not writing, Michael is busy being a happy father, husband, emergency room nurse, musician, poet, and generally sloppy artist. Michael dreams of keeping his life basically just as it is, but with much more time for writing and taking his family on trips around the world. Find more of his articles here.