Macphun Luminar Software Review

Luminar is a new photo editor from software creators Macphun and we've put it to the test to see if it's something Mac users should be investing in.


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Luminar
 

Macphun Luminar is the latest software to join Macphun's line-up of Mac apps but rather than having a specific role, as previous Macphun Mac apps have, this one's an all-in-one photo editor that has an adaptive interface and plenty of presets that'll even keep those new to photo editing busy. To see just how easy the software is to use and the results users can expect to achieve with it, we picked out a selection of photos to put it to the test. 

Macphun Luminar Features: 

  • Unique user interface that's adaptable
  • One-click presets
  • Various filters & tools
  • Batch processing
  • Layers
  • Selective Masking
  • Brushes
  • Overlays 
  • Noise reduction
  • Object removal
  • RAW file conversion
  • Can be used as a standalone produce or as a plug-in

 

Macphun Luminar Performance: 

Those who have used Macphun apps previously, particularly Aurora HDR, will be very familiar with the user interface that welcomes you when you first load the software. To the bottom is where the one-click presets appear and to the right are tools that those who use software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Elements will be familiar with. 

Luminar is designed to be scalable and adaptive so that those who take snaps with smartphones right through to the enthusiast who often edits photos will be able to use this. How Macphun have done this is by offering different tools and the ability to tailor the workspace to a specific style of photography which we really do like. 


 

Those new to photo editing can use the one-click presets (there are over 50 available) while those who want a little more control over edits but still need a little guidance can use the user interface variation options which include popular photo styles such as landscape, portraiture and street photography. These give you tool suggestions and specific one-click edits that will fit your specific photography style which is a nice touch. You can also customise the workspace with groups of filters for specific types of photos should you not like the default options available.

 


 

For those who know their way around photo editing software, you have access to a rather good range of manual tools such as brushes, layers, blending modes, overlays, an editing history menu and more tools you'd expect to find in software designed for photo editing. Other useful tools that are present include the colour clipping histogram, a quick compare toggle, side-by-side comparisons that show you how the image looked before / after full-screen preview and the ability to chose the background colour for the interface. 

 


 

Luminar is actually really easy to use but if you do get stuck, online help is available but we doubt you'll need it to be honest. To apply a preset, you simply find one you like and click it to apply it. The intensity of it can be reduced / increased with a slider that appears above the specific pre-set's preview and they can also be adjusted with finer control via the tools available to the right of the screen. One thing we would like to point out is some of the filter names are a little weird so it wasn't always easy to understand what effect they'd create and when making adjustments / applying edits, the real-time process was a little stuttery and on occasion, took a little time to recover. 

 


 

Usually, when there's so many presets available, the manual tools tend to be somewhat lacking but there's a commendable amount on offer in Luminar all of which are easy to use and perform as you'd expect them to. We were particularly impressed with the clone & stamp tool which was one of the easiest tools of this type we've used in a while. Masking, gradients, blend modes and layers also open up opportunities to really customise a preset you've applied or indeed start editing a photo from scratch which those with a little more photo editing knowledge will appreciate and no doubt find useful. Seeing the Layers window was also a welcomed site as anyone with previous photo editing experience will know how useful this particular window is. The support of RAW files is also useful and as well as exporting images as photos, they can be shared directly to social media, sent via email or opened in other editing apps. 

It's also worth noting that the software is compatible with touchpad devices, tablets with pens such as those from Wacom and Magic mouse. 

Overall, Luminar is easy to learn, quick in use and produces pleasing results both with the presets and more advanced controls. 

 

Macphun Luminar Sample Images After Editing: 

 

Left: Image before clone stamp tool was used, Right: after a quick edit with the clone stamp tool

 

 

 


 

Macphun Luminar Value For Money:

Luminar will be available from 17 November 2016 and unlike other Macphun apps, this one will be available in only one variation that can be used as a standalone product or as a plug-in for other applications such as Adobe Photoshop. It will be available for $70 (around £57) to new customers, however there is an introduction price of $60 (around £49) for new customers, plus you can receive bonuses, until 16 November 2016. 

The price makes the software a bit of a bargain when you compare it to Adobe Photoshop Elements 15 which is available for around £79 and Adobe's photography plan which is available for £8.57 a month. Another Mac photo editing alternative is Serif Affinity Photo which is actually cheaper than Luminar as it's available for £39.99 and features wise, it's on par with Photoshop so it does offer a few more options than Luminar. However, those who are looking for a piece of software that can give them guided edits will probably prefer to use Luminar for its simplicity. 

 

Macphun Luminar Verdict:

Macphun describes Luminar as an 'all-in-one photo editor that can grow with photographers' and it's a pretty accurate description, for the most part. Those who have used Lightroom / Photoshop for some time will probably find it a little too simple and perhaps even a little limiting. However, those who are just starting out on their photo editing journey, or are used to using 1-click filters available in apps such as Instagram, will find the software a useful tool to learn how to use. It will guide them from the basic 1-click edits, right up to using brushes, masks, layers and so forth before they start exploring more advanced apps and editing software. Add the reasonable price to this list and there's no reason why this software won't find fans among photo enthusiasts who use Macs. 

 

Macphun Luminar Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Lots of one-click edits 
  • Quick in use & to learn
  • Simple but effective 

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Cons

  • Some filters could be named better 
  • Some users may find it too simple
  • When applying edits, the software sometimes 'stuttered'

Features4/5
Handling4/5
Performance4/5
Value4.5/5
Overall Verdict

 

System requirements

  • Processor Core 2Duo from late 2009 or newer
  • Minimum 4 GB RAM
  • OS X 10.10.5 Mavericks or newer
  • 2 GB free space on hard drive
  • Display resolution 1280x 800 or higher
  • Retina displays supported
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