Last updated on October 11th, 2021
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The world of photography gets you outside to capture the most memorable moments. But that’s just one part of the process. The second part is to manage, edit, and then showcase your images. And that’s what this Luminar review is all about. I’ll provide a brief summary of the important features.
What is Luminar 4?
Luminar 4 is a photography software that helps with image management and photo editing. It’s known for its automatic sky replacement technology, and skin and portrait enhancers. It’s also an alternative to Lightroom and Adobe’s creative cloud monthly membership.
Summary of My Luminar 4 Review
I previously tested the beta version of Luminar 4, but now I have the production version that I’ll continue to review. Skylum is still making updates to the software, so the latest version may look or function differently from this Luminar review.
Luminar 4’s importing process is straightforward:
- Select the folders containing your images.
- The software will scan the folders and add the photos to the library.
The software doesn’t duplicate the images, but rather it points to the images via database. You can also import images via an SD card by using the Import Images to a Folder option.
Luminar 4 organizes images according to how you organize your files in the backend. All my travel photography that were captured RAW are sorted by country folders. There are also 3 types of tags that you can apply to your photos:
- favorite or rejected
- star rating
- color label
The tags can be used to sort your images.
Luminar 4 comes with a variety of standard and advanced tools for photographers. I’ll go over some of their advanced tools.
AI Sky Replacement Technology
Photographing landscapes and cityscapes with a dull sky usually doesn’t cut it for many photographers. As a result, sky replacement or sky color grading is a common practice to edit an Instagram-worthy image. But masking can be difficult and time consuming especially when there are detailed objects such as tree branches or city wires.
As a result, Luminar 4 will automatically detect the sky, create a mask, and then you can replace the sky from a list of saved sky photos. Furthermore, relighting is automatically applied: the color of the sky will be applied to the rest of the image. This feature saves photographers a considerable amount of time because it’s completed in a few seconds. Of course, the ethics of replacing the sky is up for debate.
AI Augmented Sky
As of version 4.2, Luminar allows photographers to place an object in the sky such as birds or planes. This is a nice-to-have when you want to make your sky look more creative. Read more about the AI Augmented Sky.
AI Skin Enhancer
The skin enhancer automatically detects the blemishes on the face and with one click removes them. It also allows you to adjust the smoothness of the skin using a slider.
Below is an example of the skin enhancer. I simply check marked the AI Skin Defects Removal box for the result without using the skin smoother. If you want to touch-up the face more, then you can adjust the skin smoother slider or use the clone & stamp tool.
This tool allows you to quickly edit your portrait photography. Luminar 4 includes dedicated tools for editing eyes, dark circles, face, eyebrows, lips, and teeth.
Below is an example of the results the portrait enhancer can produce with the above settings. I also used the skin ehancer to smooth out the skin a little bit.
Here’s a summary of the pros and cons:
- combined image management and editing system
- speeds up landscape photography workflow
- speeds up portrait photography workflow
- great for color grading
- supports layers
- spot healing tool is limited
- no straighten tool
- software is still a bit slow
- no customizable interface
Luminar 4 was released on November 18, 2019.
Luminar 4 costs $89. In addition, you can use my Luminar 4 coupon code for a $10 discount: aperlust. The code does not apply to promotions.
I’m a travel photographer and the main hype in this Luminar 4 review is its sky replacement tool. It saves so much time since it doesn’t require any masking.
It’ll also save time for portrait photographers since Luminar 4 has a dedicated section to quickly edit clients’ photos.
But one thing that annoys me is Luminar 4 is a bit slow in showing the preview in real-time after I make an adjustment – even a simple adjustment. It’s almost like I’m working with Photoshop filters which is CPU intensive.
Users have also mentioned that Luminar 4 crashes on them. It hasn’t crashed on my Mac, yet. But Skylum does offer a trial version of Luminar 4 in addition to a 30-day money-back guarantee.
You can read some of the Luminar 4 performance issues.
Skylum released Luminar version 4.2.0 on March 19, 2020. It’s supposed to have fixed more bugs and crash issues since the January 4.1.0 update.
Update as of January 16, 2020. Professional photographers and their photography community are still having slow performance issues with Luminar 4. The software is running extremely slow with catalogs of over 20,000 photos. This is occurring on both Mac and Windows systems that are fully optimized (32 GB RAM, SSD hard drive, i7 quad-core CPU).
Update as of March 19, 2020. According to Skylum, the new 4.2.0 version is supposed to have fixed crash-related bugs on both Mac and Windows. I don’t have any crash issues myself. Also, I’m not seeing any professional photographers complaining that their students are having problems at the moment. Let me know in the comments below if you are having issues.
In terms of image management, Luminar 4 is not comprehensive. Lightroom and Capture One do a much better job at that. Read my Capture One review. Luminar 4 is a great software for beginning photographers or casual hobbyists. The price is great at less than $100 and you can buy it outright.
If you’re a professional photographer, Luminar 4 will be more of a complement photography software than an all-in-one software. You’ll still need other tools for advanced editing. But Luminar does come with a Lightroom and Photoshop plugin.
Yes, Luminar 4 is the new version with updated features that are not available in Luminar 3.
Luminar 4 can replace Lightroom for hobbyists and casual photographers. Professional photographers will still require Lightroom.
No, Lightroom is better than Luminar 4. Lightroom is far more superior in performance, image management, image editing, and soft proofing.
The latest version of Luminar costs $89.
No, Luminar 4 is not better than Photoshop. They have some common features but Photoshop is an advanced image editor whereas Luminar 4 is a basic photograph management software with great image editing features.
Right now, the best alternative to Lightroom is Capture One Pro.
Luminar Flex is a plugin between Luminar and other photography software such as Lightroom. It allows photographers to easily make edits in Luminar and re-import the image back to the original host software.
There is not a set date for the release of Luminar 5 at this point. And the next version of the software is called Luminar AI and is expected to be released later this year in 2020.