A evaluation by Allister Jenks @zkarj
Skylum Software program have been churning out new variations of their merchandise like there’s a end line someplace close to. Scorching on the heels of Aurora HDR 2019, and a yr on from the discharge of Luminar 2018, Luminar 3 builds out the photograph processing options with an preliminary launch of the lengthy awaited (and promised) digital asset supervisor (DAM). Briefly – it’s nice, however with caveats for my wants. Learn on to see what’s what.
I’ve been utilizing Luminar 2018 for all my photograph processing for a couple of months now, which in my world means near 100 pictures. On this brief time I’ve been dedicated to Luminar, I’ve come to actually benefit from the effectivity it permits me in processing, and the standard it’s producing. I even experimented with a handful of photographs, processing them first in Adobe Lightroom CC Basic (hereinafter Lightroom), after which in Luminar 2018. I undoubtedly favor the Luminar means, and the Luminar outcomes. Whereas I might in all probability obtain the identical leads to Lightroom, Luminar someway coaxes me to see how far I can push a photograph, and consequently I’m getting punchier outcomes, that I’m actually happy with, with much less effort.
The most important weak spot with Luminar 2018 was that I used to be nonetheless utilizing Lightroom to handle my photograph assortment. Whereas I might use Luminar as a plugin to Lightroom, I’ve by no means been a fan of the round-tripping strategy, so I’ve been importing all of my pictures into Lightroom, including key phrases, choosing these I’ll course of, after which exporting these – key phrases embedded – to a folder. Then, one after the other, I load these up in Luminar, course of them, save the Luminar file (so I can return to tweak my edits if desired), export a “master” 16-bit TIFF file, and eventually use an extra piece of software program to scale and watermark the masters to my regular requirements for importing to Flickr, my weblog, and for including to my iCloud Pictures library. It has taken a little bit of effort to return up with this course of, however it works.
Luminar’s promise so as to add a DAM has been a focus for me for some time now, not least as a result of my Adobe Photographer’s Plan was arising for renewal – because it turned out, 3 weeks previous to Luminar 3’s launch. So now Luminar 3 is right here, how does it pan out for me? I’ve to say, not completely, however I *am* completely satisfied to ditch Adobe, lastly.
Previous to the launch of Luminar 3, Skylum launched a roadmap for the product. One of many key causes for the roadmap is that some fairly apparent DAM options aren’t current at launch. Principally for me, key phrases. Skylum have carried out a balancing act – releasing a viable, if incomplete, product sooner, whereas allaying disappointment over a sub-standard providing. I feel they’ve made the appropriate name, as a result of even the preliminary launch of the DAM goes to be all some individuals want and people individuals are going to be very glad. For individuals like me, there’s the aggressive roadmap to look ahead to. Skylum CEO Alex Tsepko has said that key phrases are coming quickly, and a Lightroom migration software, they usually’re concentrating on the primary half of 2019. Ok for me!
ASIDE: Right here’s an fascinating factor. Lower than every week previous to my deadline for renewing Adobe for an additional yr, I made a decision to offer my Lightroom library an excellent clear up – make certain all metadata was written to file, take away all flags, verify for any corruption, and guarantee a full backup – and chew the bullet. I went to the Adobe website and began the method to cancel my account. Think about my shock when up pops a suggestion for 3 months free extension to my account! Seeing Skylum’s whole revealed roadmap is 7 months, I’ve opted for the free extension so I’ll extra probably have choices going ahead to make sure my knowledge is liberated from Lightroom to Luminar’s profit.
So, what does the brand new DAM supply on day one? Velocity, for one factor. There’s actually no such factor as an import course of in your photographs. You both inform Luminar a few new folder or simply dump photographs in a folder it already is aware of about and your pictures are simply *there*. The thumbnails aren’t good, however they seem *very* shortly. Luminar will handle no matter folders you need it to, regardless of the place they’re. So long as your pc can see the folder, Luminar will work with it. It’ll even cope when it may not see the folder, so detachable drives and community mounted folders are wonderful locations to retailer your photographs. You additionally don’t want to fret about utilizing Luminar to maneuver photographs round. You’ll be able to transfer them utilizing Finder and Luminar will determine it out. (That is one thing Lightroom does deal with, however not properly nor by itself.)
However Luminar doesn’t cease at your (probably random) assortment of folders. There are two different methods to view your library. Whereas the folders stay the bodily construction of your managed pictures, you’ll be able to create *albums* to implement a digital construction. Albums are like digital folders and you may put whichever pictures you want in them, no matter their bodily location. A photograph may be in as many albums as you want, too, or not in any album. It’s a complete free type (and hierarchical) approach to organise your pictures with out having to vary any folder buildings. Then once more, when you don’t need albums, you needn’t use them in any respect.
The third method to view your library is by date in what Skylum calls Calendar Mode. Luminar mechanically creates a digital hierarchy of yr, month, and day which function as one other hierarchy just like the folder or album buildings, however one which manages itself based mostly on the EXIF/IPTC time stamps within the picture information. In my case, I’m starting to marvel what bodily folder construction I’ll use, as a result of I at present have date based mostly folders and they might now appear… redundant. You’re not restricted to seeing a single day’s photographs on this view, both, as you’ll be able to choose a month or a yr folder to see all the things in that point interval. The folder and album buildings work this manner, too – click on on a better degree container and you will notice the collected contents of it and all its sub-containers.
However wait… there’s extra! Along with the managed hierarchies, Luminar 3 can even carry out “Quick Edits.” These are particular person information — from anyplace in your disks — that sit solely contained in the Fast Edits part of the Library navigator. I personally don’t see a use for myself, however I assume when you have a picture in some folder construction that you simply don’t need Luminar to incorporate in your Library, then that is the way you’d do it. I *can* see why you’d need to use Luminar to spruce up any photograph.
All the date-based, album, and folder hierarchies (and Fast Edits) sit collectively in what Luminar calls a library. Technically, the library is a database of each facet of your library *besides* the unique picture information. Which folders are included, the album memberships, and your edits and edit historical past are all on this database, which itself is a folder construction that may stay anyplace you need it to. However you needn’t make do with only one. Whereas Luminar can solely have one library open at a time, you possibly can have as many libraries as you need and retailer them anyplace. At this stage there are not any instruments to maneuver content material between libraries which does considerably restrict the way you may use this functionality (as an example, a journey library could possibly be helpful for those who might later merge it right into a grasp library). I reached out to Skylum on this matter they usually confirmed they’ve plans so as to add this functionality, although no timeframe is about at present.
So, what different options does the DAM come with on day one? Fairly a number of. There’s a decide/reject system, a 5 star score system, six color labels, and a few lightning quick filtering and sorting that makes use of these and different attributes. (I notably like with the ability to filter to solely edited photographs.) The choosing, score, and color labelling are all attainable with your mouse or useful keyboard shortcuts. One good contact is that these shortcuts work whether or not you will have one or many photographs chosen in Library view, or with a single photograph open in Edit or Information mode. I ought to briefly point out that Information mode presently exhibits solely the essential EXIF info for the open picture — digital camera mannequin, lens, aperture, shutter velocity, and so on. That is the place the longer term EXIF/IPTC performance will reside.
One other new function is the power to sync changes throughout photographs. This isn’t one thing I’ll use typically, however when you’ve got collection of photographs taken in the identical context it could possibly be an enormous time saver, as it’s tremendous easy to make use of. One factor I feel isn’t fairly proper with that is that it additionally syncs the crop of the supply photograph. It’s value noting that should you dial in, say, 50% on the AI Sky Enhancer filter, then sync the adjustment to different pictures, every of the goal photographs can be handled anew by the AI, so photographs with no detectable sky will probably be left alone and blue and gray skies will probably be handled accordingly, as an example. In different phrases, you’re syncing slider positions, not the ultimate results.
The remainder of the edit the performance of Luminar 3 is actually the identical because the 2018 model, besides a big effort has been spent on efficiency. On my useful resource constrained 2016 mannequin 13” MacBook Professional, if I give Luminar a good go at these assets, I discover the modifying expertise fairly acceptable. It might definitely be quicker, however it doesn’t get in my approach. After roughly 5-7 seconds to load up a 24 megapixel, 14-bit RAW file, most changes are seen inside a second or so of shifting the slider. That’s on par with Lightroom on the identical pc.
The one vital draw back for me, when in comparison with Lightroom, is that lack of key phrase administration. I do know it’s coming, quickly, however it’s an unknown amount to me. I can solely hope it seems earlier than I’ve to actually pull the plug on Lightroom. I’ve hassle believing the individuals who have constructed what’s there as we speak might do a nasty job with key phrases, so it’s actually a matter of whether or not it is going to be as environment friendly as Lightroom’s system. I’ve made my wants recognized to the Skylum workforce, so right here’s hoping. If crucial, I’m sufficient of a nerd that I’ve an exported file of my Lightroom key phrase hierarchy saved away, and a replica of ExifTool put in. With a bit of labor, I reckon I might get one thing going that makes use of the hierarchy as Lightroom does.
Key phrase administration apart, I’m assured that adopting Luminar 3 will present an general effectivity achieve *and* produce higher outcomes for me. Whereas I’ve nothing towards Lightroom technically, I do have one thing towards committing to a yearly value (despite the fact that it’s paid month-to-month) that additionally covers one other product I not use (Photoshop, which I changed with Affinity Photograph). That value is about double what I paid for Luminar, so even though I paid full worth for an improve annually, I’d nonetheless be nicely forward. The truth is, having paid for Luminar 2018, Skylum are giving me the whole lot I’ve described above — together with the introduced upcoming options — for no further value. I’ll additionally not be crying about eliminating the Adobe administration software program which principally simply annoys me with replace messages and wastes my CPU and reminiscence assets. Luminar follows an ordinary license mannequin the place you enter a code to allow the software program past a trial interval and then you definitely simply use it with no obstacle ceaselessly extra.
As talked about above, I paid for Luminar 2018 out of my very own pocket. Nevertheless Skylum did permit me to take part within the Luminar 3 beta program which has enabled me to put in writing and polish this evaluate for publication on the launch. I additionally owe because of Simon at Important Apple for making that participation occur.