Luminar 2018 Review - A Feature Breakdown for Amateur and Beginning Photographers

This is a 100% honest, 100% authentic Luminar 2018 version 1.2.0 photo editing software review. Dadtography received a complimentary download of the product, but we were not compensated in any way for this post. Some links below, marked as (af), may be affiliate links. Sales made resulting from clicks on affiliate links provide a small percentage of each sale to Dadtography.com.

All images are originals taken by Dadtographer Daniel and edited exclusively in Luminar 2018 (af). Most photos were edited using DNG source files. Please don't use our photos without permission.

Luminar Review Post Updated 12/8/18

Updating this Luminar 2018 review post because Luminar 3 is coming out in just 10 days. Luminar 3 is a major upgrade to the photo editing software, adding the long-anticipated "libraries" (gallery / organization) feature. Be sure to check out our brand new Luminar 3 review to see the latest on this new version!

Special Offer

The All New Luminar 3

USD 69

USD 59

Be sure to use discount code DADTOGRAPHY to save $10!

Skylum's Luminar (af) has become our preferred photo editor of choice, and with the upcoming release of the new Luminar with Libraries, there's never been a better time to buy!

Luminar 2018 is the next big step toward a market-dominating photo editor. It's faster, more powerful and more intuitive than anything else we've used.

Navigate this Luminar review post:

(or just keep scrolling to browse our Luminar review)

What's new in Luminar "Jupiter"?

Skylum just released version 1.2.0, known as the "Jupiter" update and included a lot of features and fixes.

Before and After Gallery

See a few of our first images edited using Luminar 2018.

More About Luminar

Learn more about the latest version of Luminar.

Is it Windows compatible?

Learn more about Luminar 2018 for Windows users.

What's new in 2018?

Learn more about the new additions to the latest release.

Is it easy to use?

Read our thoughts on ease of using Luminar 2018.

What are the features?

See the full list of features (there are 75) in Luminar 2018.

How's the user interface?

Compare the Luminar 2017 and 2018 user interfaces.

What does Luminar need to improve?

No software is perfect. What needs to be improved with Luminar 2018?

Want to see a video?

Check out this quick demo video of the filter presets in action.

What's new with Luminar "Jupiter" - version 1.2.0?

Skylum, the makers of Luminar 2018 (af) recently announced a major update to their flagship photo editing program. The update, known as "Jupiter" includes a lot of enhancements, with a focus on performance. The update gives a lot of "love" to the Windows version of Luminar as well. Below are some of the key highlights in this update.

Luminar "Jupiter" and the focus on performance.

Skylum has dramatically increased the speed of editing across all areas of Luminar. Now images open faster, filters apply quicker, and the entire application is more responsive.

  • Most users will see snappier sliders as they’ve gained performance boosts of 3-25x for easier adjustments.
  • Luminar better uses the operating system for faster performance, with many operations seeing significant boosts.
  • Better RAW conversion including refined initial brightness settings, improved de-mosaic process for cleaner image conversions, fewer halos and more camera compatibility.
  • Automatic lens distortion removal
  • Advanced support for DCP profiles

Luminar "Jupiter" gives Windows users much-needed love.

  • NEW: BATCH PROCESSING. The powerful Batch Processing workflow saves time and effort.
  • NEW: EASY TRANSFORMATIONS. To easily transform the shape of an image, the Free Transform tool can scale and position an object as needed. Plus users can easily Flip and Rotate an image using the Image menu commands.
  • Better cloning. Users can quickly call up the Clone & Stamp module by pressing Ctrl + J. Softness, opacity, and size of the brush can also now be modified.
  • Cleaner zooms. Accelerated zooming now delivers a cleaner image at all sizes. Images appear sharper when the zoom is beyond 100% for detail work. Plus the new version provides a cleaner preview when zoomed out to see the whole image.
  • Preview mode. To check out a photo free from any distractions users can now use Full Screen Preview - a great way to really study an image in detail.
  • Localization support. It’s even easier to use Luminar in a different language. The localizations have been improved for greater accuracy and can now be changed from the File menu in Windows version.
  • Better masking controls. Users can create masks more easily when painting masks. Holding down the spacebar and dragging with the cursor, pans and moves the image when masking.
  • Improved workflow with other applications. When using Luminar as a plugin with other applications, color profiles are properly included. This change also improves image exporting with attached profiles.
  • Shared workspaces. Users can now share their custom workspaces.

Luminar 2018 - Before and After Gallery

Below is a gallery of the very first images we've edited using the new 2018 version of Luminar. Included is an unedited "before" version as well as the "after" Luminar edit.

Use the slider on each image to compare the "before" and "after" versions.

Before Edit After Luminar Edit
Before Edit After Luminar Edit
Before Edit After Luminar Edit
Before Edit After Luminar Edit
Before Edit After Luminar Edit
Before Edit After Luminar Edit

First, what is Luminar 2018?

Luminar 2018 (af) is the latest update (essentially version 2.0) of the popular photo editing software that provides both Mac and Windows users with an intuitive yet powerful multi-purpose photo editor.

Clearly, Macphun is setting Luminar up to be a major competitor in the photo editing space with this update. Luminar 2018 represents a genuine step toward a viable Lightroom alternative, but it's not without faults. We'll get into those a little further down.

From the Luminar press release:

Luminar 2018 offers everything a modern photographer needs for photo editing, including new filters powered by artificial intelligence, major speed improvements, a dedicated RAW develop module and a forthcoming in 2018; digital asset management platform.

Users will also benefit from the new intelligent Sun Rays filterLUT support, and real-time noise removal. With workspaces that match different styles of editing, Luminar adapts to deliver a complete experience that avoids clutter and complexity.

Luminar 2018 has been re-built from the ground up for dramatic performance boosts. Existing filters deliver richer colors and depth in less time. A brand new streamlined user interface speeds up working with presets, filters, and masks. With full support of pro options like layers, masks, and blending modes, complex repairs and photo composites can be easily accomplished.

This Luminar Review focuses on the Mac version of Luminar 2018.

We're a Mac-only household, so this review will focus on the initial release 1.0 of Luminar 2018.

This review will focus on Luminar 2018 as an application and not necessarily drill down on the differences between Luminar Neptune 2017 and Luminar 2018. There are new enhancements included in this release of Luminar and those are mentioned below.

What's new in 2018 (Neptune) vs Luminar Neptune 2017?

  • Support for 3rd Party Adobe Plugins
  • Advanced Masking with Filters
  • Advanced Bi-Color Toning
  • Advanced Cross Processing
  • Advanced Microstructure
  • New and Better RAW Processing Engine (it's faster!)
  • Advanced Real-Time Noise Reduction
  • Advanced Split Toning
  • Advanced Structure
  • Apple HEIF Files Support
  • Brilliance Filter
  • Dodge and Burn (you can do cool things with light)
  • Expand / Collapse Mode for Filters Panels
  • Improved User Experience
  • Dedicated RAW Develop Filter
  • Lens Corrections
  • LUT (Lookup Tables) Support
  • Matte Filter
  • New Brush Modes in Layers
  • New User Interface for Faster Workflow
  • Over 150% Speed Increase
  • Sun Light Rays Filter
  • Digital Asset Management Module (Coming 2018)
The digital asset management (DAM) features will be a FREE upgrade to existing Luminar 2018 users and will be available in 2018.
Dadtography AT-AT Walker Edited in Luminar
Dadtography AT-AT Walker Edited in Luminar

Luminar 2018 - What are the features of this photo editor?

Luminar 2018 is packed with a lot of powerful image editing features. In addition to the new features in this release, it also contains the following 75 features:

  • Accent Filter (powered by Artificial Intelligence)
  • Adaptive User Interface
  • Adjustable Gradient Filter
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements Plugin
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Plugin
  • Adobe Photoshop Plugin
  • Advanced Contrast
  • Apple Photos extension
  • Batch processing
  • Bi-Color Toning
  • Black & White module
  • Brightness adjustment
  • Channel mixer
  • Clarity filter
  • Clone & Stamp Shortcuts
  • Color Balance
  • Color Contrast
  • Color Temperature
  • Contrast
  • Crop
  • Curves
  • Dedicated presets for DJI drone photos
  • Dehaze
  • Details Enhancer
  • Eraser (Object removal)
  • Feather & density for masking brush
  • Fog filter
  • Foliage Enhancer
  • Gradient masking
  • Grain
  • High Key
  • Highlights and Shadows
  • Histogram
  • History panel
  • HSL filter
  • Image Radiance
  • Layers
  • Blend modes for layers
  • Real-time image processing
  • Luminosity masking
  • Masking brush
  • Masking with filters
  • Merge layers & stamped layers
  • Micro structure
  • Noise reduction tool
  • Non-destructive editing
  • Orton Effect
  • Photo filter
  • Polarizing filter
  • 60 professional presets
  • Radial masking
  • RAW support
  • Remove Color Cast
  • Rotate & Flip
  • Native format saving
  • Sharing to social networks
  • Sharpening tool
  • Sharpening & resize on export
  • Show Highlights/Shadows clippings
  • Smart Tone adjustment
  • Soft Focus
  • Soft Glow
  • Split Color Warmth
  • Split Toning
  • Straightening
  • Structure
  • Textures
  • Tone
  • Top & Bottom Lighting
  • Transform tool
  • Vibrance adjustment
  • Vignette
  • Whites & Blacks adjustment
  • Workspaces
  • Zoom in & Zoom out

Luminar 3 Now Available on Windows

Luminar 3 includes Windows support from the very start. Awesome, intuitive and affordable image editors are no longer a Mac-only thing!

$10 off with discount code DADTOGRAPHY

Powerful photo editing is no longer exclusive to Mac computers. Luminar 2018 includes a Windows version.

Luminar 2018 Mac Technical Requirements

Apple Mac devices

  • MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, Mac mini

Processor

  • Intel 64-bit Core 2 Duo or better

Memory

  • 4 Gb RAM or more

OS X

  • Sierra 10.12.6, El Capitan 10.11.5, Yosemite 10.10.5

Hard disk

  • 2 Gb free space, SSD for best performance

Display

  • 1280 x 768 size or better

Luminar 2018 Windows Technical Requirements

Windows-based hardware

  • PC with mouse or similar input device
  • Direct X 10 compatible Graphics Cards of better

Processor

  • Intel Core i3 or better

Memory

  • 4 Gb RAM or more

OS

  • Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10

Hard disk

  • 2 Gb free space, SSD for best performance

Display

  • 1280 x 768 size or better

Be honest - is Luminar 2018 easy to use?

In a word? YES! I started using the Luminar product during the 2017 "Neptune" release and have totally fallen in love with how easy and powerful this photo editor is.

The controls are intelligently arranged in the interface, icons are intuitive (and when they're not, they have provide hints).

Check out the side-by-side comparison of Luminar Neptune 2017 and Luminar 2018. You can see a few subtle differences between the two interfaces in these screen shots, but nothing too major. The designers and developers really are trying to make this the best photo editor available on the market, and it shows.

If you're already running Luminar Neptune 2017 on a Mac, you better get this upgrade so you have access to the DAM (digital asset manager) coming out in 2018!

Existing Luminar users, get this upgrade so you have access to the new digital asset manager (DAM) coming as a free update in 2018!

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the Luminar 2017 and Luminar 2018 user interfaces (UI):

Luminar 2017 Luminar 2018

Luminar isn't perfect. Here are a few areas Luminar 2018 still needs to improve.

No software product is perfect. As someone that's worked on software and app development teams for years, I know this to be true.

I'm sure the developers of Luminar also have a list of things they'd like to fix and add to their product. Overall, it's still the best photo editing tool I've used, but it can (and likely will) be improved.

The interface changes to Luminar 2018 were unnecessary.

The first thing I noticed that I didn't care for, but is also a personal preference, are some of the changes to the user interface.

For example, the slider controls are smaller in the latest version. That has the added benefit of making them more vertically compact, but I also felt it took away from the aesthetic of the app just a bit.

Luminar 2018 still lacks photo organization tools.

One of the biggest advantages that one of Luminar's biggest competitors have over it is the ability to manage your photo library. As I mentioned in my Aurora HDR vs Adobe Lightroom comparison post, Aurora (like Luminar) also lacks a serious digital asset management (DAM) tool. Fortunately, in the case of Luminar 2018, a DAM is on the horizon, but for now, the product still doesn't offer much for those that have a lot of photos to organize.

Luminar 2018 Windows and Mac don't have feature parity.

Luminar 2018 will be available for both Mac and Windows machines, but they won't share the same features at the launch of the product. Like the DAM, features will be added to the Windows version over the course of the upcoming months, but if you're a Windows user, don't be disappointed to see a few key differences in the program for a while.

What features won't be available in the Windows version of Luminar at launch? Here's the list:

  1. Workspaces
  2. Feather & density for masking brush
  3. Luminosity masking
  4. Sharpening & resize on export
  5. Adobe Photoshop Elements plugin
  6. LUT (Lookup tables) support
  7. Merge layers & stamped layers
  8. Blend modes for layers
  9. Clone & Stamp
  10. Native format saving
  11. Transform tool
  12. Rotate & Flip
  13. Batch processing
  14. Support of 3rd party Adobe plugins

Luminar 3 with Libraries is HERE!

Luminar 3 with libraries was launched on December 18, 2018. Upgrade from Luminar 2018 at a special discounted price or purchase Luminar 3 now and you can instantly download Luminar 3 with libraries full version!

Don't forget to use our special discount code DADTOGRAPHY and save $10 off your order!

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