Luminar 4 Review: In a Nutshell
The Skylum Luminar 4 is packed with sophisticated AI tools that allow you to do fast-paced editing at the expense of a few clicks.
Its plugin versions allow interoperability with other popular image editors. Luminar 4 can be a great choice if you are looking for swift image processing without compromising image quality.
|AI Sky replacement||Demanding hardware specs|
|Plugins available for easy coupling with other image editors||Poor cataloging. Keyword tagging or face recognition missing|
|AI-powered portrait enhancement|
|Easy to use|
Post-processing is a work of art and requires a lot of experience. It’s not always about selecting a trendy filter and applying it to your workflow.
A filter (e.g. – Sepia) might work for a landscape image but not so much on a portrait.
Just why photographers and content creators take their own sweet time to find the perfect RGB balance, saturation, tone, and contrast that perfectly suits the lighting condition of the image.
But what if I told you that there are dynamic filters that you can apply to all the images in a workflow. Depending on the entities and components present and the overall lighting condition of the image the filter intelligently sets a color tone to the pixels which best suits your image.
Luminar 4 doesn’t have a dynamic filter per se but its AI-enabled editing tools work in similar lines as a dynamic filter.
In this Luminar 4 review, we would look at its salient features and how you can use them for optimum results.
We will also enlist other alternatives Luminar 4 alternatives.
Let’s get started
Update: Skylum has introduced a new product called Luminar Neo. You can read more about it here.
Luminar 4 Review
Luminar 4 is an image editing and photo management application for Mac and Windows platforms.
It allows you to edit images like a pro by leveraging their AI enhancement tools. The latest iteration, Skylum Luminar 4 has introduced numerous feature upgrades that allow you to use the application as a plugin in Apple Photos, Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, or as a stand-alone image editor.
Before we look at its features in detail let’s talk about its basic system requirements first.
The following table shows the recommended system requirement for windows and Mac platforms.
You can find out more details on minimal system requirements from their website.
|Processor||Intel Core i7 7th generation or better,AMD Ryzen 7 2nd generation or better||Intel Core i7 7th generation or better|
|Graphics||GPU with 4GB+ of RAM||GPU with 4GB+ of RAM|
|Memory||16+ GB of RAM||16+ GB of RAM|
|System||Windows 7 (64-bit OS), Windows 8.1 (64-bit OS), Windows 10 (64-bit OS)||macOS 10.12 or higher|
|Disk space||10 GB free space with SSD as the primary drive||10 GB free space with SSD as the primary drive|
Even though Skylum Luminar 4 provides an innovative simple workflow for processing images, it does demand substantial processing power from you, or rather, your hardware setup.
Just look at their disk space requirement. They are recommending SSD drives which are known for their fast read/ write capabilities. But they don’t come cheap.
But there’s a lot on offer as features so check that out.
Luminar 4 Review: Features
In this section of the Luminar photo editor review, we will list some of its best features
1. AI Sky Replacement
The intelligent AI-enabled sky replacement tool is a feature only available in Luminar 4.
This feature allows you to instantly change the sky landscape by selecting from various pre-installed skies. Luminar’s smart selection algorithm perfectly locates tiny details like grass, leaves, and birds which overlap with the sky landscape & keep them untouched, while fine-tuning contrast and brightness or foreground elements.
What to expect
As you can see from the image above, once you import your image in Luminar 4, you can select from various related templates and replace the sky at the click of a button.
Luminar 4’s smart replacement tool would notice your sky selection and accordingly tune the color and saturation of all foreground elements. It allows you to fine-tune light balance and has the provision of inducing atmospheric haze.
Such realistic fine-tuning suggestions set it apart from other image editors.
2. AI-augmented Sky
With the help of the AI-augmented sky tool, you can insert custom objects into your picture at the click of a button.
You can either choose from existing objects or add your own custom elements. This smart tool automatically recognizes other elements like trees, buildings, and other people present in your image and prevents overlapping or masking other elements.
What to expect
Do you want to include a super moon in your stock image? Using augmented sky, you can select any element and place it on your image.
Then you can Pan & Zoom and place the element anywhere on your image. Its inbuilt AI algorithm will automatically adjust the tonality of all ambient elements on its own. Surreal!
3. Smart Cataloging and Non-Destructive Editing
Luminar 4 comes with smart catalog tools. This allows you to quickly search for an image.
While its non-destructive editing preserves the original copy and manages a history of all the edit actions performed so that you can revert to the original image at any time.
What to expect
Luminar’s cataloging capabilities are not as robust as Lightroom. But even though it doesn’t allow smart searching options or facial recognition, you still can filter and search your images based on edits that you made.
4. Luminar 4 Plugin
Luminar 4 plugin is available for Adobe Photoshop Elements, Apple Photos, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Lightroom Classic.
Once the plugin is installed in any of these above-mentioned applications you will be able to leverage Luminar’s AI-powered tools for post-processing.
What to expect
Adobe Lightroom Classic is considered the gold standard for organizing your workflow.
When the Luminar 4 plugin is installed in Lightroom, you can simply switch to Luminar and add the necessary creative effects. This allows you to leverage the best of both editing applications without actually opening them.
5. Portrait and Skin Enhancement tools
Luminar 4 features various AI-powered skin and portrait enhancement tools that can help smooth out portraits, remove blemishes, and improve skin and hair texture.
You need not select any mask ok or perform any manual selection of any sort. These tools can be used for editing studio as well as outdoor portraits and it works for all face types and ethnicities.
What to expect
While editing portraits you need not worry about selecting and specifying blemishes, wrinkles, or dark spots. Luminar 4 would provide you a set of controls using which you can figure out the number of enhancements you desire in your image.
Skin and face enhancement tools are pretty straightforward and simple to use.
6. Remove Noise and other Elements
When you are capturing a fast-moving object in low lighting conditions, you have to increase the shutter speed and ISO level. However, increasing the ISO level adds digital noise to your photo.
You can use Luminar 4 to denoise your images irrespective of your shooting conditions. Apart from de-noising, it also can be used for removing unwanted elements from your image foreground.
What to expect – The denoise tool is simple to use. All you need to do is specify the area and the amount of noise reduction you are looking for.
In similar lines to remove an element from your image, you need to select the area of the element and click on a button to delete it.
Its AI-powered tool would mask and replicate the background layer and take care of the rest.
Luminar 4 Pricing
You can use Luminar 4 for free for a trial period of 7 days. After that, you can choose from 3 different licensing options.
Here are the Luminar 4 price packages for single packages –
- Master – Priced at $67 right now. This plan doesn’t offer you any AI tools. You can only use Luminar 4 as an image editor and for changing sky landscape.
- Expert – For $166, you can use all the features of the Master plan as well as use all AI tools.
- Guru – On top of the feature of the Expert plan, you also get to use Aurora HDR effects. This package would cost you $235.
If you want more details about their licenses, check out their official website.
Now that we have looked at some of the prominent features from the Luminar 4 review, let’s talk about some of the best Luminar alternatives you can also use today.
1. Adobe Lightroom
Adobe Lightroom is a gold standard for creating workflows and retouching stock images. You can use Adobe Lightroom on Windows and Mac platforms, Android or iOS smartphones.
Lightroom automatically syncs your project setup and changes to the cloud so that you can edit across devices without the need for importing files. It is well known for image cataloging and sought after for setting up image editing workflow.
Pricing – You can use Lightroom for free for a 30-day trial period. Once the trial period expires, you have to opt for a Lightroom subscription. You can go for the following subscriptions –
- Annual plan paid monthly at $9.99 per month
- Annual prepaid plan for $119.88 per year.
2. Affinity Photo
Affinity Photo is an image editing tool used for general image processing, editing 360-degree images, and creating stunning HDR images.
Using this application, you can add unlimited layers of color presets, select different blend modes and filters to make the most out of your post-processing.
One cool feature of Affinity Photo is the freedom that comes while using its brushing tools.
The application allows you to completely customize and tweak various brushes to make editing simple. You can even export your customized brush configuration so that other affinity photo users can use them.
It also features simple photo stitching allowing you to create a magnificent panorama in a matter of seconds.
Pricing – You can use Affinity Photo for free during the trial period of 90 days.
Once the trial period expires, a lifetime license for Windows or Mac platform would cost you $24.99. iPad users can get their copy for $9.99.
DarkTable is a free Luminar 4 alternative. This open-source image processing tool is supported on Windows, Mac, and Linux devices.
Just like Luminar 4, it is also a non-destructive image editor. However, there are no AI tools, it doesn’t have an exotic system requirement.
Darktable is known for its performance and GPU accelerated image processing of high-quality RAW images.
While using this application, you can export your images in different formats and share them over mail or on different social media platforms directly from the application.
Pricing – DarkTable can be downloaded for free. No license or subscription is required.
Here’s the Luminar 4 review in a nutshell –
- Luminar 4’s sky replacement tool is its USP. This powerful feature can help you choose from various sky templates and replace your sky landscape at the click of a button.
- Its AI skin and portrait enhancement tools automatically detect blemishes, dark spots, and wrinkles and help you to remove them with a few minor settings.
- The latest version of Skylum Luminar 4 helps you to add surrealism to your image. You can select objects from Luminar or add custom objects as your image background. Its powerful AI tools automatically recognize foreground objects and mask them without requiring any human intervention.
- Luminar 4 plugin is a step forward towards handshaking with other image editors. With this plugin, you can leverage Luminar’s creative tools from Photoshop, Lightroom, and Apple Photos.
- Despite all its advanced features it still has a long way to go while cataloging images.
Skylum Luminar 4 Review: Our Verdict
Luminar 4 derives its popularity from its advanced AI-powered tools. Even though these features help you perform a lot of heavy lifting at the click of a button, it does demand a lot from your PC.
So much so that we recommend you check your hardware specifications before you get your copy of Luminar 4.
But no matter how attractive Luminar’s features are, Lightroom will remain on the top of the app chain. You can instead add the Luminar 4 plugin to Lightroom for a breath of fresh air and get the best of both worlds.
If you are working on a shoestring budget, then you can stick to DarkTable instead.
Q. Is Luminar better than Lightroom?
Even though Luminar 4 provides you a plethora of advanced AI tools still it won’t be able to match up to Lightroom’s popularity and market capture. Lightroom is immensely popular and a market standard in the image processing ecosystem.
Its cataloging and workflow creation is far better than Luminar 4. But you can use its plugin from Lightroom to use its various AI enhancement tools.
Q. Is Luminar 4 good for beginners?
The primary objective of Luminar 4 is to stop photographers from reinventing the wheel. It means you need not go through the rigorous process of applying layers, masks and using custom brushes to edit your images. Its sophisticated AI-powered tools can lend you a helping hand.
For a beginner, editing images from scratch has a learning curve. While editing you learn various tips and tricks on how to make your image pop. With Luminar 4, you would be solely relying on AI-powered tools. Based on our Luminar 4 review, our suggestion would be,
– If you are an amateur photographer you are equally invested in the image editing process as the final output. Hence we would recommend you to go for other Luminar 4 alternatives (preferably Lightroom, as you can use Luminar 4 tools through its plugin too ).
– If you are a digital marketer or a content creator and are only concerned about the final result, Luminar 4 would be the perfect tool for you.