Luminar 3 for Mac photo-editing app adds performance, integration improvements

Luminar reduces arduous photo-editing workflows to just a few clicks. Find out how Luminar 3 for Mac makes it even easier to quickly produce attractive images.

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Luminar 3 for Mac (Figure A)

Image: Skylum

Photo-editing applications are plentiful, and many simplify the previously challenging task of applying filters, adjusting hues, and improving photo finish quality, whether the images are for personal use, blogs, commercial websites, marketing materials, ads, or other professional pursuits. Luminar and sister app Aurora HDR have gained popularity by simplifying the process to just a few clicks for busy professionals, while still retaining customization options for users with more image-editing knowledge and experience. Skylum, which manufactures both applications, has loaded performance and integration improvements within Luminar 3 for Mac.

New in version 3 is automatic image catalog database management. Edits and metadata changes are automatically backed up. Luminar 3 integrates with Aurora HDR, permitting users to send Luminar-processed images to Aurora HDR to tap that program's bracketed photo merging and HDR capabilities.

SEE: Software usage policy (Tech Pro Research)

Photographers working with RAW and 16-bit images will find Luminar now exports high-quality 16-bit versions of those files, while the application's Preferences have been updated to permit adjusting cache size, catalog (photo directory) location, and auto backup settings.

New users shouldn't feel intimated using Luminar—a beginner's guide ensures they get up to speed quickly using the platform's simplified interface (Figure A).

The real test of a photo-editing platform that simplifies photo processing by permitting applying one of a number of preset filters is the quality and variety of such filters, and Luminar 3 does not disappoint. Formerly known as Luminar Presets, these filter packs are called Luminar Looks in version 3, although I found previous Luminar Presets work fine in Luminar 3.

Skylum includes a standard set of Luminar Looks, including Arial, Dramatic, Essentials, Street, and Landscape. The developer also regularly provides free add-on Looks. Premium Looks, created and developed in concert with a variety of popular professional photographers, are also available. The Premium Looks typically range in price from $12 to $24. Users seeking to leverage a variety of Looks should note that the Luminar 3 Signature Edition license includes multiple Looks packs for just $49.

The Looks panel, which is visible at the bottom of the application in Figure B, displays numerous potential treatment or appearance previews, should the corresponding filter be applied to the image.

Figure B

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Image: Skylum

Workspaces accelerate, organize, and coordinate photo-editing workflow by associating specific filter options with various types of photography, such as portrait, outdoor, or product imagery. And because you can now connect Luminar directly to the directory in which you store photos on your Mac, Luminar 3 eliminates having to create multiple images or duplicate directories, which streamlines production. Plus, changes stay in sync automatically, which is a big time-saving feature. More advanced users will find they can still access additional features, such as the ability to independently adjust the AI filter, saturation and vibrance and clarity, while also setting custom adjustments for each Look.

Unlike subscription-based photo-editing programs, once a user purchases a Luminar 3 license, there's no monthly drag to continue paying. A basic license is just $69, which makes the platform that much more competitive, especially considering the license can be loaded on up to five machines in the same household.

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By Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...