Articles, Blog

Luminar 4 is it Worth It?

November 19, 2019

hello I’m Robin Whalley
welcome to Lenscraft today I’m looking at the newly released luminar 4 I’m
already a luminar user and I’ll be using version 3.1.3 to make my
comparisons the version of luminar for that I’m using is a pre-release trial
version so it could change by the time you watch this video for the comparison
I’m going to be using Lumina in the standalone mode this is important
because you can also use lumen hours of plugin for the likes of Lightroom and
Photoshop but as I’m using it in standalone mode it doesn’t need any of
the software the areas I’ll be looking at in this review are firstly are there
any speed improvements next it’s the turn of the interface changes after that
I’ll look at some of the filter changes and finally I’ll give you my view on
whether or not I think the upgrade is worthwhile to consider the speed of Lumina I’m
using a simple import test I have 702 raw files from my Fuji xt3 in
a folder and I’m going to add these to both versions of luminar the computer
I’m using for this is a three year old i7 iMac with 32 gigabytes of RAM and I’m
running on the Catalina operating system the images for this test are on an
external drive connected by a USB 3 port and lumen our catalog is also on the
same drive this will almost certainly slow the performance of the software so
let’s see how it copes now rather than keep you watching a progress bar I did
the imports earlier it took 12 minutes and 55 seconds for luminar 3 to complete
this import when I repeated the test with luminar 4 it took you 11 minutes
and 5 seconds that’s around a 15% reduction in the import time but there’s
a little bit more to it than just importing over all my subjective
impression of the software is that lumen r4 is a little bit more responsive
during general use that said I still think there’s further work to do on the
performance if you’re editing large volumes of work the images sometimes
feel a little bit clunky but again that could be because I’m running with an
external drive now let’s consider the interface the interface has gone through something
of a transformation in this latest version on first impressions looking
over the screens it feels a lot cleaner and less cluttered but the problem with
the change of this sort of the interface des firstly it makes it very difficult
to do a direct comparison between the old version and the new secondly it also
makes it very difficult to find some of the features that you may normally use
in the old version when you initially open luminar in the library module
there aren’t many immediate changes the only difference really is the
arrangement of the toolbar along the top of the screen it’s only when we get to
the single image view that we start to see some changes the most obvious difference here is the
looks in lumen are for which no take center stage along the bottom of the
screen the looks are presets that you can apply to your image just by clicking
you can then control the strength of this overall adjustment using the slider
for the selected look initially I thought this was new but
thought it can’t be because I do remember seeing something similar in
luminar 3 again I’ve got the same image I’ll switch to the single view mode and
then I’ll check the View menu here I’ve got the option to show the looks panel
and we have the same looks available having check the looks panel in both
versions of the software I was able to see that most of the looks are the same
although there are some changes I also noticed that having applied the looks
the settings show up differently in the two versions of luminar if I go to the
Edit panel you’ll see what I mean here in luminar 3 we see only those filters
used to create the look in version 4 if I go to the Edit menu
what you see are all the adjustments but the ones that are highlighted in white
are the ones where there’s an adjustment applied we’ll be looking at a few of
these filters in a little more detail shortly the other change I noticed was
that the tools drop down in the toolbar has gone but now we’ve got a crop tool
if I show you luminar three we have a tools drop down where we’ve
got the crop free transform clone and stamp and arrays tools these are all
really important tools for most people I eventually found them in luminar 4 but
they’re not in the menu and if you look at the editing panel it now looks quite
different to how it looked in luminar 3 we now have a series of icons down the
right-hand side of the screen at the top we have the layers option that allows us
to manage our layers we then have canvas and this is a new home for the missing
tools you can see here we’ve got crop and rotate arrays and clone land stamp
but there’s another option that I haven’t seen before which is the lens
and geometry tool it could be that I’ve missed this in the previous version
because I haven’t seen it listed as a new tool for luminar 4 it may also be
that because I’m using a pre-release version of the software it may not make
it into the final release what I can say is that it makes an excellent job of
correcting the lens distortion and it gives you good control if I know look further down on the right
of this panel we can see the different workspaces with all the filters arranged
in them now in the previous version of luminar
you would use the drop-down at the top of the Edit panel to select the
workspaces you wanted to use I’ll just give you a refresher of how you did but this would then limit the list of
filters you could adjust although you could add further filters it also had
the unfortunate effect of clearing any luminaire look you may already have
applied as you can see it’s gone from this image in lumen r4 we don’t see this
annoying behavior all the filters are visible and we can
no make changes without affecting the rest of the image I also noticed that
the history option that used to be at the top of the histogram has now
appeared at the bottom so rather than being up here we now have the history
panel here overall I find the new interface a lot
cleaner and easier to work with in comparison the old interface now appears
cluttered and confusing let’s now look more closely at some of the filters the first thing that I noticed is that
in luminar 3 we had 51 filters but in luminar for we’ve only got 20
filters I won’t do a direct comparison of which filters are missing because
it’s not quite that simple as you’ll see my advice is that if your illumine r3
user download the trial version and check for any filters that you think are
essential and remember is something is missing it may have been combined with
another filter let’s take the example at the sharpening filter in luminar 3 the sharpening filter had
controls for the amount the radius but also masking and D halo
to control the effect if we know look at lumen are four we don’t even have a
sharpening filter instead the sharpening filter is combined with the detail
enhancement filter and in this new filter all you see is a
sharpening slider to control the amount of sharpening in the image if you want
to control the radius you need to select the Advanced Settings now you have
access to a sharpening radius and a sharpening masking option but there’s no
D halo control many of the filters in lumen are for know how this Advanced
Settings section should you need it this has helped to simplify the photo editing
in luminar 4 so less experienced users don’t become confused initially I was a
little surprised and worried by this lack of control but after trying the
filters out with quite a few images and something of a convert the controls are
much easier to use and the results are very very good indeed you only need to
dive into the Advanced section of the filter if you find there’s a problem the
other thing that I’ve noticed in luminar 4 was that it appears to be processing
the image with better quality if i zoom into this image 600% the image is smooth
and clean you the level of detail is also really
impressive let me show you the same in luminar three once the image is still good it’s not
quite as clean as it was with luminar for when I drop back to 200%
magnification the image appears really sharp and full
of detail but it’s still very natural now I don’t think this improvement is
just down to sharpening and noise reduction I think it’s down to the
improvements in the artificial intelligence as the other filters
scaling has made a big thing about their AI improvements and from the results I’m
seeing I think it’s working no one new filter that I’m really keen
to try as a landscape photographer is the sky replacement filter which is
completely new in luminar for here I’ve got us
shot image open where the skies blown out you’ll find the new sky replacement
filter in the creative panel in the Edit options here you can see this AI sky filter
replacement what makes this feature so impressive is
that you don’t need to bother selecting the area to be replaced the artificial
intelligence in the filter will select the sky area for you all you need to do
is select the sky that you want to replace it with once you find a sky that’s a good
replacement you can also fix another common problem often the lighting
conditions with the new sky and the original image don’t match but using the
new relight scene slider you can try to blend the two more realistically once the software comes with some useful
sky images you also have the option to use your own now although I don’t have a catalogue of
sky images that would be useful with this at the moment they are something
that you can collect over time for this particular image though I had the camera
in bracketing mode so I have got an image I created from one of the other
exposures and I’ll import that now now I will stress this isn’t the way to
try to blend multiple exposures together in Lumina there’s a better option for
that but it will demonstrate that we can replace the sky at the moment the two
images don’t align properly you can see that we’ve got the original one here and
the new image here which seems to have been centered in the sky area you can
reposition it using this horizontal position slider now the two images are
aligned you’ll notice that there was some options here that didn’t quite
blend properly and you can adjust those again using this sky global filter now
we’ve replaced from one sky with another and we’ve got the relight scene option
just to try to help balance the two together if i zoom in to a
hundred-percent magnification we can check what a good selection the
software’s created here you can see the selection area
between the two is quite good but it’s not quite perfect at the moment having
said that if you’re not an experienced image editor you may not know how to do
such a sky replacement cleanly yourself and this seems to be a far better option
despite my being impressed I am finding the results from this filter a little
bit hit-and-miss when used over a wide range of images when it works it’s very very impressive
and it does have huge potential for the future I do hope that Skylum invest
further efforts in trying to develop this know one area that I haven’t
covered in this review are the new AI portrait enhancement tools you’ll find
them here you can see there’s an AI skin enhancer a portrait enhancer and a
couple other filters that you would have found in the previous version and with
the other AI filters they’re quite impressive with what you can achieve if
you photograph fashion or portrait I’d urge you to download the trial version
of the software to check if these will work for you as for me I’ll be upgrading
to the latest version I think the cost is reasonable and that the team at
Skylum has made some significant improvements to the software and
processing quality I also find that the new interface is much easier to work
with and I do prefer it I’m Robin Whalley you’ve been watching lenscraft I’ll see
you soon for another video


  • Reply Kirk Rogers November 18, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    I just paid for, downloaded and used L4. For me, it's a massive downgrade. The number of filters / tools that are missing is ridiculous and the inability to re-order the processing stack really restrictive in the control of the output. I'm deffo calling this software Luminar Essentials.

  • Reply Paul Anderson November 18, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Contrary to your advice, and annoyingly there is NO trial download of L4!….

  • Reply JB Cool November 18, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    I will ask for money back. There is a lot of bugs in this program plus missing some enhancement tools. In portrait mode if you slim the face and then you turn of and then turn on again the slim face will stay in original format. Textures can't be moved around to position them the way you want. Problem with Masking too. BUT ANY WAY this program is not for a 100% use to fix your photos That's why I will ask for refund……. I don't like to go between the program to fix stuff…..

  • Reply Carsten Hjort November 18, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    As always your videos are very usefull. Thanks a lot Robin.

  • Reply Kemer Thomson November 18, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    I have been ever hopeful/always disappointed with Luminar. It has seemed like Skylum’s strategy is to push off many fixes to the next release, providing motivation to upgrade. Their upgrade cycle has made it nearly as expensive as a subscription, and while the newer releases have offered cool, new features … and new bugs. On top of that, up until version 3, their raw processing engine (at least for micro four thirds) has been inferior to almost everyone else’s. I had written Skylum off, but perhaps I’ll give them one last chance. As I said, “ever hopeful…”

  • Reply KacperskiTV November 18, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    Where is the toolbox, such as it was in luminar 3? Hiding the most important function of this program is meaningless!

  • Reply Andy November 19, 2019 at 12:39 am

    Nice video Robin. I downloaded the 14 day trial version today and I have to say it's not that great. Having had extensive problems with speed and reliability with Luminar 3 before, I'm disappointed those same issues are here with Luminar 4 on my machine. Skylum should not be spending any more time on their AI filters until they get the basics right first. It is clear to me that L4 is built on the same shaky foundations as L3, but with a new UI (which is a huge step backwards in my opinion) to paper over the cracks and further restrict the users workflow flexibility. I'm very glad I did not fall for the well oiled Skylum marketing BS and purchase L4 – I'll be sticking with ON1 Photo RAW, DxO PhotoLab, Nik Collection, the Topaz products.

  • Reply richard warren November 19, 2019 at 1:28 am

    Robin, as you gain experience with these programs, you find a number of interesting things. One – that some programs are very responsive, ie rapidly opening, saving, closing etc – and others are not. Two – that your photos look better if you use LESS adjustments, and try to keep close to SOOC rather than over processing. Three – that things like sharpen, clarify etc can superficially make an improvement – but upon enlargement, actually make a mess – maybe this is another area where "less is more", rather than being too exuberant in using these controls. Four – that a lot of controls working in one area reverberate unpleasantly elsewhere – because these images are made up from a myriad of pixels of essentially three colours, and it's extremely hard to adjust (say) cyan in sky areas to get a more pleasing blue, without upsetting things elsewhere (masking of course helps here, but isn't always an option). Five some of the programs that have been around a while are showing their age – the panorama function in Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop for example.
    I've been comparing various programs for a year or more, and it's been quite educational. Not exactly cost free, mind you – but nothing ever is, in photography. That said, it's been well worthwhile – another way of improving HOW we take our photos, long before post processing is even relevant!
    And as a post script to that – SOOC is one thing – SOOP is quite another! I've often found that colours improve as the drying process continues, over the days after the print first comes out of the printer. Just riffing through some of my "seconds" that I passed on to my wife – and some of them have really come up nicely, with a bit of ageing. Of course we can't drink them – it's not the same as wine! – but it has been interesting to see it happen. Repeatedly. And quite unexpectedly.

  • Reply mike Kay November 19, 2019 at 4:54 am

    I have a lot of respect for you, but I've yet to find a PC user reviewing Luminar 4. Early days yet, but my plug-in usage from Lightroom is slow and with one 'Apply' back to Lightroom my laptop froze.
    Mike in Oz

  • Reply Ziggi Mon November 19, 2019 at 7:19 am

    Luminar 4 is so painfully slow that it's completely impractical. I'm saying that from the perspective of "slow" Lightroom.

  • Reply R Garlin November 19, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Thanks for going through all this in such great detail Robin – much appreciated!
    I will say though, I am one of those guys who will *always" update to the latest versions of my software – I dread missing out on new features, or worse, sticking with bugs that I'd not yet discovered! I'm the software producers' favorite kind of client, ha ha!

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