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Is the New Luminar 2018 a Good Lightroom Alternative?

There's a storm brewing on the horizon – a photo editing software battle or possibly an all-out war. Adobe's recent announcement and Lightroom “upgrades” have a lot of people upset and looking for a Lightroom alternative.

The LR bandwagon is a busy place as many photographers are rapidly jumping off!

Many people are tired of the subscription model and paying monthly fees just to have their software of choice.

Others yet have resisted that route. But they will now be forced to make a decision as Lightroom 6 is the last version that will be available for outright purchase.

So, if you're in that boat you will have two options to choose from:

One: You can either bite the bullet and sign up for Adobe's photographer's plan for $9.99 USD a month.

Two: You can stick with LR6 for infinity, but it won't be updated or supported by Adobe moving forward.

So that new camera you buy next year – its raw files won't be recognized by LR6.

Enter Luminar – the Lightroom Alternative

lightroom alternative Luminar for photo editing software black friday sale

Black Friday Coupon Code for Luminar

Use the code DIGITALPHOTOMENTOR to receive $10 off your purchase, until Wed Nov 29.

There are a LOT of players stepping up to the plate, looking to take a bigger piece of the photo editing software market from Adobe. Some companies we haven't heard a peep from in years, and others brand new to the market are appearing with RAW processors.

See what Luminar has to offer as a Lightroom alternative.

Just a few of the alternative products on the market for Lightroom include:

  • ACDsee Photo Editor 10 – $59.99 USD (Note: it is for Windows only) I'll admit I don't know much about this one, but there is a free trial if you want to test it out.
  • On1 Raw 2018 – $119-149 USD – now available for purchase.
  • Corel AfterShot Pro – $59 USD – They made Paint Shop Pro which I used pre-Photoshop way back in about 1993! They still make that and now have come out with a raw processor as well. A trial version is available.
  • DxO OpticsPro – $129-199 USD – two versions available, as well as a trial option.
  • Affinity Photo – approx $54 USD – They do have a free trial available. Perhaps I'll try it out and write about it soon as well.
  • Phase One Capture One Pro – $299 USD – this one is high-end aimed at professionals. If Lightroom is too complicated, this one will be way over your head.
  • Luminar 2018 – $59 price for pre-ordering now (before November 14, 2017) – See a comparison

Lightroom vs Luminar Feature Comparison List

You can see a full list of features in a side-by-side comparison between Luminar and Lightroom here.

I think Macphun is getting ready to take on Adobe head-to-head by presenting an alternative to Lightroom.

Example Luminar workflow

Because Luminar has the ability to apply edits on a layer, you can group together the type of edits you're applying. Meaning, if you want to punch up the sky as I did – make a “Sky” layer and apply all the filters that will do a nice job on the sky.

Then you can adjust each filter to your taste, then apply a layer mask, filter masks, or lower the layer opacity to control the overall look.

Then select your next area to work on, make a new adjustment layer and apply filters that are applicable there.

It's super easy to paint in an effect on a small area, or multiple areas of the image – without affecting the entire photo.

Here is an example of one image, with each step in my workflow in Luminar outlined.

Lightroom Alternative example photo - Original Raw, unedited
Original raw file, unedited.
Lightroom Alternative example photo - Raw develop filter applied with the photo editing software
Step one – Raw Develop Filter added. This is also where you find the lens corrections and Transform for perspective correction. Notice the building isn't tilting anymore.
Lightroom alternative example photo 2 - Accent AI filter, clarity and brightness filters applied
Step 2 – all done on a new layer: Accent AI Filter, Clarity, and Brightness. Notice how realistic looking it still is even with the shadow areas pulled up to retain detail. There's a slight halo in the sky which is something I could easily fix with a filter or layer mask.
Lightroom alternative example photo 3 - tone control applied to the image
Step 3 – tone control applied. Again, this is all on a new layer and I've used the Dodge and Burn Filter, Vignette, Polarizing Filter (darkens the sky), and Exposure (I painted in minus exposure to the bottom corners of the image to draw the eye in more).
Lightroom alternative example photo 4 - sky enhancements on a new layer
Step 4 – sky enhancements. Here I applied (on a new layer – see the trend?) Image Radiance, Color Contrast, Saturation and the HSL filter to brighten the sky and give it punch. I used filter masks to have some of them only apply to the sky area.
Lightroom alternative example photo 5 - final version of image, processed with Luminar and the Sun Rays filter
Lastly, I couldn't help trying the Sun Rays Filter on this image. I think it works great here to add a nice mood to the image.

Is Luminar a good alternative for Lightroom?

If you watched my review of Luminar back a few months, you'll know that it impressed me.

I liked it a LOT more than I thought I was going to.

In fact, I like it so much I've recently been using it to “finish” my images after processing them in Lightroom.

But is it going to be a good alternative for Lightroom? That's the question I've been asked multiple times.

I'll list a few of the pros and cons of Luminar to help you decide. It does some things really well but still falls just slightly short in other areas, in my opinion.

Here's a short video walk-through of Luminar 2018 to give you an idea how it works.

Luminar seems to be a good Lightroom alternative now that Adobe has changed their subscription model and you'll want to be ready.Click To Tweet

Pros of Luminar 2018

  • Handles raw files well.
  • Works as a plugin for Photoshop, Lightroom, Apple Photos OR as a stand-alone product.
  • Simple to use and a user-friendly interface.
  • NO monthly subscription needed. One purchase is good for licensing up to five of your devices – for $59 as pre-order on Luminar 2018 right now (Pre-order ends November 14, 2017)
  • Works with layers so you can do non-destructive editing.
  • Works with Presets and Filters which make it easy to do one or two-click editing and call it a day.
  • It is flexible and adjustable with layer opacity, masks, and local adjustment tools that allow you to apply effects to your entire image, or just a portion of it.
  • You can save a native Luminar file that preserves your layers and history – so you can come back to editing any time, with all your options and edits available for adjustment.
  • Luminar comes with a lot of really great filters including the Accent AI Filter that is sometimes all you need. You can see my favorite filters shown below.
  • You can easily export and post your images to social media, email and other sites with an easy “Share to” system all set up for you!

Black Friday Coupon Code for Luminar

Save $10 by using the code DIGITALPHOTOMENTOR when you purchase Luminar, until Wed Nov 29.

some favorite filters for Luminar 2018 photo editing software

Cons of Luminar

I mentioned there are a few things that Lightroom still does better than Luminar.

In all fairness, I think that in time they may just catch up, but for now, there are a couple little things you will miss in Luminar if you're currently a Lightroom user.

  • The RAW processor (filter) isn't a full-featured as Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) which operates inside both PS and LR. It's missing targeted adjustment tools (so you can darken a certain tone by selecting it on the image), auto perspective correction, auto level, and crop, etc. Basically some of the automated handy stuff LR can do.
  • Currently, there isn't a way to see all your images and sort, cull, and manage them. That is coming with their announced Digital Asset Management module being added in 2018. So, I'll wait to reserve judgment on that until I've tried it out.
  • The Cloning and Healing tool is a bit clunky. But it's a new feature, so I expect it to only get better. LR's cloning tool was not great in its first iteration either.
  • It's easy to go too far. I find the presets and sliders in Luminar will take your image over the top into “over-processed land” really fast if you aren't careful. But use restraint and apply them subtly, lower the opacity of filters and layers, and you'll be fine.

What's new in Luminar 2018

Perhaps you already have Luminar and are wondering if it's worth upgrading to Luminar 2018.

I say yes!

It's only $39 to do so and there's already been a lot of new stuff added, and more coming.

If you upgrade you get a few bonuses and will get all the DAM (digital asset management) update to Luminar 2018 for free (but don't quote me on that).

Photo of grape vines growing with lake okanagan in the distance, as a before example
Before – original raw file, unedited. It's a little boring and doesn't capture the feeling of the valley I wanted.

Here are just some of the new features and filters. Many of the existing ones have been updated and improved as well.

  • Better filter masking
  • New user interface
  • Lens corrections (distortion and chromatic aberration control)
  • Transform tool for perspective control and corrections
  • New filters (Sun Rays, Brilliance/Warmth, Hue Shift, Dodge/Burn, Lookup tables)
  • Real-time denoise
  • Save filter masks as a preset
  • Supports other third-party Plugins for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop
Same photo of grape vines processed with Luminar as the after photo
After processing in Luminar – the new Sun Rays Filter applied among others. THIS is more what I envisioned for this shot!

Updated Windows version

If you are using a Windows machine, there is now an almost equally functional Windows version. The beta version has had many upgrades and you can now purchase the full program for Windows. More features are being rolled out over the next few months.

What's coming next?

A couple of interesting things are coming up for Luminar and Macphun.

Name change – introducing Skylum

First, Macphun made an announcement recently that they will be rebranding in 2018 and their name will change to Skylum. So that will give you an idea of how invested the company is in continuing development of PC software.

They've gone so far as to remove the “Mac” from their name. So they will no longer be just Mac software specialists – but photo editing software specialists across both platforms.

They are setting up to give Adobe a run for their money – especially in light of Adobe's recent announcements and Lightroom updates. More on the below.

Digital Asset Management coming soon

The second exciting thing is that Macphun has also announced that they will be adding a Digital Asset Management element to Luminar in 2018. Here's what it says on the Luminar 2018 FAQ page.

screen shot of Luminar software digital asset managagement coming soon

Here is a short preview from the Macphun YouTube channel.

Luminar photo editing software for portraits?

Why not. Let's have a look.

portrait of a woman and man unprocessed
Raw unedited version. This is my sister-in-law and her husband. They wanted fall colors in their portrait.
portrait of a woman and man processed with Luminar 2018
Processed in Luminar with just a one preset and a few adjustments.
same portrait processed with the sun rays filter makes for a great shot
You know I had to do it! Sun Rays added – but once again it works here. I love how it feels like the sun is coming through the branches. A filter mask was applied to keep the rays from hitting their faces. I think they will like it!

The bottom line

I'm personally not going to be switching from Lightroom any time soon (I'll be using the LR Classic version).

But I will continue to use Luminar in addition to Lightroom.

If you're feeling like you're going to stick with LR, I'm there with you. But I suggest give Luminar a try anyway.

You might be as surprised by it as I was, and add it to your toolbox.

Black Friday Coupon Code for Luminar

Save $10 by using the code DIGITALPHOTOMENTOR when you purchase Luminar, until Wed Nov 29.

Raw file, unedited. I loved the light hitting the odd-shaped hill in the background and wanted to emphasize it.
Processed version with several filters applied. See – I told you I got carried away with the Sun Rays! But it works here, right?

Luminar might just be the answer for you – if you fit either of these categories

First, if you're currently using LR6 and refuse to pay the monthly subscription fee.

Secondly, if you aren't using any image editing software yet and find it all a bit intimidating.

You'll likely be pleasantly surprised at how easy Luminar is with its Quick and Easy workspace and use of Presets.

Either way – you can't go wrong taking Luminar for a spin.

At $59 (pre-order) the price point is certainly pocket-book friendly, and with a free trial available, what have you got to lose?


You are here: Post processing » Is the New Luminar 2018 a Good Lightroom Alternative?

lightroom alternative photo editing software

Black Friday Coupon Code for Luminar

Use the code DIGITALPHOTOMENTOR to receive $10 off your purchase, until Wed Nov 29.

  • Hi Darlene, I alwais enjoy reading your articles and this one is the best topic of the day… Good to know your preferences, and you being my teacher for many years, I will follow you on this one too. I already plaid a bit with Luminar 2018 and I like the output, but the Lightroom still mi number one software now. If Luminar will add file and folder handling, will create a better and stronger alternative to stand alone crowd.

    • Yes that is the DAM (digital asset management) that I mentioned. See their short intro video to it above – that’s coming in 2018 they’ve said.

  • ClarkS

    Why don’t you review On1 Photo Raw 2018. I think it is a great LR replacement, maybe a PS replacement too. The newest version adds HDR and panorama stitching. About all I know that is missing is focus stacking….and I’m not yet sure it is really missing. The company is very customer focused. They poll their customers to know what features to add next. They also have lots of training videos. I’m pretty satisfied with them so far!

    • Ian Browne

      I was going to ask the same question ClarkS. I am using On1; it’s not perfect but has a lot going for it. Their DAM has a way to go so I will continue to use Lr5 for some time.
      I have also tried windows luminar however the beta is too incomplete to judge it
      Luminar’s DAM quality will be the game decider for many iMO
      Certainly interesting times even if a bit confusing —- so glad I never went with adobe CC.

      Thanks for the great article Darlene

      • ClarkS

        Just curious, what do you find to be missing with their DAM? They allow lots of metadata (tags, ratings, colors, etc) and they make it easy to have multiple computers because they don’t use a database like LR. So for me, their DAM seems pretty good. What do you find that is missing?

      • thanks @ian_browne:disqus See my reply to Clark above. I may try it and compare. I just know I’ve used Luminar and like it and I can use it as a plugin for LR as well.

    • Hi @disqus_Lgd2noBCLB:disqus – I haven’t tried that one but I’m considering getting trials of the ones I listed and doing a comparison. At the end of the day it also comes down to preference and which do you like best. It’s like the Canon/Nikon or Mac/PC endless debates.

      • Daniela Argandoña

        Honestly? It’s not, On1 Photo raw is so much more, and far more complex… If Luminar is easy to use the curve to learn O1 is more intricated, yet not as much as Photoshop. It has tons of possibilities, lots of layers options, and also exporting in different formats, and for different needs. I think that’s the program that is approaching to Photoshop…. with the culling process available as well . Though my prefered one is Photomechanich. That one for culling makes things easy, fast, and it’s not a burden to the computer.

        Excellent review of Luminar.

        I am a very old user of the platform 🙂

        • I’ve just never gotten into Photo Mechanic. I get the reason for it but I do all my culling inside LR. So yes there is something needed in that area. But with so many options appearing there are a lot of different ones available and it does come down to what works for each person. So you really have to try them out to decide.

  • Hi Marshal – yes I’ve heard of that one but haven’t tried it. There has to be a catch though – how can they provide software for free? They have to pay developers, R&D, etc. Do you offer a donation if you like it ?

    • marshal

      Good question Darlene, one that confounds many people new to open-source software offerings. Most often the development is done by enthusiasts, scattered around the world, collaborating via the Internet, who are rewarded by seeing their creations used and enjoyed by people everywhere. Sometimes they might be financially supported by commercial organizations who will provide paid-for consulting and other side-related services, but that is usually for much bigger projects, like Ubuntu Linux, for example (which I use instead of Windows or MacOS).

      Sometimes you will see a “donate” button, but in the case of Darktable, the developers eschew donations. It’s completely free, no catch.

      • Yeah I don’t get that. R&D and software making can’t be easy or free. Somebody has to pay for it.

        • Neil Smith

          Like Marshall said, the open source fans will work for free. One very large example is FlightGear, a flight simulator that is the largest one available now, with no comparable competition. There are NO charges anyplace if you download. For those with limited internet access there is a very reasonable charge to get it on disk.

          In the photo editing field there is GIMP, which has been around for years. When you say “somebody has to pay for it”, resources are donated by, call them hobbyists that produce professional work, everything needed. A few ads on the website takes care of some financial burden.

          • marshal

            The GIMP is a great free, open-source alternative to Photoshop. It had a selection heal feature (for removing unwanted areas from an image) before PS. Actively developed and maintained by a large group of enthusiasts. Definitely worth a look, in my opinion.

          • Yes that is another free option. I haven’t personally used it but it comes down to – whatever works for you, use that. If those options work for you and you like it, awesome!

  • EMme

    Is this eventually replacing LR and/or PS, or is this program just like PS? I’m confused. Thank you

    • Hi @disqus_2gqOq7GBjA:disqus No, Luminar is made by a different company. But many people are really upset that Adobe has made a bunch of changes to Lightroom. After LR6 you can’t buy it out-right any more and you must be in the monthly subscription if you want updates. They also split into 2 versions of LR – Class and CC. Classic is for using on your computer (basically as it is now) and CC is cloud based where your images will all be in the cloud and you can edit them from any device, anywhere. But you’ll pay extra for that service.

      So people are looking for alternatives to Lightroom. This is one option. Does that help?

  • PJ

    PJ: The $120 per year covers both lightroom and photoshop access. However I do agree after beta testing Luminar, I will use it for a year or two before I consider dropping Adobe programs

    • yes exactly IF you choose LR Classic. If you go to LR CC you may end up paying more for cloud storage.

  • Andrew Morrison

    Hi Darlene, nice article, I have been getting fed up with Adobe and their antics so decided to try out DxO Photolab. All I can say is wow! I am pretty impressed with the software and although it is a bit expensive I like the fact that they have now acquired the Nik Collection from Google and integrated some of that U point technology into their product. It would be great if you could do a review on that as a lightroom alternative with its new features. I have tried Luminar but it didn’t appeal to me much for the cons you specified. I also have lightroom and photoshop and a suite of topaz plugins ( using these in the new topaz studio ) but I’m tremendously impressed by the new DxO photolab. Cheers, Andrew

    • yes @disqus_LqOP0tkc8w:disqus I may do a trial on all of the options and do a comparison. Seems like a good future article!

    • Anyse1

      There is a set of plugins made by Skylum and it is called the “Creative Kit” and it is, basically, a NIX set of software. That is why I got it after NIX was terminated by Google for updates.

  • Kathe Selby

    As a rank amateur, I played around with the beta test version for Windows. The price makes this an attractive option.

    • Yes exactly. If you liked the beta version you’ll love the fully functioning one! It’s on pre-order now.

  • Sherrie Rosen

    I have Lightroom 6 and just learning to use it and love it but I cannot use my raw files, only jpeg. If I had Luminar 2018, I would be able to do my raw files but how does that work if I want to do some work in my Lightroom 6 on those same raw files?

    • Hi @sherrierosen:disqus – why can’t you use your raw files with LR6? If you want to use both LR and Luminar you can use your normal workflow in LR, then open the image from LR into Luminar as a plugin. But let’s go back to why can’t you use your raw files in LR? It’s made for that.

      • Sherrie Rosen

        Darlene, when I import any raw file, I get each one blank with PREVIEW UNAVAILABLE FOR THIS FILE. I can import the jpeg that I took at the same time with no problem. My camera is a Panasonic G85 that I purchased in September.

        • What version of lr6 do you have? You may need to check for updates. 6.7 is needed.

          • Art Gerzanich

            I have a Sony RX100 III and had the same problem with Lightroom not importing my RAW files. I updated mu Lightroom but the problem persisted. Finally a friend at the St. Albert Camera Club suggested that I Copy the files as DNG when bringing them into LR. It works, now I have my files in LR as RAW files and am able to work on them as if they were supported RAW files. This may work with your Panasonic, Sherrie.

          • Art – what version of LR are you running? That camera is list as supported by ACR 8.5 and higher, and LR (now Classic (5.5). Check which versions you have – but it should read your files without converting to DNG

          • Art Gerzanich

            Yeah I read all that stuff about how it’s supported. It was on the list as supported but it didn’t work for me. After spending hours jumping through all the hoops I found that it works simply to copy as DNG.

          • You have to make sure you’ve updated your version of ACR as well as LR

    • tomherren

      You may check if the current DNG converter can read and convert RAW files from your camera. DNG is Adobe’s RAW format which can be treated by older LR versions.

  • tomherren

    You did not mention Adobe’s DNG converter for those who stay with LR 6 (or even LR 5 in my case) when they buy a not supported camera. As colour rendering of NEFs in LR is still not accurate (skin tones), I am using Capture NX-D and the Nik Collection in my old Photoshop CS5. But over time I will try alternatives like DxO Photolab, Alienskin Exposure, Capture One Pro, on1 RAW etc. For me, proper colours are essential in RAW conversion.

    • Yes you can use the DNG converter. I didn’t mention it because it’s one more step and some people find it confusing to have to do that. But you certainly can if you’re so inclined.

  • Pia

    And when Luminar 2018 becomes Luminar 2019 you have to update for $39-59 which is $5/month instead of the $10/ month for LR… I like them both but don’t want to hassle with moving my photo library!

    • Alina Woods

      The only difference is that if you don’t want to upgrade to the next version, you can keep using the previous one without paying extra 😉

      • Anyse1

        Of course, I hear the hypnotic sound of Skylum sales: “This is an upgrade that you cannot reSIST!” Heh heh!

    • Yes exactly as Alina said @disqus_A9krH2nCZM:disqus With Luminar you aren’t forced to upgrade. You can keep going with 2018 as long as you like. In the past many people used to upgrade PS and LR every two years. So say $60 every 24 months is about $2.50/month. Pretty inexpensive. Or every 3 years $1.67/month.

  • Marcel Rothmund

    Hi Darlene, thank you for your enthralling post. I am tempted to use Luminar 2018. but at this time only as an addition to LR. LR uses a data base containing all the metadata and changes you made to the RAW file. In the course of time your abilities will grow, and when you would like to rework an older photo session, you can. As I think I learned, this is not the way Luminar 2018 works (until now, please correct me, if I am wrong). You have to know in advance, which photo is worth to be reworked in the future and store it in a Luminar 2018 format that contains all the changes. If you do not, you have to start from the beginning. Quite often I am finding myself working on a photo that I finished one or to years ago, and I am thrilled what am able to do now.
    I would like to see this implemented in Luminars DMA, too :-).

    • @marcelrothmund:disqus That is correct Luminar does not have a catalog and I’m not sure how their new DAM management will work. But currently you save a Luminar native file and it keeps all your layers (and history if you tick off that option) in tact for later. But until we see the new DAM system I’m not sure how it will work, if edits will show, if you can scan and apply the same edits to more than one photo, etc.

      • Marcel Rothmund

        @Darlene Hildebrandt Many thanks for your quick answer, much appreciated!

      • Anyse1

        I went to the dam so see the dam man to ask him if he had a DAM and he said that the dam DAM was broke!

        • LOL yup! Years ago I toured the Hoover Dam and there were many dam jokes – “get in the dam elevator”, etc.

    • Anyse1

      Marcel Rothmund, can you help me to learn where my sidecare, or boxcar files are for the photos that I have done with Lightroom over the years. What is the folder name and what are the names of the files? I am confused. Make it simple for me, OK? I am working on a MacBook Pro.

      • Marcel Rothmund

        @Anyse1:disqus Which sidecar files do you mean? There are e.g. RAW + embedded jpg-fiiles, or the XMP files used also as communication files to Photoshop. I may quote Jim Wilde (LR Forum): “There are many different types of “sidecar” files, XMP being just one of them. Another type is RAW+JPEG, and when the option to “Treat Jpeg files next to Raw files as separate photos” is unchecked, Lightroom processes the JPEG as a ‘sidecar’ file, and records it as such in the RAW metadata.”

  • EmreS

    This review would be more useful if you included comparison raw conversions from competing applications.

    • Thanks Emre I plan on doing that in the future. Luminar just launched this new version so it was a chance to look under the hood, so to speak.

  • Federico Lazzari

    What about Aperture die-hards? I came back to A3.6 after trying LR6 because DAM is much better, for me, and that was more important than potential gains in editing features – which I did not have the time and perseverance to learn, anyway. Can we expect an easy, lean interface, streamlined workflow coming from a Mac-oriented software developer? Any hints on Luminar’s DAM?

    • @federico_lazzari:disqus Sorry I’ve never used Aperture so I can’t compare. But I personally dislike most Apple-made software. Photos is banned from my computer as is Time machine. BUT what I can tell you is that Luminar does work as a plugin for Aperture!!! I haven’t seen the DAM for Luminar yet it’s not coming out until after the new year.

      • Thinkman

        Though I use a 3rd party backup program (Carbon Copy Cloner), Time Machine has literally saved my entire system on at least 2 occasions. The idea of not using it seems utterly ludicrous to me. As for Photos, there are a lot of nice built-in and easy to use options including one to use an external editor such as Photoshop or Luminar, etc. and it’s a totally reliable DAM. Keep in mind that most people using Photos, particularly those who take a lot of cellphone pix, will likely find this basic photo editor to be all they need. A little background – I’ve written code for Photoshop and have taught it extensively at the college level. I’ve been a pro photographer for over 45 years.

        • @david_garon:disqus – ” The idea of not using it seems utterly ludicrous to me.” in regards to Time Machine it completely MESSED up my computer and when I migrated to a new machine sent the mess there too. You must have a completely empty hard drive that is double the size of the one you’re backing up and you cannot use it for anything else. So if you’re backing up a 2tb drive, you need a 4tb one for Time Machine alone – to me that is ludicrous. You cannot delete any of the backups from it either – I tried that and it corrupt my system so bad I couldn’t empty the trash without using the Terminal app and entering lines of code. I had to completely reinstall my OS to fix it.

          NO I use Good Sync to back up – much easier, more user friendly – same quality backups.

          As for Photos (and its predecessor iPhoto) sorry to be blunt but it sucks. It hides the images inside a database and the user cannot even FIND the originals without doing a lot of magic. I have helped at least 4 of my students get their images out of iPhoto because it was a mess on their HD. It duplicates images and takes up way more HD space than is necessary. You also can’t make it work on an external drive easily. Same with iTunes which is also now banned from my computer after it literally deleted several of my original files and locked me out of my own music (I had imported dozens of CDs from the disk to itunes hoping to downsize and get rid of the physical disks). Then my hard drive died where the music was saved and iTunes would not let me get a copy of it reinstated telling me I didn’t own the music but it would be happy to sell them all to me (again?!). So for Photos – it may be good for beginners but I’ve seen more make a mess with it, lose their images, have multiple copies of the same image all over the place (it copies the file when you add to a collection set not like LR) and on top of that its editing abilities are sadly lacking. If someone just uses their phone I’d recommend Snapseed over it and cloud backup. Way easier and better.

          A little background – I’ve been a pro photographer since about 1988 (so 29 years) and have taught it since 2011.

  • Steven Marx

    Thanks for this, seriously considering the gradual switch to Luminar (DAM obviously essential). I’m on Adobe’s CC Photographer’s plan, but have never like renting/leasing my software. But I have to ask you where this bottom photo was taken as it really looks like I place we ate when we were in Chile. I’m assuming it’s not it, but sure looks similar.

  • Christian F

    Hi, I’m jumping ship too and I have been experimenting quite a few alternatives : Capture one, ON1, Affinity, Iridient and Luminar. I ended up up buying C1 (I shoot Sony; so it’s only 50€!) and ON1. ON1’s GUI suits me and the local adjustments are pretty straightforward. I am also waiting for Pixelmator Pro. After so many years of LR, this subscription mess woke me up. The only thing that worries me is exporting my LR catalog and losing the history of the adjustments I made in my photos.

    • Hi @disqus_hvaproJfUV:disqus How did you get C1 for that price? It’s like $299 USD normally.

      I’ve heard ON1 is good, I will have to test it. For exporting from LR what you may have to do is export all DNG files with an XMP sidecar file that’s readable by other programs. Do one or two to test it and see if that works. It might be a nightmare though.

      • Christian F

        The C1 for Sony is only 50$ (+10$ VAT where I live). So, if you shoot Sony, it’s a great opportunity. The only thing is that I have been shooting Sony for two years only, and all my older files won’t open.
        Both C1 and On1 have an option to import LR catalogs, but I don’t know if that will import all the adjustments history.

        • Okay thanks for the info. Can you convert those to DNG first?

          • Christian F

            I’ll experiment a little and get back to you.

  • Michael Brodey

    I am fairly accomplished with Lightroom, a Lightroom Classic subscriber that includes Bridge and Photoshop. I’ve been using Luminar for a few months as a plugin to Lightroom, and find myself using it more and more, doing just the basic adjustments in Lightroom. However, there are times, rare as they may be, that I need Photoshop for further editing, and my LR subscription gives me that flexibility. If I were to leave Adobe, I would lose Photoshop. Also, there is the question of transferring a LR catalog to Luminar. I believe Macphun is saying that will be possible, but….?

    • Anyse1

      I dropped my FULL complement membership to Adobe ($49.99/mo) and dropped DOWN to just $9.99. I figured out the over all cost for a year along with new software acquistions and learned that I can really save a HUGE chunk of cash. However, I will need to do somethings with Photoshop and am exporting all of my files, with layers, to PSD formats post editing. I really don’t know what to replace Photoshop with! There are so many programs and, personally, I can’t buy programs on the App Store because I do not live in the US and Apple has a problem with Americans who do not live in the United States! Their licenses are harsh, cruel and totally geographic from country to country! Affinity, I thought, would be good. Can only buy it on the App Store. I hope that ALL of these companies will stay away from sharing their programs there. So many will be excluded! What are you thinking about now that can be used to replace Photoshop? There are a few: Pixelmator, ON1 (would that work out? Hmmm) or what?
      Thank you for your feedback here.

      • Michael Brodey

        My $9.99 Adobe Photography membership includes Photoshop, Lightroom, and Bridge, so I’m sticking with that for the time being. I really like Luminar, use it as a plug-in in Lightroom, and have heard good things about Affinity, but it is new, very complex, and, from the reviews, still subject to bugs and crashes. Bottom line, Adobe has some real challengers on its heels, and will have to update with new features more often to maintain their dominance.

  • Anyse1

    I have been using Luminar 2.2 exclusively this month and last month. I have moved away from Lightroom and am also learning that there were things not happening that I thought were happening with Lightroom. I thought that the boxcar files were in the Lightroom storage folder and, well, that is not true! So much of the work that I HAVE done in the past is, basically, going to require that the photos will need to be redone. Using the beta of Luminar has been a fun, frustrating and much more rewarding experience than anything that I have done in years! I am having FUN and putting out more work in a day now than I have ever done before. I have taken photos that looked so damaged and would not be editable (for me) in Lightroom and I am STILL coming up with some really neat shots. I also have a “model” with whom I am working and we are going to share the photo sales money. That is the deal and, to tell you the truth, she has a certain “quality” that is more approachable than some over the top beauty model. It is the most fun that I have had in a long time. I used to come home, dread doing the post processing and just leave the SD card in the camera. NOW, when I get home, out comes the SD and I am flying! Luminar’s newest version has made things more fun to learn, can be frustrating trying to do workarounds or even require two layers instead of one to get the job done. However, it is so much more “LEARNABLE” than is Lightroom! I am very stoked to see that new Bridge added to Luminar! Then, all will be complete, all will be right with the world and I will have more time for protesting for saving the earth and to keep people out of wars and stuff!

  • sweetsanpete

    Darlene, I’ve listened to you on podcasts and gained a respect for your experience and insights. I’ve never been to until today (regretfully) but I thoroughly enjoyed this post and found it extremely helpful. I’ve been using Aperture since 2.0 ($200) along with the NIK plugins ($500 for them) and this combination has helped me produce the highest quality work. I’ve tried many alternatives since Apple’s Aperture announcement and nothing works as well for me. So I’m still using Aperture and the NIK plugins and still producing work of the highest quality. I know I’m on borrowed time. I’m hoping Luminar (with DAM next year) will fit the bill and either still use my NIK plugins or buy the new set from DXO – if needed. I’m a little leery because Macphun’s Creative Kit (another $89 as it languishes on my SSD) didn’t match up to NIK (not even close), but as I implied, Aperture won’t continue to work forever since its (unforgivable) abandonment by Apple. Thank you.

  • American Voter

    I’ve had it with Lightroom and their subscription-based extortion program. As soon as Luminar introduces decent DAM, I’m going to jump.

    • We’re told that will be early 2018.

    • They have a Black Friday sale on this week on Luminar as well so you can get it for $69 – and I also have a coupon code to get you another $10 off so $59. Use the code: DIGITALPHOTOMENTOR and this link:

      Check their site but I believe (don’t quote me on it) that if you buy it now and get Luminar 2018 you get the free upgrade when the DAM comes out in 2018.

      I’m currently playing with a few other raw processors to review for you guys too. So far I tried On1 – did NOT like it! I haven’t tried anything by Corel for years that’s next but I’m not hopeful based on their website support page looking like it’s still from the 90s. Affinity looks promising as does DxO but it’s a lot more ($199). To be continued . . .

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