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Macphun Luminar: Video Walk Through and Review

Recently I decided to try out Macphun Luminar, a new imaging processing software that competes with, and may I say, possibly outperforms Adobe Lightroom.

macphun luminar image processing software

As the name sort of implies, up until now, Macphun products have been for Mac only – but not anymore! This week they are releasing Luminar for Windows as well (use the link to get the Window’s beta version)!  So please keep reading and watch the videos below to see if this is the software for you.

Luminar stand-alone version

Macphun has two versions of Luminar available. You can use it by itself as a stand-alone product, or as a plugin for Lightroom or Photoshop (or Aperture if you use that still). I will walk you through both to show you how they work.

This version of Luminar is for you if . . .

This version of Luminar is for you if you can relate to any or all of the following:

  • You currently aren’t processing your images at all.
  • You do not have Lightroom or Photoshop.
  • The Adobe subscription model drives you nuts and you refuse to participate in it.
  • You’re looking to upgrade from a simple image processor like Apple Photos or Windows Photo Editor.

What Luminar can do for your images

In this first video, you will see the stand-alone version.

So, what do you think? Pretty slick hey? So if you’re ready to give Luminar a try just head over to their site and download the trial, or buy it and dive right in. Windows user – no problem – just head over here for the Windows beta version!

Before and after images

Original RAW file before any processing.
Lightroom processed version.
Image processed and enhanced using Luminar.
Original RAW file, unedited.
Processed and converted to black and white using Lightroom.
Processed and enhanced using Luminar.
A faded vintage look created using Luminar.

Luminar as a plugin for Lightroom

You can also use Luminar as a plugin for Lightroom, Photoshop, Aperture, and even Apple Photos!

This version of Luminar is for you if . . .

This plugin version of Luminar is for you if you can relate to any or all of the following:

  • You already use LR, PS, Aperture or Photos to process your images.
  • Photoshop baffles you but you’re wondering if there is another level you can get to with your images.
  • You like to play around and experiment with your photos, processing is half the fun.

What else Luminar can do for your images

In this video, you will see the plugin version in conjunction with Lightroom.

Before and after images

Original RAW file, unedited.
Processed in Lightroom.
Image processed using Luminar.
Before – Lightroom only.
After – enhanced in Luminar.
Before – unedited RAW file.
Before – Lightroom processing only.
After – Luminar enhancements made after Lightroom.
RAW unedited image.
Before – processed in Lightroom.
After – Luminar enhancements added.
Raw file unedited.
Lightroom version.
Luminar version.
Lightroom only version. Meh! I thought this was great until . . .
Luminar – it’s luminous!
Lightroom processing couldn’t get close to what I was able to make in Snapseed on my phone! Here is the Instagram version processed using my phone and Snapseed.
Luminar wins! It’s different than the IG one but I like it nonetheless.
Before – processed in Lightroom. Daniel doing a selfie on a camel in Morocco. Join him in Morocco in May 2018!
Luminar version. You can count the eyelashes on the camel!
The BEFORE photo – Processed in Lightroom
… and the after shot. Processed with Macphun Luminar

Overall thoughts about Luminar

I have tried quite a few plugins and other image processing alternatives, looking for something that I could recommend to you. None of them have stacked up, which is why you haven’t heard me talk about them. Until now that is with Luminar.

Overall I am really impressed with that you can do with this software. It’s flexible, it works non-destructively so you never have to worry about ruining your original images, it’s fairly intuitive and easy to use (I think so anyway), and best of all – no subscription model and it’s under $100! With a trial version available for download what have you got to lose?

Any cons or drawbacks?

  • I did find the stand-alone version took a bit long to open raw files, but not ridiculously long.
  • There isn’t currently a browser module for the stand-alone version but I understand that’s a future feature that will be added later.
  • I haven’t perfected the texture overlay tool yet – but I think I need to find the right image and texture and play with it a bit more.

Bottom line here is that it’s still a fairly new product and there will always be bugs (expect a few in the Windows beta version – there was with Lightroom too so don’t hold that against Macphun).  But the Macphun team are very responsive and listen to requests. I’m excited to see where they take Luminar and am glad I’m getting on the ground floor.

Your turn

So what are you waiting for? Go get a trial version and give it a test drive yourself.

Please share your Luminar processed images in the comments below. If you have any questions about it I’ll try and answer them if I can – I’m new to using it to remember, but I’ll do my best or point you in the right direction for help.



  • Kevin La Rue

    Thanks for sharing your review of Luminar, Darlene, and a fantastic set of images to really show what the software is capable of – they were really amazing to browse! When your fans get a hold of the software, I think they’ll also love the new Accent filter (powered by AI), the one-click presets and the ability to use layers/brushes.

    Again… nice job on the review and I’m glad you’re on the “ground-floor” too – we have tons of new features in the works for the future! 😉 Best, Kevin (from Macphun)

    • Thanks Kevin! I literally spent hours playing with it and finding the perfect images to showcase it. Glad you liked them.

      See I told you guys they’re responsive!! Great company, much friendlier than Adobe! 😉

  • Jim Cooper

    Can you use Luminar as a Photoshop Elements plugin?

  • ernldo

    Is there a Photoshop plug in, or only for Lightroom?

    • Yes for PS as well. Check under the features list – are you Mac or PC?

      • ernldo

        PC, and thank you!

        • Just grab the beta version here then!

          • Kevin La Rue

            Hi ernldo and Darlene – the current public beta of Luminar for Windows is not able to run as a plug-in yet. The final shipping version due later this year will be able to do so. For now, you’ll have to “test” it by running as a standalone app! Kevin (from Macphun)

  • tomherren

    Will the new Windows version work as a plugin for LR 5.7 and PS CS5?

    • Yes I believe so – for any version of LR or PS

      • Kevin La Rue

        Kevin here from Macphun. The Luminar for Windows “public beta” released last week does not yet have the ability to run as a plug-in. When the product ships later this year, it will for sure be able to do so. 😉

  • Nancy Norton

    I only looked at the first video. I didn’t see or hear you mention anything about Luminar’s ability to retouch, clone or merge multiple photos. Before downloading the trial version can you tell me if these are available on Luminar.

    • Yes there is a cloning feature. I tested it on a few dust spots but nothing more complex than that. You need to do it at the end of make a stamp layer as it merges them all after you’re done cloning. I don’t believe you can merge photos – but there is a sky replace feature which I didn’t try – not my style. But you can add a layer with another image and change blend modes and mask – so I imagine you can. I’d say download the trial, it costs nothing to do so, and try it yourself to see if it does what you need.

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