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Video: First Look at Luminar 3 with Libraries – Is it Ready to Replace Lightroom?

Finally, the new version of Skylum's Luminar software is available for pre-sale and I can talk about it and show you around inside! I've had a review copy for a while now but it was in the beta-testing phase and we were not allowed to share it, until now.

So, I'm super excited to show you the new Luminar 3 with Libraries!

Here's a quick promo video produced by Skylum to give you an idea what it's all about. I will show you more detail in my video down below.

This has been a long-awaited and much-anticipated release. I've chatted with a lot of people, and a poll we ran on the site a while ago indicates that people are ready for something new, ready for a change. Look at the results below, that speaks volumes right there.

Video Overview of Luminar 3 with Libraries

So without further delay, let's get right to it. Watch the video, then scroll down to get more information on Luminar and how you can pre-order it before December 18th, 2018 and get some bonuses to boot!

Well, if you couldn't tell from the video, I was pretty impressed with their first run at making their image browser (libraries). Here are a few notes of things I talked about, and what's still to come for Luminar 3.

What's inside Luminar 3 now?

There's already a lot of functionality built into Luminar 3. Is it perfect? No. Is it totally ready to replace Lightroom? Not in my opinion. Not quite yet – but it's really close!

Here are some things that I really found useful and that worked well in Luminar 3 Libraries:

  • Luminar 3 works real time: The first thing to know is that Luminar shows your folders and images in real time. So if you edit the folder name or move it on your computer, Luminar does the same. NO more lost images! If you rename or add a folder in Luminar it is also done on the hard drive. If that has been a frustration of yours using Lightroom, your worries are over!
  • Import or add speed: The speed at which Luminar imported my folders and images was really impressive. The first one I added had over 8700 images and it took less than a minute. The second one has over 18,800 images and it took just shy of two minutes. I challenge you to do that with Lightroom. NOTE: I've heard that the PC or Windows version is running slower right now but I have not tested it, so can't address that. 
  • The Luminar Catalog: Luminar saves edits in “.state” files in the catalog it does not use or read XMP files. So I'm not sure about compatibility with other programs like Photoshop that use that format as a sidecar file to carry the edit information.
  • Plugins – If you already have any plugins installed they are automatically available to you inside Luminar. They just show up automatically! How great is that?
  • Presets/Looks – Just something to note if you've used a past version of Luminar is that Presets have been renamed and are now called “Looks”.
  • Syncing edits – You can apply a set of edits to one image and then either copy and paste or sync them to another image or set of images. The drawback is that right now it’s all or nothing. So you cannot choose only some of the edits made. I suggest doing basic edits only first, apply the Sync, then continue editing each image individually.
  • Luminar Reads Google Drive and DropBox folders – this is a huge bonus! I told our tour leader Kav (a pro stock and travel photographer) about this and his reaction was (and I quote him exactly), “NO WAY!!! That's actually flippin' cool!!” You can add folders from your Google Drive and/or DropBox and see and edit those images! Super handy indeed.

  • Tagging/flagging – Just like LR and PS you can add a flag (pick), rating (1-5 stars) or color tag to your images for sorting purposes. Even the same keyboard shortcuts apply, making it really easy to consider a switch. Lots of stuff is intuitive and I just tried the keyboard to see if it worked and bingo!
  • Sorting images – Inside Luminar you can decide how to sort your images and how to filter to see just certain ones. It’s limited now but more options are coming soon. For example, you can tell it to show only images flagged Favorites but not ones that are both Favorite and Red. You also cannot show only images based on metadata (lens, camera, date shot, etc.). But the Smart Search is coming soon in a future update.
  • Folders – You can view all the images in one folder, recently added (by date), recently edited (by date) which is quite handy, and even under All Photos, it sorts them by date shot for you (year, month, day).
  • Albums – you can also make albums (like Collections in LR) to make a virtual sort of your images. One image can be in more than one Album but your original files always live in the Folders.

What's not ready or coming soon?

  • Metadata edits – Current you can't do this, but you will be able to add copyright information, keywords and do other metadata edits. File renaming hasn’t been mentioned.
  • Virtual Copies – in LR you can make a copy of a thumbnail without duplicating the original image file and process two versions. You can't do that in Luminar 3 yet, but it's on the roadmap. You can also add any edits as a layer and turn them on/off to easily save two processed versions.
  • Smart Search – the ability to search by keywords, EXIF data and more is coming.
  • Lightroom migration – this could be a game changer if you want to completely replace Lightroom. I don't know any more about it, other than it's listed as “coming soon”.

To see more of what's already planned for future updates, visit the Luminar 3 Roadmap here.

Things it can't do and what to watch out for

  • Batch Rename – Currently there is not an option to rename your images (one by one or in a batch) inside Luminar 3.
  • See parent folders – This is something I've sent in as a feature request. It may not be as important to you but I want to see the main folder or drive where the folders that Luminar is showing live (top level).


Warning: Be very careful of the “Delete Folder” function inside Luminar. I saw a warning once when I tried it and then it disappeared. But it does say “Delete Forever” so take heed. If you click that it will not only remove the folder from Luminar but from your hard drive and all of its contents as well.

How much is Luminar?

The current price of Luminar if you pre-order it now before December 18, 2018, is $59 USD. But if you use my discount code DIGITALPHOTOMENTOR you can get another $10 off and pay just $49 USD.

NOTE: If you already own Luminar 2018 the upgrade to Luminar 3 is 100% free for you! Watch for an email from Skylum on the 18th on how to get it! If you own an older version you will need to buy the upgrade.

After December 18th I believe it goes back to the regular price of $69 USD, but you can still use my code to save $10.

NOTE: Luminar does NOT require a subscription. You do not, nor will you ever be required to pay a monthly fee to access it – as promised by the people at Skylum. So pay that fee once, and it's yours forever. Right now you also get a few free bonuses if you pre-order it before that release date of the 18th.

You will get Luminar 2018 right now, the added bonuses below, and the update to Luminar 3 on the 18th. As well you get all updates through to the end of 2019 at no extra charge.

Buy Luminar now and get all this too at no extra cost!

So if you've been on the fence, or waiting for the DAM (Digital Asset Management) component, now is the time to act.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of Skylum and I do get a small commission if you buy Luminar using my link or my discount code. By doing so you can save $10 and you are also helping me be able to continue to provide great free tutorials for you to enjoy here on the website. 

Darlene Hildebrandt photographer DPM

Digital Photo Mentor is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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