Skylum Luminar 2018 now has native RAW support and a big performance boost

Nov 1, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Skylum Luminar 2018 now has native RAW support and a big performance boost

Nov 1, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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There’s been quite a bit of news coming out of the former Macphun offices. I say former Macphun offices, because they’re now known as Skylum. So, now they’re the Skylum offices. That’s the first bit of news. The next is their recent announcement of a Digital Asset Management system coming soon as part of Luminar 2018.

Now, Luminar 2018 has been officially announced, and comes with some pretty neat updates. The DAM isn’t quite ready yet, but it will be a free upgrade for existing users when it’s released. But what is there now? Well, first and foremost seems to be a substantial performance increase. They’ve also improved the UI, added native RAW support, and a bunch of new customisable and maskable effects filters.

When Skylum posted a brief preview of the new Luminar 2018 DAM recently, one of the effects that intrigued me was the “Sun Rays” filter. I’ve had the opportunity to test out Luminar 2018 on Windows for the past few days, so this was one of the first things I wanted to play with.

It is a pretty cool effect. While I probably won’t use it on most of my images, I can definitely see it working its way into a few of my photographs in the future. The English weather isn’t always what we’d like it to be, and it can suit certain woodland scenarios quite well.

I definitely still need some practise with this filter, but it’s not bad at all. It seems to use luminance in order to determine what exists in the foreground, and uses that as a mask to generate the rays. Using X & Y sliders on the side feels a little clunky, though. It would be great if there were some kind of indicator on the image itself that you could click and drag to place it exactly where you need. It’s still pretty cool, though. Here’s an example from Skylum themselves.

Other new filters with Luminar 2018 include…

  • LUT Mapping filter
  • Dodge & Burn filter
  • Hue Shift filter
  • Matte Look filter
  • Brilliance/Warmth filter
  • Lens Correction filter
  • Transform filter
  • Realtime noise reduction

There are some other great new features in Luminar 2018 that I can’t test just yet. I’m a Windows user, and those features coming to the Mac version first. These include native RAW file support with better DNG handling, as well as a RAW processing filter to adjust how the raw files come into Luminar.

All of the popular raw formats will be supported. If you’re a user of NEF, CR2, ORF, RAF, ERF, ARW, RW2, PEF, DNG or GRP, though, then you’re in luck. Sorry, Sigma X3F users.

There’s also support for 3rd party Photoshop plugins, too. Yes, that’s right, you can use your Photoshop plugins within Luminar. Colour profile support for AdobeRGB and ProPhoto RGB is also on the Mac version, along with various online and app exporting options.

Despite this, Luminar 2018 has impressed me more than I expected, overall. When I don’t want to go to the hassle of Photoshop, I can zip through images fairly quickly. The performance increases have made it far more tolerable to work with.

A range of new effects filters and masking options offer some very quick adjustments that can often take much longer in Photoshop. The final results sent to us by Skylum certainly look better than the results I was able to get myself, though. I definitely need a little more practise with the app to figure out just how everything works.

It’s a fairly intuitive interface. One noticeable omission, though, is an “Undo” feature. If I accidentally slide a slider, or delete an effect filter (and there’s LOTS of them), there’s no way to bring it back to exactly where it was, short of just adding & setting it again (if I can remember exactly how it was set).

Another feature that would be quite nice to see is a search box at the top of the filters list. Often I can roughly remember the name of a filter I want to find, but not what “collection” it belongs to. But, I could live without it if I had to.

Once we see the native RAW support added for Windows, and the Digital Asset Manager, I can see myself potentially switching over to Luminar as my primary image processor. I only hope they add support for the ColorChecker.

There’s no word yet on exactly when the DAM will appear, just that it will be sometime in 2018. But for Luminar 2018 users, it will be a free upgrade. There’s also no news on when those currently-Mac-only features will be hitting Windows, either, but hopefully it won’t be too long.

Luminar 2018 will release on November 16th for both Mac and Windows, and is available to pre-order now. It’s $59 for new users, and existing Luminar users can upgrade for $39. After November 16th, those prices will go up to $69 and $49, respectively.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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13 responses to “Skylum Luminar 2018 now has native RAW support and a big performance boost”

  1. Paul Richards Avatar
    Paul Richards

    But no DAM yet

    1. Alina Woods Avatar
      Alina Woods

      A supercharged DAM platform will be added later in 2018

  2. Mikey Avatar
    Mikey

    I played the game with Aurora HDR 2018 for windows and am not happy. All the features aren’t there yet and it’s loaded with bugs. Seems like they sold beta software. Not going to fall for that with Luminar

    1. Alina Woods Avatar
      Alina Woods

      Hi Mickey, if you have any issues with Aurora HDR 2018, please drop us a message at support@aurorahdr.com and we will gladly assist you. Thanks!

  3. Vlad Didenko Avatar
    Vlad Didenko

    It is fascinating to observe how many in the photo industry ignore essence of the problem created by Adobe and carried (so far) by other for-profit software vendors.

    Adobe (kudos) had created DNG – a documented raw image format. They still managed, being Adobe, to squeeze users into a vendor lock-in. I failed to find a tool which has access to all bits of Lightroom catalogs – as well as all-feature exports of by-step edits.

    It would be great if I missed it, but so far I have not seen opportunistic vendors to promise any reasonable concrete future format openness. And that is a worse trap than Adobe subscriptions. Lightroom is a known evil, at least some things can be extracted from it. To move from it to a stronger vendor lock-in is … well, fool me twice…

    So while others begging Macphun to take their money I will go ahead and check out Darktable.org, thank you very much. Because I can tinker with IQ in many tools – but only if I can manage that 35K photo mass.

  4. Rob Grayson Avatar
    Rob Grayson

    A couple of points:

    – With the new sun rays filter, in addition to the X and Y sliders, you can indeed click and drag to position the sun where you want it.

    – Luminar already has standard undo functionality: any change you make, simply click Ctrl-Z (Cmd-Z on a Mac) and it will be undone. There’s also a drop-down history so you can see all your recent changes and roll them back more than one at a time if necessary.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Ahh, I see Undo on the edit menu now. I didn’t look before as I haven’t had to look into the edit menu for cut/copy/paste/undo in about a decade. :)

      But there’s no shortcut key assigned to it.Actually, there don’t seem to be shortcut keys applied to anything (or a way to configure/assign shortcut keys).

      Clicking and dragging on the image with the sun filter doesn’t seem to be doing anything, though.

      1. Rob Grayson Avatar
        Rob Grayson

        I’m guessing these are probably Windows beta issues you’re seeing. As a Mac user of Luminar, the standard Cmd-Z (undo) and Shift-Cmd-Z (redo) shortcut key combinations have always worked in Luminar for me. And regarding the sun rays filter, I’ve watched more than one preview video on a Mac where the sun is manually dragged to the desired position.

        1. Kaouthia Avatar
          Kaouthia

          Shows as version 2018 1.0.0 (913). Says it’s the newest.

          Could be a Mac thing. There’s quite a few things that seem to be Mac only at the moment, with the Windows version needing to play a little catchup.

  5. lewisfrancis Avatar
    lewisfrancis

    Does anyone know if Luminar 2018 will include Snapheal functionality?

    1. Alina Woods Avatar
      Alina Woods

      Yes, Luminar 2018 has a powerful Erase tool :)

      1. lewisfrancis Avatar
        lewisfrancis

        Awesome to hear — would a person purchasing Luminar 2018 still find Snapheal useful, or would it be redundant? Thanks!

  6. CPD Avatar
    CPD

    Can I convert NEF and ARW raw files to DNG within Luminar?