Luminar Is Close to Being a Lightroom Alternative!

March 8th, 2017

I know there are readers out there that would jump at the chance to find an alternative to Lightroom. Some don’t like the idea of subscription software and some don’t like the slowness of Lightroom. So when I ran across Luminar by Macphun that has all but a few Lightroom features I decided to try it out.

I’ve been stunned by how fast and easy Luminar is to use. It’s fast because it doesn’t build a giant catalog of images like Lightroom does. This may be a downside for those that use Lightroom to organize their images but I would be happily to take Luminar’s speed and give up Lightroom’s catalog.

If it weren’t for lack of two essential real estate photography editing features that are missing in Luminar I would have already given up Lightroom and be using Luminar instead. It has layers, brushes, adjustable filters, batch mode and virtually all the sliders the Lightroom adjustment sliders except:

  1. Ability to fix verticals and horizontals (Lightroom Transform Panel): This is being able to fix verticals and horizontals. I could even live without my beloved “Auto Upright” button if Luminar could just adjust verticals and horizontals manually.
  2. Ability to fix barrel distortion (Lightroom Lens Correction panel): This is where you can straighten those long, slightly curved lines near the edges of images. I’d be satisfied if Luminar was just able to manually correct barrel distortion.

I’ve already registered my plea for the above two features with the Macphun developers. We will see what happens.

I think Luminar is a wonderful photo editing application that is very close to the functionality of Lightroom. Luminar even has some features that are better than Lightroom at a great price of $69 USD. I’m using it for most of my non-real estate images. If you want to try it out go to this page and use the discount code REALESTATE at checkout for a $10 discount.

Has anyone else tried Luminar? If you agree that Luminar needs the above two features leave a comment to that effect so it will add weight to my plea.

Update: As Mike points out below in the comments, the two missing features I’m complaining about above are on their way. See their compare features page.

My point is that Luminar is not going to work for your real estate work right now, but it is a product to watch. It’s missing just a few features which are already in their development pipeline.

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31 Responses to “Luminar Is Close to Being a Lightroom Alternative!”

  • Sounds interesting but what kind of editing software doesn’t allow for fixing verticals? Also, do we know if any plug-ins would be accepted? (i.e. Enfuse, etc.)

  • @Dan – No Currently it’s not an editor that you can use Enfuse with… besides LR/Enfuse is built explicitly to work only with Lightroom.

  • Looks like lens/perspective correction as well as PC support is on the horizon. Check out the compare page-

  • @Mike – Great! I didn’t see that page. The person I talked to a Macphun didn’t know this was on the way or that was added since I talked to them!

  • Mac only…

  • I’ve been using Luminar since it’s release. Their emails and Facebook page have been good about keeping us updated including upcoming distortion and vertical adjustments. I use it as a plug in for PS. I stopped using LR awhile ago and prefer to use Bridge and ACR.

  • Let’s see. Currently Lightroom and Photoshop for $10 a month. Or Luminar for $69 plus waiting for the updates, including the ability to use it on a PC, plus $10 a month for Photoshop. And the learning curve….Where am I going wrong?

  • Right there with you, Bruce!

  • Luminar. Same great developers as Nik. Will be a real hit.

  • I’m with Bruce. Adobe makes it easy to not like them, but their stuff works and it works now. Future ware is nowhere.

  • Does anyone know if it’s compatible with the Nik software? Please say it is.

  • Personally, I find Photoshop to be much easier and faster to use than Lightroom.

  • I am in trial version of ACDSee. It is somewhat of a combination of lightroom and photoshop (lighter than photoshop) but has some cool features. I haven’t dove into editing yet, watching the tutorials. Hoping to edit this weekend.

    Anyone else us ACDSee for Real Estate? It supposedly supports PS plugins. I haven’t tried that.

  • Will Adobe ever fix Lightroom? It’s a real dog compared to Photoshop.

  • Is it more intuitive to use? I’ve just never been able to get used to Lightroom, still using Bridge/Photoshop.

  • This looks like an interesting alternative. Lightroom and Photoshop are relatively different programs, although there is some crossover. I think the comparison should have been with Photoshop and not Lightroom. Because they chose to compare against Lightroom they are able to show some distinct advantages to Luminar but this to me is a false comparison. It was also pretty obvious to me that in their comparison chart was pretty slanted….. Items marked “Coming Soon” should have been marked “No” therefore giving the Luminar column more visually persuasive red cells….. Obviously didn’t include any “Coming Soon” categories for their competitors. Also many key features of Lightroom, not found in Luminar were not on the comparison chart. I am not saying that this is a bad product, just that their marketing is questionable.

  • The software Luminar is not “there” yet. Also…..I still prefer my faithful Photoshop over Lightroom. I am with Jerry and Dean on this one.

  • As some have already said there is a good alternative to Lightroom that has exactly the same feature set without the slowness, that is Adobe Camera Raw.

  • A lot of the reason some of these alternative Mac only applications are faster is because they are coded to take advantage of the Mac OS native APIs such as Quartz graphics which Adobe doesn’t really do.

    That’s why for a long time the Mac native app Final Cut Pro was much faster than the glacial versions of Premiere Pro when it returned to the Mac in earlier CS versions.

  • The 1,2 punch of LR and PS is tough to compete against. I can get a large amount of work done in LR with it’s simpler controls and finish images without even having to use PS. Partly, I credit Scott Hargis for constantly mentioning getting images done (or nearly so) in camera. I use many of the features of LR including the keywords, catalogging, book prep, Fusion and “edit as layers in Photoshop”. Some people don’t like catalogs and never use keywords. I don’t know how I could get by in secondary licensing without being able to rapidly assemble proofs of requested image types.

    For anyone having speed issues, how many images do you have in your catalog? Are you putting everything into one? I have separate catalogs for RE, Product, Landscape/personal work, eBay photos, journalism (although Reuters doesn’t allow ANY editing except cropping and images must be shot in jpg). I haven’t had any speed issues since I broke things up. A new Mac Pro this year and a switch to solid state drives ought to really perk things up, but I don’t think that the software is holding me back.

    $10 month is a very good price point for LR and PS. I can’t remember what the first subscription pricing was, but I do remember that is was too much and I stuck with CS6 until the $10 deal was made permanent. I don’t think I’m going to be shopping around unless Adobe loses it’s mind and raises their pricing.

    There is something to be said for familiarity with a program as people have mentioned staying with ACR and Bridge since they know them so well. That’s the best reason for Autocad still being around.

  • I am in agreement with several other posters here. For me, I just can’t pry loose the time to stick with the tutorials on how to use Lightroom. So I stick with my tried and true Photoshop and Bridge. Works a treat for me. But I do use Lightroom, since I am paying for it in the Adobe PS + LR monthly suite, to batch rename my images with the property address. Sort of like buying a Ferrari to go up the lane to pick up the newspaper.

  • I’m interested to see how their “color cast remover” works. Could be a godsend for us Enfuse users.

  • I use bridge, acr and Photoshop, too. Lightroom has been almost completely worked out of my routine. For me it’s not about having to learn Lightroom. I choose to use bridge and acr because I think they offer a much more eloquent path for me to get to exactly what I need in terms of adjustments and files. I do however like the export dialogue in Lightroom; my favorite part being the watermarking feature.

  • “Some people don’t like catalogs and never use keywords. I don’t know how I could get by in secondary licensing without being able to rapidly assemble proofs of requested image types.”

    It’s quite easy with a good heirarchal file system.

    A couple of days ago I had a request to re license a few images for a home stager and the requested files were delivered and invoiced in less than 5 minutes.

    For those 5 minutes my hourly rate was almost the same as Annie Leibovitz…

  • @Charles Lynch ………… yes and no. I have many of my images in a hierarchal arrangement that lets me navigate them to some extent, but it self limits on the types of searches I can do manually. I don’t spend anytime on specific keywording of RE images unless they are going into my portfolio photo, but I do quite a bit on other stuff. While some pictures of a recent trip to Tucson might be in “fauna>mammals>wild”, if somebody wanted a sampling of different sorts of subject matter found in Tucson, I can do that look up via keywords in LR and pop out a proof sheet in minutes. I do get some requests for interesting combinations from time to time.

    My RE work is usually ordered as “RE images”>”YYYY”> “yyyymmdd_xx_Address_City”. In the minimal keywords I put the agent/office name, city, state, occupied/vacant and the quality level of the home from TBSH to Mansion. If an agent wants me to pull out images I did for them of a certain class of home to put together a marketing book (which I’m putting together right now for one) that they can have printed to show potential clients, I can do that.

    I’ve adapted somewhat to how LR works and it has also guided me in how I organize stuff. If a customer throws me a strange request that my system isn’t set up to handle, I’ll think about what I can change in my file system unless is just too weird to expect anybody else to ever want me to do. It comes down to the difference between using a spreadsheet to track information or a database. Depending on what you need a system to do, one may be more appropriate than the other.

  • @Andrew Pece, Maybe I’m an outlier, but I provide 5 versions of a gallery to RE customers each optimized for maximum display size on Zillow, Trulia, Realtor, the local MLS and a version for print. All of them are saved as presets in LR so it only takes a couple of minutes to get LR crunching them out. My customers appreciate it and I’m adding perceived value for very little effort on my part. The presets are the key. I also use the watermarking feature from time to time. When I submit photos to my editor at Reuters, I have to have certain keywords embedded a certain way and I made a LR preset just for that. I’m not sure I can do that as a bulk process in PS/bridge/ACR. Since I am prohibited from doing any edits other than a crop to images I send to Reuters, LR is a good application for it.

  • @Ken Brown — yes, there are many ways to achieve the same thing. That’s exactly why the article is about an alternative to the 800lb gorilla in the room that is Lightroom.

    Having worked with digital media over twenty years now, I can grab archived files from the 90s in just minutes but some of those files have no way of being accessed except that I go to the shed and fire up the ol’ PowerMac 7100 or the old Bondi Blue iMac because the software used to create the files are now defunct.

    I’m sure Adobe and Lightroom will probably be around for years yet, but you can just never tell when someone is going to come along and disrupt the whole industry.

    That’s the problem of having all your eggs in one basket like the workflow is when use Lightroom.

  • @Peter Daprix – Bridge can batch rename. Maybe the Ferrari can be used for garden art.

  • I use both Luminar and Aurora. I also use the Aurora and Luminar plug-ins to Lightroom. I did not want to be tied to a subscription based product in Adobe. So when I had to replace my hard drive I bought both Luminar and Aurora. I use both occasionally.

    I like the way Aurora better that Photomatix. Laminar is easy to use.

  • Windows users can expect Luminar this Fall, it has just been officially announced here –
    By the way you can get a beta version already in July, make sure to follow the link above and leave your email address.
    We’ll be happy to receive your feedback and suggestions as well, let’s make a perfect product for us all together!

  • Luminar looks to be a very sweet art-oriented product, but as noted, the absence of perspective correction as can be found in Darktable is a deal-breaking non-starter for me in my real estate photography business. Let’s hope Macphun gets their duckies in a row, and very soon. Until that happens, I’ll be in Darktable. Lightroom and Adobe lost me as a customer a long time ago.

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