Luminar 4 vs Lightroom (Classic)
Lightroom has been a standard tool in many photographer’s tool belts. Where photoshop lacks, is where Lightroom succeeds – in the photo editing workflow. But many use photoshop alongside Lightroom when they need more advanced and selective edits.
With two extremely capable editing tools, do we really need another? Or is this newcomer, Luminar 4 ready to take the throne of Adobe Lightroom? We will soon find out.
What is Luminar 4?
Luminar 4 is created by Skylum and is one of the most universal platforms utilized for photo editing. It has a plug-in function and is available as an application all on its own. The editing tools provided through the software utilize a digital asset manager to assist in allowing the software to be utilized on many different platforms.
Luminar 4 is one of the best options if you are not interested in using Lightroom. It allows for both RAW and JPEG photo edits. It has many of the same traditional photo editing capabilities as Lightroom, such as color, exposure, temperature, contrast, highlights, shadows and more.
What really separates Luminar 4 from Lightroom, is it has some pretty impressive artificial intelligence editing capabilities to allow for some of the most basic to more advanced editing techniques. You can even use layers and effects to allow for specific editing on specific parts of your photos.
Just as using Lightroom presets will exponentially increase your efficiency, I am glad to see the implementation of the presets in Luminar 4 as well. You can use some of their default presets, or you can create your own.
What is Lightroom?
Lightroom has been used by professional photographers for many years. It is a software that gets as basic as you want, or you can dig deeper into the edits to do some more advanced edits.
Lightroom has been the defacto professional standard in photo editing for some time. However, with recent developments like capture one and Luminar 4 among others, many photographers are starting to look to either supplement their Lightroom use or completely replace it.
With Lightroom, you can edit, batch edit, export, print and much more directly from the different modules (Library, Develop, Map, Print, etc), offering an all-inclusive editing software. You can even do more detailed and specific edits using the Lightroom adjustment brush, radial filter and spot removal.
Lightroom works well with other Adobe products including Photoshop to allow for extensive photo editing. There are also plugins readily available to assist in more advanced techniques or to speed up your workflow.
Lightroom has been made into two programs to allow for the software to be used on any platform. Lightroom Classic is the first program that allows for desktop use, while Lightroom CC allows for mobile use through an application. You can work through the cloud to save your editing data when working with the Lightroom CC software on your mobile device or tablet.
Though Lightroom CC is great, I tend to use Lightroom Classic, on the desktop. So this article is geared towards comparing Lightroom Classic and Luminar 4.
The User Interfaces
The user interfaces of the two applications are some of the largest differences between the two, especially when considering Lightroom Classic. Luminar 4 has the simplest setup to make usage of the software easy for beginners and anyone who may be new to the program. If you are new to both platforms, Lightroom Classic can be a bit more confusing. It has a higher learning curve and may require a bit of trial and error to truly understand the intricate details of the software.
The workspaces in Luminar 4 are pre-loaded, as well as the filters and the catalogs that are available. You can access anything else you need through the settings. Lightroom Classic requires for you to open any catalog items you need, including editing tools, filters and much more. There is always new information downloaded to Lightroom 4, allowing for endless possibilities in editing.
When it comes to organizing your files, Luminar is easier to get up and running, but Lightroom has more advanced capabilities as far as importing and organizing files.
To open your catalog of photos in Luminar, there are very simple steps. The organization tools are actually very basic as the software is relatively new. You are only able to sort based on ratings, and you are able to make color labels. You have to manually create albums, and you cannot sort by keywords or any other data at the current time.
Organizing your files in Lightroom is much more detailed. You can organize by ratings, you can create tags on your photos to assist in organization, you can organize by IPTC or EXIF data, and you can even organize by the camera or lens that was utilized to take the photo. Searching via the data or the keywords on a photo is important to many photographers, so be sure to consider this when considering the software you want to use.
Also, when adding your files from say your SD card or another hard drive, Lightroom gives you a ton of flexibility on how you want to structure the folders, the files names, etc.
One example of how I use their advanced organization techniques is I will add the camera, the camera lens, model and more to my file names. Since I shoot with Canon, Fujifilm and Sony, I like to add the camera models I was using, to my filenames, since my editing workflow differs (especially on color differences) between the different camera systems.
Side note: Why do I shoot with 3 different systems? I like the high resolution of the Sony A7r for landscape, and the color and lens choices of Canon and Fuji for Portrait and product photography. I also love the gear so its too easy to buy more than I need. Regardless, I like to keep all this data organized in the file name for quick access. Lightroom allows me to do this:
There are editing tools on every spectrum available on both Lightroom and Luminar. You can easily perform basic editing to change the tone, contrast, white balance, saturation, highlights, shadows and more on both programs. These basic editing tools are available on both programs, while all of the more advanced editing tools are not necessarily available on both.
Luminar 4 Editing Tools Overview
The advanced editing tools on Luminar are more based on filters that are created through artificial intelligence in an effort to ease the workflow. You can enhance skies, portraits, skin and much more through the layers tools that are available only on this software. Lightroom does not currently allow for layers but it does have tools such as healing, making virtual copies and more.
Lightroom Editing Tools Overview
Lightroom has made a lot of improvements in its performance since the software was first created. It did used to be relatively slow, but it has since been updated. Smart previews are now available to allow for easier editing and file management when traveling or when needing to work quickly. This does not mean everything is perfect as of yet though.
Luminar has some performance concerns as well, however. It is fast in switching between libraries and modules to allow for ease of access and ease in the workflow. Editing can be slow, however, with editing updates and looks taking a few seconds to low in between edits. There are also no previews available, making photos have to be edited individually by selecting them one-by-one in the library.
Lumninar does not have as many detailed exporting features as are available in Lightroom. There are hardly any options available other than a basic export, and you cannot export via presets as you can in Lightroom. The only exports available are JPEGs and TIFFs, but there are no other abilities for clients who need different exports.
Lightroom has many more export functions available. You can export JPEGs and TIFFs like Luminar, while also exporting PNGs and many more photo file options. There is also a printing feature available on Lightroom that is not available on Luminar. This feature allows you to print directly from the Lightroom software to avoid having to go through a middle software. There is truly something for almost every client’s need when exporting photos through Lightroom.
Prices of the Softwares
Both softwares do cost money to use, but each is priced in a different way. Luminar simply requires a one-time purchase, whereas Lightroom requires the purchase of a subscription. You can purchase further updates of Luminar at a discount if you already own the software. You will automatically receive updates of Lightroom as long as you pay your subscription every month.
Luminar costs around $89, as a one-time purchase, to use and download. The purchase does come with “inspiration looks.” Lightroom’s subscription is around $9.99 a month if you want the cheapest option that is available. You can also pay outright for $120 a year, which includes all of the latest updates. If you cancel, you will not have access to any editing tools that are available through the software.
Differences in Using Presets
If you are new to using presets, it may be difficult knowing how to use them in Lightroom. They don’t seem as intuitive (creating new ones, saving them, applying them) in Lightroom.
In Luminar however, you simply choose a dropdown of your group of presets, and then it shows all your images with the presets applied. I really hope one day Lightroom adds this functionality, since most photographers like me are visual creatures. I would like to see a grid of all my images with all the different presets applied, like Luminar 4 does it, or even better, how priime styles does it.
What I Loved about Luminar
- AI: I love the AI features of Luminar. They work very well. These editing features essentially saves you a ton of time. If you wanted to acheive the same in LR or Photoshop, you would have to do very detailed edits using the brush or selecting areas of your photos.
- Portraits & Landscape: With Luminar’s AI, it essentially creates invisible masks and applies edits to the background of a landscape photo, but not the people in it, it applies whitening to teeth, skin smoothening, and more all without you needing to do a lot of work. This is a huge time saver for portrait work especially. Though it may not be as fully featured as PortraitPro, it is equally impressive for portrait work.
What I Wish Luminar Had
- More Buggy: Even though I love some things over Luminar 4, it does seem more buggy than Lightroom. It shouldn’t be an issue, however, I haven’t had Lightroom just completely shut down much of an error. Though it doesn’t happen a lot in Luminar, it did just happen right now as I am writing this post, so that is something to consider.
- No Virtual Copies: As a photographer, you really need virtual copies. This is a deal breaker for me in choosing my main photo editing software. There are many times I create many edits and want to compare between different styles or looks.
Using the Two Together
Though you can get started right away with Lightroom, there are many editing options that aren’t completely obvious. There is definitely a deeper learning curve with Lightroom, simply because it is more fully featured. It is more of a pro level software. However, Luminar really comes in handy for me when doing portrait retouches and some landscape work due to it’s extremely quick and efficient AI algorithms.
There are important differences between Lightroom and Luminar 4. They are able to be used as different softwares by themselves for photo editing, but the two are able to be used together as well.
In fact this is exactly how I use Luminar. I will organize and do my main edits in Lightroom because of its superior file handling and bulk photo editing. Then, when I want to use some of the awesome AI magic of Luminar, I just right click and choose “edit in luminar.” All you need to do is go to preferences, and click on “choose”. Then just select Luminar. If it doesn’t work try hitting clear first.
And if you are worried, it is perfectly acceptable to have both downloaded on your computer without either interfering with the other. They work great in tandem together.
Lightroom can be your primary source of editing still, even if you are just finding out about the details that are allowed in Luminar 4. You will save your basic editing that you completed in Lightroom, then select to edit your photos in Luminar 4. This will give you the artificial intelligence editing capabilities that are necessary for the most detailed editing. You can simply return your image back to Lightroom after completing editing in Luminar 4 to export and save it.