Luminar: The only photo-editing tool most Mac users need

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Luminar has a simple yet powerful interface. This is how it looks when editing a sunset photo using the Basic Vivid preset.

Image: Erik Eckel

When it comes to photo editing, users should be careful what they wish for. Creating striking images can quickly become a complex task that requires mastering difficult image-manipulation programs, and understanding layers, filters, and numerous other components, as well as appreciating how those elements impact and depend upon one another. Fortunately, photo-editing applications simplify the process and make it easier to create compelling images.

Macphun’s Luminar photo-editing program has an adaptive contextual interface, and users can quickly apply presets, tweak colors, add filters, crop images, make simple lighting and shadow adjustments, and complete other frequently performed actions. Powerful filter treatments can be performed within 10 or 20 seconds. Users who want to accommodate specific looks and treatments, and test and adjust numerous other options can do so, thereby significantly customizing photos using advanced settings.

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For example, load a photo within Luminar, and you’ll find a variety of filters listed at the bottom of the screen. Selecting a filter applies the preset, and the main window immediately displays the results of applying that preset. Change your mind? No worries, just click the Undo icon. Or, you can pick from several other filter categories, each of which possesses its own unique presets.

Mac users seeking to dig deeper and customize settings have two immediate options—Luminar presents adaptive tools within the right contextual menu. For example, applying the Travel preset’s Impressive filter to an image results in four filters appearing. Scrolling down through these filter settings enables adjusting 14 slider bars that change tone, color contrast, polarization, and highlights and shadows. Selecting an alternative preset, such as the Basic Vivid filter, updates the right contextual menu to enable adjusting 11 slider bars in four categories: Tone, Saturation/Vibrance, Polarizing Filter, and Clarity.

Photos and images can be saved as Luminar files, which receive a .lmnr file extension. Photos and images can be exported as JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, JPEG-2000, Photoshop, and PDF files.

With support for RAW images, direct plug-in integration with Apple Aperture, Adobe Lightroom, and Adobe Photoshop, an Apple Photos extension, non-destructive editing, numerous preset filters, color toning, masking, and layers support, Luminar offers a compelling bargain for $69. The program also includes black-and-white and bulk processing capabilities, as well as object removal features.

Even though Luminar has limited options compared to competitors such as Photoshop, it’s easy to see how Macphun’s app might replace many Mac users’ need for any other photo- and image-editing tool.

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