Luminar Ships

MacPhun’s standalone raw converter, Luminar 1.0, has now shipped. I’ve been using the product for a couple of weeks testing out some new workflow ideas (more on that in a bit). There’s a lot to like, but a few things that could use some improvement.

In the lot-to-like category is the straightforward controls and the ability to layer them. Another is that you can build your own panel on the right picking and choosing which “filters” you use regularly (see screen shot, where I’m in the middle of adding some to my righthand develop panel). Coupled with the ability to build your own presets, the customization capabilities of getting Luminar’s UI tuned only to what you use is nearly off the charts.

bythom luminar

Performance is a little on the slow side when first pulling up the program on an image. It seems like I’m watching the “Denoising the raw conversion” message for a longer time than I’d expect, though the results are very clean pixels. Once the initial conversion is up, though, Luminar is pretty responsive to the sliders even on an older or underpowered Macintosh (it’s a Mac-only product). (I’m tempted to write “honey badger don’t care… ;~)

The UI is a clean, flat one, and probably deeper than you might at first glance think. For a 1.0 version of a product, it came out pretty darned full and useful.

Now about that “different workflow” bit. 

I’m more and more an “edit in place” type of user. That’s true even with Lightroom, and I note that Scott Kelby’s latest SLIM (Simplified Lightroom Image Management) system is essentially the same thing: new image files get copied to a hierarchical folder structure and left there. Everything else downstream only happens after those files are in their permanent place. 

Well, if your folder/file structure is good enough—indeed Scott ends up copying his folder structure as Collections—you don’t really need Lightroom or anything other than a fast browser (e.g. Photo Mechanic or FastRawViewer), and maybe even not that if you don’t have a lot of files. What you do want is a raw converter that can edit in place (i.e. not move your files), and one that is non-destructive (i.e. doesn’t change the original file). In other words, I want to invoke the raw converter directly from the file structure. Almost all the latest raw converters that have come across my desk, Luminar, Alien Skin Exposure 2, and onOne’s forthcoming raw converter all allow that, and are non-destructive. 

A combination of browser and converter, coupled with discipline, could net you a very fast and useful workflow at a fairly low price. Certainly lower than the Adobe US$10/month tithe. 

It’s going to take me a bit to find the optimal workflow done this way, but expect me to be showing you something along those lines soon.

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