What is Skylum and What is Luminar? Review

Posted in Blog on March 10, 2018
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For many years, Adobe has ruled the photo editing space with their products such as Photoshop and Lightroom, but in 2016, an unknown contender by the name of Macphun released Luminar for Macbook and shocked the world.

Fast-forward to 2018, Macphun changes its name to Skylum and launches their latest version Luminar 2018.

The name change was one of the reasons why so many people were confused and were asking what is Skylum and what is Luminar?

This name change was done as the company which initially was a creator of Mac software, established its position as a multi-platform developer with Windows support.

What is Luminar?

paint_brushLuminar 2018 is a Skylum software which aims to make photo editing more accessible for both amateurs and professionals. What it isn't is a replacement for Lightroom.

The critical difference between them is that Luminar is an application to edit photos and effects. It's also designed to provide quick treatments for photos. Lightroom is a digital hub for photography with features such as Digital-Asset Management capabilities(D.A.M) along with other features like RAW editing and effects.

Although Luminar lacks a D.A.M at the moment, it plans to release it as part of their free software update for members who own Luminar 2018.

If you have used other photo editing platforms such as Adobe Lightroom or even Adobe Photoshop, you will find that the controls are quite familiar.

Getting Familiar with Luminar

The similar set up will make it easy for you to transition to Luminar 2018. The only difference that you will notice is the workflow.

While the tools available in regular photo editors appear as palettes, panels & dialogs, Luminar has filters. Just like the ones on Instagram.

You can use them as you see fit for a project and can even apply multiple filters to get the desired effects.

The filters help in removing clutter from your workspace as you only have the essentials that you need available to you.

Less clutter is helpful as Luminar has an array of filters available such as black & white, natural tone, sunrays, matte, curve adjustments, etc.

If you feel like the multitude of filters are confusing you, or you have just started editing photos, you can use the presets already available in this Skylum software.

You can also download more presets from the Skylum website.squared_design

Faster Editing, Better Results

If you do not want to spend hours painstakingly editing photos one by one, you can choose from the available list of presets and filters to help fast forward the editing process.

Luminar 2018 has the preset menu at the bottom for easy accessibility. This feature is a boon for both novices and professionals alike, as professionals can use the preset and then fine-tune the photo.

Presets are categorized into two categories, edit and the kind of photo to pinpoint a better look. You can also save your most used presets in your group for future use.

Clicking on a preset will open a workspace. You can combine filters to make your own presets here as you can tweak the settings as you wish.

Also, you can adjust the intensity of the filter that you chose with a slider. If you are an advanced user who knows his way around photo editing software, you can start your editing by selecting a workspace from the available options.

You can create workspaces to serve your purpose such as you can create one workspace for color correction, another specific workspace for special effects and a completely different one for exposure.

These features prove to be one of the significant strengths of Luminar 2018 since the customization options are endless.

Editing in Luminar

traffic_signalsLuminar makes the editing process a breeze and can almost be considered a hybrid between Photoshop and Lightroom.

Although it currently lacks features such as image management (D.A.M), it makes up for it with its customization abilities, RAW processor, and Layers.

The layer function is similar to photoshop and users who have previously used Photoshop will find it familiar.

The layer function allows you to apply multiple edits on multiple layers without damaging the original image.

Layer functionality is useful as you can select the layers which you do not want and remove them or adjust their position and apply masks without having to worry about the photo.

One of the many filters that are available in Luminar 2018 is the Detail-Enhancer, which helps to make the photo crisp and enhances its detail.

A Photographer's Dream Comes True

Another tool that is a welcome addition is the Digital-Polarizing filter which does not require any masking to adjust the polarity.

Although Luminar 2018 is an excellent product, it still has its fair share of quirks.

The dodge and burn is a new tool added to Luminar 2018, although the Skylum software makes it easier to use, it isn’t strong enough as the one in Photoshop even when cranked to the maximum.

The Lookup table-filter (L.U.T) is too technical and confusing if you do not know what you are doing.

The RAW develop filter needs additional work. It can help with chromatic aberrations and distortions, but it lacks the presence of automatic lens correction profiles.

Although the presence of a RAW develops filter makes it handy from time to time, it's indeed no match for Lightroom or DxO-optics Pro for shiny_lightbulbconversions.

Luminar 2018 takes the best tools from the existing photo editing programs which makes for an exciting and fun workspace.

It includes tools like intuitive sliders, presets, layers, and the customizable workspace lets you create a clutter-free workspace with only the features that you want to use.

The 2018 version of Luminar has some filters and adjustments like dodge & burn, sun rays, etc. and misses a few other features such as auto-masking and better healing brush that is available in Lightroom.

Although Luminar does not expect to replace Photoshop or Lightroom yet, the upcoming update is aimed to make the Skylum software more comparable to them.


All in all, Luminar is a commendable photo editor from Skylum. This software has come a long way since its inception in 2016 and is ideal for amateur photographers. Download and test Luminar for free.

It is also a refreshingly new software with just the right elements borrowed from other photo editing software so that it gives the feel of using something new without feeling like a complete amateur.

If you're an amateur photographer that needs a basic photo editing graphics tablet, read more about the Wacom Intuos Photo Pen and Touch tablet.

So when a professional photographer asks you, what is Skylum and what is Luminar? You can confidently smile and tell him or her that Skylum (previously known as Macphun) is the company and creator of the famous photo editing software program called Luminar.

Additional Resources

Skylum.com, Luminar Video Tutorials. Retrieved on 3/10/2018.

FStoppers.com, Fstoppers Reviews Macphun's Luminar 2018 Image Editor. Retrieved on 3/10/2018.




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