On the basis of key differences between Luminar vs Photoshop, their unique capabilities, the simplicity of use, advantages and disadvantages, I am ready to answer the question “What software to use?”.
Luminar by Skylum is one of the pretenders to the image editing throne but what exactly distinguishes it from Photoshop? In the review below, I have compared different aspects of both programs.
It is worth mentioning that Luminar software may be used as an individual program or a plug-in for Photoshop or Lightroom.
A simple interface and the ability to correct the workspace, move/delete/add panels and tools made this software popular among beginners.
The picture editor features artificial intelligence. It is built into more than 30% of the tools and appears not only in the face correction tools like red eyes correction, teeth whitening but also in filters and LUTs.
Just like Lightroom, Luminar software features batch edit of RAW files that is not available in Photoshop.
Advanced batch edit. Unlike Photoshop, Luminar supports batch processing even of RAW files that allows choosing not only Luminar presets (looks) and adjusting white balance but performing almost all color corrections.
File sorting and organization. The “Library” panel allows you to view, sort, organize and even import files from hard drives. Luminar photo editor offers the search and sorting of your images by geotags, marks and stars. You may even do a file backup.
Non-destructive image editing without layers. Any manual tool, effect or auto function has a big button that allows switching off the layer and its impact on the image in general. So, an original photo is not changed because you perform the destructive processes like cloning and retouching on a separate layer.
You may view all the operations on the History panel. In case you want to cancel some manipulations, just go several steps back. Moreover, any minute you may stop working and return later since the photo editing history is automatically saved in the Library.
Convenient division of tools. Unlike Photoshop, where all the tools are chaotically thrown about scaring the beginners, developers of Luminar software took care of their new users and divided the toolsets into separate tabs. You may choose tools for portrait shots, color correction, street photography, landscape or aerial photography, etc. However, you may also activate a Professional Mode where all the tools are available. That and more is described in my Luminar review.
Simple but equally effective portrait batch edit. The portrait editing section is developed on the basis of AI. All the changes are made semi-automatically using the sliders. The corrections that you may perform include the removal of red-eye effect, eye whitening, lips or nose correction (make them bigger or thinner), removal of pimples, pores, wrinkles.
NOT suitable for weak PCs. Although sometimes Luminar software surpasses Ps in terms of speed, it’s solely due to the capacity of your computer. The thing is that among Luminar 4 requirements you will find a processor of Intel® Core ™ i7 of the 7th generation or better, a 4GB discreet card and 16 GB core memory. While Adobe Photoshop technical requirements are half as much!
NO image retouching tools. Unlike Photoshop that has adjustable stamps, cloning brushes, lasso, etc., Skylum Luminar offers only semi-automatic and doubtfully-working Dodge and Burn instead. Tools for manual photo corrections simply do not exist.
Almost every tool available in Ps is fully adjustable and you may change the intensity, size, color, etc.
One of the reasons why users choose Photoshop is its popularity. It exists on the market for more than 15 years. During this time, it has collected thousands of tutorials and articles, forums and even paid and free courses.
Since Photoshop belongs to the Creative Cloud family, you have the possibility to closely work with other Adobe products such as Lightroom, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, etc. Moreover, the company offers cloud storage and Adobe Stock for large companies and advanced image retouchers.
Deep image retouching. Using Photoshop, you may apply dozens of proven and effective methods of image retouching such as dot healing, frequency separation, Dodge & Burn, etc. Among other functions available you may also find the customary ones like teeth whitening, hair straightening, removal of deep wrinkles or dark spots on the skin.
Advanced layers. One of the peculiarities that makes the professionals choose Photoshop is the advanced layers. They include type layer, image layer, vector shape layer, layer styles, smart object, smart filter, layer mask, adjustment layer and background.
Using these layers, you may perform any manipulation – starting with a watermark, background change and ending with complex frequency editing. You may use layers to create complex manipulations out of two and more pics or edit only a specific area in the photo.
Professional color correction. Camera RAW, a built-in plug-in, is a lighter version of Lightroom that allows editing almost all popular types of RAW files. The tools include familiar options like curves, saturation, white balance, clarity, dehaze, HSL, exposure, etc. Like in Luminar software, the picture editing process in Camera RAW is a non-destructive one.
Useful plug-ins. While Luminar and Lightroom allow adding third-party presets, Photoshop also works with various third-party filters, textures, overlays, actions and even fonts.
You may find hundreds of ready plug-ins on the Adobe Add-ons website or use other services to make the image editing process more automatic and simple.
Graphic tablet support. For artists and designers, working with tablets for photo editing is a great benefit since it boosts productivity and speed, preserving the decent quality. That’s because when you work with a mouse, you may take a cursor and move it one way or another. But you can’t control pressure/pressure force specifying the deepness.
Creating graphic design. Unlike Luminar photo software that offers only image editing functions, Photoshop is more universal. You may create the design for your project and use the ready styles of Ps menu or set your own dimensions. Moreover, there are many templates in Adobe Stock, including standard sets and illustrations that you may use to create your own unique projects.
NOT suitable for batch work. Photoshop doesn’t allow performing batch processing. This program is developed to edit separate images and it is only possible to open several files and edit them simultaneously. That sufficiently increases the final time spent on image editing.
Complicated learning curve. Although Photoshop has thousands of tutorials for specific functions and complex training courses, all of them require much time.
Comparing Luminar vs Photoshop in terms of pricing policy, I should mention that Skylum appeals more to me since these guys offer an autonomous version (Adobe used to do it). You don’t have to pay $9.99-$20.99 monthly as it would be if you buy Photoshop. You buy the software once for $89.99 and use it for free during all the time.
On the other hand, you should understand that when there is a new release (approximately once in 10 months), you will have to buy software again but using a Luminar discount.
Before you buy Photoshop or Luminar software, I recommend using a Photoshop trial and Luminar free trial to test and see whether you really need it.
As for me, I chose Photoshop since I like wide possibilities. However, if you are a beginner, everything depends on your personal requirements, working process, level of picture editing skills (desire to master complex techniques) and the budget.
Before you choose between Luminar vs Photoshop, decide what goal you need to achieve using the software.
If it is mixed, complex, manual editing, your variant is Adobe Photoshop. When you work with RAW files, you may use it in the middle of your workflow. It is also suitable for further picture retouching and cleaning with the healing brush, etc.
Undoubtedly, Photoshop has no competition when it comes to deep picture retouching and manipulations. Moreover, it is a perfect variant if you need to print pics from it. You may also print the photo directly from Luminar but you won’t be able to manage colors.
On the other hand, Luminar photo editor is perfect for beginner shooters looking for software simpler than Ps. Here, you may find more automatic tools that make corrections with one click or slider. Luminar allows you not only to edit but also organize, arrange, mark and sort photos. It offers a wide range of filters, creative presets as well as color LUTs.
No matter what program you have chosen ‒ Luminar or Photoshop, free plug-ins will greatly decrease the time spent on image editing.
Use this free HDR action to edit your landscape pics. Colors will become more saturated and bright, while the enhanced black will add shades.
Since we can’t observe snow in every region and everyone would like to have a beautiful winter portrait, this free Ps action will save the day. It adds small white glares resembling falling snow.
Use this free Luminar preset to improve your landscape images. This tool corrects the white balance and “plays” with a curve, highlighting red and blue colors. In such a way, it emphasizes the coolness and adds warm shades.
This free unique Luminar plug-in creates an effect of an old film in your digital photo. It has dynamic basic settings and is perfectly suitable for any scenes shot in the artificial lighting.
Add bright glares in the form of lights to your winter photo using this free overlay. They will make the image more expressive and memorable, conveying the festive atmosphere.