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Skylum Luminar 3 Review

Skylum Luminar 3 Review
TrueToad
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Skylum Luminar 3 Review

Almost!

Skylum released the newest offering of Luminar, the Luminar 3 which includes the highly anticipated asset management library to facilitate users ability to have immediate access to their images via libraries or user-created albums. 

When reading other reviews consider if the review was conducted AFTER Dec 18 or before. If before the actual release date the review is just parroting the hype Skylum puts out and is mostly to offer discount coupons for the reviewer''s profits.  This review is for the Windows release and this version of Luminar 3 has issues, I do not recommend Luminar 3 if you require Digital Asset Management.

Update: December 29 2018 Team Skylum made available it's first update to address stability and crash issues however the updates did not address the performance issue for large number of images. Hopefully in 2019 Skylum will take the path to allow the end user to choose scanning folders at startup or syncing as needed after the app starts. This would at least allow the app to load quickly.

Bottom Line Up Front: Luminar 3 has severe performance issues and before it can be considered a serious image editing software solution the performance needs to be addressed.

I run Lightroom, Capture One 12 and other image editing software each using the same Windows 10 PC and same network as does Luminar 3.  Luminar 3 load times, thumbnail previews and image rendering in the editor are the slowest of the three by far. As slow as Traffic in Washington DC during rush hour with one lane closed.

If you are looking at Luminar 3 for the image editing software with asset management solution to improve your workflow, you will need to wait a little longer. This version of Luminar has not been without its share of problems with the main problem being related to the Digital Asset Management/library portion. If you use the library and load up Luminar 3 with your folders be prepared to wait and wait and wait for the app to run each time it is started and once started the image rendering is quite sluggish and you will find yourself waiting on Luminar 3 to fully render the image for editing.

-- If you can wait on Skylum to address the Asset Management performance issues or don't require the Asset management portion you can certainly use Luminar 3 as a stand-alone editor. The Luminar 3 release was to introduce the new Digital Asset Management support but Skylum did not completely nail it on this first release.

Installation: 

The Windows 10 install went smoothly requiring an internet connection for the install and following the install, Luminar 3 displayed a nine-step process (actually two the rest are glory slides telling you how great Luminar 3 will be). The final step involves adding folders to Luminar 3 and unknowingly this is where the problems begin for a lot of people.

During the final step, I pointed Luminar 3 to all 55,000 of my image files. The speed at which images are added depends on many factors like network speed, the size of the images and the number, overall image importing into the Luminar 3 catalog went smooth. Luminar 3 chugged along until all the images were in the catalog. Ultimately I discovered the more images and folders you add the slower and slower Luminar 3 will become. Luminar 3 would just sit at the splash screen and appear to be non-responsive. However, the issue was Luminar 3 had too many folders/images and was bogged down. I discovered this issue after two days of trying everything to get Luminar 3 to startup.

Post Install and Launching Luminar 3: 

Image
At this point using Task Manager I killed the Luminar 3 process, deleted the catalog, the Luminar 3 profile folder and started a fresh setup, this time I added just two image folders having about 200 raw images which took about 4 minutes to update the Luminar 3 catalog. Following the second setup with 200 images, the start time for the Luminar 3 app was now at 3 minutes, Yes MINUTES, sorry to say. As I added more image folders the startup time kept getting longer and longer and is now at a whopping 19 minutes just to load the app. But at least I know Luminar 3 will eventually open if you give it enough time.

I headed over to the Skylum Luminar Community Forums to see if others users were having issues and found post after post of users having very similar experiences. The post and comments in the Luminar community forum paint a very bad picture for this initial release of Luminar 3 with many end users feeling cheated and let down, and I feel their frustration.  Many Users and including myself were disappointed in the implementation of the Library or Digital Asset Management (DAM).

My list of Luminar 3 issues: 

  • Launching Luminar 3 software after loading a few thousand images - Luminar 3 appears to hang at the splash screen - go cook a four-course meal while you wait on Luminar 3 to open - It will eventually open. 
  • Wait time for the splash screen gets Slower and Slower the more image folders you add - This seriously needs to be addressed and is unacceptable in this day and age of current technology
  • Import/Export of image into the library: Luminar 3 is much slower than Capture One or Lightroom, Exporting of an image out of  Lightroom at 100% resolution/quality 48mb RAW to Jpeg took 3 seconds and the file was 16mb while Luminar took about 10 seconds and produced a 28mb file with the exact same image file.
  • Luminar 3 is very very slow to render thumbnail previews and in the editor. You find yourself waiting on Luminar 3 more often than not. Obvious these performance issues get in your way - you need to wait for each image to render - very frustrating. This was like LightRoom 5 years ago.
  • Painfully slow – This is the slowest app I have ever used as far as image handling goes and another pain point is switching to edit mode the "looks" filter templates takes several seconds to display the presets. 
  • Switching between Library and Editor and back to Library does not automatically refresh to the library view
  • Luminar 3 does not remember your editor preferences such as I use the Professional Presets but Luminar defaults to Essentials
  • No meta tagging available only rating, flagging and color coding – I find it useless if I can not do a simple meta entry for an image like give the Bird image the actual name of the bird
  • Network support is lacking – if your images are on a network device the Luminar 3 will not pop up a login prompt instead it just spins and spins; You have to kill the process, then log onto your network storage then launch Luminar 3 - This needs to be addressed.

Adding folders into Luminar 3: Like Lightroom, images remain where they are located and not physically moved during the process, Luminar will create a catalog in a location you specified and update the catalog with pointers to the images.  The import times vary depending on network speed and image size. 

Network Storage Support: I consider external storage a must for any photographer/videographer these days, a solution that is redundant and reliable to protect your investment in time and effort.  While Luminar 3 will navigate to my network storage and load the image folders while I am logged on.  On subsequent uses of Luminar 3, the software does not prompt for a NAS log on and just sits spinning and will not start.

Image
Editor:As far as the editor portion of Luminar 3 goes it shines as it's strong point with a none cluttered easy to navigate slider based none destructive editor very similar to what you find in other top-shelf image editing packages but without all the clutter and vertical scrolling. Of course, if you want to add more filters to your workspace/editor you can do just that. The editor includes "looks" similar to what Lightroom calls presets, you can if you desire to use a look, it can be applied to your image and previewed with that look. Looks are arranged in different categories, Landscape, Dramatic, Protititure, Airiel, Street, and a few others plus you can download more from the Luminar Marketplace for a few $$ or pick up the freebies. You can also flag your favorite Looks and have easy access to them while in Luminar 3. 

The Luminar 3 editor has all the necessary tools for most any image editing needs and to me resembles Lightroom develop module sidebar of sliders with less clutter. Luminar 3 allows you to add filters which you modify and add more filters if you so desire to tweak your images to your heart's desire. The editor is also included access to groupings of pre-packaged workspaces such as Essentials, Professional, Quick & Awesome, and so forth. Each editor category gives access to different editing tools a way for you to select what tool is best suited for your needs and not be bothered with a bunch of sliders you don't plan on using. I do wish Luminar 3 will add full meta tagging this is a must for any Digital Asset Management solution, and add image info data overlays for reference as you work on images if you choose to overlay info like shutter speed, Lens Used, ISO etc.

Overall the Editor in Luminar 3 fantastic, is straightforward and easy to use with enough editing features to make your workflow productive without the need to learn in-depth software editing techniques and this is where Luminar 3 succeeds. But obviously like any image editing package you have a few things to learn along the way to improve your skills using Luminar 3. To hone your editing skills Skylum offers webinars and video tutorials. I recommend you watch a couple to explore the potential of Luminar 3.

Image
Workspace: Luminar 3 fully supports customizable workspaces which support the photographer editing needs and style, such as a workspace dedicated for Black and White image processing or other workspaces that support Portituture, Landscapes to name a few. Luminar 3 has many built-in workspaces and allows you to add more via download from the Marketplace. This feature is a nice way to maximize the image processing workflow based on specific needs. Switching between workspaces is one mouse click away.

My initial thought and recommendation for Luminar 3:  Due to the very serious performance issue I cannot recommend Luminar 3 at this time IF you require asset management. But like I said earlier Luminar 3 can be used without adding folders using the quick editing method similar to Luminar 3028. Luminar 3 has a lot of potentials but this first release did not prove that, in fact, it hurt customers' faith in the product. If you are a Luminar 2018, Lightroom or Capture One user there is no real advantage of Luminar 3 over those products as far as Asset Management goes.  

Overall I enjoy editing images in Luminar 3 because the editor interface is intuitive and has enough of everything without overwhelming you.

The biggest pitfall with Luminar 3 is the very poor performance during startup and the sluggish thumbnail and image rendering in the editor - which you find yourself waiting on rendering before you can perform edits. There are a few other quirks that are annoying like not remembering your settings but this is nowhere near as frustrating as the performance issues.  Skylum must absolutely address this. The entire purpose of releasing this version was for a Digital Asset Management Library module and that was not well executed.

Luminar 3 appears rushed out the door in order to make good on Skylum's promise for Libraries Asset Management before 2018 ended, and now that we are neck deep in the holiday season I doubt we see any updates to Luminar 3 Performance issues before February 2019.  

If you are on the fence I recommend you download the 30 day Trial Version of Luminar 3 and load one or two image folders to get a feel for what Luminar 3 is all about.

I included a link below to the Windows Luminar Community Forum - In case you need a second opinion go there and read some comments.

Hopefully, Skylum can survive the torrent downpour of frustrated users and outpouring of negativity and make amends to its customer base. Luminar has great potential as an easy to use image editing solution and I am willing to wait a bit longer for the cake to be fully baked.

 

Here's a rundown of the things we have discovered to be the most popular queries this week:

  • Stability and performance issues will be addressed in 3.1.0. It is scheduled for the end of January - beginning of February.
  • How to import your Apple Photos library into Luminar: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ovunqplv3u3kjpl/PhotosRawWorkaround.mov?dl=0
  • Luminar freezes/crashes on activation. We'll address the crash in 3.0.1 (by the end of December). We'll address long load time that causes the activation window to seemingly freeze in 3.1.0.
  • Installation on Mac freezes at 100%. Use admin account to install.
  • Installation on Mac and Win breaks with an error. Use this installer for Mac instead. Use this installer for Win instead.
  • Database Initialization Failed on Win. This is a known issue that occurs due to bad EXIF data in the photos that are being imported into Luminar. Will be fixed in 3.0.1.
  • No 'Next' button on Win when you launch Luminar for the first time. Change your display scaling to 100%.
  • We'll add the ability to save .lmnr projects later.
  • Photo previews are not displaying when there is no Internet connection on Win. Will be fixed in 3.0.1.

We'll keep you in the loop about bugfixes and updates.

 

Here's a rundown of the things we have discovered to be the most popular queries this week:

  • Stability and performance issues will be addressed in 3.1.0. It is scheduled for the end of January - beginning of February.
  • How to import your Apple Photos library into Luminar: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ovunqplv3u3kjpl/PhotosRawWorkaround.mov?dl=0
  • Luminar freezes/crashes on activation. We'll address the crash in 3.0.1 (by the end of December). We'll address long load time that causes the activation window to seemingly freeze in 3.1.0.
  • Installation on Mac freezes at 100%. Use admin account to install.
  • Installation on Mac and Win breaks with an error. Use this installer for Mac instead. Use this installer for Win instead.
  • Database Initialization Failed on Win. This is a known issue that occurs due to bad EXIF data in the photos that are being imported into Luminar. Will be fixed in 3.0.1.
  • No 'Next' button on Win when you launch Luminar for the first time. Change your display scaling to 100%.
  • We'll add the ability to save .lmnr projects later.
  • Photo previews are not displaying when there is no Internet connection on Win. Will be fixed in 3.0.1.

We'll keep you in the loop about bugfixes and updates.

Top Pros and Cons 
 Pros Cons
 Simple Straight  Forward Editor  Poor Performance and very long startup times
 Non Destructive Editor  Image handling is sluggish - Thumb Previews and Image rendering in the editor is slow
 Access to many "looks" for images  Preferences are not always remembered
 The cheapest Editor on the Market  No True Meta Tagging
 Customizable Workspaces  Non-resizeable editor panes you are stuck with what Luminar comes configured as
 Lots of Filters and Looks  Editor Thumb preview sizes are not resizeable
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TrueToadTrueToad

I live at the edge of the forest in semi-moist locations, I enjoy larva, and other delights. Although I am toothless and mostly warty, I am a sight to see.

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2 comments on article "Skylum Luminar 3 Review"

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David Forster

Um... I'd say that was a little harsh. I had my own frustrations, not the least of which was waiting a year for an upgrade that I was promised in "early 2018". And learning on the morning of launch date that I had to upload a screenshot from iTunes to prove that I had purchased Luminar 2018. And wait 2 more days. And after those 2 days wait some more because the weren't able to keep that promise too.

But a "turd"? I love the photo editing interface and I love the quality of the editing tools. I generally just ignore the pre-sets.The half-baked DAM is still a dramatic improvement and there is supposedly another free update coming to bake in the other half. We'll see.

I never really recovered from Apple's decision to drop Aperture. I've tried Lightroom (which I loathe), Bridge with photoshop, Capture 1, OnOne and others. Capture 1 came the closest but the library management in Luminar is already better that Capture 1's (or at least better than it was when I was using it). Luminar is by far my editor of choice now, and when proper DAM arrives my happiness level might just go back to the pre-Aperture's-demise days.

Skylum is still a relatively small, growing company, trying desperately to bite off more than they can chew. They are filling in a space that needed to be filled, and I believe they are trying to be innovative. Even succeeding. I want to get behind that. And I'm always more willing to forgive errors of commission than errors of omission.

Dave

Oh, once I had my license, I had no difficulty installing the app. But i started with a small library. Thanks for the warning about big ones...


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TrueToad

Agree the initial review was a bit harsh. Thus I updated the content and just mention the basic facts and performance issues. Considering I spent 2 days trying to figure out why the app would not load the harsh words were an outlet of that frustration.

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