An image editing app that takes presets to the next level
$69 From Macphun, macphun.com Needs OS X 10.10.5 or later
Macphun’s “Neptune” update to its impressive Luminar image-editing app brings new tools, new filters, and tweaks to the back end for increased performance with large image files. The headline new feature is Accent, a filter in the new Quick & Awesome workspace that claims to analyze your image using AI and fix everything it thinks needs fixing. We assume it is actually doing this rather than just raising the midtone contrast and sharpness, as the filter acts very quickly even on a low-end Mac. Results are acceptably good – sunny images become sunnier, and any overcooked processing can be toned down by reducing the opacity of the layer every new filter is placed upon.
Elsewhere, there’s support for all other Macphun apps as round-trip plugins, so if you’re an aficionado of Noiseless Pro, you can send an image there for cleaning up – Luminar has its own noise reduction routines, of course – and return the edited image to Luminar to continue working.
Luminar relies heavily on presets, but the huge range available, along with the ability to create your own and the before/after slider that shows you exactly what’s changed, make it an intelligent approach to one-shot image editing. There are clone and erase tools too, for scratch and blemish removal. The workspaces, calibrated to support exactly the amount of work you want to put into fixing your images, mean you can walk away happy after anything from five minutes’ tinkering to half an hour’s, always knowing you’ve made genuine improvements.
If there’s a downside, it’s that tooltips can take a while to appear, and being dropped into the app from a cold start can feel overwhelming. Macphun has thought of this, however, with video tutorials on its website which, along with the user guide, can be accessed from the Help menu.
For a price that’s very competitive with Photoshop Elements, Luminar looks like a great choice for anyone who wants to fix their photos quickly and effectively.
While it might take a few moments to get the hang of Neptune – especially if you haven’t used Luminar before – Macphun is onto a winner here, as long as you don’t want to get into compositing or special effects,
the bottom line. Luminar offers everything you’ll want from a photo editor, and makes its changes quickly and reversibly. The ability to run it as a Photos extension adds to its versatility. Ian Evenden