Creating a beautiful picture requires more than framing the perfect shot. Photo editing allows you to take your craft to the next level, turning out flawless photos that genuinely captivate audiences. If you’re new to the game, you’re probably wondering, “Which photo editor is right for me?”
There is no one right answer. The right photo editor for you depends on your personal preferences and needs.
When shopping around for editing tools, there are two names you’re sure to see again and again: Lightroom (you may see it by its full name, Adobe Lightroom) and Luminar (Skylum Luminar). These are both reputable, popular photo editors worth considering. Each has pros and cons, so knowing which one to choose can be tricky.
This guide is here to help. Below, you will find a full feature comparison of Luminar vs Lightroom, giving you the knowledge you need to make an educated choice.
Luminar is an photo editing and management software created by Skylum. You can use it with Mac OS and PC. It works as a standalone application or as a plugin for Adobe and Apple products. It can be integrated with Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom Classic, and Photos for macOS.
Skylum Luminar won a gold award at the Digital Camera Grand Prix for photo editing innovation in 2019. It was also recognized as the Best Photo Software Product at the EISA awards in both 2019 and 2020. It simplifies complex photos editing and is popular among amateur photographers (although that’s no reason to write it off — it’s also used by pros).
Lightroom is a family of photo organization and manipulation software developed by Adobe for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Apple TV (tvOS). Lightroom’s edits are different from Photoshop because they are non-destructive and keep the original image, saving applied edits independently.
Although it comes from the same family as Photoshop, Lightroom does not perform many Photoshop jobs like doctoring, rendering text, or modifying video frames.
Adobe Lightroom offers two distinct options: Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom CC Cloud. They both offer non-destructive editing. Lightroom Classic CC is the desktop version, while Lightroom CC Cloud is a smartphone version. The CC version is for those users who want to be able to access their photographs online.
Luminar vs Lightroom
Luminar and Lightroom are both respected tools used by amateur and professional photographers alike. So how can you determine which one is right for you?
The below list compares the photo editing tools on crucial points, including user-friendliness, workflow and cataloging, editing capabilities, export options, RAW images processing, price, and customer support. Read on to see how these two photo editors stack up.
Both software use the same keyboard shortcuts, allowing for an easy transition if you’ve been working with one of these and considering switching.
That said, Luminar offers a more streamlined dashboard and a sleeker appearance. Many users also highlight the intuitiveness and aesthetic appearance of the interface as advantages.
If you’re choosing a photo editor based on the user interface alone, Luminar has a more appealing look.
RAW Images Processing
Both programs support RAW camera files. They are distinct in how they approach RAW images processing, however. Lightroom is excellent for more commercial work that doesn’t require a considerable amount of post-production.
Luminar 2018 introduced a RAW development module, which proves advantageous if you want to get more creative — for example, by adjusting colors.
In the Luminar 2018 vs Lightroom battle, it’s a tossup on this point. Some pro photographers even use both editors for all-around RAW images processing that brings together the best of both worlds.
Cataloging and Workflow Options
Cataloging allows you to keep track of groups of photos quickly. So who has a better digital asset management (DAM) system? Lightroom is known for its easy cataloging system.
Luminar likewise offers its organization system, dubbed Luminar Libraries. This is a newer addition to the platform, taking it from mere editor to comprehensive photography workshop.
Luminar libraries let you view all images at once. You can organize photos by collections, getting an accessible overview via thumbnails. Luminar Libraries also load more quickly and are less complicated in terms of layout than Lightroom’s catalog function.
Luminar has limitations in terms of metadata customization in the library, however. You cannot incorporate descriptions or keywords into the files (although it is possible to star or flag images).
In this sense, Lightroom gains a competitive edge because it allows for bulk keywording. It also has a more powerful filter and search system overall.
When assessing Luminar vs Lightroom, Luminar wins when it comes to cataloging.
In terms of Artificial Intelligence, Luminar wins big points. You can apply the platform’s preset filters to your pictures, and the built-in artificial intelligence adjusts the filter, adapting it to that particular picture.
This can save a lot of time when editing photos. Photography forums tout it as being incredibly useful for landscape images.
The Luminar 4 AI sky replacement tool is also worth noting. You can easily erase or paint using the Luminar 4 AI sky mask. Again, for landscape photographers, this sky replacement capability powered by Luminar 4 AI is a big plus.
Luminar also allows for more advanced editing, for example, with a layers tool, which Adobe Lightroom lacks. This lets you stack adjustments and allows for more complex processing, as you can separate adjustments via layer manipulation. Luminar has all the gradient, radial, and brush masks of Lightroom and offers more editing tools overall.
Lightroom takes a more traditional approach to editing. The sidebars allow for a clean editing workflow, providing the essentials so you can adjust your images.
You can also create your customized workspace, adding your favorite tools into a personalized sidebar. Lightroom’s presets are less user-friendly than Luminar’s, which can add time to the editing process.
If precision and speed are your priorities, Luminar takes the cake when comparing the editing capabilities of Lightroom vs Luminar.
When exporting photos, Luminar has serious drawbacks that are important to mention. The export window is limited, with very few export settings to choose from.
There are also no preset exports available. In contrast, Lightroom offers a large selection of varied options for exporting. You can also install plugins to enhance export capabilities further and save your export presets for different projects.
Lightroom also offers a distinct “Print” window, letting you easily prep files for printing. If you print your images, this is a big bonus.
This can be especially handy if you’re working for many different clients with different image delivery needs.
Lightroom is the clear winner when assessing the export capabilities of Luminar vs Lightroom.
Price is always a factor worth considering in any editing software comparison. When it comes to Luminar versus Lightroom, the pricing structure is very different.
You buy Luminar once and own it permanently. You don’t have to pay for additional packages, and you’ll even get updates included. The latest Luminar costs $69.00. This is cost-efficient and avoids the need for annual billing or a pesky subscription service.
Lightroom gives you two purchase options. With one, you pay an upfront fee and own the software outright. With the other, you lease the software for a monthly subscription fee.
A single license copy of Lightroom costs $149.00. If you use the Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) monthly subscription option, you can opt for the “Photography Plan” for $119.88 per year.
Luminar is the more affordable option in the Luminar vs Lightroom comparison.
If something goes awry with your software, you want to be sure that you have some customer service to turn to. So who has better support when comparing Luminar vs Lightroom?
The great news is that both software providers offer comprehensive customer care, making your satisfaction a top priority.
Adobe products offer phone and chat support. You can also troubleshoot common problems via Adobe forums, where users share frequently asked questions and answers. Adobe is known for its strong community support.
Luminar only offers email customer support as well as online FAQ and community forums. That said, Luminar provides comprehensive and easy-to-use educational materials and tutorials that amateur users can readily rely on.
Although you’ll get customer support with either product, Adobe offers more diverse options, so Lightroom wins the customer support battle.
Frequently Asked Questions: Luminar vs Lightroom
In the great Luminar vs Lightroom debate, a few queries seem to come up again and again. Discover answers to some of the most commonly asked questions below.
Is Luminar Better Than Lightroom?
Luminar is better than Lightroom in a few ways, which you’ll quickly discover if you try these photo editing tools for yourself. Overall, Luminar is more user-friendly. It also provides faster loading and less complicated libraries.
That said, Luminar has its drawbacks. For example, although the libraries load quickly, you can’t sort photos by keywords (which you can with Luminar).
Can Luminar Replace Lightroom?
If you find that you are looking for an alternative to Lightroom, you can rely on Luminar as a replacement option. That said, keep in mind that Luminar isn’t perfect.
You may find yourself getting frustrated with Luminar’s limited number of export settings (and the total lack of preset exports), for example. If you’re a professional photographer and frequently export images to various clients for different projects, this will get time-consuming.
Is Luminar 3 Better Than Lightroom?
Whether you use Luminar Windows or Luminar Mac, there’s no denying that Luminar 3 is a top-quality product. It’s impossible to make a blanket statement that Luminar 3 is “better than” Lightroom, however.
As this guide has revealed, each program has its advantages and disadvantages. It comes down to what’s important to you as a photographer. Any Luminar 3 review makes it clear that Luminar 3 is a reliable option that won’t disappoint. There is also the latest Luminar 4 to consider.
Overview of Key Pros & Cons
This comprehensive guide to Luminar vs Lightroom has covered a lot of material. At this point, you might be feeling even more lost than when you started!
It’s understandable. There are a lot of details to consider. Plus, when you’re getting ready to make this kind of significant investment, the pressure is on. You don’t want to go wrong.
Here’s a selection of some of the essential pros and cons that photographers consider when assessing these two photo editing programs.
● Luminar features a more user-friendly dashboard and a more appealing, sleeker user interface than Lightroom
● Luminar Libraries are less complicated than Lightroom’s and also load more quickly
● Luminar allows for more straightforward filter application thanks to built-in AI adaptation
● Luminar does not allow you to incorporate descriptions or keywords into a file’s metadata
● Luminar has a limited number of export settings and no preset exports
● Lightroom allows for keywords in libraries and provides a superior filter and search system in comparison to Luminar
● Lightroom offers more options for exporting than Luminar
● Lightroom makes printing easier with its own “Print” window
● Lightroom has less editing tools than Luminar
● Lightroom’s editing presets are less user-friendly than Lightroom’s
Luminar vs Lightroom: In Conclusion
Lightroom is right for you if you’re a pro photographer dealing with many different clients, juggling multiple projects, and continually delivering images. The time Lightroom saves you in terms of editing and exporting is just too great to be ignored.
Luminar is right for you if you’re more of a hobby photographer. It saves you time in organizing photos. It’s affordable and easy to use and will provide the editing essentials you need without eating up too much of your time.
Both Luminar and Lightroom are proven photo editing software from trusted, reputable providers. Ultimately, the big question of Luminar vs. Lightroom depends on your unique needs as a photographer.