When you compare Luminar vs Affinity Photo, there are many items to consider before you arrive at the best one for your needs. Both editors offer lots of functionality for the price, making them an excellent value, and the performance also doesn’t disappoint even when you’re working with RAW format content.

What Is Luminar?

Luminar 4 is photo editing software created by Skylum, and available for both Windows and macOS operating systems. Luminar initially released in 2016, but the most recent version, Luminar 4, came out in November 2019.

Luminar is unique because it works as a standalone program but also has the potential to work as a plugin for Apple devices and Adobe software.

Thanks to this versatility, you can integrate Luminar 4 with Adobe products like:

  • Adobe Lightroom Classic
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements

It’s also possible to use this program with the Photos program on mac OS, which makes it an ideal choice as many users have Apple products they use for photo editing. Luminar is also a photo editor that allows you to work with RAW files, add layers, and make non-destructive changes.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Luminar

Luminar 4 has received mostly positive reviews, and while it’s strengths make it a viable alternative to some Adobe products, there are also weaknesses to consider.

cityscape

Photo by Lukas Kloeppel Licensed Under CC0

Strengths

Luminar features some definitive advantages when it comes to non-destructive image editing:

  • Fast, efficient RAW files editing using the RAW Develop Engine
  • An AI Sky Replacement tool
  • An advanced Skin Defects Removal tool
  • Multi-layered editing using Adjustment Layers and Image Layers
  • 70+ presets for photo enhancement, called “Looks.”

Luminar 4 is quick when it comes to working with RAW files, and the RAW Develop Engine in Luminar 4 can also work with Digital Negative Format (DNG) images from all cameras.

The AI Sky Replacement tool is another unique feature that allows users to remove the sky in an image and replace it with another one of your choosing from the presets or an upload.

The AI Sky Replacement tool is a big deal because it removes a lot of extra work that you’d have to do with masks and selection tools in other program. 

The automated process of replacing the sky also takes away other artifacts like overly hard edges, bleeding, and halos. This program also chooses the sky orientation for you, so it looks as realistic as possible when placed side by side with the original photo.

The Skin Defects Removal tool is another powerful feature that can remove a variety of skin flaws while leaving freckles and other elements untouched. As with Photoshop, you can also add Adjustment Layers and Image Layers for further adjustments and deepened effects.

Luminar also has a series of presets, called “Looks” that allow you to take an image and enhance it to save time. With over 70 preset Looks available, and seven categories, you can adhere to your signature style and quickly take your photos to a new level.

Weaknesses

As with all program, Luminar has some weaknesses users should know about in advance, such as:

  • The program gets slower when you’re working with several tools at the same time
  • Exporting your images is more time consuming, and the options are limited

You may also notice that this photo editor slows down if you’re importing a large number of RAW or other large files. This image editor also has a limited number of options when it comes to exporting your work, and it takes more time to complete this task.

What Is Affinity Photo?

Affinity is another type of program for photo editing from Serif that has some similarities to Photoshop, such as HDR merging, typography, and panorama stitching. This program has five “personas” or working stages, and each stage has a different set of tools available:

  • Photo Persona
  • Develop Persona
  • Tone Mapping Persona
  • Export Persona
  • Liquify Persona

All of your pre-processing work happens in the Develop Personal, but more detailed tools reside in the Photo Persona. It’s possible to customize many parts of the user interface to create a unique workflow for editing, photo tool usage, and working with RAW files.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Affinity Photo

Affinity photo is powerful program for image editing, but there are some strengths and weaknesses like with any program.

woman with tablet

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij Licensed Under CC0

Strengths

Affinity Photo has several strengths, and the most notable ones include:

  • A user interface that resembles Photoshop
  • The availability of a mobile version you can use on your tablet or another device
  • A wide array of local tools
  • Extensive toolsets for drawing and painting
  • User-friendly tone mapping for an HDR effect on your photos

Affinity Photo has a stylish and well-organized interface that you can customize to suit your preferences. This level of customizability offers you near complete control over your workflow.

The mobile version of this program offers most of the same image editing tools that you’ll find in the desktop version with the added benefit of using your tablet’s touch screen for drawing. The local tools feature a wide assortment of brushes, unlimited adjustment layers, and various blending modes.

The image editing capabilities are precise and vast, so you can easily take your photo editing skills to the next level and try out digital painting at the same time. The tone mapping is also a nice feature that allows you to create an HDR effect with one photo, which is also called HDR merging.

Weaknesses

Affinity Photo comes packed with useful features, but there are also weaknesses to consider:

  • RAW processing can get complicated and takes time
  • Some Develop Persona adjustments can’t get tweaked in the Photo Persona
  • Working with masks is tricky, and not all of them work together

When you make changes to your photo, it may take some time for Affinity to show those changes, even on a powerful device. You may notice this more if you make several adjustments at once.

It’s also worth noting that using masking tools in Affinity Photo is a bit less straightforward than you might hope, and not all masks can work together in a single photo.

Also, the multi-part persona structure that Affinity uses means that you can’t change the adjustments from the Develop Persona once you’ve moved on to another persona. So you’ll need to commit to those changes before performing more detailed work. If you want to process images in batches, you’ll need to use one persona at a time for all of the images.

Luminar vs Affinity Photo: Who Does it Best?

When you compare Luminar vs Affinity Photo, you’re going to see some give and take when it comes to features, editing capabilities, and tools. Here’s our verdict on different categories where each photo editor excels.

laptop

Photo by Caio Licensed Under CC0

User Interface

When you look at Affinity Photo and Luminar, you’ll notice the first differences in the user interface. Both of these programs divide the photo editor elements into multiple sections, but the way the workspaces get set up differs.

Luminar is the image editor with the advantage here as their interface is a bit simpler, which makes it more evident what all of the tools and features are for beginners and seasoned users alike. 

Affinity Photo manages to fit in more features into the same amount of space, but there isn’t as much customization possible, and the overall look is a bit more cluttered.

RAW Image Development

Luminar offers non-destructive editing capabilities for the entirety of your workflow and RAW files, and you can adjust or remove any of the changes you’ve made to your photo. Affinity Photo allows users to apply basic masks at this early stage, but you can’t combine two masks in most scenarios.

Luminar works well with Raw files and allows the user more control over the editing process, which is clearly an advantage over Affinity Photo, but the drawback here is that there isn’t a separate category for finalizing localized edits at a later time.

The Workspaces

Both Luminar and Affinity have similar workspaces and layouts in terms of the aesthetic. The image resides in the center, and the menus cover the side or bottom of the screen. Affinity uses personas to divide functions into categories, and this helps to reduce the clutter of the workspace by offering you the every tool you need at each step.

Using the personas does take some getting used to as it’s a unique feature of Affinity not mimicked by other programs. The bonus here to using Affinity is that you can customize the workspace a bit to fit your needs and your workflow.

Luminar has Edit and Library functions in separate areas, and the metadata gets displayed in the information sections of the screen. Luminar focuses on a more direct experience with clear options for the user and also allows for customizations to choose what functions feature in the control panel.

Both Luminar vs Affinity offer an excellent workspace for the user and present a full range of options in terms of functionality, so there’s no clear winner here.

Overall Performance

Performance doesn’t always get prioritized when it comes to photo editing software for pictures, but Affinity is slightly faster than Luminar in the majority of tests. Both of these programs could use some optimization in this area, so there’s no clear winner, and if you utilize a board range of tools, you might end up crashing Luminar.

Affinity seems more resistant to crashes and has more stability regardless of how many editing tools you employ, and the software is generally more responsive.

Editing Tools

When it comes to editing tools vs. capabilities, Affinity is the clear winner as it handles most of these edits in it’s Photo Persona, where there are much better tools for masking, content fill, selecting, and cloning.

Luminar and Affinity both have adjustment layers and editable masks that you can apply to any of these layers, but that’s where the local editing features in Luminar end. Affinity also has a liquify tool that gets separated into a persona on it’s own, which makes it easy to use and reset quickly.

Added Features

Affinity shines when it comes to added features, and there’s only a single feature available in Luminar that Affinity doesn’t have, and the complete list of items is very long. Luminar offers a library management function, but it’s basic and has limited tools.

Affinity has set it’s focus to adding to it’s toolset, and this doesn’t yet include an organizing tool. Affinity still beats out Luminar just based on the sheer number of features that make this software powerful yet easy enough to use for single photos or batch editing.

Pricing and Value

Affinity starts at $49.99 for Mac and Windows and costs $19.99 for the iPad version. Luminar is $67 for a single license, and there are a number of add on packages for things like HDR, black and white photography, and skies.

Although Luminar is a bit more money and doesn’t offer a mobile version, you do get a lot of functionality for the price, and it’s a high-quality piece of software that gets free updates periodically. For that reason, we think it’s a notch above Affinity and worth the extra cost.

FAQ: Luminar vs Affinity Photo

Read our list of frequently asked questions about Luminar vs Affinity Photo find out more about these image editing options.

What software is the best Lightroom alternative?

Luminar is more like Lightroom, while Affinity Photo is more similar to Photoshop. Luminar also offers a wide range of tools, filters, and other presets at a much more affordable price than Adobe products. 

Luminar is slightly less complex to learn if you’re familiar with this type of software, and this advanced image editor helps you quickly take photos to the next level for more professional results.

Is the Affinity Photo software suitable for novice users?

Affinity Photo is a good option for novice users as it offers a wide range of image editing tools and the ability to edit RAW files for an affordable price. 

This software frequently gets compared to Photoshop thanks to its robust assortment of tools, but it doesn’t quite have all the same features and filters that you’ll see in Luminar.

Is Luminar better for photo editing than Lightroom?

No, Luminar does not beat Lightroom when it comes to editing capabilities, but some users prefer the simpler user interface of Luminar. Many users also like the one time cost of Luminar instead of the subscription cost and monthly payment associated with Adobe products.

Luminar vs Affinity Photo: Which is the Better Option?

What it really comes down to is the type of software you’re looking for and whether you want a program that walks you through step by step like Affinity, or a solution like Luminar with a simpler interface. Using personas is a bit awkward at first, but the customizability of Affinity is valuable for setting up your workflow.

Luminar has a slight advantage with it’s frequent updates, a more aesthetically pleasing user interface, and an incredible amount of customization. Affinity might have a more significant number of features, but the way these features get presented with Luminar makes them easier to use and more efficient.