Macphun, who’s been known as a Mac-only developer up to know dropped a surprise this morning.  They’re immediately shipping a free update to their Luminar customers (called Neptune) that adds some great new features.  They’ve also announced their entry into Windows software. In July, Macphun will be launching a “public beta” of Luminar for PC to give Windows users access to their software.

I’m New to Luminar… What’s the Big Deal?

I’ve written a very detailed review of Luminar here.  I stand by my review.  It’s very useful software for getting creative with your images.  It’s easy to use, reasonably priced and can give you some very creative results.  At Photofocus we even have some free presets available here for Luminar that you can get.  Just download the Inspired Style set for free.  Give the software a free trial and see if you like it.

What Did they Add to Luminar Neptune?

The free update adds about several things that stand out to me.  Some of these are major improvements, some are just minor changes that make the app more useful.  Here’s what I found in my testing.

Accent AI filter 

The Accent AI Filter is a big addition.  It uses artificial intelligence to analyze different areas of an image based on its structure, objects, dark and light zones, colors and other parameters.  Then using a single slider you can adjust the intensity of the effect.  It is quite good at brining out details, color, and contrast in a scene.

The filter is a good substitute for what would often be accomplished using dozens of other sliders.  This effect is quite useful, although I find that Perfectly Clear has more automatic fixes and for more problems.  Still, I find this a useful addition and glad to see more intelligent options in Luminar that will save time.

Quick & Awesome workspace 

Workspaces are a great feature in Luminar that let you customize the app to only show you what you want to use.  a new workspace (called Quick & Awesome) consists of the Accent AI Filter, Saturation & Vibrance, and Clarity filters. It’s useful for quick image fixes when you’re in a hurry.

Improved Vignette filter

The vignette control has grown up and now matches tools like Lightroom almost feature for feature.   You can move where the vignette is positioned using the Place Center command.  You’ve got two Vignette Styles Paint Overlay and the more photo realistic Highlights Priority.  Plus the vignette now also works Post-Crop which means you can crop and stylize.  These controls make the tool as useful as any I’ve used before from other manufacturers.

Better Undos with Local history

Luminar can keep a separate history (undo states) for different items.  There is a provision for reviewing separate history while in Transform, Denoise, Clone & Stamp modes.  This makes it a lot easier to change your mind as you can refine things in an image without undoing other adjustments you’ve made.  The future takes a little getting used to, but is very powerful.  Be sure to save images in the native Luminar format as well as the history states (undos) can be saved in the file.  Just check the box at the bottom of the Save dialog labeled save history to Document.

Custom Cropping

You can now specify custom crop sizes in the crop tool.  The dimensions are still pixel based, so if you wanted a 5×7 for print you’ll have to do your own match and type ion 1500 X 2100 (5 inches * 300 pixels per inch by 7 inches * 300 pixels per inch).  This is a welcome change, but I’d love to see Image Size and cropping commands get more robust in a future update.

Partial Plug-in integration

If you use Macphun’s  Creative Kit and Aurora HDR 2017 apps, you can now access those right from within Luminar.   Just go to the Plugins menu and choose your favorite command.  The current image opens a flattened copy into the plugin for editing.  This can then be modified and is returned as a new layer.

On the plus side, since results are on a new layer, you can easily mix the results back with the original image using Opacity and Blend modes.  Plus you don’t lose your work to date.  However, I hope the team goes the path of Photoshop Smart filters.  Where the effect is a LIVE effect.  This would mean that you could update your Luminar document and the filter results would update.  Or that you could edit the results of the filter at a later time.

In any case, the fact that these other filters are back to life and part of the workflow is a welcome addition.  I find that the powerful Snapheal is my favorite and it’s cloning and healing results dramatically outperform Adobe Photoshop. (Click here to get Snapheal for 60% off).

Performance Increases

Who doesn’t love a faster application?  The Brush, Gradient and Radial Gradient tools are much smoother and great for selective editing.  The Memory management. works better so you can now keep multiple images open while editing.  Previously the application would lag, but now you should be able to work with at least 5 open photos at a time with little to no impact on performance.  The User Interface also has improved with subtle animation and mode transitions to improve the editing experience.

The Bottom Line

Macphun Luminar Neptune is a great update.  Tons of useful new features have been added and several performance issues have been addressed to make the application snapper and more enjoyable.  If you haven’t tried the application, I’d recommend you do so.  If you’re a PC user, sign up for the beta too as it will ship next month. If you’re ready to buy Luminar you can save $10 bucks by clicking here and entering the code photofocus when checking out.

Special Launch Bundle

If you want to save more than 75%, the folks at Macphun hacve out together a great bundle.

  • Luminar Pluto
  • Photography Fundamentals Video Training. This is a complete course I recorded that walks you though many essential shooting skills and helps you really understand your camera controls.  It’s a great course for beginner and intermediate shooters.
  • 2 Luminar Preset Packs by Filtergrade.
  • 500 Assorted Overlays. Add texture and style to your images
  • The Grand Landscape eBook by Ian Plant. Preview
  • Two Additional eBooks by Andrew Gibson. Preview

Click HERE and use the code photofocus to get it all for $59.