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RAW Develop vs. Accent AI 2.0 in Luminar 3.1.0

I have been a proponent of shooting RAW since the beginning of digital photography. In the early days, there wasn’t a choice. Cameras shot RAW, period. Processing RAW for me was all part of the deal for photographing with a digital camera. Things have come a long way since the early days in the late ’90s.

It starts with exposure

The predominant challenge facing photographers today is getting a “correct” exposure using auto modes. “Auto” usually renders a scene containing significant bright areas darker than reality while scenes with large dark areas are recorded as much brighter.

This is not the place to go in the whys of our camera’s light meter’s inability to get it right. For more info on what the in-camera meter does read “Photography basics: Exposure.”

After the photoshoot

By the time a shoot is over, it would be amazing to be finished with the work instead of just beginning. The sad reality of photography today is that there is a lot of work to do once the photos hit the computer. Setting aside the required cataloging, addition of metadata and archiving, there is the time tweaking each one to get a solid exposure. There is a lot of adjustments that can be made to get a file in the right place exposure and color-wise.

RAW tweaks in Luminar 3.1.0 or Lightroom

The first line of exposure tweaking is RAW Develop in Skylum’s Luminar or the Develop module in Adobe Lightroom. Volumes have been written about the latter while Luminar is relatively new to the scene. Both are very similar. Let’s look at a really dark and difficult photo and see what Luminar 3 can do.

RAW Develop to the rescue

There is a lot of data in a RAW file that RAW Develop uses to recover the midtones and highlights. Here, the Shadows control is bumped up a lot followed by the Blacks, plus a little extra Exposure. The result is so much better than the original or the double hit of Accent AI 2.0 by itself.

RAW Develop adjustments without Accent AI 2.0
RAW Develop adjustments without Accent AI 2.0

Add a little Accent 2.0 and …

Take a look at the RAW Develop settings plus the Accent AI 2.0. Nice, right!

RAW Develop plus Accent AI 2.0.
RAW Develop plus Accent AI 2.0.

Accent AI 2.0 the finishing touch

The photos tell the tale. Two stacked Accent AI 2.0 filters by themselves don’t quite handle this worker’s face. RAW Develop alone does a good job overall. When a single Accent AI 2.0 filter is added the results are outstanding. Next, let’s look at a more common use of these two Luminar 3 filters.

Working with well-exposed photos

This is where Luminar 3.1.0 and the Accent AI 2.0 workflow shines. Open a set of photos in Luminar 3.1.0, add some Accent AI 2.0 and “Oh! WOW!” — instant awesome. Compare the original studio photo to the same one with some Accent AI 2.0 with face aware tech by moving the slider. Move the slider to the left to reveal all of the Accent AI 2.0 effect.

The verdict

Each tool has its purpose. RAW Develop is the tool of choice for fixing a poorly exposed photo. Accent AI 2.0 just can’t do the whole job alone on a photo that’s subprime. The two of them together make a sad photo much happier. On well-exposed photos Accent AI 2.0 is the right touch to make colors sing.

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