From Luminar to Lightroom

So I had a total dope-slap moment a while back. There’s a version of Lightroom that doesn’t require using cloud services.

Yeah. You probably knew that.

I, being the dope that was slapped, didn’t. And it hurt. I have limited internet access – 100gb per month – and it isn’t high speed; it’s a cellular hot spot.

But let me back up. Why was I forsaking my new love, Luminar? Was the bloom off the rose already?

Yeah. It was. The reason is this –

Loss of detail. Luminar Flex edit on the left, Lightroom 9.2 edit on the right. I processed the LR image to be as close as possible to the Luminar image. And look. Oh sure that’s with some sharpening added (on both files), but check this out.

Again, Luminar on the left, LR on the right, but this time it’s SOOC. I changed my Reset value to match the camera settings (RAW, Scenery in this case) and look –

Now check it out with +75 sharpening and a +31 mask –

They’re screen grabs so sorry for the less than stellar output, but it’s still noticeable. And I did NOTHING ELSE to the photo. It’s not even Adobe color or any other Adobe process. That’s what I’ve been missing from my beloved G9.

I’d been seeing it for a while, but I put it down to me. That I wasn’t using the tools correctly. That I was putting too many edits on a photo at once (Luminar makes me go overboard!!). It wasn’t me. It wasn’t the edits. Look at this. Both shots done with similar processing values and sharpening as well as I could without going over-crispy.

First is my best Luminar Flex edit with sharpening / detail enhancement –

And a similar Lightroom 9.2 edit with sharpening / detail enhancement –

Wow. Now with a blended image (Lightroom 6 HDR original file), Luminar –

LR –

It doesn’t seem to happen as much with macro and close-up images. They’re almost the same, although there is more detail in the LR image than in the Luminar.

Luminar –

Lightroom –

But it’s there. And it made me check in with Adobe again.

Which leads me back to the dope-slap moment. They still make a desktop version. It’s up to 9.2 and it doesn’t depend on the cloud. Sure, it’s a subscription which I can come to grips with (I used to take film in for processing every month and this is a lot like that), but it was the nomenclature that did my head in. Everything falls under the Creative Cloud umbrella and that threw me. Plus there is a cloud version that hosts your photos instead of you working on them locally. So that loud pop you heard in the beginning of May was me pulling my head out of my butt.

In fairness to Luminar, it might be the process –

  1. Convert RAW files to Adobe DNG (digital negative) files
  2. Import into LR catalog
  3. Export original image to Luminar Flex
  4. Send finished Luminar file back to LR
  5. Export jpg for web

Maybe if I used Luminar as a stand-alone, not as a plug-in, the resulting images would be crisper. But I can’t – Lightroom organization is phenomenal and has gotten more granular with the newer versions. And why have a snazzy new camera with amazing IQ if I have to sacrifice it? And having now seen what the G9 RAW files look like in LR 9, I think the image quality definitely suffered for this convoluted process.

The result is, I’m back in the Adobe fold enjoying the amazing new things they’ve put into LR since version 6. Reference shots in Develop which works like Compare does in Library. Range masking for local edits which works like magic. Texture and Dehaze sliders. Filter in Grid View by Edited or Not edited!! All with my catalog intact and my usual routine undisturbed. It will be nice to be able to import RAW files directly again and not have to convert them to Digital Negatives (DNG files). I had to do that when I bought the G9 since my version of LR was too old to recognize the file type.

Oh and I’ve started using my Wacom Intuos tablet all the time. Again, I thought it was me using it wrong because I couldn’t grab the sliders with the stylus. It was frustrating and made me crazy. A little research showed that I needed to turn off Windows Ink in the Mapping section for Lightroom. Ta-da! Works perfectly now and it’s a treat to use. Especially with the Range masking feature. Holy crap. Game change!

So here’s the whole picture from the first detail I showed you in this post –

Like the many photos I’ve processed with Luminar that come from Lightroom and go back again, so do I.

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