First Impression of the Free Luminar 3 software


Mu-43 Top Veteran
Apr 4, 2014
Springfield, Illinois
This is a cross-post of a posting I made in a discussion in the DPR software forum. But because it specifically addresses an m43s issue, I thought it was appropriate for this forum as well.

First off, activation is extremely confusing. I must have played with it for 20 - 30 minutes before I figured it out. I'm on lockdown - I wouldn't have done it otherwise. But my advice to the Luminar product manager is to put the activation code query right in the install process.

You sort of have to wait until the database is constructed (VERY database-centric), and then the Activation menu selection is under the File menu option. "Registration" in the help menu seems to take you to the sign up for email.

It is extremely slow to respond to mouse clicks. Very Lethargic. Forgivable in free software, but then again, it is not an inducement to upgrade either.

Upon first launch, it builds a complete database of the folder you select as the default pictures folder. So my advice is, during set up to select a subfolder of your larger photos file structure, and if you like it, then import other photos gradually.

TO THE VERY GOOD: It supports my Olympus E-M5 III. So recent cameras seem to be supported. I'm trying to wait until the Autumn of this year when ACDSee releases the new ACDSee Ultimate 2021 program to upgrade, so any application that is friendly to native ORF files from recent cameras is welcomed by me.

I could not find a way to install Topaz plugins or even a way to invoke an external editor. The "install Plugins" menu selection installs Luminar as a plugin to ONLY the Adobe Photoshop products. That is so 2005, in my mind, but equally odd in other ways since logically, a database-driven application is better suited to be the hub around which other products are launched. Not the other way around. Who wants the overhead of a database-driven app in the middle of their workflow? Maybe the plugin installation disables the database, I hope so, but with no Adobe products I can't test it out.

It would be easy for me to say it stinks because it doesn't look and work like ACDSee. But I absolutely hate it when other people do that, so I won't fall into that trap. Or more accurately, I'll try real hard not to.

But the user interface is different from anything I've seen before, and I think it is quite confusing. Once a photo is selected, the program surrounds it with thumbnails of how it will look with presets invoked. That really slows down how a photo is displayed. I haven't tried to modify the UI display, so it might be possible to turn that off. But as a default, it adds to the impression that the program is slow and unresponsive.


  1. It's free, which is good.
  2. It supports more recent cameras, which is good.
  3. It's database-driven, which is only good if it adds something to the user experience. which I don't think it does in this case.
  4. It's pretty slow and unresponsive, which is never good.
  5. The user interface is in need of reorganizing, possible user actions are not particularly intuitively placed (based on this software junkie's fairly extensive experience with many different UIs available).
  6. The design, with its database centricity, seems to indicate that it should be the start of a given workflow and the hub of that workflow, not something in the middle of the workflow. BUT, there is no supporting functionality that would allow the program to be the workflow manager. That's kind of weird, in my opinion.
In short, I thank Skylum for this free software. That's darned nice of you, and I hope it results in some extra sales for you. But while I will continue to experiment with it, it seems unlikely that I would pay for the next version unless there are some significant changes to the product.


Mu-43 Top Veteran
Jun 30, 2013
Real Name
I have tried several versions including #4. I took it off my computers because it was so memory hungry and it locked up my computer often. My computer was an i7 with 16 gb and still, it was slow when it worked. I loved the way the sky enhancement worked when the software worked. I am having a very hard time figuring out how a company like Skylum continues to release upgrades that never seem to work on the problem of the slowness and occasional lock up.
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