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Luminar Flex 1.1

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Luminar Flex 1.1

Image editing app and plugin


Skylum has updated its Luminar Flex plugin to Version 1.1.

This is a free update for existing users – there is a free trial available if you’d like to see how it performs.

We’ve looked at the Luminar software several times now

Luminar Flex 1.1 Special Offer through July 29:
Luminar Flex + Flex Toolbox (300+ free Luminar Looks)

Pricing: US $70 (US $60 with our promo code)

luminar_flex_1-1

Buying – Check Skylum for Luminar special offers

Use our $10 discount code northlightimages10

Luminar Flex 1.1

Luminar Flex is a plugin that lets you use all the editing features of Luminar without the catalog and ‘full app’ functionality.

That’s actually great for people already using other software for their photography, in that you get all the editing features (including layers and masking) available – even in relatively basic software such as Apple Photos and Photoshop Elements.

The update adds a few more editing features and improves management of filters and presets.

In this short review I’ll show some of the basic features that make it a useful tool, including for editors that don’t support layers.

Installing

If you’ve got the software already installed, then you can check for updates – V1.1 is a free update

For my new install, the App is downloaded, and on my Mac just copied to ‘Applications’.

Running it for the first time kicks off a trial – or you can register.

trial-mode

For myself I just launched it with the included ‘Demo Image’ – this is a good way to get a feel for how the software works. There are also a lot of tutorials and guides available via Skylum.

The software opened up full size on my 4k screen, although personally I prefer to work on a windowed mode (a quick switch)

This is the full screen so click to enlarge

demo-mode

All very nice, but I want to use Flex with other software.

For myself, I’ll be trying this with Photoshop…

install-plugin

Some basic adjustments

I’ll start with a landscape photo from my Panasonic S1R review. It’s a stitched image using the high res mode and at 250MP is about 16,000 pixels along each side. The software had no problems with this huge image file – 16 bit and in the large ProPhoto colour space.

initial-opening-file

I’ve some preset options (‘looks’} along the bottom and a basic sub-set of filter adjustments to the right.

Whilst it shows the benefits of 250MP very nicely in the detail (see the review) it was a hazy day in the Yorkshire dales and to print, it would need quite a bit more adjustment.

The AI sky enhancer adjustment is. one I use quite often, since it doesn’t introduce annoying halo effects.

ai-sky

I’ve only turned up the slider a bit here, and that’s key to effective use of Flex.

I’m afraid many of the examples you’ll see on the Skylum site are vastly over processed to my taste.That’s not a criticism, since they need to crank things up to show the different effects. Just remember that this software is capable of quite subtle changes and won’t turn all your photos into a tawdry garish mess.

The second filter I find useful is the Accent AI one, which has quite broad influence over tonality.

accent-AI

Just for show, here’s what it does with the slider turned up full…

ai-accent-at-full

That is horrid ;-)

There are convenient  reminders of what the filters do if you hover your mouse over one.

tool-tip-detail

A little bit of structure can really help images, but push too far and the image looks awful.

structure

This is one of those effects that can look very different at different image scales. For a small web image it can look much better than when used in a large print. As with all such things, you need to experiment.

A small amount of warmth can alleviate some of the coolness the haze has contributed to parts of this image.

adding-warmth

Effects blend together, so Accent AI and the Sky enhancer over-do things a bit here.

multiple-filters

This is where filter masking comes in.

masking

I can use the brush to only apply this filter where I want it or remove its effect from where I don’t.

brush-settings

The brush area of effect is shown.

brush-detail

Here’s the accent filter brushed in at 100% (to show the foreground area affected)

ai-brushed-in

I’m using a brush here, but you’ve several other masking modes available.

Using the split view mode and turning the filter back to ~40% gives the more subtle changes I’m interested in.

split-view

Whereas I’ve just masked one adjustment filter to get the composite effect, it’s possible to create complete adjustment layers using multiple filter settings and then mask the layers together.

This can get quite complex and is one of the main reasons that Photoshop is my photo editor of choice. The layer effects are of less relevance if you’re using Photoshop, but can be vital with an editor like Lightroom or Photos.

However, for this particular image, which was created for the S1R review, I get a strong feeling that I need to go back to the original RAW files to get the look I’d be happy with in a large print – given I’ve the option at printing this image at 64″ square I expect quite a few versions…

A dull day

Sometimes I have photos that just need a bit more impact for a particular use. I took this one on a dull day, testing oa old Zeiss 135mm manual focus lens on my EOS RP (part of my RP review)

market-view

A quick look through some of the ‘Luminar looks’ gives me quite a range of options.

street-life

It’s important to note that any of these effects can be ‘turned down’ and that the individual filters that make them up are available to tweak at the right.

This is a good way of exploring filter settings.

You can also choose subsets of filters, to put in a ‘Workspace’

workspaces

You have access to a large collection of ‘looks’, directly and on-line.

looks

With just a few adjustments I had what was a snap taken during testing a lens, looking the way I wanted it.

market

Just one more image – an interior that’s had a light touch of the AI Auto Enhancer look to bring out more detail in the darker parts of the image

interior-photo

The only extra adjustment was a slight drop in Vibrance to offset the strong colour of the wood.

DMU staircase

Conclusions

There are a lot of filters here. To be honest, many of them I’m unlikely to use, but some of the adjustments are distinctly better than some I’ve seen elsewhere, which seem to introduce unwanted halo effects if you are not careful.

Useful to a Photoshop user like myself, but opening up a whole new way of editing to Lightroom/Photos users.

There’s a free trial, so worth a look…

I’ve only touched upon some aspects of ahtw the software can do here, Skylum have a lot more detailed usage info.

System requirements
  • Mac Model: Early 2010 or newer
  • MacOS: 10.11 or higher
  • RAM: 8 GB or more
  • Disk space: 10 GB free space

Windows

  • Graphics: Open GL 3.3 or later compatible
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 or better
  • OS: Windows 7 or higher (only x64-bit OS)
  • RAM: 8 GB or more
  • Disk space: 10 GB free space

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