Is it time to replace Lightroom with Luminar 2018?

I’ve been hearing rumblings about replacing Lightroom since Adobe’s move to subscription-based pricing. Most of my clients are not professional photographers, and they are happy to use the same photography […]

Written By Rob Knight

On April 13, 2018

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Luminar 2018 wildlife

I photographed this Iguana in Costa Rica with the LUMIX G9 and Leica 100-400mm lens. The image was edited using the new Luminar 2018

I’ve been hearing rumblings about replacing Lightroom since Adobe’s move to subscription-based pricing. Most of my clients are not professional photographers, and they are happy to use the same photography software for years without paying for updates. For these folks it doesn’t make sense to use photo editing software that they have to pay for each month.

I brushed off the rumblings until recently. I use Lightroom pretty much every day. ALL of my photos are organized in the library module, and my raw processing begins in the develop module. The thought of replacing my daily driver photo editor makes my head ache. I’ve tried all of the alternatives. I generally open a new application and poke around before I look to the tutorials or documentation. I figure if I can’t figure out how it works by looking at it, my clients and students will have a hard time as well. Plus I just don’t have time to sit and learn another software package from scratch. That’s where Luminar 2018 from Skylum photography comes in…

A friend of mine recommended Luminar a few versions ago. I tried it and the layout, interface, and workflow actually made sense to me right away. It seemed like everything I tried to do in Luminar worked as I expected. The tools were in a logical place to me, for example. I immediately felt like i knew my way around. BUT… the app was so S.L.O.W. that it drove me crazy. I asked my friend about the performance and he said that’s basically just how it works. I said thanks, but no thanks and went back to Lightroom.

Then there was an update, and it rocked. The things I liked were still there and more, but the lag was gone! No more endlessly waiting for the preview to update after each slider movement. Now we’re talking. I began to use Luminar 2018 as a plugin for Lightroom. In some ways Luminar 2018 is the things I like about Lightroom’s develop module PLUS the finishing effects you find in plugins like NIK software’s Color Efx pro.

With the latest “Rocket-Booster” update Luminar 2018 has gotten even more interesting. There are over 300 improvements in this update! One of the biggest is better raw editing features. Now you will find virtually all of the editing tools from Lightroom and ACR PLUS the special effects and filters you want for the finishing touches. I love the way Luminar 2018 allows you to save and share not only presets, but workspaces as well. Now I can create custom toolsets for my workshop clients, and share my presets with them as well.

When Luminar 2018 gets cataloging features in an update this summer I am going to seriously consider leaving Lightroom behind. Of course I’m not going to sacrifice performance and workflow for the sake of changing, but if I can seamlessly transfer my workflow I’m going to go for it. If I can use a $69 photo editing app ($59 with the discount code “KNIGHT”) to replace a subscription fee each month I’m in! And I think my clients will benefit from it as well.

If you’re interested to try out Luminar 2018 you can use this link to get a 10% discount and lots of free training along with it. Let me know how you like it!


  1. Gary Vargo

    Rob, I mentioned your name and Tara Tanaka’s name to Nick Pappagallos in Phoenix, AZ as hebis the guy in charge of like a 4 day teacher class training at what is called PhotoCon here in Phoenix. I think it was in April or May of this year. I mentioned to get you or Tara for digiscoping because I want to learn more about it, and eventually get into it when I have the money for scopes and accessories.

    Also, your workshops look really nice and the price isn’t that bad.


    Gary Vargo

  2. John Kelly

    So, Rob, what’s the verdict? Did Luminar get the cataloging features? Are you using it instead of Lightroom?

    • Rob Knight

      in a word- no. Luminar does some cool things, but at the end of the day I’m still using using it mostly for special effects and finishing touches.

    • Shane Turner

      The catalogue update (free update) is due out on the 18th of December I believe.

  3. Doug Scott

    I am using LR 5.7.1 but since I upgraded my macbook to High Sierra LR crashes at various seemingly unpredictable points. I don’t wish to pay monthly for LR. I have bought Luminar this week. It looks great but (i) without the powerful LR cataloging features (ii) I can call Luminar from LR as an external editor but to save back to the LR catalogue you have to export (not save) in Luminar but then Luminar saves as a .TIFF whereas LR saves/creates as a .TIF.
    Any ideas on how to work with both these applications.

    • Rob Knight

      You may want to try the latest Luminar update with catalog support. Especially if you don’t want to upgrade your Lr


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