After my initial disappointment in Luminar 3, I've done some more testing, once I could get it running, and have some more constructive feedback, I hope. This is intended in that manner anyway, rather than a simple whinge, and I thought I'd wait until the dust had settled a little before joining the a-fray some more.
OK, so the initial feeling was that I've been let down badly by Skylum, and have bought software based on promised features back in October 2017. We finally got the beginnings of those promised features in December 2018, which, to be frank (and politely put), have been very poorly implemented, and many of the expected, and promised, features have not yet materialised. At this time it looks likes we could be at least a year before seeing some of the more important ones arriving. Based on previous history, it could be even longer.
Now I've had a chance to spend some more time with Luminar 3, and eventually run an editing session without a full on crash (more about that later), in general I actually like the overall feel of the software and the workflow. But, the instability notwithstanding, there are so many missing features that it's just not possible to consider a migration as yet, just based on that alone.
So to the bullet points, first the bad bits.
- Stability, that should have been in place before new features. Get it stable, then gradually add new features. As I am writing this, I tried to launch Luminar to check some of my items off, it took three goes to get it working.
- The lack of basic DAM features. Compared alternative products, the basic tools needed for a good DAM are simply missing. With the timescale that's passed, at least some of these are inexcusable. I'm not sure I even know where to start with these, but...
- Virtual copies, an absolute must. (In fairness though, even Adobe haven't got this sorted in Lightroom CC yet).
- Options for grid display, the current view is pretty, but not particularly easy to work with.
- Needs to remember the last folder being used, rather than open up to the entire catalogue listing.
- Star ratings need much better filtering settings.
- Bugs in general. Even if it does run, there are a lot of things that don't work properly. Such as...
- 'Luminar Looks' disappear after a while, restarting brings them back.
- The selected 'Luminar Look' changes during editing. I have a list of favourites, but it changes to other sets at random.
- Some of the presets disappear from a 'Luminar Looks' set at random. Switching out of edit mode and back seems to fix that for a while.
- Syncing edits across a bunch of images is variable. It appears to work, but the results are not consistent. For example, applying an AI Auto preset to one image syncs to a set of selected, but they look different if you apply the preset individually.
- Thumbnails and Previews either don't exists, or are not read every time the catalogue is opened, as they redraw every time a collection of images is viewed.
- The redrawing/rendering that is applied during editing (even before any edits are applied) is confusing and makes a very slow workflow.
This is by no means a complete list, as I've only done some limited amounts of testing. I'm reluctant to use up too much of my time on my photo editing with so much that's just obviously wrong at the moment.
However, there is some good stuff too.
- The AI Auto adjustment 'Looks' are very good indeed, these alone, for me, are worth sticking with Luminar. Of course I generally only use these as a starting point, but for less important images, they work very well out of the box.
- Keeping the original files in a standard folder structure is spot on. Please don't go the Photos or Lightroom CC way of locking them away in a proprietary catalogue structure.
- The editing tools in general are excellent, and pretty much second to none as far as I'm concerned (based on software I use).
The conclusion is that Luminar 3 as a concept is heading the right way. I like the workflow, and general 'feel' of the software. However, Skylum, you need to step up the roadmap timescale, if you want to compete with the big boys in the DAM market. You need to be getting the fundamental features included much sooner than 'by the end of 2019', and you need to get stability sorted pretty much immediately.
At this time though, I cannot consider Luminar 3 as my main photo management or editing tool. I would also suggest that you shouldn't even consider a chargeable upgrade until you've included the promised features for at least a few months to those that paid for them well over a year ago.
And a final word. You need to build some trust now. You're trying to convince potential, and existing, customers to entrust their precious photo collections with your software. I have a few tens of thousands, which, including scanned images, go back over 40 years. You need to convince me that I can trust Skylum software to look after them.
For now, I have a Lightroom CC subscription plan that runs until August. Once that year of subscription runs out, I'll be looking at what options I have. Until then, I'll be seeing how Luminar develops - I do really want it to work you know.
All the best, and Happy New Year to you all.
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