I am a little late discussing this software, but I only recently got a chance to really try it out. Luminar (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Flex is basically a spin-off of the bigger program, Luminar 3, meaning your images are not being pulled into a catalog for sorting. Basically it just contains the filters. Currently it is a free program so if you own Luminar 3 or Luminar 2018, please go download it. Why? See the quote below from Skylum that pretty much sums up what is happening and why you need to download it:
“We’re fully committed to our desktop editing and organizing platform in Luminar 3. But we’ve heard from many current customers and several others that they want just our editing tools for enhancing their images when working in other apps.
Our goal is to develop Luminar as a comprehensive platform which will become your go-to photography tool. With your support, we’ll be there soon.
Current workflow – Both Luminar Plugin and Luminar 3 with Libraries offer plugin options for popular photography software.
Future workflow – With the next major version of Luminar, you’ll find plugins available only in Luminar Flex. The plugins workflow will be removed from Luminar with Libraries.”
It looks like Skylum has decided to create different modules, not unlike what On1 (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) has done with the Develop vs. Effects modules. I do not see this as a real problem since I do not use Luminar as a Raw Processor, even though their Develop filter is in Flex, to categorize my photos like Lightroom does at this point. I may decide to do this down the road, but at this point I mainly use Luminar 3 as a plugin with all their beautiful filters.
This macro image above is of a Queen Emma Lily plant, possibly my favorite bloom in my yard – you certainly notice them from the street. Luminar Flex was mainly used on this image – Accent AI Filter, Golden Hour, Advanced Contrast, and Detail Enhancer filters. A High Pass sharpen was used and Nik Viveza 2 was used on the front petal.
Both programs interface with most of the major programs including Lightroom and Photoshop. The Workspace names appear to have been renamed, but seem very similar between the two. Flex opens up with the Image Aware workspace but that can be changed by going into the the drop-down.
The major difference between the two programs at this point is with the new Accent AI 2.0 that is available with Luminar 3 but not yet with Flex – it is coming later this year (Flex is still using just Accent AI). Is this a deal breaker – not a problem since Luminar 3 still is supporting its filters but down the road it will probably only be available in Flex.
Regarding the Looks (presets), those made or used in Luminar 3 or Luminar 2018 are all compatible with the Flex, even the ones downloaded from other sites. You can either reinstall your custom Looks packs in Flex, or manually copy items between the Luminar Looks folders.
This image was taken on the water’s edge of Lake Rowena at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in the heart of downtown Orlando, Florida. Hard to believe such a tranquil place is located in all this hustle and bustle! And yes, Luminar’s Flex was used – landscapes are Luminar’s specialty. These filters were used to get this soft cool effect on a very hot day: The first layer contained the wonderful Accent AI Filter and AI Sky Enhancer Filter – both set pretty high, just a little Golden Hour Filter and Foliage Filter, the Saturation and Vibrance Filter (toning down the color a little), and the Brilliance and Warmth Filter – then on a 2nd layer above, one of my favorite filters called Image Radiance was applied. To see if I liked the filter on this image, it was placed on its own layer and the Gradient was used to remove the effect off the clouds which had gotten way too soft. One thing to watch with the Luminar filters is they tend to over-saturate the image so in PS the Saturation/Vibrance Adjustment Layer was added and the Saturation reduced to -17, even after adjusting it in the plugin. I think I could have pulled up a chair and just enjoyed the view from this point for a while, but the flowers were waiting!
About all I can say is “Thank You Mike Moats” for teaching me many years ago how to do this! If you like macro photography, he is the guy to learn how to do it right! This was taken using Aperture Mode set to ISO 200, F/7.1, and -1/2 EV with my Nikkor 60 mm Lens with a Bower 0.5 x High Resolution Digital Lens with Macro added to the lens. This center of a Neoregelia Bromeliad image from the Gardens was also taken into Luminar Flex and just a few filters were required to get this effect: Foliage Enhancer, Structure, Brilliance/Warmth, Top and Bottom Lighting (to reduce the top reddish bromeliad color from the actual bromeliad), and Details Enhancer (just using the Small slider) filters. Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) new DeNoise AI was used to remove some of the noise (this plugin is incredible and now AI Clear is included with it. This is pretty cool -first set the Remove Noise high to 0.72, Enhance Sharpness to 0, and applied; then added a mask and painted back with a small brush set to 30% just the areas that needed a little detail brought back like the centers of the blue flowers. Got both the sharpness and noise removal at once!) Not much else was done but to add a spotlight effect in the center. This was definitely a Tiny Garden inside a Big Garden! Here is how the interface looked for this image (click on image to see larger in Flickr):
Bottom Line: Flex is definitely here to stay since it will be the only way in the future that Luminar’s filters can be accessed using Photoshop, which is what I like to do. I love Luminar’s filters because they are unique, and in a sort of odd way, their results always make me happy. I like it when my photos make me smile so that is probably why I am a big fan. Please check Luminar Flex out – it is much more than just their Sunrays and AI filters – very easy to use and the program does not make your computer go into crazy mode to apply them. It is so exciting to have so many choices and new ways of applying effects being available to us Photoshop nuts who totally love this! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd