Luminar 3 with Libraries – Better Than Lightroom?

By December 6, 2018 December 11th, 2018 Photography, Software


There’s no question that the December 2018 release of Luminar 3 is the most significant and most exciting update to the software since I’ve been using it. It’s already decent photo editor, but moving backwards and forwards between your files and Luminar to view multiple images was rather clumsy. Digital asset management, known merely as ‘libraries’ has now been added and has changed all this.

Skylum has added the libraries feature with speed and simplicity in mind. The thought here is that ‘other’ software (presumably referring to Adobe Lightroom) have over-whelming and bloated catalogues structures. They are right. However, does the software deliver? That’s what I’m looking at in the video. I walk through the new library feature and demo an import of over 4000 raw photos into the Luminar catalogue from my old, trusty Canon 5D Mk III.


Luminar is one of the few pieces of software out there that doesn’t ask for a monthly subscription. It’s a one-off-payment with free upgrades until a major release comes around (not until 2020). From a value perspective, it’s incredible.

If you’re thinking of buying Luminar would like to support the site and also get a discount for yourself, visit Luminar using the link below and use the TDCATTECH code at checkout.


Each license is valid on 5 machines and you have a 30-day trial and 60-day money back guarantee.


In some respects, yes but, as with everything, it depends on your usage and also your computer.

It’s faster and simpler to use. It still lacks a few features that most photographers frequently use, but it also has an aggressive development roadmap which will bring genuine new functionality. This is in contrast to a lot of software that just adds pointless features and a lick of paint and considers it a major update.

Luminar 3 is getting good, fast. For the price, it’s worth it to test something other than your old favourite (whatever that may be). You’ll probably be surprised.

Here are some of the main reasons I consider it better…

  1. The new libraries are fast and efficient and don’t need huge additional catalogue files
  2. It is simple to get things done. LR can be clunky with multiple steps to get images in
  3. It has some unique features not found in Lightroom or other photo editing software
  4. It has a clean and inviting interface
  5. There is no monthly subscription
  6. The features it offers are incredible value at the price.

Here are some of the reasons I consider it worse…

  1. It’s not as well established so there’s less support out there
  2. Generating full size images for editing can be slow on an older machine
  3. Being intimately familiar with software takes time. Some won’t want to invest that time.
  4. Windows versions are sometimes behind on features
  5. It sometimes feels as though ‘consumer’ features are favoured over important professional workflow features (e.g. compare, keywords & meta support)


BELLEVUE, WA – December 6, 2018 — Today, Skylum Software announced the availability of the next version of Luminar, their award-winning photo editor. Luminar 3 will start shipping to customers on December 18 and adds the ability to organize and edit multiple images simultaneously with the new Library panel. This addition transforms the photo editing software into a comprehensive, all-in-one imaging package.

Luminar 3 is a sophisticated image editor and library, which uses artificial intelligence to allow anybody, working with digital images to make better photos with intuitive and time-saving workflows. Luminar 3 makes processing, managing and editing photographs quicker and easier than with conventional software packages.

“This has been a long-anticipated update as our users were keen on a fast library function that works with their existing folders. We never replicate what’s already on the market, but look for new approaches to make our app as fast and easy to use as possible. And this is only the first of many far-reaching updates, so stay tuned.” says Alex Tsepko, CEO of Skylum.

The new Library panel is the result of years’ of research, analysis and interviews with a wide range of photographers. Skylum optimized the Library panel for speed and efficiency, responding to long-standing complaints by photographers that existing library options were cumbersome, cluttered, or impractical.

The Luminar library is a highly customizable image catalog that makes browsing, rating, and organizing a joy. Users can easily see a beautiful image wall that works with existing folders on their hard drive, connected devices, and synced cloud storage. There’s no need to re-import images, simply selecting a folder adds it to Luminar where pictures can be viewed, color labelled, rated and edited.

Photographs are also automatically organized by capture date— all features that make it quick and efficient to find and sort images. Changes are made in real time in the original folder, keeping files and the hard drive organized as effortlessly as possible.

Luminar 3 also allows photographers to sync their editing adjustments. Any change made to a single image can easily be applied to a selection of files, which is useful for photos taken in similar settings or when a uniform style is desired.

Syncing works extremely well thanks to Skylum’s unique Accent AI and AI Sky Enhancer filters which use artificial intelligence to analyze and fix image problems. With these features, a number of images can be adjusted simultaneously, saving the photographer time and effort.

The new Luminar 3 will be available as a free update for all the users of Luminar 2018 and will include multiple free updates as we built out a fuller set of photo management tools and more time saving artificial intelligence features. More information about future updates is available at

Luminar 3 on Laptop


This first release of Luminar 3 with Libraries isn’t for everyone. If you’re a professional photographer with tens of thousands of pictures and you already have library software that you’re happy with, I wouldn’t advise changing it. There’s just too much risk. There are too many key features missing from this release that you are going to need. However, if you are after something straightforward to do a good job of organising your pictures without any fuss, this is perfect for you. It’s got a lot of potential but wait until Skylum come good with their planned roadmap.

BUT…as for Luminar itself, it remains an extremely powerful photo editor with new time-saving features being added all the time. At the price, it’s worth having if you only use a couple of the tools. I find the LUT support and Sky Enhancer really nice. It is easily conceivable that these two tools alone could be packaged up and sell for the same asking price as the whole software.

In short, if you’ll never use anything it offers then it’s obviously not for you. Otherwise, it’s a great bit of software to have in your toolbox. You might find you start to love its simplicity.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Erin says:

    Really enjoyed this article. I am a recent windows user of Luminar and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I use it as a plugin for Lightroom and have been really impressed with some of the new features it has to offer. I would definitely recommend this software to fellow photographers. I mean the one-time price of $69 is too good to pass up!

    • Torsten says:

      Agreed. If you make any money from your photography or just love ‘processing’ your images, you can do much worse than Luminar. It’s not without its faults but it’s incredibly good value and more than competent.

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