To my way of thinking, working with layers implies the ability to precisely mask areas or subjects and apply effects based on the selections or masks.
This is exactly what makes the Luminar 4 layers practically useless. The implementation of the masks/selections is similar to using a paintbrush app vs something like Photoshop.
In Luminar, you only have the fixed brush and gradient tools for the masking. There is no option of something like an edge/tonal detection auto-mask (as in LR) or the perfect brush in ON1 Photo Raw 2020.
This means that you cannot really do clean masking or selection of any subject. Since you cannot make a clean mask, the whole purpose of layers is defeated.
Although there is a luminosity mask in Luminar 4, the same issue makes it practically useless. There is no control over the luminosity mask as in LR (which is not great) or ON1 (which is far better than LR).
While Luminar 4 remains a choice over LR and ON1 for noise reduction and the AI-based image enhancement features, the layers can be ignored almost completely.
The only place you can use layers is when you have shots where you can apply one of the blending modes in Luminar 4 and achieve the effect you want. Other than that, forget layers in Luminar till they have better masking tools.
This is just a followup after the previous video where Luminar could not detect the sky when it was very obvious in the image. Even the “trick” I tried did not work within Luminar.
This is just one of the bugs and nuances of Luminar 4. If I export the same file as a raster (JPG, TIF etc) it works, but, you cannot process the image as you would a raw file.
Interestingly, if you export from Lightroom as a DNG raw file, even though the image looks exactly the same as the one Luminar 4 could not replace the sky on, it does so on the DNG file. There are, perhaps, issues that go deeper than just this…
If you ignore the DAM (Digital Asset Management) part, it is probably the simplest to use to create dramatic enhancements in just a few clicks. Of course, it is not without the bugs and nuances that most such applications would almost always have, but, it is quite stable and works as advertised.
It has automatic, AI-based, enhancements which are not matched by any other such application currently. The support for layers is far better implemented than ON1 Photo Raw which insists on creating a new file for layers.
Birders would love this for BIFs and more…
Luminar 4 can really make dramatic changes and make images really pop without any high-end editing skills. I would recommend this for all class of users. I use this along with Lightroom. LR manages my image collection and Luminar gives me dramatic images in a snap like no other application can.
Let’s dive in and see what Luminar 4 can do…
These are all my shots from the rooftop during the lockdown. Let’s see how we can transform some of these…
Overall, birders would love Luminar and beginners would have a ball 🙂
Would I use Luminar? Absolutely yes for some of the features that really help in making better images in a hurry.
One of the commonly asked questions is what should I use to clean the lenses. Most people are fine with cleaning the camera with some kind of cloth, but, are wary when it comes to lenses.
Yes, we do have the lenspen and a variety of kits around and most of those work fine. Over a time period, I have found a better solution to cleaning my gear…Camera body and lenses.
I use plain isopropyl alcohol swabs, the kind we use in the medical field for cleaning up before and after injections. For larger work, like the camera body and the outer part of the lenses, I use Zeiss lens wipes which are larger in size and have more “juice” on the wipe.
To wipe off the lens element, I use a lint-free glass polishing micro-fibre cloth rather than any simple micro-fibre cloth. Ideally, the cloth you use which not look like a towel and should be smooth. Very similar to the kind you get when you buy spectacles.
For the camera and lens body, almost any absorbent, fine micro-fibre will do. Just dab around with the cloth and try not to wipe the gear using pressure on the cloth.
Let’s see how we can clean up our camera and lens…
Make sure you have the camera mount and lens rear cap ready
Remove the lens from the camera and put the caps on the lens and the camera mount
Let’s start with the body and use a Zeiss wipe since one wipe can do the entire camera body
We use the same wipe for the lens body or another if needed
Now, let’s clean the camera mount contact using a swab. The swabs are generally almost dry. Remove the cap from the camera body. Make sure the camera is pointing down (we don’t want any dust to float in) and wipe the contact area with the swab and put the cap back on
The lens elements now…Front and back. Like the in earlier video for sensor cleaning, I would not advise you to use the swab on the lenses unless you can see some spots or fingerprints. A simple jet of air and, if needed, just gently wipe the elements in a circular motion using the polishing cloth. If required, then, use one swab to gently wipe the front and/or back elements, wait for a few seconds and then wipe the elements with the polishing cloth.
Now, remove the cap from the camera mount. Use the blower to blow out any dust from the inside of the camera while keeping in down. Blow out the rear element of the lens and put the lens back on the camera.
Ideally, don’t even wipe the lens without using a blower on it first. There might be particles on the surface of the glass that might scratch the element while being wiped across. The same applies to the viewfinder and LCD glass.
Since we are using alcohol, it will evaporate almost instantly in the case of the swabs and in a few seconds when using the Zeiss wipes. Remember not to use excessive pressure on the swabs or wipes when using then. Since we already have alcohol on them, additional pressure will not do anything.
When I am outdoors, I prefer using the blower with either the lenspen or the polishing cloth to clean up any fingerprints or dirt that might have fallen on the front element.
Since I did not clean the contact areas, that is all that I will actually clean here…The rest is “understood” types 🙂
As a wildlife macro photographer, I have learnt the hard way that even a single dust spot on the sensor could, potentially, totally ruin a photograph.
While this is not really a major issue for non-macro photography, over some time, this can impact other genres as well.
For the last few years, I always check for sensor dust before I leave home even when I am not going for a macro session.
I have devised my own method for checking for dust and cleaning it. This is what I will demonstrate here in this video.
First, make sure you have a fully charged battery in the camera. In case we need to clean the sensor, a fully charged battery is required. Also, since this is what I do before I move out to shoot, it is always a good idea to have a fully charged battery anyway.
Make sure you have a fully charged battery
Put the lens you are going to use on the camera body
Stop down to the minimum aperture you would use. Most lenses would stop down to around f/22 or f/32.
Set the camera to manual mode, set the ISO to 100 (base ISO) and shutter speed to around 6 or 8 seconds.
Make sure the camera is not focussed to the light source we will use to check for dust
Release the shutter while waving the camera smoothly around the light source
A friend of mine wanted to figure out how I would approach cleaning up this bird image using Lightroom and Photoshop.
Although I already had some videos on this earlier, but, this time around, I thought it might be nice to compare this relatively simple task in ON1 Photo Raw 2020 as well. After all, this is the kind of work I had purchased ON1 for.
The following video demonstrates how I would clean up the image using Lightroom and Photoshop. Ideally, I would do all the raw adjustments in Lightroom and then take the image to Photoshop.
In the following video, I try the do something similar in ON1 Photo Raw with the same image.
I think most wildlife photographers and birders would find these videos useful.
As already mentioned in an earlier video, with some bug fixes and updates, ON1 seems to be a nice package.
I was excited about the lower-priced Nikon version and went ahead to get a trial version of the full Capture One 20 Pro. Three days later, after watching quite a few of their videos while trying to import my Lightroom catalog, I gave up.
In short…This is not really meant to be a LR replacement. Like Luminar 4, you can use it as an add-on for some specific purposes, but not as a replacement.
While Capture One has some good features for raw processing that would be really welcome in LR, but, it also lacks quite a few. For example, HDR or Panorama merging, maps to geotag images and some more.
You would still land up using PS of Affinity Photo for more. Given the price of Capture One, I do not believe it is for me. The LR+PS combo beats it for features and usability.
I have around 50k images in a LR catalog and the import was chugging along even after 24 hours. I cancelled out of that. There seems to be no way to pause or continue later.
Like I mentioned in the previous video, ON1 could well be a choice for photographers, but, there are issues that one should be aware of before shifting to ON1. I will cover some of the better features in the next video.
I use both Luminar 4 and ON1 2020.1 along with Lightroom Classic 9.2.1 for now. I still import and cull in Lightroom since that is a lot simpler and faster there. Both Luminar and ON1 use the same top-level folder and automatically update the same.
So far, I have no issues using this setup. Might also add Capture One if it comes up with a reasonable deal like with Luminar and ON1.
I have been working with and using ON1 for the last few weeks and so far, I have found the following issues…
Import Options for folder creation. When importing, the filenames for continuous shots are named as “copy xx”, so, don’t go deleting those.