A review by Donny Yankellow (@rtteachr)
If you enjoy editing photos on your Mac, but Photos is not enough power for you, and you don’t like having to use an external editor to edit photos in, Luminar Flex might be what you are looking for. It has the power of Skylum’s Luminar in an extension that can be used in Photos. If you prefer Photoshop, Lightroom, or still use Aperture Luminar Flex installs a plugin for those apps too (yes, it even supports Aperture!).
Flex is very easy to set up and use for the most part. I would be remiss not to talk about an installation issue I had. The installer could not connect to the Skylum server (something with my router blocking it) and I ended up hotspotting to my phone to get the installation to work. Your mileage may vary, but I think this is worth bringing up. Through the installation plugins and extensions are installed for the apps you have installed on your computer in addition to the standalone app in your applications folder. For me, I only use Photos so I had to go into system preferences and enable the extension through the Extensions preference. After that I could easily use the software like any other extension in Photos.
When I first heard of Luminar Flex I thought it might be a Luminar “light.” However, it by no means should be considered light. The tools are very powerful and fantastic. It has your standard photo editing tools (contrast, brightness, sharpness, etc.) and it also has Luminar Looks. One click and you get a fantastic photo. Looks include landscape enhancers, portrait enhancers, a professional set and more. You can also adjust how much of a look is applied to a photo in case the full effect is too much. I really like the before and after slider so you can really see the differences in the photo.
Have you ever wanted to apply layered effects to your photos in Photos? Well, with Luminar flex you can. Not only that, but you can also apply masks to the layers and brush your effects onto specific parts!
Luminar Flex can even be run stand alone for those time you might be working on a file that you don’t want in your Photos, Lightroom, or Aperture library. It has the same interface as the Photos plugin and is very easy to use.
Now, let’s get to pricing. Luminar Flex used to be included in the full Luminar 3 (previous Luminar 3 and Luminar 2018 owners are suppose to get Flex for free), but now it is a stand alone. Flex like features (the plugin) will be removed from Luminar in the next major revision. While it is a great product and I highly recommend it, I’m not sure where its place is in the Luminar line when it comes to pricing. Luminar 3 is $70 US. Luminar is $59 US. I would expect a bigger price difference between the two and maybe still include Flex in the full Luminar to further distinguish the two.
With that being said Luminar Flex is a fantastic photo editing tool for those prefer to work in Photos where you rphotos are organized, or your other editor of choice (ie. Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture). I highly recommend it and just wish Luminar would turn this into an iPad app!
Some before and after photo samples taken with my iPhone are below. (before on the left, after on the right)