What is the best photo editing software for beginner photographers?
It's a question I get asked A LOT! From the mid 1990's I've been a huge fan of Adobe's Photoshop and along with Lightroom, they have been the powerhouses behind my photography career. And why not. They're great programs. But are they what you should use if you're just starting out in photography? **Spoiler alert** No.
The reason I don't recommend them to new photographers is that the learning curve is insanely steep and nowadays there are better options out there. So what are they? Since launching my youtube channel I've been approached by multiple software companies offering me trials of their photo editors. For the most part, none of them come close to Adobe's mighty editors. But one stands high amongst the rest offering a host of possibilities, some of which, not even the Adobe programs have.
When I saw that Luminar was A.I. driven, I'll admit I was sceptical. I mean, how good could artificial intelligence really be at editing my beloved photos? Turns out, pretty damn good! Having spent many years mastering the hidden secrets of Photoshop I was a little dismayed to see how easily a novice could create stunning edits with very little knowledge. And as a professional photographer, this was also a little concerning! But for a new photographer getting started into the, previously daunting world of photo editing, this was fantastic news.
Luminar has an amazing feature built into it which is basically a one slider piece of magic. This isn't hyperbole. The AI Enhance feature literally improves your photos on a multitude of levels with one slider. When I first used it I was blown away, and then, thinking the software's AI just got lucky, I tried a few more shots. I tried different genres, different subjects, shots from different cameras. Without fail, the AI enhancement transformed the photo for the better. Correcting exposure, recovering details, bringing out clarity and adding punch to the colours.
So the main reason new photographers will get a lot out of this is that it's super easy to get great results with no prior knowledge of photo editing. That's a great relief and takes the guesswork out of getting started.
If you'd like to get a copy of Luminar 4 it's available here and for a discount use code ATSKY10
Luminar is actually a very deep program that contains a variety of tools. At its core, Luminar has a raw processor very much like Adobe's acclaimed Camera Raw processor, which is the engine behind Lightroom. Beyond what Lightroom offers though, there's so much more. There are a multitude of tools that are easy to use, yet provide fantastic creative possibilities. From replacing a sky in one click to retouching a portrait with simple sliders this software packs in a lot.
If you want to see what my favourite filters are, or "tools" as they're known in Luminar Lingo, watch this space for an upcoming blog post.
Top 10 reasons to buy Luminar
So here's an overview of the reasons I think this is a sound investment as the best photo editing software for beginners in 2020
1. Luminar's AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools can do most of the hard work for you making getting started super easy.
2. It's cost-effective. No recurring subscription like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Pay once - own it forever.
3. Easy learning curve - unlike most other photo editors.
4. LUTs (Look Up Tables) are a powerful yet really simple way to colour grade your photos.
5. AI Enhance - is the easiest and quickest tool to improve photos.
6. The AI Sky replacement tool is a game-changer. It has saved me soooo much time in creating accurate masks in Photoshop it's crazy!
7. Luminar works as both a complete standalone program AND as a plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop if you prefer to use it that way.
8. Comes bundled with a host of presets - known as "looks" in Luminar lingo. These give you stylised looks to your photos with the click of a button!
9. It includes filters and tools that aren't available in other photo editors, for example, the sensational sunlight filter, as demonstrated in the video below:
10 Free upgrades within any version of Luminar and your licence doesn't expire!
Please bear in mind, because it's tools are AI-driven it means your computer has to analyse your photos and do a lot of the thinking for you - this means a good processor, graphics card and memory is really going to enhance your user experience. If your computer is in need of an update you may need to be patient. The computer I used in this video is now over two years old but it was relatively good at the time it was built.
Is Luminar 4.3 worth it?
When you consider what you're getting and the relatively little outlay to own it, Luminar is most definitely worth buying. Whereas Adobe has gone the route of the recurring subscription model, Skylum, who make Luminar are going with a one-off low price and you own approach. There's something very satisfying about knowing it's yours for good without any more payments. Nice one Skylum :)
If you'd like to get a copy of Luminar 4 it's available here and what's more, when they asked me to try the software they gave me a discount code that you can take advantage of too. Just use the code ATSKY10 at the checkout to save $10 USD. Whoop whoop!