Luminar Now Available for Windows – How Does It Compare To The Mac Version?

Macphun today has released a public beta for Windows of it’s award-winning adaptive all-in-one photo editing program Luminar which was originally released for Mac computers in November of 2016. Countless people have been patiently waiting for a Windows version of Luminar (in addition to Aurora HDR) and now Windows users get a first-hand look at what all the Mac people have been so excited about lately.

So how does this first public beta compare to the current Mac version?

What is Luminar?

Before we get into comparisons let’s take a look at Luminar.

It is an all-in-one photo editor and RAW processor that lets you enhance your photos with over 40 photo filters, numerous presets, custom workspaces, layers, masking brushes, gradient masks, radial masks, luminosity masks, layer blending modes, and so much more. Additional tools include transform, clone & stamp, erase, denoise, and crop tools and it runs the other Macphun plugins from the Creative Kit as well as Aurora HDR.

Luminar Neptune for Mac

Luminar is designed for any photographer – from those just starting out with photo processing all the way to professionals.

The interface adapts to you, allowing for custom workspaces that only include the specific filters you want, providing you with a workspace free of clutter. You can export your files direct to your computer, Messages, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, SmugMug, and 500px and batch processing is also available.

Now all of these features are only relevant if the image quality is good, and I am pleased to report that I have found image quality to be excellent. Luminar has become one of my necessary tools in my digital darkroom for a large number of my photos.

Luminar for Windows

Macphun has set out to make Luminar cross-platform. Both the Windows and Mac versions will look alike, and workspaces as well as presets from each platform will be compatible with each other.

However, not just yet…

First Public Beta Luminar for Windows

The First Public Beta of Luminar for Windows

While Windows users now get a chance to see first-hand what Luminar is, I need to mention that you really are getting just a peak of the full Mac version right now. Something to wet your appetite with. There is much more coming for Windows users, and Macphun will be updating the beta version from time to time until the full release later this fall.

You also need to know that along with any beta, the interface, functionality of the tools, algorithms of sliders, and more is subject to change in the shipping version and bugs may appear.

First Public Beta Luminar for Windows

With all that said, how about computer specs?

Macphun is recommending Windows 10, a Core i5 2.2 or equal processor, 8GB of RAM or more, 1GB of GPU or more, and a SSD drive with 20+ GB free.

I haven’t owned a Windows computer since 2001 so my girlfriend Whitney Hall dusted off her old Dell computer that had Windows 7 on it (she has been Mac only for a while now too). Luminar wouldn’t run until we upgraded it to Windows 10. And Luminar is now running on it, although this computer is far from the spec’s Macphun recommends. The computer I am testing Luminar on is a Core i3 with only 4GB of RAM. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend these specs for anyone as the computer is almost unbearably slow, but Luminar actually does seem to run pretty decently on it.

What Features are Available Currently in this First Public Beta of Luminar for Windows?

The core functionality is here.

It supports most popular image formats (not PSD right now) and RAW formats. It includes over 50 presets, over 40 image enhancement filters, masking with a brush and gradient mask, a history menu, preview, histogram, side-by-side comparison, layers, and cropping. It is currently limited to exporting JPG files.

This is enough right now to allow one to get some great looking images while testing out Luminar and getting used to the program. It also includes the most talked about filter, the Accent AI Filter.

First Public Beta Luminar for Windows

This Artificial Intelligence filter is something. It has only one slider – a Boost slider – and the filter works by analyzing your photo and making what it thinks are the best adjustments to make. It will brighten, darken your image, open shadows and knock down highlights, darken blue skies, increase saturation & clarity, and more. All at once, all specific to each photo. It is quite amazing on many photos!

What Features are Still Missing?

Perhaps the most obvious thing missing is the file menu. Beyond that there is yet none of the following: radial mask, transform tool, clone & stamp tool, eraser tool, denoise tool, plugin support, stamped layers, layer blending, luminosity masking, other masking features like invert and fill, layer blending modes, layer options, workspaces, sharing options, exporting in other formats besides jpg, batch processing, and multi-colored histogram with clipping. Also some things currently are simplified, such as the crop tool – it is more advanced in the Mac version right now. And some things just aren’t working, like the Curves filter for one.

First Public Beta Luminar for Windows

The good news is that all of this is eventually coming to the Windows version. As I mentioned before, you are getting just a taste of things to come right now in this first public beta.


If you are on a Windows computer you definitely have to give the public beta a try. Even though it is far from complete, there is still enough here at present to start creating great images with an entirely new toolset at your disposal. And it will only get better.

If you are on a Mac and haven’t tried it out yet – what are you waiting for? Get it here today!

Let me know what you think of it too by commenting in my own Learn Macphun’s Luminar & Aurora HDR Facebook Group as well as in my own brand new Photo Forums on my site.

Start Mastering Luminar Today with a Special Limited Time Savings

I want to welcome all the Windows users to Luminar and help you get up to speed with using it by providing you with my Mastering Luminar Online Training Video Course with a special 25% off coupon code. This course is the most complete Luminar training course available and features over 8.5 hours of content.

It was produced using the Mac version so you will notice many features not yet available in the current Windows beta but that won’t stop you from learning and being ready for when those features eventually get enabled in the Windows version.

Use coupon code LUMINARPC when checking out here to apply the 25% savings. And please feel free to share this code with anyone!!



  1. Kevin La Rue

    Great overview and run-down of what the current beta is capable of, as well as what is still missing. Thanks Matt! Working for Macphun, I’ve done a lot of testing on the Windows beta thus far and — had I not ever used the Mac version — I would be really satisfied with the results I’m getting. 😉 As you say, if folks are on the PC, there’s no reason not to get it. Also… important to point out that we put a “Send Feedback” button right in the software. We want to hear from everyone – reactions, bugs, missing features, successes/failures…

    Thanks again for checking out the Luminar for Windows beta! Kevin (from Macphun)

  2. mar

    Perhaps you could tell me and your readers what this software will do that ON1 Raw/AffinityPhoto or Topaz can’t do or will do better than these programmes.

    1. Matt Suess Post author

      Wow Mar – all 3 of those programs you mentioned are completely different from each other. And Luminar is different too. Why not try the free download and explore and see what you come up with. Every program has it’s strengths and weaknesses and that can be different for each photographer.

    2. Dan Pedersen

      Hi mar – firstly – note that the beta is missing a huge swathe of features that are present on the mac version. Perhaps check out some of Matt or Jim’s videos on the mac version to see what is coming. I use Photoshop, Affinity photo, Aurora & Luminar. I find affinity & Photoshop very tech heavy. I have loads of automatons and actions for both & have found them invaluable for wedding & high volume post production. What I really love about Luminar (& Aurora) is the interface. It is much like the veritable iphone – no instruction manual needed. It is my go to when I want to wile away an evening with a few images and a glass or two of red. It is simply effortless to use. Even learning more advanced techniques is a cinche with the wealth of material & tutorials available. I have made many people happy using Photoshop & Affinity but I have produced my best work to date on Luminar.

      1. marpar

        Thanks Dan for taking the time in sharing your views about Luminar – a much better reply than “download the software”. I have downloaded the software and will investigate the features this week but as you said many elements are missing from the Windows version. Topaz Studio did the same thing when they launched their new software but at least the basic free offer was very capable of producing a decent image and I have now purchased the complete package. In Topaz Studio I found the “De-blur” function to be very easy to use and effective with a dramatic improvement in image sharpness.

  3. Steve Forrester

    Really need a Denoise function, almost everything I’ve experimented with has given horrendous noise. Looks good as a preview but back to being patient for the full release

    1. Matt Suess Post author

      What is your base ISO that is giving you bad noise, and what filters are causing it? High noise hasn’t been my experience in the Mac version.

      1. Steve Forrester

        Thanks Matt,

        The photo I was experimenting with was shot as ISO200. It could have been slightly lower but that really shouldn’t be an issue for noise. In Lightroom that same image is not displaying anything noise wise.

        I was using the Outdoor presets – Colors of the Fall and Bright Day, both showed substantial noise in the sky and also in shadow areas.

        1. Matt Suess Post author

          Ok so the presets you mentioned you are seeing noise with – Colors of the Fall and Bright Day – have adjustments to the Clarity and Structure filters. All you need to do is lower the amount of those filters – or better yet – use the masking brush to paint out the effect wherever you see the noise 🙂

      2. mar

        Thanks for your reply but what can this software do or do better than other Raw processing software as mentioned in my 1st comment.

        1. Matt Suess Post author

          Again it is best to download the free trial and find out. I don’t use Topaz so can’t comment there, but you mentioned ON1 and Affinity.

          Both are completely different – Affinity is like Photoshop and like Camera RAW in regards to RAW files. ON1 is completely different from Affinity in the way it handles things.

          Luminar too is different. Luminar has over 40 filters. ON1 has 23. Each program has it’s own algorithms for dealing with RAW files. ON1 has it’s own browser. Affinity and Luminar don’t (Luminar will have one in the future). ON1 and Affinity have content aware brushes – Luminar doesn’t.

          Each program is better than the other in certain aspects. The only way to find out what you personally like or don’t like is to download the free trial and experiment. I don’t know how you process photos, don’t know what tools are important to you, so I can’t recommend which one to use. You will have to determine that yourself by trying it out.

          1. mar

            Thanks for your reply and I appreciate your views but as a professional I would have thought you would have an opinion of some weight. I guess the problem is that you are linked to some software houses and must tread a delicate between path so as not alienate them. For the record I have knowledge of the software I mentioned in my 1st email and from my perspective ON1 Raw is a capable package but very unstable and keeps crashing for no apparent reason; Topaz is great for a quick dramatic effect and its “Blur tool” ( found in Sharpening adjustment ) is very easy and effective in sharpening images when compared to ON1 RAW and AffinityPhoto can be a tad confusing to use for people with little knowledge of Photo Raw processors but does similar actions to Photoshop.

          2. Matt Suess Post author

            My professional opinion has been and continues to be to download the trial and to see what it does. Have you done that yet? I am repeating myself here but each program has it’s own strengths and weaknesses and the only way to see how that works for you personally is to try them out. I am independent and only recommend what I use, and I use PS, Affinity, ON1, Capture One Pro, and various Macphun products as well as other photo software. Sometimes a photo goes into one program, sometimes it goes into many. That’s how I work, and might not be the way you do. I can’t tell you what to use – and that is a benefit of me not working for a particular company on staff. If I was on staff for a company I couldn’t recommend downloading other software. How does that help you with such a biased opinion? I can only present you with options and teach you how to use them. It is up to you to decide which program(s) work for you. And the first step in doing that is to download the free trial and start using it and see how it fits in with your own photos and personal workflow.

    2. Kevin La Rue

      The Mac version has a Denoise feature and it will be in the released version of Luminar for Windows as well. Possibly in a mid-stream update during the beta.

  4. mar

    Is this software a “standalone” package or does it need lightroom/photoshop to run.

    1. Kevin La Rue

      The beta version is currently only a standalone app. In the final release, it will continue to work as a standalone, but also be able to run as a plug-in to LR and PS.

    2. Matt Suess Post author

      Currently it runs as a standalone. In the future it will also run as a plugin to LR and PS.

  5. John Wiltshire

    I could not get the program to install, it just displayed dialog box ” how do you want to open this file” and nothing else. My download is
    206,129kb. Any help is appreciated. I am using Win 10 ,64 bit.

    1. Kevin La Rue

      Hi John – just going out on a limb here. The download is a .zip file, which then expands to an .exe installer I think. Could the error message be referring to a helper app trying to open the .zip file or the .exe?

      I’m like Matt – a Mac guy – so apologies if what I just said was too n00b – you’re way ahead of me on this. Ditto what Matt said – our Support guys will want to hear more if you can reach out to them.

    2. Vinny Giannino


      I had the same thing happen to me; it seems like the new Windows 10 version does not have a .zip extractor in it. I went into “get apps” and downloaded an extractor . I looked for the highest rated one and downloaded it … at first it didn’t seem like it did anything but Luminar did install. I may have had to click on it after the installation. I wasn’t ready for NOT having a extractor in Windows, haven’t had that happen before!

  6. Vinny Giannino

    I downloaded the Beta and it looks interesting but it is kind of half functional. I do understand things are missing so I will wait to see what the real one looks like in functionality. I do have questions though on Luminar since it seems that someone from Macphun is watching 🙂 …

    – How non destructive is it? In selecting filters vs layers – at what point does the program become destructive? Are the filters and layers “smart” where after saving we can go back into the photo and adjust them again?

    – Any type of “smart brushes” in Luminar? A few competitors have various versions of these and I do use them. Of course the companies who have them sell that they are important and they may not be as important to most people.

    – I’m not seeing any blending modes in either the filters or layers and I know they are missing from the Beta – are blending modes available in Luminar for both of these or only layers?


    1. Matt Suess Post author

      Hey Vinny – here are some answers for you:

      – How non destructive is it? In selecting filters vs layers – at what point does the program become destructive?
      Right now it is non destructive until you export it as a jpg file – the only way to export right now in the Windows Beta. Eventually you will be able to save as a .lmnr file which will keep all layers and adjustments and would be fully non-destructive

      – Any type of “smart brushes” in Luminar?
      Nope – and I keep bugging them to add them to the program 😉

      – I’m not seeing any blending modes in either the filters or layers and I know they are missing from the Beta – are blending modes available in Luminar for both of these or only layers?
      They will be available for both in the future. They are currently available on the Mac version.

  7. Tom Wallach

    My downloaded file is 211,075,269 bytes, and extracts and installs on Win7 Ultimate with no issues. I use DOpus as a Windows Explorer alternative and it has native zip support. No issues yet and am loving the beta. Wish I had known earlier that the Windows version was in beta so I could jump in and maybe have a chance to test it (full program) before it gets pushed out later this year.

    1. Vinny Giannino

      It came out a few days ago as the Beta for Windows so you are on it from the very beginning.

  8. Jack Torcello

    I have d/loaded Luminar public beta for PC – the file-type simply says ‘file’ – and I am not sure which app to use to instal?

    1. Matt Suess Post author

      Maybe it didn’t fully download? If I recall correctly it downloads a zip file that you have to then open.

  9. marpar

    Tried it – deleted it. Happy with ON1 Raw and Topaz Studio for now.

  10. Amanda

    thanks for this review! I downloaded Luminar a couple of weeks ago and was a bit underwhelmed with the features, but am happy to learn that there’s a whole heap of stuff that’s just been left out of the Beta. I’m running it on a Dell XPS 13 which should have sufficient specs to run adequately but finding it a bit slow. Hoping it’s also a beta issue!! Also, cannot wait until Aurora is available for Windows!!

    1. Matt Suess Post author

      Hey Amanda – yes the current Windows beta is definitely a stripped-down version and there is much more to come! And I would guess that performance would definitely improve between the beta and the shipping version. And how cool to have Aurora HDR now available soon for all the Windows users? 🙂

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