About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

The Best way to use Luminar with Capture One

The Best way to use Luminar with Capture One

If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, you probably know that I’m a big fan of Macphun’s Luminar. It works great as a plug-in for Lightroom, but if you’re using Capture One it gets a bit more complicated. While you can use it as an external editor with Capture One, getting it to round-trip properly can be a bit tricky. There is, however, a simple solution to the problem and that is to use Photoshop as an intermediate.

Of course, this all depends on you having Photoshop in the first place, but if you do, I think that this is probably the best way of using Luminar, or any plug-in with Capture One, especially now that PSD support is much improved. But why not just use Luminar directly with Capture One? Well, you can, but as I said in the introduction, getting it back to Capture One is a bit of a problem. 

When you use Luminar as a plug in - in whatever software that supports it working as such - to get the image back into the host application, you click apply and it renders it back out. However, when working with the stand alone application, there is no apply button, only an export button. You can save the image but it uses Luminar’s own format. In order to use Luminar with Capture One directly, you’re using it as the Stand Alone version. So, for example, if you use the "Edit With" function of Capture One to send your image to Luminar as a Tiff, to get it back into Capture One, you have to export (rather than save) as a tiff, then find the original file, and write over it. Depending on where your images are stored this can be a bit tricky, and time-consuming as Luminar will by default, show the last location you used rather than the path of the file that was passed to it. It’s certainly doable, however, if you have photoshop, it’s much easier to use that as a go between. 


All you have to do is choose to edit your image in Photoshop. Then, once in Photoshop duplicate the layer, so you have an untouched copy. From there, choose the Luminar plug-in from the menu, and make your changes. Once finished, you just have to click apply to process the result back to photoshop, and there you can just save the image to get it back to Capture One. In my experience, while this sounds a bit more complicated, it’s actually quicker and less messy to do. It also offers some additional advantages. You can keep a clean version on a separate layer, and you can also use the layer opacity control to blend it back to the original. This can be useful if you find that after you process the plug-in it’s a bit too strong, you can just fade it down using the layer opacity. 

I've created a short video showing this workflow in acton, which you can see above.

I was having an issue previously with using Luminar in Photoshop. It would crash when I tried to process out back to the application from the plug-in, however, this seems to be resolved in the latest version, so make sure you've updated.

In an ideal world, Macphun would let you call the plug-in version of Luminar from any software. The ideal way would be for it to detective images when being passed to it from another application rather than being directly opened, (which I believe is possible, because Iridient Developer does this) and if so, give you the “Apply” button that’s in the plug in version. 

Another alternative would be just to give you an option to save over the original file rather than saving to its own format. This would make it compatible with many applications. So if anyone from Macphun’s developer team is listening, please implement something like this! (and yes, I have emailed them about this).

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