Luminar’s new LUT Mapping filter might sound complicated, but it’s actually very straightforward to use. It applies a pre-designed film or cinematic look to your photos by converting or translating the colour values using a LUT, or lookup table.
That’s really what a LUT file is – a table which the image-editing software uses to look up an existing colour to find the colour it needs to be translated to. You can use LUT to convert images to black and white, apply a split-tone effect, give photos a vintage look and a whole lot more.
LUTs are already in widespread use in more technical image-editing circles as part of preset effects and styles, but Luminar is the first consumer application that works with them directly. It comes with a selection of LUT files built in, but you can also download more LUTs from the Luminar websites – and others.
Read more: Luminar 3 review
01 The Luminar LUT Mapping filter
To try out Luminar LUTs, it’s best to start with a Clear Workspace and then use the Add Filter button. You’ll find the LUT Mapping filter in the Professional section.
02 Built in Luminar LUTs
You can start out by trying the LUTs supplied as standard, which you can select from the Choose LUT drop-down menu. This one is called Kodak chrome 3 (cheeky). It’s a bit strong, but you can reduce the strength as well as adding other filters.
03 LUT Mapping adjustments
This LUT is called 1960, and it’s shown here in Luminar’s split-screen before and after view so you can see how it’s lifted the blacks to produce a faded ‘matte’ effect that’s quite in vogue right now. If it’s too much, you can tweak the Amount, Contrast and Saturation sliders.
04 Get more LUTs
When you open the Choose LUT menu you’ll see there’s the option to Download New LUT Files. This takes you to the Skylum website, where you can browse for free resources. When we checked there were two LUT packs – Color Grading 3D LUTs from Lutify.me and Cinematic LUTs by Richard Harrington.
05 Using downloaded LUTs
These LUT packs download as zip files, and when you expand them you get a folder full of LUT files. These are in the .cube format. You. Then use the Load Custom LUT file command in the LUT Mapping filter and then find and load the .cube filter you want. There are no previews here, so you have to recognise them by name.
06 Using LUTs in your workflow
So here’s an example using the Cool Blue BW.cube from Richard Harrington. By default this converts a colour image into a blue-toned black and white, but here we’ve kept a little colour by reducing the LUT Mapping Filter amount, then added a soft ethereal effect with the Vignette and Image Radiance filters.
In a way, LUTs are like a whole set of colour and tone adjustments wrapped up as a single, non-editable ‘look’. That might sound restrictive, but it’s also a great time-saver, especially for busy commercial photographers, and it’s a way for software publishers to distribute large collections of image ‘looks’ that can be used in any software that supports LUTs.