The Essentials Tools Panel in Skylum Luminar is a set of filters. They are some of the most frequently used tools in image post-processing workflows. This article is an ultimate guide to the Luminar Details Enhancer filter, which sits within the Essentials Tools Panel.
The Details Enhancer filter helps you create dramatic photos and brings crystal-clear sharpness to your images. Details Enhancer won’t bring an out of focus image back into focus, but it will protect your highlights so that you don’t lose details in bright areas of your photo.
Details Enhancer Tool
On opening the Details Enhancer, you are presented with four sliders.
- Small Details
- Medium Details
- Large Details
Additionally there is an Advanced Settings tab, and as with all the AI functions in Luminar, an Edit Mask tab.
The Small Details slider analyses and adjusts the sharpness of fine details in your image. The slider starts at zero. Moving the slider to the right intensifies the clarity of small details, moving to the left lessens the clarity. A great subject for Small Details Enhancement is feathers & fur; basically anything with fine textures.
There is a noticeable increase in details and clarity around the eyes of the bird, and in the feathers when the Fine Details slider moves to the right. Conversely, there is a noticeable decrease in details and clarity when the Fine Details slider moves to the left; the image becomes more washed-out.
The Medium Details slider analyses and adjusts the sharpness of larger blocks of detail in your image. The slider starts at zero. Moving the slider to the right intensifies the clarity of medium details, moving to the left lessens the clarity. A great subject for Medium Details Enhancement are brick and stone; basically anything with a grainy texture that you want to emphasize.
In this example, I set the small and medium details sliders to 100. The filter has enhanced the textures in the stone, giving them a more hardened and granular look. This is particularly noticeable in the buildings in the very foreground of the image.
The Large Details slider is for instances when you want to make the global contours of objects in an image stand out. The slider starts at zero. Moving the slider to the right intensifies the clarity of contours, moving to the left lessens the clarity. This slider is great if you want to achieve the gritty, grainy, atmospheric feel that you sometimes see in HDR images.
Using the same image. I set the Large Details slider to 100. The buildings are now visibly more grainy in appearance.
The Sharpen Tool helps focus soft edges in a photo to increase clarity. It’s not going to bring an out of focus image back into focus, but it will fool the eye into thinking that something is more in focus by increasing the clarity. As well as helping to add clarity to soft edges, at its extreme setting, the Sharpen filter can be used to give a grainy look to images. This is particularly useful if, for example, you are trying to replicate the grain in old black and white photographs.
Luminar Details Enhancer Tool – Advanced Settings
On opening the Advanced Settings in the Luminar Details Enhancer, you are presented with 4 additional sliders.
- Details Protection
- Details Masking
- Sharpness Radius
- Sharpness Masking
When applying any of the details or sharpening filters, the effect is applied globally. The Details Protection slider analyses your image and intelligently softens areas of your image to ensure they are not over-processed. Using our street scene again, the Details Protection Slider has been applied:
Using our street scene of the City of York again. Setting the Details Protection Slider to 70 has softened the grainy effect in the sky, but left most of the texture in the buildings.
The Details Masking filter is a global function which allows you to harden or soften the other filter effects applied in the Details Slider. It behaves much like a noise reduction layer by adding more or less luminance to your image.
The Sharpening Radius slider overrides the standard algorithm that Luminar uses to work out how far from a border to apply Details Enhancement. The slider starts at 0 and then increases the radius as you move to 100. In practice, I haven’t found a use for this filter, as anything other than a slider setting of zero starts to create hard boundary lines in your image.
The Sharpening Masking slider is a sort of amplification function for all of the other filters in the Details Enhancement tab. The slider datum is 35. Increasing this reduces the granularity of an image, and reducing it increases the granularity.
Edit Mask Capability
To use the Edit Mask from the drop-down menu, you first apply The Details Enhancement effects you want. Then selecting Brush in the Edit Mask drop-down menu, you can paint the areas of the image you want to affect.
You can change the brush size using the bracket keys:
- [ = Smaller Brush
- ] = Larger Brush
You can also change the flow of the effect for finer control over the edit.
The Edit Mask is quite useful. Let’s say you have an image that you wanted the foreground objects to have enhance granularity. For example the fur of an animal, feathers of a bird, or the surface of a building. But, you don’t want to apply that effect to the background and the sky. The Edit Mask will do this for you.
To demonstrate this, let’s take our first example image, the Robin Redbreast. Then maximise the granular effect by increasing Small, & Medium sliders to 100 and then sharpening to 40.
Then left-clicking the Edit-Mask and selecting brush, we can paint on the image the areas that we want the details enhancement to appear. Here is a before and after:
From this, you can see that the effect has now only been applied to the bird itself, leaving the smooth bokeh in the background completely intact.
Luminar Details Enhancer Conclusions
The Luminar Details Enhancer capability is an extremely powerful way of adding grain and texture to your images. It is most effectively used in combination of other effects such as Luminar Light Tools and Luminar AI Enhance.
This Luminar Essentials article forms a suite of interactive guides on the Skylum Luminar photo editing software. If you found this useful, please check out our other Luminar articles and how-to guides in the Learn Photography section of our site.
If you don’t yet have a copy of Luminar, but would like to purchase one, you can get a copy from the Luminar website.
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