Many videographers will use LUTs already and understand the Lutify.me proposition straight away, but stills photographers may need more convincing. It may be the case, though, that once you try them you will not look back, partly because they are so quick to apply, partly because they work alongside your the tools in your photo editing software and partly because they give you a consistent look across different applications.
+ Wide range of LUTs
+ Online LUT previewer
+ Cheap annual renewals
+ Wide software compatibility
– Top tier Pro subscription needed for Lightroom and Capture One
What is Lutify.me?
The first thing to get clear is that Lutify.me is not a photo editor. It is a suite of tools for applying, previewing, sharing and even creating LUTs, or ‘Lookup Tables’.
LUTs are essentially color conversion profiles that can be used for converting various video camera log footage into viewable/editable video files, and also, more importantly, for creative color effects.
• See also: Best image editing software – what to look for, how to choose
Traditionally, LUTs have been developed and used specifically for the movie and video industry, but increasingly they are appearing in photo-editing programs too, where they can apply one-click creative effects and ‘looks’ to your images that might be difficult or impossible to achieve using the software’s regular adjustment tools.
LUT effects are not directly’ editable’ in the way that regular software adjustments are, but you can still use your software’s tools to alter images afterwards – so really, you are applying any further adjustments ‘on top’ of these LUT profiles.
That sounds like a limitation, but LUTs have many advantages to make up for it:
- Speed: You can apply a LUT with a single click
- Results: As already mentioned, LUTs can create a look that’s difficult to create otherwise
- Editing: Unlike presets, LUTs don’t touch any of your software’s own editing tools – you still have full adjustment freedom after the LUT is applied
- Consistency: LUTs are software independent. If have a signature LUT that reflects your specific style, you can use it to get a consistent ‘look’ in any photo editing or video software that supports LUTs
- Scope: LUTs work with both video and photo editors. If you’re supplying both to a client, they get the same ‘look’ with each
Lutify.me is subscription software sold in three tiers, but the most expensive is still only $59 for the first year and $19.90 for subsequent years. With this top-tier subscription you get 232 LUTs in a series of themed categories, integration with Lightroom/Adobe Camera Raw and Capture One (more on this shortly) and full access to Lutify.me’s browser-based LUT previewer for both choosing LUTs and sharing them with co-workers.
Who is it for?
Lutify.me promotes its LUTs equally to both photographers and videographers – and, increasingly, content creators are working in both mediums at the same time.
If you are a stills photographer, LUT support will depend on the software you use. Some programs, like Exposure X or Pixelmator Pro, can use LUTs directly – LUTs use a universal .cube format that these programs support. ON1 Photo Raw also supports LUTs directly, and to save time the Lutify.me Pro package offers a one-click installation.
Lightroom/Adobe Camera Raw and Capture One are a special case. Adobe does not support LUTs directly, only its own ‘profiles’. The Lutify.me Pro package includes the full set of LUTs reconfigured as profiles that are ready to use in both Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw.
Capture One doesn’t directly support LUTs either, so Lutify.me’s solution here is to reconfigure its LUTs as custom color profiles within presets available in Capture One’s regular Presets panel – again, these LUTs do not use the in-built editing tools, which remain fully available. Capture One support needs a Pro subscription too.
For videographers, Lutify.me offers both log conversion LUTs and creative LUTs – though you will need video software which supports LUTs, so this is likely to appeal more to high-end users.
The advantage for videographers is the Lutify.me LUT Previewer, which works in your browser and lets you previewcompare (and share) different LUTs with co-workers. There are exposure, contrast, white balance and strength adjustments too, so you can in fact customize these LUTs to some degree and even download these new custom LUTs – or sample images with the LUT name and any adjustments baked into the filename.
How useful is it?
Whether or not you find Lutify.me useful will depend on your workflow. For videographers who already use LUTs in video editing, whether for log profile conversions or creative use, it’s a small step to start using Lutify.me, and the online LUT preview tool could prove invaluable.
For most photographers it’s likely to prove new territory. Lutify.me may not be something you need right now, but once you see what these LUTs can do and how they can integrate with your current workflow, you might change your mind.
The appeal of LUTs as a photographic tool has already been covered above in some detail. Personally, I didn’t know I needed LUTs until I tried these, and now I use them all the time. There are three key advantages for me: 1) they offer unique creative looks, 2) they leave full scope for the software’s own editing tools, 3) they let me recreate my favorite looks regardless of what software I’m using.
Are the results good?
For Life after Photoshop I regularly use and write about Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC, Capture One, Exposure X and ON1 Photo RAW, and I can use the same LUTs in all of them – and I have favorite LUTs I now can’t imagine being without, like Adhil and Albireo (Alternative Processes group), Halcor and Hydrobius (Contemporary Color Films), Belium and Bactor (Black and White Films) and Savi and Sadatoni (Vintage Films).
I will often start with my favorite LUTs before I do any other editing. This is because I feel like they give me a head start in the creative process. Digital images straight from a camera can often look pretty bland and sterile, so I like to inject some character the first chance I get.
I have tried other LUTs – many programs now come with some LUTs as standard – but of all those I’ve tried, this set is the broadest, most consistent and most appealing by far.
Is it worth the money?
The initial annual fee of $59 for the first year of a Pro subscription doesn’t seem a lot of money for what you get, and in following years this drops to just $19.90 per year. I think that’s extremely good value.
You might wonder what a LUT can do that your software’s presets can’t? Lutify.me says its LUTs use complex tone and color transformations that can’t be replicated using ordinary editing tools. Maybe so. But maybe you could also get close to these LUT effects with some skilled manual editing, but that could require a lot of time and effort.
There is no trial version of Lutify.me because signing up offers a full download of all the LUTs. You can start a 14-day free trial of the LUTs previewer, however, and download 7 free LUTs to try out in your own software (not Lightroom or Capture One, though, which need custom versions).
Lutify.me points out that you don’t have to renew your annual subscription at the end of the year, but you can carry on using the LUTs you’ve downloaded – you just won’t get new LUTs or access to the LUTs previewer. In that sense, you could regard the first year’s subscription as a one-off payment.
Lutify.me is a rather remarkable set of tools for both stills photographers and videographers. LUTs are a standard part of the professional video workflow, but still quite a new concept for photographers.
Once you’ve tried these LUTs, however, you might never look back. It’s like being able to choose and shoot with your favorite film and not be reliant on specific presets in specific software applications. Lightroom users will know that not all preset are equally good (!) and Capture One users will know how much Capture One charges for Style Packs.
The one thing you will need to make sure of is that your own software supports LUTs, and if you just Lightroom or Capture One, you will need the Pro subscription.