It’s the LUT Life for Me!


A while back I did a video tutorial on how I create LUTs using Affinity Photo to color grade images and import them into my desktop 🖥️ program Exposure X5. Because Exposure X5 (and later versions) is one of the only image post-processing apps that has a well developed, robust and dedicated LUTs tool, it has been where I’ve chosen to utilize this powerful feature on my desktop. But what if I’m not on my desktop, or have access to Exposure X5 which is only available on a desktop/laptop computer? And before you say anything, I’m not interested in carrying around a laptop 💻. I much prefer to work on an iPad for mobile goodness! Well, it turns out I have found a great solution to that conundrum. 
 

There is this wonderful, fairly new to me (it’s been in development over the past five years) app called RAW Power” that has been created by one of the original Aperture developers from Apple. Nik has been coding this powerful RAW processor and image editor for the MacOS and iOS/iPadOS simultaneously. The integration of this app across platforms via iCloud is a great and welcome feature. As Nik is currently the lone-wolf working on this app, what he has already achieved is remarkable, and there is a long list of features still to come, but what struck me right off when I discovered the app was that he’s included a fairly robust dedicated LUTs tool in the tool stack! It comes pre-loaded with some LUTs (and a number from the Lutify.me website), and of course you can import your own LUTs too. This to me is BIG, and is so much better than how, say, Capture One Pro 23 (16.2.0) still has no dedicated LUTs tool, but instead relies on its “Styles” feature, which by its very nature makes adjustments to the built in tools like Curves, etc. to achieve its color grading effects. Alternatively you can change the built-in ICC Profile to a LUT compatible look. Still rather awkward compared to a dedicated LUT tool. In contrast to the “Styles” method, proper LUTs files make color grading adjustments to an image without moving a single slider in any tool set. That’s how it should be. 
And this from the Lutify.me website on Capture One Pro:


Now how does RAW Power handle standard LUT files? Mind you this is currently at version 3.4.15, so this is pretty robust for this early a release.

This RAW file from a Nikon capture is courtesy of my dear friend and mentee, Amy Roth. I posted on this image in an earlier blogpost about how to workaround the dreaded “file not recognized” message in Aperture when you capture a RAW file from a newer camera not supported by Aperture. This time, I used RAW Power on the iPad Pro to process the image using a number of the powerful tools already included. 

When you click over to the Edit/Adjust tab and go to the LUT (Looks) tool, you see the Built-in LUTs folder. If you’ve imported your own LUTs, RAW Power will create a new folder for you to import them to and display that as well.

Inside the Built-in LUTs folder, you get sub folders to keep things organized, and easy to identify. 
 

For this image, I chose one of the Built-in LUTs from the Lutify.me folder. Here the LUT (Looks) tool is turned off for comparison.

With the LUT tool turned on and the chosen LUT selected. This, like all the adjustments on RAW files is non-destructive and can be changed at any time. Currently the only additional adjustment to the LUT tool is an Intensity slider, but I’m hoping it will mature to the level of the LUT tool in Exposure X5. 
 

The My LUTs folder has Cinematic LUTs I’ve imported from Final Cut Pro, plus some downloads and a few that I’ve created in Affinity Photo. I will create more new ones for this category in the near future, all from   the iPad Pro (yes, I have the Affinity Suite 2.0 on my iPad.) I should probably do a new tutorial video on the process since it’s all iPad based. 
Original RAW image rendered by RAW Power without additional corrections. The final image below shows what can be achieved with a combination of LUTs color grading and the other powerful tools in this program.

So, to sum up why I say “It’s the LUT Life for Me!” is that it is such a versatile, creative tool that once you create them (or purchase online) you can incorporate them into your workflow via a number of compatible programs for still images AND video editors. Yep, the same file can be imported into both image and video programs, as long as you remember to be sure you use the .Cube format. RAW Power will even remind you of this when you go to import your own or purchased LUTs.  Now while I say I don’t use LUTs on every image, just knowing I having the option to, and especially seeing how RAW Power implements the feature which can be further enhanced with the other editing tools, it feels like my future editing will benefit from these great tools! 


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