AT THE END OF THE DAY
Unique AI photo features like power line and dust removal, as well as a large selection of effects and tweaks, are all available in Luminar Neo’s user-friendly interface. Workflow and organization, on the other hand, are flaws.
- Photo-retouching AI technologies that are one-of-a-kind
- Interface that is pleasing and easy to use
- There are a lot of adjusting options, filters, and effects.
- Some operations take a long time.
- There is no face recognition or keyword tagging available.
SKYLUM LUMINAR NEO SPECS
|Lens Profile Corrections||Yes|
The desire for a photo software that makes heavy use of AI to enrich and enhance your digital images sparked the development of Skylum Luminar Neo. It keeps the sky replacement and comprehensive collection of filters from the previous Luminar application, but adds depth-based relighting and power-line removal features. It also has layer support, as well as a texture and overlay library. Performance enhancing and mobile app syncing are two other new aspects of Luminar Neo. It’s a wonderful addition to any photographer’s software toolset because to its unique adjusting tools and filters, as well as the fact that it can be installed as a Photoshop or Lightroom plug-in.
What is the price of Skylum Luminar Neo?
Luminar is available for $79 (sometimes discounted) via the Skylum website, and there is no need to subscribe. The simpler Luminar AI application ($47) is still available from Skylum, which focuses on providing one-click fixes and styles to your photographs but lacks some of Neo’s more sophisticated features. Luminar AI is accessible in the App Store as a Store and a Mac app; I like desktop programs that are available in app stores since they are easy to update and install on numerous machines and are validated for security and functionality. From the main Skylum site menu, you may get a 30-day trial download of either.
Capture One costs $299, CyberLink PhotoDirector is $99, DxO PhotoLab is $219, and Lightroom is $9.99 a month subscription that you must pay for as long as you want to continue using the app.
Getting the Program Started
Luminar Neo may be installed as a plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom Classic during setup (or afterwards), but unlike its predecessor, it does not let you to install plug-ins in Luminar Neo itself (for example, for Topaz noise reduction). The program takes up roughly 2GB of hard drive space, which is comparable to the size of Lightroom. After the installation is complete, you’ll be prompted to create a Skylum account and given a QR code to use to download the companion mobile app for wireless image transfer.
On first use, the program displays a very basic interface with a large Add Photos button. In Luminar, there is no clear import process. You select a folder, and all of the images included within it are added to your Luminar catalog. While this means you won’t be able to transfer image files from a card to your computer, it will bring you to your photos quickly. You can immediately begin viewing and editing. In a matter of seconds, my 858-file SD card was “imported.” It was also faster than most applications to move forward and backward through photographs in the collection.
I’d prefer that the Add Photos button, like many other programs, could find attached camera media, but it doesn’t. Instead, it’s just a File Explorer, but it’s not difficult to locate your camera’s media folder and begin editing the photos.
Interface that is both clear and simple
The program’s simple and dark interface allows you to focus on your image. It’s less cluttered than Capture One’s UI, but it’s not as customisable.
There are just two modes in the app: Catalog, which allows you to view all of your photographs, and Edit, which allows you to edit them. You zoom in Catalog view by spinning the mouse wheel (far easier than in Lightroom), and you’re not limited to significant stop points like 33% and 50%. An I icon displays the shot settings and camera model in an info panel. A search magnifying glass makes finding photos based on filenames a breeze, albeit unlike Lightroom and DxO Photolab, you can’t refine the search based on metadata like f-stop or lens model.
For quick filtering, you can love the image with a heart icon or reject it with an X, but there’s no keyword tagging or color coding. A filmstrip ribbon runs along the bottom of the book, providing a perspective of the collection.
The option to view All Photos, grouped by date and with handy filters to reveal newly added or altered images, is located on the left sidebar. Computer folders and custom Albums are listed here. There are no normal program choices at the top, such as File, Image, or View. The normal menus are accessed by clicking the Luminar logo.
You can switch between Tools, Edits, and Presets in Edit mode. The original version of your photo may be viewed by clicking an eyeball icon, but I wish there was a split-screen before-and-after view. I like that double-clicking on sliders resets them to their default values, and that you can readily see and undo past adjustments in the Edits tab.
The Develop tool in Edit mode gives you the profile options of Luminar Default, Adobe Standard, camera defaults, or custom profile from DCP or DNG files for first raw import. Raw photos from newer camera models like the Canon EOS R6, the Fujifilm X-T4, and the Nikon Z 6 loaded without a hitch. As you can see above, the default rendering of pictures from my Canon EOS 80D produced excellent image quality, comparable to Lightroom and Capture One. Capture One is still the best at initial import, with greater detail and less overexposure in my opinion. Of course, different camera types produce different results, and you can improve the image quality by adjusting the initial import in any of these apps.
Exposure, Smart Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Blacks & Whites, Curves, Color, Sharpness, Noise Reduction, and Optics are among the many modifications available in the Develop panel on the right side after you select the develop profile. A manual barrel and pincushion slider, as well as a Defringe checkbox, are part of the last group. The menu also offers Auto Distortion Correction and Auto Fix Chromatic Aberrations checkboxes for several raw file types. The CA correction and geometric distortion correction both worked in a test photo, however the latter took several seconds to display on my test PC.
According to a Skylum representative, the app includes a database of lens and camera profiles that are used for these optical corrections behind the scenes. It employs general algorithms for gear that isn’t in the database.
Separate contrast sliders for Highlights, Midtones, and Shadows are available in the Professional section at the bottom of the right-hand control panel. Curves with RGB selections and White balance settings with an eyedropper tool are also available.
The normal lighting and color sliders do not have Auto settings. Instead, you can use the Enhance tool, which has a slider to increase or decrease its strength. It produced pleasing results in my test images, often enhancing contrast and saturation in an HDR-like manner.
The AI feature in the Crop tool finds the subject and suggests a crop (see below). It performs a good job of removing sections of the same texture that detract from the topic. Horizon Alignment is also available in the crop area, but I had little luck with it; it failed to level the horizon in my test images.
Although Noise Reduction (included in the Develop edit group as well as a separate Denoise section) lacks an automated option, its luminance and color noise sliders perform admirably, even preserving reasonable detail. However, it lacks the level of detail recovery found in DxO PureRaw.
Color controls in Luminar Neo feature not only saturation and vibrance, but also HSL and hue shift choices with sliders for eight different hues.
Tools of the Trade
Standard correction options like exposure and saturation aren’t included in Luminar. You buy it because of its artificial intelligence. Relight AI and the Remove Powerlines feature of the Erase tool are two AI-powered features that stand out in the new application.
AI that relights
This unique tool in the Creative section alone may be enough to convince you to purchase Luminar Neo. It allows you to adjust the brightness of the image selectively for the near and far parts, based on 3D AI mapping. You can use Dehalo, as well as close and remote warmth. Both portraits and landscapes benefit from the tool. The figure closest to the camera gets lightened below, while the background remains dark.
My personal test photo of a West Mexican chachalaca climbing a tree demonstrates that it’s useful for more than simply portraits. After the adjustment, the branches further back on the right remain dark.
Take down the powerlines
This one-of-a-kind tool, which can be located in the Erase tool group’s Objects Removal area, can help you improve a variety of urban street scenes, as shown below. I also used the chance to apply the program’s Old Town filter, which resulted in a much better-looking image. Not only the large vertical power line, but also the smaller horizontal power lines further down the street, have been removed. It’s definitely a powerful tool!
Remove Dust Spots is another new tool in the Erase group’s Objects Removal area. It’s a one-button operation, similar to Remove Powerlines, but you may fine-tune the results by clicking a brush over any portions you want to blend in. It’s similar to the content-aware spot healing tool in Photoshop.
Skylum Luminar’s unique sky-editing features are still included, and they perform a fantastic and painless job of recognizing what’s sky and what isn’t, and replacing the latter with a more attractive one. Portrait Bokeh, Face AI, Skin AI, and Body AI are also included. The last one allows you to lose a few pounds and shrink down your waistline. In my tests, it did a good job at recognizing human forms. Light and Slim sliders are also available in the Face AI tool, and they work well.
Layers are a new feature in Luminar. They let you to employ several blend modes, such as Darken, Multiply, and Screen, as well as apply overlays. They aren’t as complicated or frightening as Photoshop’s layers, but they are useful and powerful enough to generate some fascinating effects. You can use these to create a double exposure effect with your own photographs. Adjustments such as Exposure can be applied to just the new layer, but when I chose the original layer, the adjustments were applied to all layers—Photoshop provides you more flexibility over layer selection for editing.
There are a lot of LUTs under the Mood area of the Creative category in categories like Cinematic, Creative (including B&W options), Cross Processing, and Portrait Lighting. The degree of these effects, as well as their contrast and saturation, can be adjusted using sliders.
This tool area includes Dehaze, which does not create a color cast like Lightroom’s, as well as Golden Hour and Foliage Enhancer, which both provide a beautiful touch when used sparingly.
Presets, the rightmost option in the Edit panel, provides one-click changes similar to those found in Luminar AI, the company’s other, simpler offering. With no effort, these settings may transform a dreary photo into an attractive one. Choose from illustrative thumbnails for Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Lifestyle, Filmatic, and other types of photography. Again, sliders let you adjust the power of the effects, and if what’s included isn’t enough, Skylum sells additional preset sets on its website.
When testing on Windows 10, several of the AI tools still made my graphics card fan spin, and it took a long time for an image to update after an adjustment. I prefer to see some sort of processing indication, such as Lightroom provides.
Because Luminar began as a macOS photo-editing tool, I installed it on a MacBook Air with an M1 processor to test how it performed. The AI is performed locally, rather than in the cloud, which is an advantage. As previously said, there is no importing from memory cards, therefore this isn’t a performance consideration. The software was quite reliable, which isn’t always the case with apps that perform high-level AI computations on massive media files.
Output and Distribution
You may transfer photographs from the desktop version of Luminar Neo to your smartphone via a companion mobile app. The iOS version allows you to see live edits on your phone, and the Android version will have the same feature. All you have to do is scan a QR code with your phone and you’re ready to go. Images can also be sent from your phone to the desktop software, where they display in a freshly formed folder in Catalog view. Exporting an edited shot to a local folder or your email client are two other alternatives.
The Print option in the main menu exports the edited photo and opens the OS’s printing capability, but no layout or contact sheet options are available.
AI Fixes and Effects That Aren’t Found Anywhere Else
Luminar Neo is a picture optimization and enhancement software that includes AI photo repairs and effects. It’s a joy to work in, thanks to a simple, easy-to-use interface. While you can use Luminar Neo to organize your catalog with albums and pick/reject, it isn’t a complete workflow solution, therefore you might be better off utilizing it as a Lightroom Classic plug-in. It can perform some amazing things with your digital photography, so if you enjoy perfecting and creating with your photos, this is a must-have.