I’ve been testing Luminar Neo for the last three months or so now, so I knew what my expectations would be for the final release. Skylum software has promised an editing package of phenomenal power, but have they delivered?
What is Luminar Neo?
Neo is the follow up editing package to LuminarAI, which in itself is a follow up to Luminar 4. For those who use the software, you’ll know that since its launch LuminarAI managed to get updated to become their best ever editing package. LuminarAI is fast, reliable and has amazing features that let you get the job done quickly.
Luminar Neo is said to be written from the ground up, and capable of doing all that its predecessors do, plus a lot more. It’s a huge ask, but looking at the modules that Neo includes, it all looks very promising.
The current features that I would like to highlight are as follows:
• Relight AI – Relight an image realistically, using the advanced AI. This feature looks amazing, and one many photographers can use on a daily basis.
• Portrait background removal – At the click of a button you can erase the background and replace it with another. No more complicated masking involved!
• Dust Removal AI – Remove dirt, dust and sensor spots at the touch of a button! No photographer should be without this feature.
• Line Removal AI – No need to spend hours removing power cables, in one click, Luminar Neo uses AI to remove them quickly and efficient.
• Sky Replacement AI – Class leading sky replacement. You can use one of the built-in skies, or one of your own!
• Enhance AI – Tweak to bring life to your images in the power of a slider.
• Structure AI – Luminar Neo cleverly only adds structure to the portions of the image that need it applied, unlike other software which applies throughout the image.
• Skin Enhancer AI – No need to spend hours cleaning up skin, Skin Enhancer AI does all the hard work for you.
• Composition AI – Luminar Neo’s artificial intelligence will work out the best composition from your image if you struggle to find it yourself.
• Atmosphere AI – Add mist and fog naturally to images, and the AI knows where to place it for next effect.
• Body AI – Tweak human bodies by adjusting certain aspects of their body.
• Face AI – Just like Body AI, you can tweak faces, adjusting eyes, nose, mouth and chin to make your models front cover ready.
• Portrait Bokeh – Add Bokeh to portrait images, ideal if you want more blurry backgrounds for the model to stand out.
This is all very promising, and in the future, they have more features such as Mask AI. Which they strangely left off the initial release.
The best comparison to use when judging Luminar Neo is to compare it to LuminarAI. It’s a very strange one, because all the pre-release versions I tried of Neo (basically very cut down versions, highlighting various features) were on a par with AI on performance. The early bird and main releases though are noticeably slower, and very much slower than LuminarAI.
There are delays when you use sliders, the program seems to struggle loading up, some features don’t seem to do anything at all for a fee seconds before kicking in. Unlike Luminar’s before it, there’s no on-screen notification that things are being processed, so it’s a game of wait and hope it’s finished.
If you’re a serious user, you may be underwhelmed by the lack of a local adjustment’s menu. This is one serious flaw that will hopefully get updated very soon, as it’s THE tool that you need to make edits.
Other features such as sky replacement, dust removal and line removal work well, although with line removal, a clear sky will get you the best results of moving power lines.
The portrait features all works well, but I found them to be the most sluggish of all the tools that are available. So very useful though and all more than welcome.
Neo also offers layers, which is a welcome edition. However, they are implemented in quite a basic way. You can add multiple effects on each layer, and for what it is, it’s a welcome feature.
There’s no denying that Luminar Neo has great potential. It offers a lot of bang for buck, but sadly it just doesn’t feel like it delivers. If you’re a long-time user of LuminarAI, you’ll be very underwhelmed and will likely stick with LuminarAI due to all the reasons I’ve already mentioned. If, however, you have not used a Luminar before you will be impressed by its contents (but perhaps not by its operation).
I’m a little perplexed by Luminar Neo as a long-time user. Its user interface is instantly familiar to anyone who has used other Luminar’s, so nothing seems to have really changed since AI. It’s missing core features that you need to edit such as local masking, and it just doesn’t “feel” like it’s complete.
And that’s the issue. Skylum have released Neo with features missing one again. They done exactly the same with LuminarAI, and they haven’t learned from their mistakes.
My advice now is, buy the software when it’s on its offers, but use LuminarAI for the next year until Neo is working in the way it’s promised. LuminarAI is by a long way a superior product at this point. But, of course, things will change as Neo gets updated.
Overall, I’m disappointed. Looking at user reviews, others feel exactly the same. I’m seeing many, many reviewers asking “Is this the worse Luminar ever?” and I can see why they are saying that. Let’s get things straight though, it’s not the worse, it’s just been released too early and we are basically using beta software where we should be using the final product.
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I am a semi-professional photographer who runs a weekly meeting photography group as well as numerous Facebook groups (Great Photography Walks South Wales and Fujifilm Lovers Worldwide Group). I also have a brand-new blog website dedicated to various other things which I like to call The Ramblings Of A Welshman. I hope you can join me there; you might find it interesting! You’ll find my YouTube Channel Here!