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Luminar Neo Review : A Candid Review of the AI Photo Editing Software

Advanced photo editing tools like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Corel Paintshop Pro, etc., made editing easily accessible to photographers. However, getting used to this professional suite can sometimes feel intimidating, especially for beginners.

With that in mind, Skylum developers from Ukraine created Luminar Neo. Unlike other intimidating photo editing programs, with AI-centered photo editing capabilities, anyone can make professional adjustments to their images without spending enormous time mastering the program.

Luminar Neo Review: Quick Summary

Luminar Neo Box

Pros

  • Intuitive Interface
  • Exceptional end results
  • Works as Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom Plugin
  • Portrait AI produces good quality results
  • Mesmerizing Sky Replacement tool
  • Data Backup
  • Use the same tools multiple times without losing previous edits

Cons

  • Insufficient organizational features
  • Limited Preset collection
  • Limited Layers Capabilities
  • Shortcut keys limited to Redo and Undo
  • Lags in low specs devices
  • Some AI features are not so effective


overall 

4.0/5

USD 99.00

Supported Platforms: Windows, OSX


Interface

4.5/5

Features

4/5

Performance

3.5/5

Support

4/5

In short, Luminar Neo is an easy, fun, and accessible AI Photo Editor that can turn regular photos into something exceptionally dramatic with just a single click.

Luminar Neo Review

In this Luminar Neo review, I will share my insights on the comprehensive functions of the latest update of Luminar Neo (1.10.0) and its practical worth to photographers.

Pricing Details

Luminar Neo has monthly, yearly, and lifetime license (one-time payment) plans. The pricing details are as follows:

  • Monthly: USD 9.95 /mo ; (USD 14.95 /mo for the Pro Plan)
  • Yearly: USD 99 ; (USD 119 for the Pro Plan)
  • Lifetime License Plan: USD 149

You can purchase Luminar Neo with a  lifetime plan (along with a paid Extensions Pack) or as a subscription. Subscription plans allow using the software on 2 devices, whereas the lifetime license is for 1 device only.

The Monthly and Yearly subscription plans include the Luminar Neo, along with all extensions currently available and those that come out during the subscription period. You are also entitled to all major Luminar app updates or new versions released during your subscription period. Hence, you have guaranteed access to all the latest Luminar functionality.

With a Lifetime license, you get Luminar Neo and all maintenance and feature updates shipped for the purchased product version. You can also expand Neo’s feature set with the paid Extensions Pack.

Use our Luminar Neo discount codes for the best deals on subscription and lifetime plans.

Supported Platform and Installation

Luminar Neo supports both MAC and Windows OS platforms. However, ensure that your system meets the minimum requirements specified by Luminar. If not, the performance could get a little sluggish.

The installation of Luminar Neo is simple. You will find the installation file over at Skylum's official website. To download the installation file, you should sign in to your Skylum account, and then you can download the file from the landing page.

After downloading the installation file, you can easily install Luminar Neo with a single click. The installation process took around 30 minutes on my device. However, the installation duration varies depending on your device's specifications and internet speed.

After installation, log in to your Skylum account on the app to get started.

Note: Luminar Neo acquired 5.76GB of space on my SSD, which in my experience, is a little excessive compared to other standalone photo editing programs.

Luminar Neo: User Interface Review

The user interface of Luminar Neo is adeptly organized, clutter-free, and intuitive. Any photography enthusiast, regardless of their experience, can easily navigate through all the functionalities available without needing the help of manual guidance.

Dashboard

Luminar Neo User Interface

Upon opening Luminar Neo, you will be greeted with an interactive guide that will assist you in learning how to edit sample images within the software.

Furthermore, the guide also helps you locate all the essential tools and provides instructions on editing photos in various genres.

Upon familiarizing yourself with the software, you will find a sleek, dark-themed interface divided into three panels, streamliming the workflow. To get started with the editing, you will find three modes to select from at the top of the window.

  • The Catalog allows you to view the images of your chosen folder.
  • After selecting the picture you want to edit, you get the option to apply Presets from pre-installed lists.
  • Manually edit the picture by clicking the Edit option.

The left sidebar of the dashboard provides a comprehensive range of options for adding photos, folders, or albums, ensuring all the essential features are easily accessible. You can also view recently added and edited pictures and other images in the trash.

The panel on the right side of the dashboard provides meta descriptions of selected images along with Luminar Neo extensions like Upscale AI, Focus Stacking, and HDR Merge.

Note: In contrast to other photo editing platforms, Luminar Neo does not offer the option to manually adjust the meta description of an image. Additionally, if you want to install Luminar Neo extensions, simply find the 'Extras' button at the top right of the window.

If you are looking for additional menu items like exporting options, help, file, support, and others, you can access them by clicking the Luminar Neo Icon on the top-left corner.

The unusual positioning of menu items can confuse the users. Therefore, I can only wish Skylum to provide a dedicated Menu section in their future update.

Editing Panel

Before and After view in Luminar Neo

Similar to the dashboard, Luminar Neo has kept its Editing panel visually neat and easily understandable.

To edit a photo, choose the desired photo from your library and click the "Edit" button at the dashboard's top. This action will lead you to the editing module, where you will find all the editing options listed on the right side of the screen, including Luminar Neo extensions.

Most editing tools in the editing panel have a slide bar that simplifies applying the adjustments. Additionally, advanced editing tools utilize artificial intelligence (AI), allowing you to achieve results with just one click. Despite being advanced, Luminar Neo remains highly accessible even for beginner editors.

Note: The latest update of Luminar Neo has introduced a convenient Before/After mode. It allows you to easily compare edited images side by side. You can find this tool at the bottom of the editing window, along with other visual measurement tools.

Luminar Neo: Key Features Review

Apart from the standard editing features, Luminar Neo is known for its advanced and efficient AI Tools. These tools are categorized into four parts (Essential, Creative, Portrait, and Professional) for user convenience, which I will be discussing below:

Photo Editing Tools in Luminar Neo

Essential Tools

The Essential Tools section in Luminar Neo helps you to make useful basic adjustments. Below I have briefly assessed a few of the essential features I liked in Luminar Neo.

Enhance AI

Enhance your Photos with AI

The Enhance AI tool consists of two helpful adjustment options, Accent AI and Sky Enhancer AI. This feature automatically analyses the image and enhances the photo with the help of artificial intelligence.

Accent AI is basically a compact form of 12 traditional composition-controlling tools in the form of a single slider. After applying the slider, the artificial intelligence will balance the highlights, shadow, exposure, contrast, and other details to the need of your image.

The feature is more effective with an underexposed image.

Sky Enhancer AI detects the sky in the background and applies necessary adjustments automatically. The feature adds details to the overall quality of the sky by enhancing the elements present, like color, clouds, sunlight, and sunsets.

The Artificial Intelligence process cannot detect grey, unfocused, and blurred skies.

Powerlines and Dust Spots Removal Tools

Automatically remove objects like powerlines

Sometimes unwanted wires and dust spots can ruin the overall beauty of a photo, and this is where Luminar Neo's Powerlines and Dust Spots Removal tools come in handy.

Both tools are available under the Erase section. With a single click, the AI of Luminar can erase the wires and dust spots from the image in view. You can manually erase the powerlines and dust spots by adjusting the brush size and clicking on the lines you want to erase.

Remark

The tool is most effective when not many elements are present in the image. Otherwise, it might produce some abrupt results. At times, the tool also fails to recognize the dust spots present on the image.

Interesting Fact: I found the feature similar to Photoshop's healing tool upon manual usage.

Creative Tools

The Creative Tools section in Luminar Neo allows the user to play around with innovative AI tools to add more depth and artistic expression to the photo. Tools include Relight, Sky, and Atmosphere AI to name a few. Sky AI is one of the few Creative Tools that grabbed my attention by producing some stunning end results.

Sky AI

Replace sky in Images with Sky AI

Honestly, I got engrossed while testing Luminar Neo's Sky AI feature. The feature can instantly swap a bland sky with good selections of appealing skies from Luminar's collection, which in my opinion, is efficient. Additionally, in the latest update of Luminar Neo, you are provided with sky recommendations that complement your photo effectively.

During my Luminar Neo review test, the feature processed exceptionally fast and didn't put much pressure on the program's performance, unlike other tools in Luminar Neo. Another impressive fact is that the tool replaces the sky and enhances the overall quality that suits the image. You can also tweak the Sky Adjustments if you'd like to.

I got mesmerized upon noticing a perfect reflection of the applied sky on a water surface. I appreciate the detailing that the Skylum team had thought of for Luminar Neo. They even went an extra step and allowed the users the ability to play around with the Reflection mode.

Remark

Sky AI is a quick and easy way to switch a mundane image into something creative without performing manual action. However, I would greatly appreciate it if Luminar Neo could include the ability to add sky images from our local drive as an option within the Sky AI tool.

Portrait Tools

Portrait tools are another useful addition by the developers of Luminar Neo. It targets the pain point of photographers who lacks expensive lenses or wants to work on captivating retouch edits within a minimum amount of time while keeping the quality of the photo intact.

Tools include Portrait Bokeh, Face, Skin, and Body AI. Portrait Bokeh, Face, and Skin AI are some useful features that made retouching easy and the end result stirring.

Portrait Bokeh AI

A useful tool for those obsessed with bokeh images or a photographer lacking a lens with a large aperture (E.g., a kit lens on a crop body). The AI uses human-aware 3D depth mapping that can mimic the look of a photographic bokeh effect.

Applying the Portrait AI bokeh is easy. After selecting the feature followed by a click, it will automatically recognize the subjects in the photo and exclude them from the background to apply the bokeh effect.

Remark

The Photo bokeh AI feature of Luminar Neo may not always deliver accurate results, especially when editing images with intricate details. But it does offer a saving grace in the form of customization options.

Users can manually apply the bokeh effect using a brush, allowing them to mark specific subjects they want to exclude from the background for a more convincing fake bokeh effect. This feature provides some control and flexibility, enabling users to fine-tune the effect to their liking.

Tip: It is recommended to use an image of wide depth (a good amount of physical space between the subject and the background) for impressive results.

Face and Skin AI

Edit portraits with Face and Skin AI tool

Manual retouching can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Nevertheless, Luminar Neo's Face and Skin artificial intelligence makes it quick enough to produce remarkable results. It is a great tool for portrait, fashion, and editorial photographers.

With Face AI, you can adjust the face's lighting, add more depth to the eyes, whiten the teeth of the subject, and make the lips more profound without any manual hassle.

With the Skin AI, you can achieve a blemish-free realistic, smooth skin texture for the subject by moving the sliders available in the panel.

Remark:

I usually like to click portrait pictures, and manual editing through Photoshop was a time-consuming and struggle-some task. Luminar Neo's Face and Skin AI made the work easy for me. With the convenient adjustments sliders, I have achieved a stunning result in a small amount of time.

The effectiveness of the feature is outstanding, and it will save time for those who want to do quick retouching without fearing the loss of their image quality.

Professional Tools

The Professional Tools in Luminar Neo focus on precise control over certain advanced features. Tools include Supercontrast, Color Harmony, Dodge & Burn, and Clone.

Clone

Remove Visible Flaws from photos

I have enjoyed using the tool to manipulate my unnoticed mistakes from some photos. 

This tool allows you to replace unnoticed or unwanted parts of your image by copying pixels from a selective source of your existing image. 

It is easy to apply the Clone tool. The process requires you to select the primary source of pixels you want to replicate. After that, you can blend those pixels into the damaged areas. Adjust the brush size and tweak the brush's softness and strength (Opacity) as per your requirement.

Tip: I recommend using short strokes and lower opacity to get a smooth blended look. Use the Alt key to change a new sample source.

Supercontrast

The Supercontast feature falls under the Professional Tools section. It allows you to adjust the contrast of a photo's highlights, mid-tones, and shadows.

To make the adjustments, you can tweak the sliders available and balance the shadows to create a brilliantly edited landscape image.

Mask AI

AI-based masking in Luminar Neo

Quirky AI tools are the main attraction of Luminar Neo, and the Mask AI feature made the program more eccentric. The masking AI feature is simple and aims to speed up the conventional masking process.

Mask AI can automatically detect upto 9 objects and elements present in the image and highlights them. From there on, the user can take the necessary actions to post-process the selected area.

Remark

Frankly, I am impressed with the accuracy and effectiveness of Mask AI. Applying the feature over an image took nearly 15-20 seconds.

The Brush option inside the masking element is one of the handy features I have used in Luminar Neo. It allows you to erase unnecessary objects quite seamlessly, and the Paint option allows you to manually mask the subject you want to edit. 

The Linear Gradient tool inside the Mask AI is good for focus shifting. This feature lets you shift a viewer's focus toward a subject you want them to see. You can also use it to cover areas you feel are overly exposed.

Note: The Masking feature is available inside almost every tool. However, the detection of elements could sometimes show abrupt results.

Layers and Presets

Layers Panel in Luminar Neo

Layers and Presets are two great additions to Luminar Neo's features. On the left side of the editing window, you will find the layer option from where you can choose a few overlays or apply your unique overlay from your device.

Preset collections in Luminar Neo

In the latest update, Luminar Neo has introduced 8 preset collection categories, offering a wider range of options for you to choose from. Additionally, to enhance the editing experience, the software now allows you to scroll through the list of presets and view the effect of each preset on your photo simply by hovering over it.

I found this new functionality convenient, as it makes the editing process faster and easier by providing a real-time preset preview without needing to manually click and apply each preset individually.

Note: You can edit the applied Presets in your editing panel. However, you cannot simultaneously add more than one preset without losing the past edits.

Tip: You can add unique edits as a preset by navigating to the 'Actions' option at the bottom of the editing window and selecting the 'Save as Preset' option for further use.

Extensions

Luminar Neo's Extensions Pack offers various tools to address specific editing challenges. Each extension serves a unique purpose and helps enhance different aspects of your images. Let's take a quick look at the advanced extensions Luminar Neo offers.

Magic Light AI

Improves the appearance of lighting in your photos by adjusting brightness, softness, and hardness and adding flares or light trails.

Note: Best for low-light images with street and fairy lights to create a mystical look.

Sharpen AI

Uses artificial intelligence to enhance image sharpness, eliminating soft focus caused by camera shake or shallow depth of field. This is best used to refine a minor blurred object in the photo caused by movement.

Focus Stacking

This extension allows you to change the focus point in your images during post-production, eliminating the need for reshooting or taking multiple shots. What is more interesting is that you can stack upto 100 photos with different depths of field, and the focus stacking feature will align, crop, and balance them automatically.

Note: To make this feature work efficiently, you will need multiple pictures with varying focus points covering the entire depth of field of the scene.

Upscale AI

Enhances image quality, sharpens details, and revitalizes colors, making it ideal for photo restoration or enlarging specific sections of larger images.

Background Removal AI

By efficiently detecting the main subject, Luminar Neo takes background removal to a new level using advanced AI processing, making it easier to transform portraits or product images.

Noiseless AI
Eliminate unwanted noise

The extension automatically detects the density of the noise present in the image and suggests adjustments accordingly

However, if you are not impressed with the result, you can also tweak the adjustments by moving details and sharpness sliders. During my Luminar Neo review test, the extension provided an average result.

HDR Merge

With Luminar Neo's HDR Merge, you can take two or more photos to enhance the dynamic range of your image. The artificial intelligence will automatically detect the brightest elements and darkest shadows and combine them to create an amazing picture with a high dynamic range.

Overall, these extensions in Luminar Neo provide specialized solutions to refine and enhance your images with greater ease and efficiency.

Luminar Neo Review: Performance

The system specifications during the test of Luminar Neo Review:

Processor: AMD Ryzen 5, 3500U

OS Version: Windows 11 (64-bit)

RAM: 12GB 

Disk: 512GB SSD

Graphics: Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx, 2.10 GHz

Luminar Neo's Impact on System Resources

In the tests performed during my Luminar Neo review, I was genuinely impressed by the performance improvements in the upgraded version, especially when considering the frustrating and slow experience with the earlier version.

However, despite the notable progress in performance improvements, certain speed-related issues persist in Luminar Neo, particularly when applying presets or utilizing AI tools for the first time. The software took significant time to load its preset collection, resulting in a noticeable delay when applying those presets to a picture.

Although the AI tools in Luminar Neo still demonstrate some slowness when applying them to an image, this can be attributed to the fact that they analyze the content of your photo to generate the best possible outcome that complements it. On a positive note, the Noiseless AI extension now leverages the system's GPU, resulting in faster processing than previous versions.

The CPU spikes have significantly dropped compared to previous versions. As a result, the utilization of processor-intensive AI tools did not affect the application's stability or, in that matter, other programs running in the background.

Apart from the AI features, all other aspects of Luminar Neo performed admirably well, showcasing excellent responsiveness and seamless transitions. Switching between the 'Catalog,' 'Presets,' and 'Edit' modules exhibited minimal to no delay, a notable improvement compared to previous updates, which often faced challenges.

Remark

I must say, I am quite impressed with the remarkable improvements made in Luminar Neo. Unlike my previous experience during the Luminar Neo review test, my system didn't crash this time, and I didn't have to endure the distressing whirring fan sounds that triggered a slight fear.

Overall, if your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements and you remain aware of the lack of indication during image processing, using Luminar Neo is significantly less frustrating than its previous versions.

Note: I prefer Luminar Neo on a device with 16GB of RAM space. Otherwise, the program will pass its load to the Disk and CPU, which is unadvised.

Exporting and Sharing

I find Luminar Neo's exporting and sharing options to be limited. However, it is useful for those who want quick exportation of files without caring about the formats. Unlike Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, Luminar Neo provides basic image exporting formats like JPEG, PNG, TIFF, JPEG-2000, Photoshop, and PDF, which is enough for day-to-day usage.

However, there's no direct image-sharing option available for you to share your pictures online. You can either send them through mail or share them via Luminar Share. Luminar share allows you to wirelessly transfer images to your android or iOS device and vice versa. You can share them via your favorite social media or online platforms.

This feature can be handy for quickly accessing your photos through mobile devices.

What's Missing

Even though Luminar Neo offers a great range of interesting and innovative AI-Powered tools, it still misses out on the functions of conventional professional photo editing tools. Some of them are listed below:

  1. Luminar Neo has the most basic organizational tool. Users cannot add keywords, captions, or meta details for easy recognition. Moreover, you can not find images based on locations, which could have been useful.
  2. It would have been highly beneficial if Luminar Neo had included additional dedicated hotkeys beyond just Undo and Redo for improved functionality.
  3. Limited Layers and Presets collections.
  4. It has limited exporting and sharing options.

Luminar Neo Review: Overall Experience

Luminar Neo is an exceptional AI-based photo editing platform offering high-quality outputs with minimal time and effort.

What I Like

Here are a few reasons why I found Luminar Neo impressive.

  1. Achieving outstanding photo outputs with high-quality results requires minimal time and effort in Luminar Neo.
  2. The software excels in processing RAW footage, ensuring image quality remains sharp and unaltered.
  3. A mesmerizing feature is the ability to enhance and adjust the sky, seamlessly integrating specific tones and colors to create visually appealing images.
  4. Luminar Neo simplifies photo retouching, allowing for swift and efficient edits compared to traditional professional photo editing software.

What I Dislike

Despite its high functionality, there are some drawbacks I encountered while testing Luminar Neo:

  1. The program tends to experience lag, particularly when processing RAW images and applying various AI features, affecting its overall performance. Also, the lag is particularly noticeable on devices with lower specifications.
  2. Despite being a strong AI photo editor, the preset collection feels basic, lacking diverse options that could enhance editing flexibility and creativity.
  3. Another factor that disappointed me while reviewing Luminar Neo was its lack of shortcut keys.

Luminar Neo: Support

No software is perfect, and there are inevitable chances that a user might face issues while processing through a program. Thus, good customer support is a mandatory requirement for any reputable software. And so far, I am highly impressed by the rapidness and efficiency of Luminar Neo's customer support. They provide three support modules which are:

  • The FAQ section: The FAQ section has almost all the answers to the general queries of the user.
  • User Guide: The user guide can be helpful if you are stuck using a feature. It will guide you through the process of every feature available in the software itself.
  • Contact Support: Luminar Neo contact support offers 2 modes to contact their customer service. You can either use the chatbot or email support. During my Luminar Neo review, I contacted them with lag issues. I got a response from the support team within 2-3 hours with efficient, helpful suggestions.

Compared with other AI Photo Editors

Here is a comparison with other popular photo editors.

Is Luminar Neo better than Photoshop?

Adobe Photoshop is the most renowned editing platform available in the market with its expensive subscription model. It can perform similar tasks to Luminar Neo and much more. However, you must have good knowledge of conventional photo editing.

Is Luminar Neo better than Lightroom?

Adobe Lightroom is another champion of Adobe's editing programs. This also provides a subscription-based service and is a good image editing and manipulation tool. However, you have to learn it before you can start editing photos. In contrast, you can easily start your editing process with Luminar Neo.

Is Luminar Neo better than Movavi Photo Editor?

It is a beginner-friendly photo editing platform. It has similar AI features like Luminar Neo's auto enhancement, retouching, and quick photo background removal.

Old Photo Restoration is the key highlighting feature of Movavi Photo Editor, which can turn your old black-and-white photo into a colorful one. However, it certainly lacks the proficiency of a stand-alone professional photo editing application compared to Luminar Neo.

If you are looking for something easy and lightweight, you can surely opt for Movavi Photo Editor. Learn more in this Movavi Photo Editor Review.

Note: Luminar Neo provides better features, effects, presets, and AI editing solutions than Movavi Photo Editor. The only drawback is the performance in low specs devices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Luminar Neo easier than Photoshop?

Packed with multiple AI-powered components, Luminar Neo has a slight advantage over Photoshop. However, Luminar Neo lacks the proficiency of professional editing software like Photoshop but can easily tackle complex image editing processes.

Can Luminar Neo process RAW files?

Luminar Neo can process RAW files like any other professional editing software. However, I experienced performance lag during the editing process.

Can Luminar be used as a Lightroom and Photoshop Plugin?

Yes, You can use Luminar Neo as Lightroom and Photoshop Plugin.

Is Luminar Neo Worth Buying

I recommend Luminar Neo for its incredible AI features and beginner-friendly user expereince. Using the tools is simple and saves a lot of time doing a job compared to other software, which would have taken great time and effort.

I have created a list of essentials to test the best fit for Luminar Neo:

Buy Luminar Neo if You are:

  • Beginning with photography and want to save time by editing a complex image through single-click AI.
  • A home user who wants to edit/enhance photos.
  • Hesitant to pay for expensive Adobe subscriptions.
  • Finding it difficult to edit photos with Lightroom and Photoshop, and other professional photo editing tools.
  • A portrait photographer and love retouching your images.

Don't Buy Luminar Neo if You are:

  • A professional photographer who wants complete control over photo editing, similar to Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.
  • You don't own a powerful PC.
  • In need of quick sharing and printing options.
Debarati Dutta Tech Writer Dealarious

A Tech Enthusiast who adores the creative flow of nature, practices the philosophy of life, and wanders to explore multiple places. I solely believe the union of technology and nature can create a positive impact on the evolution of living beings on this planet. Above all I am an ardent learner who loves to share her translucent experiences.

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