Skylum Is Launching a New Image Editor Called Luminar Neo

Skylum Is Launching a New Image Editor Called Luminar Neo

Skylum revealed Luminar Neo today, which builds upon the unique AI-editing technologies for which the company is well known. According to the company, Luminar Neo further re-imagines the image editing experience, which enables creators to be more expressive with fewer boundaries and rediscover the joy in their creative work.

“As the latest member of the Luminar family, we designed Luminar Neo to allow artists to take on more challenging image creation work and achieve results which often seem unattainable,” said Dima Sytnik, Co-Founder and CPO of Skylum. 

What Does Luminar Neo Do?

Expected features in this new editor include:

  • Transform photos with new relighting options. Luminar Neo analyzes each image to recognize the depth of a scene and its subject which allows precise control over exposure and tone.
  • Remove blemishes and distracting elements. Luminar Neo automatically recognizes and removes artifacts caused by a dirty camera sensor or lens. New tools make removing unwanted background elements easier than ever before.
  • Powerful background replacement. Take full control of the background for portrait photos by quickly replacing it with an all-new image or background.
  • Round-trip mobile image management. Our new companion mobile app makes it simple to add pictures captured on a mobile device to your Luminar Catalog. Once edited in Luminar Neo, results can be sent back to the mobile device for easy social sharing or viewing on the go.

The software is expected to ship this winter and will be available as a package deal with Luminar AI.

My Thoughts

It looks like another interesting effort from Skylum. It appears to be aimed at portrait photographers more than, say, landscape photographers, but it's hard to tell until I have the software in hand. Still, LuminarAI has some excellent tools for portrait work, like skin smoothing, lighting controls, and bokeh. That makes me think there's going to be some overlap with LuminarAI, and I'm wondering why they don't incorporate these new tools into the existing product. I hope it's not a ploy to soak photographers twice, once with LuminarAI and then again with Luminar Neo. Luminar says the two products have different workflows, and photographers are free to choose which is the better fit. 

In a more detailed response, Skylum says:

LuminarAI is the easiest-to-use image editor fully powered by AI for those who prefer a time-saving, template-driven workflow for quick results. The app can swiftly guide you to the best outcomes while still preserving editing flexibility. It's a compact and easy-to-navigate application that already packs everything one needs for great results.

Luminar Neo is for those who want more editing options and more creative control. The app provides the ability to build detailed and expressive images with advanced layer-based workflow and flexible tools that can be applied in any order. It also boasts a high-speed core engine with background rendering and accelerated exports for more complex tasks. (while also retaining the features of Luminar AI).

In my own landscape work, I find LuminarAI a powerful and time-saving tool. They've got very creative people on the software end, but companies have to be careful to be not seen exploiting their users or there will be a backlash. We don't have any real details on the specifics of this release. Skylum says Neo is not a replacement for AI and that LuminarAI will continue to be sold and supported. 

I look forward to getting an early release of Luminar Neo and will share my thoughts at that time. 

Here's a link to sign up and purchasing info. The company says in the coming weeks, they'll share more information on Neo.

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61 Comments
Adam Chandler's picture

I'm intrigued and they're definitely gonna catch some hell from folks who think that, as you stated, these features should have been implemented into Luminar AI which I'd assumed would continue to be upgraded with new features and such not relegated for an audience of amateurs. I decided to pre-order though, in part, due to what I'm hoping is a more efficient editing process. I have a brand new M1 iMac with 16GB of RAM and I'm amazed how long exporting images takes not to mention having run out of system memory recently while batch editing. Additionally, I sure as hell hope that Neo includes virtual copies which I've been missing big time in Luminar AI, not to mention some sort of useful culling features such as star ratings. If they want me to move from Lightroom (which I might consider at some point), that's a must.

Leon Kolenda's picture

16gig's is not very much memory, I have a 3 year old Desktop system that has had 64gigs of ram. Not bragging, just say'in. You may want to upgrade your memory.

SONAT YILMAZ's picture

He can not. M1 is an SoC and either has 8 or 16 ram. Uses that 16 alot more efficiently than other 16 ram systems though.

Adam Chandler's picture

Yeah, I would have likely gotten more RAM if it were an option though I would think it should still be enough to run a photo editing program without crashing or maxing out...especially if they want a broad audience to be able to use their software...

Thai Yakuza's picture

I can tell you I've had luminar 4 eat more then 16gb of ram and a not very complex photo so you might be in trouble

Matt Edwards's picture

It's because Luminar software doesn't support M1 macs natively yet, so it isn't running efficiently.

Lightroom now runs on M1's natively and it is super smooth and quick, and I am running it on the 8gb Air base model

Richard Harrington's picture

Luminar AI DOES support M1 Macs natively. be sure to update it

Matt Edwards's picture

I didn't realize they updated, but it sounds like it is still not running as efficiently as it could be, probably could use some further optimization

Thai Yakuza's picture

Luminar will never be that optimized

Kevin La Rue's picture

Just to be clear, you have to download and install a new version of Luminar AI to get native support for M1.

dred lew's picture

Luminar will never replace Lightroom. Skylum utterly failed at a catalog attempt in the early versions of Luminar. They admitted as such by officially announcing that they would not try to be a LR competitor any longer but would rather just be an extension of it (via plugin round trip).

As for efficiency, don’t hold your breath just yet. While the M1 Macs are fast (I’m running CaptureOne on it just as efficiently as I used to run it on a Mac Pro), I have not seen official M1 support mentioned for Luminar Neo. Luminar AI was promised to get M1 support but I can tell you right now that this will not happen. Luminar AI is done, no more work will be invested there.

Set your expectations accordingly, as per my post further below.

Adam Chandler's picture

If you're right then I'll definitely be done with Skylum products. I have a love/hate relationship with Adobe, too, though and really wish they'd implement some solid AI functions into Lightroom. Portrait Pro has been a game changer for me regarding portrait retouching but it's not great (meaning super slow) for editing families or large groups of people. And I'd prefer to do all my adjustments within one program. At any rate, I just want software that's powerful, intuitive and enables me to spend less time editing.

Richard Harrington's picture

Luminar is NOT trying to replace Lightroom.

Have you ever tried comparing Luminar AI tools vs Adobe's. Go give Photoshop's neural filters a test. I think they're doing some cool stuff... but render times are 3-4X Luminar's time. AI is hard... you save time editing, but it take more processing time.

But I don't have to be in the chair for processing time. I can shoot. I can call clients. I can see my kids.

I come from a video background where we are use to rendering and batch exporting. You need to switch your mindset a bit.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

M1 16gb memory is equivalent to about 32gb legacy memory. Don't let some of these guys with dated systems worry you. Hell, I'm running 16gb legacy memory for Capture One and Davinci Resolve and it's fine.

Richard Harrington's picture

Adam Chandler Luminar doesn't want you to move away from Lightroom Classic unless you do. That's why Skylum has a Lightroom plugin included with the app at no extra cost. Photoshop too.

derek j's picture

im kinda suspicious that they keep abandoning their products to launch new ones. im interested to get out of paying for adobe, since i dont edit photos all that often really, but if i have to buy a brand new product every year, kinda kills my motiviation.

Richard Harrington's picture
Steve Flowers's picture

Effectively, AI is dead. They'll add drivers for new raw formats and maybe bug fixes (although they have a horrible track record when it comes to fixing bugs) but that's it. There won't be any cool new features added - that's for Neo. Within a year of releasing Neo, though, they'll release the next product that will probably make Neo a dead product too. That's what they do.

Kevin La Rue's picture

The car I bought yesterday is *dead* too.

Richard Harrington's picture

There's an Update 5 planned for Luminar AI next month

Greg Edwards's picture

Yet another reinvention of Luminar, that's different from the current Luminar 4 and Luminar AI, just to confuse everybody.

Kevin La Rue's picture

Looks like it's a sizeable upgrade to Luminar 4 (which a lot of people loved for the layers) plus new AI features, plus all the cool stuff carried over from Luminar AI.

I'm super interested in the Relight and AI Background removal features, myself. The "early bird" pricing is smth like $34 for current owners, so it's damned affordable.

Greg Edwards's picture

Its still a complete reinvention which could be a PITA to invested luminar 4 users as it appear it won’t import luminar catalogs due to being built on a completely new core. So you’ll still need to keep luminar 4 around if you have any edit in there that you don’t want to lose.

From their FAQ’s

“Will I be able to migrate my catalog from previous Luminar versions to Luminar Neo?

“What differentiates Luminar Neo from all the programs we've created before is its engine. The software boasts an all-new core designed from scratch for faster image processing and seamless integration of all innovations we plan to add. As a result, the image processing pipeline will be significantly renovated under the hood. Because of the updated architecture, it will not be possible to move your catalog directly to Luminar Neo.”

Luminar AI users may fair better, but it’s still not straightforward

“Will I be able to migrate my LuminarAI Templates to Luminar Neo?

“We understand that you’d love to use your previously created Templates in Luminar Neo. Therefore, we’ll take care of the migration process. Our team will provide you with a special utility to convert your custom Templates into a Luminar Neo-compatible format. You'll be able to take your favorite settings with you when switching to the new software.
Moreover, the majority of the purchased Luminar AI Templates will be reworked so you could install them in Luminar Neo. After the release, you’ll be able to re-download the compatible files from the My Add-ons section of your Skylum account.”

https://skylum.com/luminar-faq/neo/general

Richard Harrington's picture

So batch export your processed images and import the folders... Or leave both apps installed. They can have the same photos added to them.

Only way Lightroom preserves old version is having multiple copies of Adobe Camera Raw running under the hood. Its effectively the same as running multiple apps.

Steve Flowers's picture

I don't recommend ever using Luminar for cataloging. Their tool is horrible for that and often you need to delete and rebuild the catalog (AI). Also, they seem to abandon the catalog every time they come out with a new product. As a plug-in to Lightroom it's fine (though painfully slow).

David Anderson's picture

Here we go again. Luminar, Luminar AI, Luminar Neo. Trust us they are totally different products, and you need all three. Please. I’m not falling for that again.

Richard Harrington's picture

If you can understand the difference between Lightroom and Photoshop, that is the same difference as Luminar AI and Luminar Neo. Different way of working. Different engines. Parametric vs. Sequential rendering.

Thai Yakuza's picture

Don't hate me but hear me out lmao if their going to drop a new luminar every year instead of me paying $70 every year why don't they just charge me $5 a month and I don't have to download a whole new program every year. Essientally it's like Lightroom but instead of paying monthly I pay yearly lol

Richard Harrington's picture

So that option IS availalble through the Mac App Store and Luminar.

But Skylum is charging $34 for the new version to exisit app owners. I'd rather pay $34 than $60

Thai Yakuza's picture

Yeah but we're only gonna get 1 year of support for neo then it'll be gone because luminar will push out another new product. I mean if neo is good I might just captain jack it I'm tired of paying every year for a new software. $34 doenst sound bad but it could be a useless software just like how luminar ai is useless pretty much if u own luminar 4 lmao

Duong Nguyen's picture

I actually just purchased Luminar AI yesterday to speed up my workflow, and noticed in my email a couple of hours ago that they're giving new buyers a copy of the Luminar Neo. That's pretty sweet! Though that begs the question... why are they giving the software away-- will it completely replace luminar AI like AI did over luminar 4? Or will this be a completely new thing? Should be interesting to see.

Richard Harrington's picture

The apps have stuff in common (just like Photoshop and Lightroom do) but they are different and can both coexist on your comoputer.

Deniz Turkmen's picture

I pre-ordered Luminar AI with similar promises. It slowed down my workflow. Eating all the CPU (i7-9700) and RAM (16GB) with basic stuff like loading a RAW image, loading catalog thumbnails, exporting etc. Support cannot resolve these issues and they kept promising performance improvements. After all the updates I gave up. I use free, simpler editors. Maybe the results are not any better but at least I am not frustrated.

dred lew's picture

People are still falling for the hyped up marketing and that’s what Skylum is banking on. If you haven’t yet made the unfortunate acquaintance with this shady company, here’s how that plays out every year:

They release a new software version every year, conveniently (for them) incompatible with the previous version. Any settings, presets, libraries will not be useable anymore, you start from scratch. Only about half of the features announced will be working properly and they will promise to fix them in the following update. That update will not come for several months and you will hear excuses and more excuses from support. Finally, about 6 months after release, they release an update that fixes some minor bugs but not the actual bigger feature that’s still broken. More promises that a future update will fix it. You wait for 3 more months and then they will start bombarding you with emails about the next big version of the software that will be coming out in a few months and that you should preorder already (we’re in this phase right now). At this point they’re too busy to work on any bugfixes for the current version and they have to focus all efforts on the new version. More promises that the bug fix will come after release.

New version is released and the cycle starts over again. You’re lucky if you get one more bugfix release for the previous version but that’s it. And of course, it didn’t actually fix the originally promised feature. “Support” stops one year after a new version release. This exact same cycle repeats itself every single year.

TLDR; expect to completely replace the software every year, without any kind of upgrade of your previous data. Expect only about 50% of the software to be properly working, without any expectation for the rest to ever be fixed.

If you can handle all this, go ahead and click the buy-button. Make sure to only do that after having tested the free trial first.

Erpillar Bendy's picture

I agree with you. They have some good features, such as skin retouching, etc., potential timesavers, but the software seems poorly organized and unfinished. I got some bizarre artifacts using one or two of the templates in Luminar AI, and they were just for something basic like black & white. I don't enjoy using it and will not put my money into this again.

Richard Harrington's picture

Dred you're incorrect here.

Templates (presets) migrate
Content Libraries (overlays, skies, objects) migrate
And you can use the two apps side by side if needed referencing the same folders

Luminar AI shipped 5 updates and already has another one scheduled to sync up woith the Windows 11 launch.

Plus Skylum committed to camera updates for Luminar AI and performance updates.

And the software comes with a 30 day money back gurantee. So test first or preorder. Doesn't matter... you get a month with th app to decide.

Deivid Cavalcante da Silva's picture

Just confess you work for them. It seems much easier to understand your bias

Kevin La Rue's picture

Yet everything he says is true.

Jason Lee's picture

His bio literally says product manager for skylum, he is on the petapixel, photo focus and another site who posted this story doing damage control.

Richard Harrington's picture

Deivid Cavalcante da Silva that's never been hidden. I am the Chief Product Evangelist. Here's my bio. https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardharrington/

I'm also an author of 40 books, 200+ vido courses, and industry speaker and someone who's worked on as a consultant for Aperture, Photoshop, and Perfectly Clear before I started helping Skylum.

Jason Lee's picture

I'm sorry but Kevin La Rue and Richard Harrington are BOTH employees of skylum, essentially doing damage control and being apologist. Both of your opinions on this matter are biased as best. A simple google search of their name + skylum shows their titles at the skylum. If you guys are going to work to defend your company at least come out and SAY you're representing the company as opposed trying to be seen as fellow photographers and consumers

Richard Harrington's picture

Jason Lee yes I am here to respond to questions, no I don't hid emy involvemnt.

Figured most people here know how to look someone up

https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardharrington/
https://twitter.com/rhedpixel

Both clearly state who I work with.

Francois de Melogue's picture

Richard Harrington I truly appreciate your responses here. I have been a Skylum hater in the past but also enjoy using their programs more than I care to admit to. I have an off the subject question - I use Aurora HDR a lot for my real estate photography. Is there any hope that they are going to update or come up with a newer version? I appreciate your response. Thanks. p.s. I bought Neo. $34 is nothing. I love Adobe and spend $600/year (or whatever it is) and don't complain about that. Francois

Richard Harrington's picture

Hi Francois, I can't say specifics. I can say we clearly see interest in Aurora HDR and are very proud of it. It's my favorite HDR app too and I had the honor of making most of the LUTs and helped with several of the presets that have shipped with it.

We think the HDR engine is pretty awesome and will keep it around. Can't say more right now.

Francois de Melogue's picture

Thanks - I can only speak for myself but I have heard a lot of others who love Aurora too. Keep up the good work.

dred lew's picture

Dude, please stop lying. You're not helping the company's already shady image.

Aurora HDR 2019 was abandoned the moment it was released. There hasn't been an update since, other than a Catalina compatibility update that fixed nothing else. Why? Because Luminar 3 and following has apparently been a lot more important, i.e. lucrative. Aurora is literally dead and useless for anyone that upgraded their camera after release because newer Raw files are not supported.

The only thing true about your post is that the HDR engine is (was) the best there is. Yet, Skylum just buried it, dumped it into the trash. It could have been put into Luminar for a more complete package but no, in these past 3 years you guys couldn't even manage to get a properly functioning version of Luminar out. So stop telling hopeful users that you're "keeping it around" and "maybe some vague statement that an update will be coming". There isn't and you know it. Just say it and don't lie to your customers.

dred lew's picture

There is no update or new version coming. There hasn't been one in 3 years and that's unlikely to change. I recommend that you browse the Skylum user forums to understand how this company operates. It is a sad state of affairs but at least it helps you manage your expectations.

Catherine Bowlene's picture

Interesting. Not a great fan of AI-powered tools but they are time savers if used carefully. Personally, I'm fine with what Luminar AI and Photoworks have to offer so not sure how this one is going to be any different. Sounds like another version of the same program designed to confuse people.

Kevin La Rue's picture

I keep seeing the phrase "designed to confuse people"... there's nothing sinister going on here.

Luminar AI and Luminar Neo are part of a family of products that will have features, etc. in common (just like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop Lightroom CC all do). They target different users and people. That's all.

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