Skylum's Luminar has had quite an impact on the editing market, with AI features for landscape and portrait photographers that have left some of the competition scrambling to catch up. Wanting to stay ahead, a new version of Luminar, called Update 3, will be available free for current owners today.
New and Enhanced Features Include
Better Sky Detection: Once a new sky is used, SkyAI now uses better horizon detection to fit it in the scene. Better edge detection and masking should make for a more believable effect.
Better Reflections: Users can no expect between water reflections with finer control over the look.
Better Relighting: Better color accuracy helps to create more natural effects in skies and reflections.
M1 and HEIC support: Update 3 now runs natively on Apple M1 machines and supports HEIC files.
Augmented SkyAI: Sky objects in the custom folder now have instant previews both in the folder and in the scene.
Dodge and Burn Tool: With the new Softness slider, blending the effect is far easier.
Using the Updated LuminarAI
I had an advanced copy of Luminar AI and gave it a try. I didn't see any speed improvements on my non-M1 MacBook Pro, but it ran smoothly.
I saw some slight improvements in the AI masking and did not have to play with sliders to better integrate a sky with a landscape. Trees with small leaves are always a problem when adding a sky, and this new version seems to do a better job at that difficult integration. There are some new horizon controls as well, but the images I tested with didn't need to use them. Reflections in water seemed a bit improved, and there is a new control to smooth water, making reflections more visible.
I tried a landscape photo I had taken on one of Arizona's "severe clear" days where I wanted to add a sky. Here's the original, taken from my drone.
With a little work in Luminar AI, I inserted a better sky, brought up the shadows slightly, sharpened a bit, and used the improved sky tools to bring the sky color into the landscape. I used the dodge and burn tool to add just a touch more light on the hills to the right. I thought everything worked well.
One thing that has stayed with the software through the last couple of updates is the method of changing the position of the added skies. When you do that, the skies can distort, especially when you are moving them horizontally. It would be better if the skies were scaled up to fit, rather than stretched.
I thought the relighting commands had a bit more range, which is a good thing, as the software takes the sky color and smartly adds those colors to the landscape. It all seemed very natural.
I don't have an M1 computer to test compatibility, but I know it was a much sought-after feature. The software, as I mentioned, also recognizes Apple's HEIC image format. It's not a format that ever interested me, but some will like the added flexibility.
In the past releases, I didn't think the dodge and burn tools in LuminarAI were as good as their Adobe counterparts. This latest version improves the speed, and there are edge controls that were needed. They worked well and subtly on my test image,
Overall, LuminarAI version 3 is a nice improvement on this very popular software. It handles raw image files well, even if you aren't using any of the AI features, so I'd rate LuminarAI as an excellent editor. When you update your versionm your Photoshop plugins for LuminarAI will also update.
If you already own LuminarAI, this is a welcome free update. Help is available online from within LuminarAI, or you can download it as a PDF.
If you don't own LuminarAI, it's available for purchase at this link.