Skylum has been heavily teasing its new editor called Luminar Neo for many months, and today, I received another working preview of the app, available on Windows and Mac platforms. The new version seems to run a little faster than the last preview, and it is fully native to Apple silicon. I tested it on my 16" MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chipset. The release version will be faster, but Neo was editing at a good clip.
The features that set Neo apart from the currently offered Luminar AI are:
- Relight AI
- Remove Dust Spots
- Remove Powerlines
- Luminar Share
At the public release in February, all users will receive most of the functionality currently available in Luminar AI, presets and layers functionality, and a version of the new engine that delivers even better performance. Portrait Background Removal AI and Mask AI will be available in the first free update to Luminar Neo. This early access release is being shipped to select Skylum customers who preordered Luminar Neo.
This early access version of Luminar Neo is currently missing the histogram, Dodge & Burn tool, Clone & Stamp tool, Portrait Bokeh AI tool, Body AI tool, Face AI tool, Image 3D Transform, Color Picker in the Develop tool, flip and rotate functionality in crop, copy and paste, pen pressure (only on macOS) for radius and opacity, linear and radial gradient functionality in masking, application on hover of LUTs in the Mood tool, undo and redo functionality, sync adjustments, and copy and paste adjustments functionality.
Additionally, on macOS, the context menu is absent in Single Image View for Catalog and the Edit tab, there is missing undo functionality in Masking, there is missing erase functionality after applying the vignette effect, and incorrect states may show in Erase steps in the History tab. On Windows, the sliders in Sky AI are disabled, there are issues when using Develop tools, significant delays while using erase and fast-forwarding in the History tab, no active plug-ins, and limited hotkeys.
As you can see, there's quite a bit missing from the preview, but I was able to test most of the new features provided. I was particularly interested in the power line removal tool. It worked well in the last preview and seems to have been improved even further.
Here's a before:
And the after:
If I pixel-peeped I could still see a ghost of a few of the wires that were removed, but using the erase tool, it was easy to do a quick cleanup. At any rate, using the tools saved me about a half-hour of time, and I could not have done it as well as Neo did.
I had a few minor dust spots on my wide-angle lens, and Neo dispatched them quickly.
I'm still not knocked out by the relight tool. I don't find it much different than using linear gradients on an image, and I think the effect of the relight tool is too subtle. Plus, when relighting near the horizon, the effect bleeds into the sky, and it should only affect the landscape. I've suggested these changes to the Luminar team.
An interesting new feature in this build is called Luminar Share. Luminar Share is a new feature built into Neo that allows Luminar Neo users to transfer photos from desktop to mobile (and in the opposite direction) wirelessly. It also makes it easy for users to share edited photos to their social media accounts.
Features of Luminar Share include:
- Wireless transfer of photos between the desktop Luminar Neo app and the Luminar Share mobile app
- Mirroring of photos from Luminar Neo on a mobile device
- Easy sharing of photos to social media
- The Luminar Share app is available on both Android and iOS and is free for all Luminar Neo users.
It's a clever idea, and I gave it a try. It was nice to quickly send iPhone raw files to Luminar Neo and get some of my edited files from Neo on my Mac speedily to my phone. It all worked smoothly and without issue.
I expect Luminar Neo is going to be a hit. There's been some grumbling about Skylum constantly killing prior software to sell new versions, and the argument has some merit. Photoshop has been Photoshop since the 1980s. It's enhanced and improved. Skylum changes names every year it seems. It's needlessly confusing, and people feel like they are starting again.
Still, Skylum has pushed the envelope on AI and features and forced Adobe and others to offer things like sky replacement and more AI features.
I did some drone photos shot in raw and did a complete process in Neo and was pleased with the results, despite some missing features in this preview.
Expect Luminar Neo next month. As of this date, Luminar Neo costs $79, which is very reasonable for software this powerful and easy to use. Prices are variable, however, with almost daily deals and upgrade pricing for Luminar AI users.