Luminar Neo Early Look Review: Looks Promising, But We’re Not Sold Yet

Skylum Luminar Neo Beta Review

Early access to Luminar Neo gives us a first look at its four standout features: Dust Spot Removal, Relight AI, Powerlines Remove tool, and Luminar Share app. With a full release around the corner, does Luminar Neo live up to expectations?

Waiting for Skylum’s latest photo-editing offering was paved with uncertainty and confusion. The company announced its Luminar Neo photo-editing app in the fall of 2021, while simultaneously retiring one of its previous products, Luminar 4. Overall, Skylum’s release cycle has users on edge and others questioning the need for an update, so there’s plenty of riding on New success.

Luminar Neo current and future status

Currently, Neo is still in its infancy and many features are still missing in the build we tested, but Skylum says it intends to add them before the public launch. In addition, some existing features do not work properly and the performance of this version of the software can also vary across macOS and Windows.

Skylum notes in a blog post that in the upcoming major release in February, all users will receive most of the functionality currently available in Luminar AI, as well as presets and layers. Skylum says the version will also perform better overall.

Luminar Neo . roadmap

The company says that later this year, the first free update to Luminar Neo will come with AI background removal and Mask AI, and other features will follow in subsequent updates.

Luminar Neo: First Impressions

The program has a clean, dark and distraction-free user interface, with all the tools neatly positioned to the right. For those familiar with Skylum products, Luminar Neo has retained the familiar tools and overall look of the user interface available in Luminar AI and Luminar 4.

Luminar new interface

Both the Dust Spot Removal Tool and the Powerlines Removal Tool can be found under the “Erase” panel. Given that these two features are important to an Early Access release, it was somewhat surprising how long it took to find them. Unless you know where to look, you might miss out.

Luminar Neo . Erase Tools

Both removal tools use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze images and remove items to save time. The process takes a few seconds and the results aren’t completely clean, but it’s a good starting point to continue cleaning the image manually. Luminar Neo has a manual brush for removing additional elements, similar to the Spot Healing Brush tool in Adobe Photoshop.

Luminar Neo . Power Line Removal Tool Luminar Neo . Power Line Removal Tool Luminar Neo . Power Line Removal Tool Luminar Neo . Power Line Removal Tool

The difference is that you have to “paint” the destroyed items first, like the remaining birds in the example above, and then click “scan”. Compared to Adobe’s click and release method, this takes an extra step.

In general, the editor’s performance is not bad and most of the tools are fast loading. Given that it’s an early release, it works well enough that you can actually use it to edit photos successfully, albeit with a lack of some functionality and waiving some other features.

Some features have been overlooked

I’ve noticed that the early version of Luminar Neo is less forgiving if you want to quickly undo actions with familiar shortcuts because it doesn’t have an undo or redo functionality. For example, if you draw many sections of an image and want to undo your last action, you can’t do that.

You’re reading this right: This version of the program seems to lack an “undo” feature.

Currently, Neo only has the option to erase all of your selections, removing all adjustments made with each tool, or you can click the “Deselect” button and use the brush to paint the parts of the image you want to undo. tedious.

However, this is an early look at the software, and when asked, Skylum says it is aware that the feature is missing and that it will be present in a later build.

Luminer Neo . Editing Tools
All of your applied tools can be viewed within the “Edits” panel.

Layers are also not present in this version. To see all the tools you’ve applied, you can head over to the “Edits” panel which is not user friendly and the program doesn’t explain how to interact with it.

You can ignore all your edits or select one to view how this tool changed your original photo. However, I did not find it a smooth experience.

Luminar New Mobile A P
Luminar Share

On the other hand, the new Luminar Share app works well. It is very easy to pair your desktop device with your mobile phone, and you can quickly share your edits on your smartphone or send mobile photos to your desktop. The only downside is that they both have to be on the same WiFi, probably because the files are quite large and are sent directly to each other instead of using a cloud service as an intermediary.

The app is potentially useful for photographers who enjoy sharing their work on social media and want a quick way to do so, in which case sharing WiFi is not a particular obstacle.

Fast tools, but AI is not perfect

For the most part, the majority of the tools available are enough for photographers to edit a photo from start to finish, even without introducing new AI tools or layers. However, the AI ​​tools feel they need more improvement before they are launched because their functionality – at least in this early version – can be cumbersome. For example, the new Relight AI software often struggles to choose the parts of an image that are “near” and “far”.

This means that when you increase the “Brightness Far” slider, the program sometimes increases the brightness in the entire image, and not just behind the subject.

Relight AI tool in Luminar Neo
The editor struggled to process which parts of the image were considered ‘far away’.

But when I worked with the “Brightness Near” and “Warmth Near” sliders below, the AI ​​responded well and edited the right parts of the image.

Luminar Neo Relight AI Tools
By using the sliders for the parts that are close to the image, Luminar Neo was able to accurately identify them.

We can attribute this discrepancy to the early nature of the program, but it’s something we have to keep an eye on as Skylum approaches the finish line.

Not making the strongest case… yet

At the moment, I don’t think Luminar Neo does enough to entice existing Skylum product users to pick it up, especially if they’re already using Luminar AI. The current version of the editor has basic Luminar features with some new additions, but there’s not much to get excited about. I don’t think these new additions are enough on their own to cause spending money – at least not yet. My opinion could definitely change once we see the full version of Neo next month. For now, you may be able to postpone a pre-order.

However, for those who are looking for new layer-based photo editing software and don’t already have a Skylum product, Luminar Neo is one to watch if the company successfully integrates the tools it advertises.

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