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Luminar Neo vs Luminar AI – Is it finally time to Upgrade?

Luminar Neo vs Luminar AI

Luminar Neo is vastly superior to Luminar AI. Specifically, Luminar Neo is faster, features improved ergonomics, and packs more features. And only with Luminar Neo can you access Skylum’s Premium Luminar Neo Extension Pack.

Since Luminar AI is discontinued, choosing between Luminar Neo and Luminar AI is likely a moot point. But if you’re already using Luminar AI and are wondering whether Luminar Neo is worth the upgrade, I believe it is. Here’s why. Jump to Conclusion

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Table of Contents

Luminar AI vs Luminar Neo

Luminar AI was originally a mainstream alternative to enthusiast-grade Luminar 4. However, as time passed, Luminar AI’s continually improved feature set rendered Luminar 4 obsolete. Yet, Luminar 4 remained somewhat unique in that it featured some layer-based editing, whereas Luminar AI does not.

Luminar Neo vs Luminar AI (Side by Side)

Unlike Luminar AI, Luminar Neo does have layer-based editing and, initially at least, was marketed as the spiritual replacement to Luminar 4, with Luminar AI remaining the peoples’ photo editor.

Initially, this was the case. At launch, Luminar Neo was missing many of Luminar AI’s tools, such as Templates, Portrait Bokeh AI, and Dodge and Burn tools. Therefore, one had to own both Luminar AI and Neo to enjoy everything Skylum Software offered.

Birds added with Augmented Sky AI in Luminar AI.

In 2023, Luminar Neo is only missing Augmented Sky AI, a tool that enables you to insert objects such as birds and air balloons into your photo. Otherwise, Luminar Neo has everything Luminar AI has and much more.

Luminar Neo vs Luminar AI – Features

Luminar Neo features classic features such as Portrait Bokeh AI, Sky Replacement AI, and Face AI. But only Luminar Neo has the following new features.

Relight AI

Relight AI is an easy way to rebalance your foreground and background lighting. I like to use it to correct dark back-lit portraits. Read Relight AI in Luminar Neo for more information.

Relight AI is only available in Luminar Neo.

Portrait Background Removal

Quickly and easily remove your subject’s background. How well it works depends on the complexity of the photo.

Luminar Neo has a one-click background removal tool.

Mask AI

Luminar Neo uses object recognition to identify and mask selected objects such as people, skies, mountains, etc.

Luminar Neo can automatically apply masks using object recognition.


Blend multiple images or add a light leak or bokeh effect to your existing image. Read Layers in Luminar Neo for more information.

Adding Layers in Luminar Neo is easy and fun.

Favorite Tools

Stacks your most used adjustments at the top of the edit list.


Luminar Neo is much faster than Luminar AI ever was.

Luminar Neo Extension Pack

Luminar Neo has seven premium extensions. These extensions include AI image enhancement tools such as Noiseless AI, SuperSharp AI, and Upscale AI. In addition, there’s HDR Merge, Focus Stacking, a Background removal tool, and Magic Light AI. Read Luminar Neo Extension Pack Review for more information.

Luminar Neo’s Magic Light AI extension

More information

Read my Luminar Neo Review for an in-depth look at these new features.

Luminar Neo vs Luminar AI: Ease of Use

Luminar Neo’s interface is based on Luminar AIs. As a result, it is straightforward to transition between both applications. However, Luminar Neo is faster than Luminar AI and features a few quality-of-life improvements, such as adding your most used adjustments to a Favorites list.

Editing a landscape photo with Luminar Neo

Overall, both Luminar AI and Luminar Neo are straightforward, whether you’re one-click processing with Templates/Presets or making your own edits. For this reason, I consider Luminar Neo the best photo editing software for beginners or experts in a rush.

Luminar AI vs Neo: Performance

At first, there was not much difference between Luminar AI and Luminar Neo. In other words, both were sufficiently quick but slowed under heavy loads. However, recent additions of Luminar Neo are much faster than Luminar AI, which is no longer being developed.

If in doubt, you can download Luminar Neo and try it free for seven days (no credit card required).

Luminar 4 vs Luminar AI vs Luminar neo

Luminar 4 is an old product and, in practical terms, was replaced by Luminar AI some time ago. Luminar Neo is much better than Luminar 4 and Luminar AI.

Luminar 4

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Regarding features, Luminar Neo has almost everything Luminar AI does – plus much more. Furthermore, Luminar Neo is faster and, thanks to its Favorite Tools list, nicer to use. And if you’re willing to pay extra, you can expand Luminar Neo’s feature set even further with the Luminar Neo Extension Pack.

Luminar Neo

However, this Luminar Neo vs Luminar AI comparison may be entirely academic as Luminar AI has been discontinued and is now challenging to acquire. But if you’re still using Luminar AI, it is worth upgrading to Luminar Neo for three reasons.

First of all, Luminar Neo has features Luminar AI does not. Second, it’s faster and a little friendlier to use, and finally, Luminar Neo remains in development and will continue to improve, whereas Luminar AI does not.

Nevertheless, Luminar AI remains as good as ever, which is very good indeed. But Luminar Neo includes everything we love about Luminar AI and much more. And as a Luminar 4 or Luminar AI customer, you’re eligible for a loyalty discount. So, try Luminar Neo free today. You won’t be disappointed.

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1 thought on “Luminar Neo vs Luminar AI – Is it finally time to Upgrade?”

  1. I’m still not sold on Neo. Skylum’s customer service (or lack thereof) has always been the killer. They promise a lot but frequently fail to deliver. Typically their products will stop working whenever Apple releases a MacOS update – and even though Apple gives many months’ notice with Betas available. Every other developer tests and updates their apps except Skylum … at which point no Mac user can use the product for a month till Skylum release a patch.

    I was an early adopter of Neo. I’d skipped Luminar AI … since it was treated as an entirely separate product stream from the old Luminar 3 and Luminar 4 products. AI was more of a novelty (eg. introducing “Portrait AI” which was never that great) but lacked some heavy duty features on the catalogue side. However, despite having Neo since its initial release I hardly use it. Problem is that I could never move the Luminar 4 catalog across into Neo as it means losing all edits. The migration tool was promised over a year ago but still waiting and no response from Skylum. Sure … I know they have a war there in Ukraine, but the company also has development teams elsewhere so they can’t blame everything on that. It’s just that customer service has never ever been a priority for Skylum.

    Notably, Skylum never “upgrade” their products or provide a proper upgrade path for their end-users. They, instead, just seem to periodically repackage their existing product, adding a few new features – and call it some something different, so that you need purchase it new again. Sad, they could have been so much better.

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