Luminar Neo is the best photo editing software application for beginners and experts in a rush, thanks to Neo’s unmatched ability to boil down once-complex photo editing processes into single clicks. Moreover, I cannot think of any other photo editing application with a more exciting feature set.
Unfortunately, Luminar Neo also endures its share of problems, most notable – speed and stability. But the latest version of Luminar Neo, version 1.10.0, feels like a new dawn. Specifically, Luminar Neo remains everything we already love about Luminar Neo, but faster, more stable, and more mature. Thus, there’s never been a better time to jump onto the Luminar bandwagon. Jump to Conclusion | Download Luminar Neo Trial
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Luminar Neo Review – Contents
- What is Luminar Neo
- What does Luminar Neo do
- Using Luminar Neo
- Is Luminar Neo any good?
- Luminar Neo Compared
What is Luminar Neo
What does Luminar Neo do
Luminar Neo is equipped for basic photo management. Specifically, you can assign your photos to Albums and flag individual photos as Favorite or Rejected. You can also search for photos by folder, name, date, or extension and export and resize your images to formats such as TIF and JPEG.
Although functionally simple, photo management in Luminar Neo enjoys a clean and friendly interface and is sufficient to handle average-sized photo collections.
Luminar Neo includes over 100 Presets ranging from Portraiture and Sunsets to Macro and Filmatic, providing an easy one-click route to a well-edited photo.
Furthermore, Luminar Neo’s Artifical Intelligence analyzes your photos and recommends which Presets will work best with your image. Naturally, you can ignore Neo’s recommendation and choose your own.
Furthermore, you can save your edits as Presets, so you’ll never have to repeat your best work. Alternatively, you can buy additional Presets from the Skylum Software Marketplace.
Thus, Presets in Luminar Neo is perfect for those lazy days when you seek to combine great results with minimal effort.
Editing photos in Luminar Neo is different compared with traditional photo editing applications. While Luminar Neo features familiar tools such as Exposure, White Balance, and Tone Curves – these adjustments take a step back, giving way to AI-powered alternatives such as Sky Enhancer, Golden Hour Glow, and Skin AI.
Thus, the only thing you have to do to enhance your photo’s sky is to use the Sky Enhancer tool. For this reason, I consider Luminar Neo to be the best photo editing software for beginners, as it enables you to expertly edit a photo even if you don’t know anything about photo editing.
But as you will find out in this Luminar Neo review, Neo’s beginner-friendly design should not be confused with dumbed-down simplicity. On the contrary, Luminar Neo offers plenty for beginner and expert photo editors.
Advanced AI Features
Luminar Neo is loaded with powerful AI features, enabling you to create big effects with very little effort or expertise.
Perhaps the most famous Luminar feature is Sky Replacement AI. Using Sky Replacement AI, you can swap your photo’s sky for another, and Luminar Neo will relight the scene to match.
But my personal favorite is Portrait Bokeh AI. With Portrait Bokeh AI, you can add a thousand-dollars worth of background blur to any photo you’ve ever taken. Combined with Face AI’s portrait relighting and skin enhancement, you can transform your smartphone snaps into proper portraits.
I also find Relight AI very useful for independently adjusting the brightness of your foreground and background – ideal for correcting back-lit portraits.
AI Object Recognition
Luminar Neo features AI-powered object recognition, which searches your photo for common objects such as Flora, Mountains, Humans, and such. After which, you can use Mask AI to automatically select your desired object – enabling you to contain your adjustments to specific areas of your photo instead of applying them to the whole image.
For instance, in the photo below, I used Mask AI to select ‘Human’. Then, I inverted the Mask to select everything else. Finally, I desaturated the image leaving only the person in color and everything else in Black and White.
Overall, Mask AI works quite well, but its success is determined by the complexity of the photo. If all fails, you can always refine your mask with manual brushing.
Aside from selective editing, Luminar Neo also comes with Portrait Background Removal – a quick way to erase everything in your photo except the person.
Finally, there’s Crop AI – a nice tool that reads your photo and crops it to an ideal composition. In reality, it’s hit or miss, but sometimes, it finds a better composition than I do.
Once you’ve finished your edit, you can use Luminar Neo’s Batch Editing function to copy and apply your adjustments to one or many other photos. Furthermore, Luminar Neo’s batch editing is well-implemented and easy to use.
There are seven premium extensions for Luminar Neo. Among these extensions are an AI-powered upscaling tool, AI noise reduction and sharpening, HDR, and a Background removal tool.
At this point, I’d like to stress that even without any extensions, Luminar Neo remains extremely feature-rich and a complete product in its own right. Nor will Luminar Neo attempt to grind you down with messages and popups in an attempt to nag you into buying more products.
But, if you like to know more about Neo’s extensions, the best place to start is my Luminar Neo Extensions Pack Review, in which I rank each extension from best to worst. If you’re interested in a specific extension, check out the reviews below.
- Luminar Neo Noiseless AI Review
- Luminar Neo HDR Merge Review
- Upscale AI Preview
- SuperSharp AI Preview
- Background Removal AI Preview
- Luminar Neo Magic Light AI Review
Using Luminar Neo
Luminar Neo enjoys an attractive, minimalist interface with sensibly named tools and menus. Photo management is easy and intuitive, and photo editing is as straightforward as you want it to be.
For instance, if you’re looking for effortless one-click photo editing, you could rely entirely on Luminar Neo’s generous catalog of Presets.
Alternatively, you can roll up your sleeves and make your own adjustments. As mentioned earlier in this Luminar Neo review, many of the adjustments are effects orientated, so enhancing your photo’s sky is only a matter of using the Sky Enhancement tool. And if you do get stuck, Luminar Neo’s adjustments now feature tooltips offering a light description plus a link to more comprehensive instructions.
Regarding adjustments, it pleases me greatly that I can stack my favorite tools toward the top of the list. And when I finish my edit, I can preserve the entire sum of my adjustments as a Preset or use batch editing to replicate my adjustments across multiple images. Overall, Luminar Neo is about as easy to use as it gets without ever feeling dumbed down.
Luminar Neo v1.10.0 is easily the fastest and most reliable version of Luminar Neo yet. This is to say, I no longer consider Luminar Neo slow at all.
Of course, such things are relative. For instance, your idea of fast-enough may differ from mine, and we’re probably running Luminar Neo on different hardware, using differently sized camera files.
Nevertheless, I consider my own complaints in regard to Luminar Neo’s performance to have been resolved. As you might expect, AI-super tricks such as Sky Replacement AI still demand a moment to kick in. But Luminar Neo responds to micro-adjustments in real-time and, overall, just feels lighter on its feet.
Fortunately, you can download the free Luminar Neo trial and test it on your own computer. There’s no catch and no credit cards – so you might as well.
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Is Luminar Neo any good?
Luminar Neo is comparatively affordable, very easy to use, and packed with powerful and interesting features. Furthermore, the latest versions of Luminar Neo are far faster and more stable. For this reason, I consider Luminar Neo to be one of the best photo editing software applications, particularly if you are a beginner.
Luminar Neo Compared
Luminar Neo vs Lightroom
Skylum’s Luminar Neo and Lightroom present two very different takes on photo editing. While Luminar Neo uses AI to create compound effects like Golden Hour Glow, Lightroom is more about nudging exposure, pulling tone curves, and honing white balance.
That being said, Adobe Lightroom is a near-perfect example of a traditional photo editor in that it’s easy to use, highly responsive, and produces lovely results. And despite being traditional, Lightroom is no dinosaur with object recognition-powered masking, AI upscaling, and the best cloud integration I’ve seen.
Therefore, Lightroom is a great choice if you’re willing to refine your own editing skills. But if you want to edit photos without knowing anything about photo editing – go with Luminar Neo. Read Lightroom Review.
Luminar Neo is better than Luminar AI in every way. Specifically, it has all of Luminar AI’s best features, is nicer to use, and is much faster.
If you are happy with Luminar AI, you’ll be happier still with Luminar Neo thanks to its layer-based editing, ergonomic enhancements, object recognition-powered masking, and tricks such as background removal and Relight AI.
Luminar Neo vs Luminar 4
Luminar Neo is eons ahead of Luminar 4, which has now been discontinued and replaced twice over. Therefore, if you liked Luminar 4, you’ll love Luminar Neo. Read Luminar 4 Review.
ON1 Photo Raw is an insanely feature-packed all-in-one photo management and editing studio with several AI-powered super tricks, including Portrait Enhancement, Sky Swapping, and AI masking. Furthermore, ON1 Photo Raw features some of the best image enhancement tools in NoNoise AI noise reduction and Resize AI upscaling.
However, Luminar Neo is the more accessible photo editing application and the better choice if you’re looking for the simplest route to a well-processed image. But if you’re looking for features, superior photo management, and a broader creative envelope – ON1 Photo Raw is the way to go. Read ON1 Photo Raw Review
Luminar Neo vs ACDSee
ACDSee is an outstanding photo studio with Face Recognition powered photo management. Furthermore, its Raw editor is at least as good as Lightroom, and ACDSee Ultimate even has a second, fully-fledged Layer-based photo editing mode.
However, ACDSee is for those who like to make their own adjustments by pulling exposure and nudging tone curves. If that seems too difficult or old-fashioned, Luminar Neo is the way to go. Read ACDSee Photo Studio Professional 2023 Review
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Luminar Neo is one of the best photo editing software applications on the market today and, possibly, the best photo editing application for beginners. Specifically, Luminar Neo is comparatively affordable, loaded with features, and easy to use.
While performance used to be a genuine concern, I have found Luminar Neo version 1.10.0 fast, stable, and reliable. Nevertheless, whether Luminar Neo is fast enough for you may come down to your expectations and hardware. Fortunately, you can find out and download your free Luminar Neo trial.
Once you’ve qualified your hardware’s performance, there’s very little to complain about. Luminar Neo is well-priced, extremely feature-rich, and a joy to use.
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