Skylum launches Luminar Neo: AI-powered photo editor adds Relight AI, improved masking and more


posted Thursday, February 17, 2022 at 12:59 PM EST


Skylum has released Luminar Neo, its new photo editing application that's full of improvements, new features and many AI-powered tools. Alongside Luminar Neo, Skylum has also released the Luminar Share app. Luminar Share lets users easily transfer photos between Luminar Neo and their mobile devices.

Luminar Neo has been quite a few months in the making, after originally being announced early last September. Underpinning Neo is a brand-new Luminar engine, which allows for improved features and performance. Among the new features are core tools such as Relight AI, Remove Dust Spots, Remove Power Lines, and Layers and Presets. The inclusion of layers brings Luminar Neo in line with Luminar 4, whereas layers are missing from Skylum's Luminar AI software. Compared to Luminar 4, Luminar Neo has a lot of advantages, including improved Presets and Looks, AI-based masking, portrait background removal, plus the AI Dust Removal and Relight AI mentioned above.


Let's look first at Relight AI, as it's a critical aspect of Luminar Neo's appeal. Skylum writes, 'Relight backlit photos or darkened images in a click with the Relight AI feature. Luminar Neo calculates the depth of a photo and creates a 3D map, making it possible to spread light naturally in 3D space across a 2D image.' In addition to relighting an overall scene using a 3D depth map, you can also relight the foreground and background separately, which could prove to be very useful when editing photos captured in challenging light.


What if you're dealing not only with challenging light but a lousy background? Moments can be fleeting, and it's not always simple to change your composition to include a good background. Luminar Neo uses its Mask AI technology, which detects and selects subject(s) in a photo, to allow users to remove and replace an entire portrait background quickly and easily.

Something nearly every photographer must deal with is sensor dust spots. Even if you frequently clean your image sensor and exercise care when changing lenses in the field, dust can still find its way into your camera and onto the sensor. Manually removing dust spots is easy, but it's also time-consuming and tedious. Luminar Neo hopes to resolve the frustration with Dust Removal AI. The tool automatically selects and removes dust spots.

Portrait Background Removal will be coming as part of a free update this spring

Perhaps even more annoying than dust spots are powerlines. Those are much more difficult to remove manually. It's not impossible, by any stretch, but it takes time. A theme of Skylum's software in general and Luminar Neo specifically is using AI to create tools that reduce friction and tedium when editing photos. In that spirit, Neo can automatically remove powerlines from your cityscapes, urban landscapes and travel photos.

The same AI technology that powers the features above also allows for more powerful Layers and Masking in Luminar Neo. AI automatically identifies objects in the image and creates masks. You can manually refine the masks as needed, but having an AI-powered head start should save users considerable time.


Luminar Neo also includes many of the great features users have come to expect from Skylum Luminar software, including Face AI, Body AI, Portrait Bokeh, Structure AI, Enhance AI, Sky AI (including sky replacement technology with support for water reflections), Augmented Sky AI, Atmosphere AI and much more. If you'd like a breakdown of the many features and tools included in Luminar Neo, click here.

Beyond the new features, Luminar Neo also promises significantly improved performance thanks to the redesigned engine. Compared to its predecessor, Luminar AI, Luminar Neo exports images around 86 percent faster on macOS. Opening a RAW image is about 61 percent faster. Windows users can expect performance gains, too, although it's less of a jump compared to macOS users.


By the way, although we've written about new Portrait Background Removal and Masking tools, those, unfortunately, didn't make it into today's release. However, they will be added via a free update this spring.

Skylum isn't offering a free trial for Luminar Neo, although there is a 30-day Money Back Guarantee, so if you purchase the software and are unsatisfied within the first month, you can get a full refund. To purchase Skylum Luminar Neo, head to Skylum. The software is available as a standalone option or via subscription. The standalone purchase does not include all future upgrades for free and is $79. The subscription option is $59 per year and includes all upgrades as long as you remain subscribed. Luminar Neo is also sold as a standalone application within the App Store on macOS and the Microsoft Store for Windows. Luminar Neo can be used as a separate app or as a plugin for Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop. It can also be used as an extension for Apple Photos on macOS.