Luminar Neo Review – Do We Really Need This?!
This Luminar Neo review will cover Skylum’s newly announced photo editing app, including my personal opinion on what we already know.
When Luminar Neo is officially released later this year, I’ll test it thoroughly for a full review and update this article.
For the time being, you can discover all there is to know about Neo right here, or by clicking the button below.
In this guide, I answer all the common questions while remaining 100% impartial, to help you decide whether you need to buy Luminar Neo in 2021.
Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
What is Luminar Neo?
According to Skylum, Luminar Neo is a powerful new image editor powered by AI technologies that can simplify complex photo editing tasks, making them faster and more fun.
The application for Mac and Windows provides the ability to build detailed images with an advanced layer-based workflow and flexible tools that can be applied in any order.
It also boasts a high-speed core engine that will help accelerate complex image editing tasks.
From what I can understand, the basic premise with Neo is that any AI-powered tools previously seen in other Skylum software will take a significant jump forward in function and performance.
Due to be released in Winter, Luminar Neo will be revealing its full feature set in the coming months.
I’ll update this review in due course, but for now, here’s what I think about the announcement.
My Honest Thoughts on the Announcement of Luminar Neo
I couldn’t help but feel frustrated and disappointed in Skylum for releasing yet another photo editing app, instead of updating Luminar 4 or Luminar AI.
I’m a fan of Luminar 4 and recommend it as an alternative to Lightroom for photographers who don’t require all the Adobe bells and whistles.
I also enjoy Luminar AI, and recently published a full review of it on the Shotkit YouTube channel which you can watch here.
However, I’m still not convinced that we need another Luminar product with features that seem to heavily overlap the existing Luminar software.
I brought up my negative feelings in a private group, only to be met with a very defensive response from Chief Product Evangelist Richard Harrington.
Based on our informal discussions since then, Richard has (helpfully) tried to explain that Skylum was unable to simply ‘update’ Luminar 4/AI to include the newer features promised in Luminar Neo.
(The large changes apparently aren’t “backwards compatible”, hence the need for something completely new.)
Apparently, Luminar 4 can’t support the newer AI tools and Luminar AI can’t support layers, so in order to make something that’s faster and different to anything else, Skylum created Luminar Neo.
Now, I can’t vouch for any of the above since a) I’m not a product engineer at Skylum, and b) I haven’t had a chance to actually use Luminar Neo.
However, if we take these statements at face value, we can begin to understand why Neo has come into existence.
Only time will tell whether Luminar Neo is something that the photography community actually needs, or just a rehash of Skylum’s existing software that seemingly wasn’t built with the foresight to make it fully upgradeable.
When Neo releases before the end of the year, anyone who placed a preorder will be given 30 days to evaluate it, and get a full no-questions-asked refund.
Should You Buy Neo? My Recommendations
If you’ve never owned a previous version of Luminar, you can get the preorder discount here.
Skylum has made decent software in the past, so it’s safe to assume that Neo will be decent too.
(If it turns out to be a dud, just get your money back within 30 days after it’s released.)
If you already own Luminar 4/AI, I wouldn’t bother pre-ordering – just keep enjoying your current app, unless it’s painfully slow to use – in which case, you may want to just wait until my full review to be published here.
Answers to Common Questions Since the Announcement of Luminar Neo
These responses have been compiled from the official Neo FAQ page, as well as from an informal ‘interview’ that I conducted with Skylum’s Chief Product Evangelist Richard Harrington, via email.
- Much faster core engine – a brand new ‘modular’ engine means that each part of the editing process can be optimized for the best speeds. Less memory is required to edit the photos and updates to the software can occur more frequently. One of the common complaints of previous Luminar products was about the speed, so this will be a welcome upgrade.
- Relighting options – easily control exposure and tone with one click.*
- Layer-based workflow – composite images with blending and masking modes, like Photoshop. Add textures, overlays and visual effects.
- Remove distracting images – clean up unwanted elements in the background of a photo.*
- Mobile app – transfer photos between a mobile device and a computer for easy sharing or viewing on the go.
*Previous versions had these tools but we can assume Luminar Neo will offer more features or perform tasks faster.
This is the response from Chief Product Evangelist Richard Harrington:
Another answer from Richard:
“Most software companies release new products every 12-18 months, so if that is your question, yes we plan to have paid options to expand your experience.
We’ve also publicly confirmed we’re actively working on apps for both iOS and Android/ChromeOS
The purpose of the new engine in Neo is to be expandable. The engine inside this is something we’ve been working on for a long time.”
I can’t really comment on this since I haven’t had a chance to evaluate the new software, but according to Skylum, Neo will build upon Luminar AI with faster and more powerful features, as well as offering the mobile app which sounds exciting too.
Luminar AI will continue to be supported with updates to its performance and support for new cameras. Users will also receive updates for new computer OS, such as Microsoft Windows 11.
Unfortunately not – this will likely annoy a lot of users, but if you’re new to the Luminar ecosystem, this obviously won’t affect you.
However, Skylum states that their support team will help you convert any Luminar AI Template into a Ne0-compatible format.
Luminar Neo Features (To Be Updated)
These are the features that have already been announced by Skylum – I’ll be updating this section when we receive news of anything else.
At this point, it’s rather hard to tell how beneficial the enhancements over the existing Luminar software will be – only time will tell.
Layers and AI Masking
Unwanted Object Removal
One-Click Background Removal
How Much Does Luminar Neo Cost?
Luminar Neo is available for the first 30,000 customers at a special preorder price that Skylum promises will be the lowest ever.
(The last time I checked, there were some 13,000 spots remaining – you can check the exact number and see the pricing in your home currency here.)
If you own a previous version of Luminar or Aurora HDR, you can also get a loyalty discount here.
The final version of Lumianr Neo is set to ship this Winter – preorder customers will have 30 days to try the software.
If you don’t like it, you can get a full refund.
Should you Preorder Luminar Neo?
If you’ve never owned a previous version of Luminar before and are keen to see what Artificial Intelligence can do to your photos, grab the preorder discount while you still can – historically, Skylum has made useful software for photographers, no question about that.
If you already own Luminar 4/AI, don’t bother pre-ordering – just keep enjoying your current app, at least until I can provide a full review of Neo.
This Luminar Neo review will be updated when we get hold of a full working copy of the software – keep checking back regularly or sign up for the Shotkit newsletter to be notified.
In the meantime, click the button to learn more or preorder Luminar Neo for the cheapest price it’ll ever be available.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.