My New Luminar Neo Review for 2024, this is Epic…
Welcome to my Luminar Neo version 1.18 review
In my Luminar Neo Review I will guide you through why I think this is an incredible photography editing platform. Luminar Neo is jam packed with fantastic AI editing tools to help you not only save time but also produce stunning results in just a few clicks. In this comprehensive Review we will be looking at why Luminar is now an essential tool for every photographer.
With the addition of the sublime expansion packs now it has grown into a photography editing power house and for the price it’s amazing value for money.
I have three different Luminar Neo reviews for you here depending on your experience with Skylum products. So you can quickly choose the one for you from the table of contents below.
The three reviews are for people completely new to editing in Luminar Neo. for people who already use Luminar AI or for people who already use Luminar 4.
After those reviews I run you through my thoughts on Luminar Neo, how the software works, including what each slider is for and my full Luminar Neo review and tutorial video too also.
Luminar Neo Price
At the time of writing this Luminar Neo Review the price right was $149.- for the Lifetime License or outright purchase which you can use on one computer. The Luminar Neo subscription prices are $95.00 for 12 months or you can also susbscribe for 24 months for a total of just $99.00 for Two computers.
Don’t forget my Promo code saves you 10% off that price.
Please note these prices were correct at the time of writing this Luminar Neo review.
The Pro subscription package includes all the expansion packs and is generally the package I advise people to go for as that’s what I have myself.
I also have a section further down this review where I look at the pros and conns of the subscription vs outright purchase options so do check that out.
My Review for people new to the Luminar platform.
This is for me is probably the easiest review to do as Luminar Neo is just an incredible all round photography editing software application that’s as comfortable editing Landscape photography as it is at editing portraits, wildlife photography in fact any genre of photography.
All your standard editing functions are included (as well as a lot more) so you can easily adjust your Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadow, Whites, Blacks, Vibrancy, Saturations, details etc… just by adjusting the corresponding slider.
Or you can even let Accent AI work its AI magic and auto edit the photo for you which is ideal for very fast edits or even just to give you a good base edit to start with.
There are of course tons more features to talk about in Luminar Neo including all its AI tools which I run you through further down the page.
The user interface is very intuitive and really straight forward to use as you can see in my video below, so the learning curve for anyone new to editing in Luminar is really short. In fact the very first time I used Neo I was felt completely at home with it in under 10 minutes.
The sliders are all grouped into their relevant categories which really helps speed up your editing workflow, the presets or templates really help to get your editing going in the right direction especially if you are new to editing. All you have to do is click on one of them and adjust the slider to how much of an effect you want the edit to have on your photograph and you’re done.
Artifical Intelligence Features
With it’s Artificial Intelligence or AI features you can quickly swap out skies in a landscape shot or soften skin in a portrait in seconds. Now please do think about what I just said there… it swaps out skies in seconds and automatically detects and smoothens skin in portraits again in seconds… All this is done via just the touch of a button. Of course with any of the AI effects you are still in full control, like for the two examples above you can choose the sky to be inserted and position it exactly to your liking if you want or for the portrait you can also adjust the intensity of the skin softening incredibly easily.
These are just two very quick examples of how good this software really is and there are plenty of other awesome AI applications like Dust spot removal, Powerline AI, Relight AI Portrait Bokeh AI, Portrait Background Removal etc… I have them all explained and listed further down the page.
Neo has a catalogue or Digital Asset Management facility, so you can quickly store all your images and rate them from one to five star or also colour code them which is very handy so you can put all your family shots under the blue label, Landscapes in Red, Seascapes in Green etc… As well as having your all time favourite shots in your five star folder so you can quickly group them all together to show them to someone or just simply so you can have them all bunched together.
Is Luminar Neo Right For You?
I am always saying to my Photography Workshops clients “You will be the one using it, so do make sure to try it before you buy it” with my Free Trial Link further down the page, please do also check the Minimum system specs needed, Neo likes fast computers (just like all then other editing platforms out there).
My Review for someone using Luminar AI.
Is Luminar Neo better than Luminar AI and exactly how different are they? Now that is a really good question and honestly I think if you have Luminar AI then you already have a great bit of fast photography editing software and yes a lot of the facilities of Neo are the similiar or “borrowed” from AI. There are some big differences though and the really big ones are…
Speed and Performance updates
Neo has a new processing engine that helps it work through images a lot faster than Luminar AI, I cover this in a lot more detail in my Neo vs AI review herewhere I also have a video that shows the speed difference between both apps. Since I have recorded that video Neo has only gotten faster again.
After the processing engine we have the long awaited return of masks and now with Mask AI we have a supercharged automated masking system in Neo. The masking facility in Luminar Neo is very good and the auto masking works well but even when it doesn’t do what you want you can still add radial, linear gradient and manual masks via the brush tool.
Then the new features like Powerline removal, Relight AI, dust spot removal AI, Portrait background removal and Mask AI it’s the complete package now that flies through image editing. I didn’t mention the expansion packs in this section as they are an optional extra.
The real step forward for Neo for me has been the addition of the expansion packs as now you can do everything in Neo and you don’t need any third party plugins. Check out my Expansion pack section further down the page to learn more about these new features.
My move from Luminar AI to Neo has only been a positive one with the return of layers, the increase speed and performance of Neo, the addition of several new AI features and of course the Expansion packs.
So it’s not just one specific thing that has made the change worthwhile but a combination of all of them.
Is it right for you? Well, I would say if you are happy with Luminar AI then just stick with it and keep smiling, if not or you feel you are missing something then Neo is what’s missing from your editing workflow so go for it you won’t regret it.
My full walk through on all its features is further down the page or again watch my Luminar Neo review video above where I walk you through it all on screen.
My Review for someone using Luminar 4.
If you are a hardened Luminar 4 user then this is probably the Luminar update you have been waiting for and you are going to get a lot out of it.
Is Neo really better?
The first point to note here is the much faster processing power of Neo which should speed up your workflow dramatically and help with sky replacements and various other edits.
Speaking of sky replacement… it’s far better now in Neo as it has relighting controls, sky positioning and sky reflection facilities as well as the speed gains.
The lack of layers was one of the main reasons L4 users did’t upgrade to Luminar AI and yes they are now in Neo and working well. With cool features like Mask AI in there now too to help streamline your layer masking.
There are a whole host of amazing AI facilities in Neo which have been designed from the ground up and also “borrowed” from Luminar AI.
You have Portrait Bokeh AI to help give you that sumptuous shallow depth of field, face, body and Skin AI to help correct any lighting issues, help out with some unflattering camera angles and smoothen out skin imperfections also.
Dust AI, Powerline Removal, Portrait background removal and ReLight AI also as well as loads of other handy time saving features.
The expansion packs for Neo are a game changer now too and for me they have to be the biggest positive for Neo over L4, having all those facilities in one place with a whole host of new AI features as standard in my mind have killed L4 for a lot.
Layers, faster processor, expansion packs and more AI features builtin make Neo a massive upgrade from L4. Then again if you are very happy with L4 just stick with it and enjoy 🙂
My full walk through on all its features is further down the page or again watch my video above where I walk you through it on screen.
Subscription vs Lifetime License.
So what’s the difference between the subscription vs lifetime license purchase and which option is right for you?
The subscription option will give you the latest software at all times but you have to pay for it every year, whereas the lifetime model is a once off payment and it’s yours for life then but there are no software upgrades included in that then.
So the lifetime option is cheaper but the catch is if a major new update comes out that you need then you have to pay to upgrade your version. That’s the main difference between the two options.
For me now Luminar has become a subscription based software package and while some people may frown on that I still see it as a slight positive as we are now getting the option of so many more products bundled into one for a great price.
Just look at the Topaz Labs Image Quality bundle with only 4 apps for $199.- for the first year and $99 a year after that and that only gives you 4 apps and no editing platform in the price so 4 apps are nearly the same price as the 7 plus from Skylum which also includes the full Neo editing platform in the prices.
For the latest prices and special offers check out my Luminar Discount code page here.
Luminar Neo Free Trial
Now, with any photography editing software I always recommend you don’t just take my word for it. It’s very important that you download the Luminar Neo Free trial and check it out for yourself before you buy it for a few simple reasons…
- We are all using different computers of varying speeds.
- We all have different editing styles some are far more complex than others.
- More importantly we also work with different cameras with different resolutions and file sizes.
That’s why I say you should always try before you buy.
Get your Luminar Neo Free Trial Here.
A run through of all the Features
The first and most important feature is the catalogue or Digital Asset Management (DAM) facility which means you can easily sort and organise your photographs so you can easily pop into different categories and groups like family, macro, landscape etc… and find them all in your grouped photographs together very quickly. That is going to be a serious time saver over the years.
Also don’t forget to check out my reviews on the new Extensions for Neo simply click on the name to read it.
Basic editing controls include
Exposure, shadows, highlights, Curves, Contrast, Colour, Vibrancy, HSL, Sharpening sliders etc… the list goes on but suffice it to say everything you need in basic to advanced editing controls are in there. They all work as expected and again this is something I will be showing in my video review.
Landscape editing features
Sky replacement in Sky AI
This feature works super smoothly and is not only super fast to use but incredibly simple also with a whole multitude of controls so you can adjust the horizontal and vertical position of the sky as well the brightness and the relighting facility as well as reflections on water etc… again the video review is the one that’s going to show all that off.
Relight AI gives you the possibility to completely change the lighting in an image via 3d depth mapping so for arguments sake you want to change the brightness levels of your foreground, before you could have used a gradient filter or layer to brighten a part of your image but that was incredible crude as it just brightened or darkened everything regardless of it’s depth in the image.
Luminar can now sense depth in a two dimensional image which is huge and will help avoid spending ten minutes with the brush tool painting on the effect you want.
Powerline Removal AI
The Powerline removal tool is a very handy one for quickly and easily removing those annoying powerlines from your photographs with the press of a button it takes only second to magically erase those pesky powerlines.
The Focus stacking extension is available now for Luminar and for my full Focus Stacking review here.
Has now been added to Luminar in version 1.2 HDR Merge is basically a rebadged version of Aurora HDR is a fantastic HDR editing software.
Noiseless AI has just been launched and is available now, you can find out more about it here on my blog post dedicated to this new expansion pack for Luminar or watch the video at the end of this article if you prefer.
There are of course loads more AI tools and non AI based tools in Luminar Neo for landscape Photographers like Upscale AI, Supersharp AI and of course the awesome golden hour and foilagew enhancer controls. I run you through most of the Landscape editing features in in my Tutorial video further up the page.
Portrait Editing features
Portrait Bokeh AI
Portrait Bokeh AI is an incredible feature as it helps to blur out your background in seconds and divert more attention to your subject and all with the movement of a slider so you can the exact effect you are looking for. You can also adjust the background brightness and colour temperature and highlights glow via separate sliders as well as the depth control slider of course.
Face AI gives us several amazing features including…
- Face lightingAs you probably guessed this gives us the option to adjust the brightness of the persons face in the photograph. In seconds you can transform the look of a portrait with little to no editing skill needed.
- Slim FaceAgain this is fairly straight forward, you can via the use of a slider adjust the width of a face in an image which can be great for some of those unflattering camera angles that happen occassionally.
- Eye AdjustmentsYou can in the blink of an eye (see what I did there) change the eye colour and whiten or brighten the eyes with the aid of a few sliders.
- Mouth AdjustmentsThis section includes controls for Lip saturation, Lips Redness, Lips darkening and teeth whitening. These sliders are super easy to use and only take seconds.
It does exactly what you think it does… it helps to smoothen out the exposed skin in the photograph via a slider control with an imperfection removal button also as an option. There is also a slider for shine removal which does a really good job also.
Body AI is again one of those features that helps correct those unflattering camera angles with Shape and Abdomen slider controls.
Again there are several sliders here to give you the desired high key effect in your image… I really like this one combined with Portrait Bokeh AI and the dodge and burn tool. You can create some really cool edits across the three adjustments.
When was the Luminar Neo official release date?
Neo was released on the 17th of February 2022. There was also a pre-release on the 10th of February to the early bird purchasers of which there was 30,000. But the official release date was the 17th of February 2022.
Is it better than Lightroom?
Adobe Lightroom has been the default editing platform now for some time and but has that changed and has Neo not only caught up to it but challenged it for the title? Well to full understand their difference and which one might be better for you then I reccommend you read my Luminar vs Lightroom review here.
Why is Luminar Neo so much better now than it was?
Well, that’s down to the amount of work that has gone into this software, which is now truly starting to show and with every update it just keeps getting better and better, for me the turning point was the addition of the awesome new extensions.
The extensions have been a real game changer for me and they have prompted me to rewrite my review.
Now, I know a few people think the extensions should be included as standard with the software but knowing how much work has gone into their development, which I have to say is still going full speed ahead, Skylum software has heavily invested in them, so they need to get some money back out of it to make it profitable and keep progressing their development.
Please remember these extensions are optional so if you don’t need them then you can skip that purchase.
My other Neo reviews covering the extensions are here…
Noiseless AI Review, Upscale AI Review, SuperSharp AI Review, HDR Merge Tutorial, Focus stacking tutorial, Background Removal AI, Magic Light AI Tutorial and of course my Luminar Discount code page here, simply click on the one you want to find out more about it.
What’s next for Neo?.
You would have to argue that Luminar is not only taking on Lightroom now but also ON1 Photo Raw 2024 (review here) ,DxO PhotoLabs 6 as well as Topaz Labs who are now firmly in Skylums sights as their Upscaling, sharpening and noise reducing software are all getting uncomfortably close to Topaz results at a fraction of the cost.
Topaz labs must be getting worried now as Lightroom and Luminar are both going after large chunks of thier businesses and they are nearly the same price, with both of them offering a full editing platform included in the price! Alarm bells must be going off at Topaz Labs these days.
Scarily Skylum Software have even more news coming for 2023/2024 that I can’t talk about just yet 🙂 but watch out for an update on that soon.
In my full review video and tutorial above you can see me running through all the features, facilities and sliders in it.
Would I buy Luminar Neo and use it professionally?
In all honesty up until about 6 months ago I would have probably said No. Today though, I would have to say that has changed and now I would say… Yes, I certainly would, for anyone starting out now this is an incredible piece of photography editing software.
Some of you may not know that I earn my living as a commercial/fashion photographer and as a Landscape photographer. Yes, I do both, I am mad I know but the beauty of it its that I get to choose my clinets. I take my photography editing software very seriously as it’s part of my living and anything that can make my workflow easier and faster is going to be a serious plus for me.
The edited results from Neo are every bit as good as the ones I am getting from Lightroom if not better most of the time, so purely from a results point of view it’s not like there is a downgrade there more like an upgrade.
The one point I would like to mention here is I am finding the colour tones coming from the raw files from both my camera and drone just look better or more natural in Neo than they do in Lightroom which is an odd one.
I have found specifically with my Mavic 3 pro I prefer the results I am getting from Luminar, with my Nikon Z7ii the RAW files are usually very close between the two applications but in certain scenes (especially on outdoor bright daylight scenes) Neo handles the colouring just slightly better and looks more natural.
Luminar Neo is without doubt the best all round editing platform out there now for the money, it has truly grown into the photography editing suite that Skylum have been promising us. It’s fast precise and it’s AI features are simply amazing. The crazy part here is that with every update they keep improving so I shudder to think where it will be in another six months.
Thanks for reading my review I hope it helped you to decide if Luminar is right for you and what you need from your photography editing software.
Please do feel free to check out my reviews and tutorials of the latest Expansion packs in the menu above under the “Software” section.
See you out there,
Luminar Neo review
Luminar Neo is an amazing all-round image editing application, with an incredible selection of AI editing tools to not only give you better results but also dramatically save you time too. I would highly reccommend it.