Did Skylum just kill LuminarAI?

With today’s announcement of the upcoming Luminar Neo, will LuminarAI fade off into the sunset?

The growth of photo editing powered by artificial intelligence has been astronomical. Skylum kicked things off with AccentAI back in Luminar 3. Topaz quickly followed with some amazing tools as well. And now, seems like AI is just about everywhere with things like Photoshop’s Neural filters and even smart processing on iPhones.

And today, Skylum announced Luminar Neo. Here’s the official description:

Luminar Neo is for those who want more editing options and more creative control. The application provides the ability to build detailed and expressive 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 more complex tasks.

Luminar Neo is designed for:

  • Photographers of all levels and creative artists
  • People who like to explore visual creativity and build refined images
  • Those who truly enjoy exploring new options through creative editing

The inventor of the product had this to say:

“As the latest member of the Luminar family, we designed Luminar Neo to allow artists to take on more challenging image creation work and achieve results which often seem unattainable,” said Dima Sytnik, co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Skylum. 

So, is LuminarAI dead?

Skylum is well-known for their rapid innovation. They’ve shown little fear in launching new products, making major changes and adjusting to feedback. That focus on innovation just led to them getting the 2021 Red Dot industry award for best user interface design.

But that rapid pace of innovation has often led to Skylum making quick pivots and changes in their product lineup. leading many to find themselves with a product that appears “dead” to some or “end-of-life.” To clarify, the applications keep running just fine in most cases, for example Aurora HDR is still our go-to application for HDR, but hasn’t received any new features since 2019. It doesn’t mean it’s not still a great application, it just can get frustrating for some.

So the short answer to “Is LuminarAI dead?”

No, but its complicated …

Who is LuminarAI for?

At Photofocus we’re big fans of LuminarAI. Its portrait tools are amazing. It offers a bunch of unique creative filters. And you can do some great stuff for landscapes. It also stands out for adding details with StructureAI and has the most robust set of color-grading tools on the market in a photo application.

So, who is LuminarAI for? When the company launched it, it was made clear that it was NOT an upgrade to Luminar 4. No migration of data, no layers, and a totally different way of working. The application wanted you to work with templates … but did give you the ability to custom edit. Here’s the official description:

LuminarAI is the easiest-to-use image editor fully powered by artificial intelligence for those who prefer a timesaving Template-driven workflow for quick results. The app can swiftly guide you to the best outcomes while still preserving editing flexibility. Moreover, it’s a compact and easy-to-navigate application that already packs the core tools that one needs for great results.

Skylum

LuminarAI is designed for:

  • Entry-level photographers and amateurs in photo editing who love to start with templates
  • Also useful to visual communicators looking for quality results with little effort
  • Was not designed as a replacement for Luminar 4

But a lot of folks who are professional and semiprofessional used it. Its ability to use as a plugin is what really drove this. Luminar’s AI-powered tools are much faster than those found in Photoshop. Photoshop needs to transfer data to the cloud while Luminar runs locally. And there are several tools that only Luminar AI had, so longtime Luminar users switched.

But the more advanced users were often frustrated by a lack of pro features that Luminar used to have (like layers and advanced masking).  

Explaining the relationship

The easiest way to explain it is this. Luminar Neo and LuminarAI are members of a family. A family that will also see mobile apps soon. A family is a group that often shares specific traits. You can often recognize family members. Often, each family member will have a job or a role. Families have things in common. Families have similar values.

Adobe does this well. There are so many flavors of Photoshop and its Lightroom child. Mobile apps, tablet apps, web apps. They all are a little different. They all have something in common. If you know one, the others are easy. While each application clearly shares some genetic code … they are not the same. You’ll find that some things transfer between applications, some things don’t.

They each have a special purpose.

Skylum insists that both apps remain for sale. They also are selling bundles with the two of them.

So LuminarAI IS still alive?

Sure sounds that way. Let’s breakdown some stuff from the Skylum FAQ document they posted.

Will you continue to support LuminarAI? At Skylum, we love to provide you with a variety of options that suit your workflow best. That is why LuminarAI and Luminar Neo are designed to serve two different purposes.”

Skylum

So yes, both are being sold. And if you recall from the top of the article … the descriptions do define those roles. The short version is that LuminarAI = AI photo editor and Luminar Neo = Creative image editor. That’s not too dissimilar to how Photoshop and Lightroom coexist.

Here’s some of that FAQ:

“LuminarAI is the easiest-to-use image editor fully powered by artificial intelligence for those who prefer a timesaving Template-driven workflow for quick results. The app can swiftly guide you to the best outcomes while still preserving editing flexibility. Moreover, it’s a compact and easy-to-navigate application that already packs the core tools that one needs for great results. 

“In its turn, Luminar Neo is for those who want more editing options and more creative control. The application provides the ability to build detailed and expressive 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 more complex tasks.

“Both applications will be available on the market so that you can choose the software according to your preferred workflow and the desired outcome.” 

Choice is good

Making things a little confusing is that fact that today was just the announcement of Luminar Neo. It doesn’t ship until this winter (historically they tend to ship apps just before the holiday season). So Skylum has room to add more details to Neo. But it looks like it significantly builds on what LuminarAI can do, by adding the following features:

  • Layers
  • AI powered masking
  • Portrait Background replacement
  • Ability to stack filters in custom order
  • Ability to use multiple RAW files in a composition

So let’s be specific

Because the internet loves a good rumor … we’re already seeing posts that Skylum killed LuminarAI.  

The truth in that is no …. but with a tiny asterisk. Let’s breakdown that official response a little more

“Luminar AI is a complete set of tools that will not grow in complexity.”

This sounds like they don’t plan to add more filters beyond what’s already there, but might add other things.

“You can continue to expand its template-driven workflow with new additions from the Luminar marketplace or with Luminar X.”

Since its template-driven, and you can buy more templates that’s cool. They also release free ones too and others as bonuses to customers. Templates are the editing and color grading recipes and the application even suggests them based on the photos you open. It scans the image and recognizes more than 7,000 details before it recommends things.

“We will ensure, however, that [LuminarAI] receives updates to its performance and camera support, so it provides an excellent experience for those who rely on it.”

This means it will get updates for operating system changes. It will get support for newer cameras (although Skylum lags behind Adobe here sometimes). And they’ll update existing tools for speed as well as fix bugs.

So bottom line, if you like the application, it will keep working well into the future and they intend to polish the experience and keep it fresh.

“We’ll also ship updates for things like the forthcoming Windows 11 from Microsoft.”

Microsoft featured Luminar AI in their Windows 11 launch events and even showed a cool Microsoft Photos integration. That still hasn’t been released and sounds like it will come in a free update. Windows 11 ships in October.

But, I want more …

That’s normal …. and software is a business. Skylum has some pretty cool discounts right now on Luminar Neo and other bundles. If you already own another Skylum application they give you a discount.

Luminar Neo looks promising. Check out our first look review.

But if you’re a LuminarAI user … take a breath and relax. Upgrading is optional. If you want to push Luminar further as a creative image editor, then check out Luminar Neo. If editing is intimidating …. stay put with LuminarAI.

Editor’s note: Photofocus is an affiliate of Skylum, but the opinions above are our own. Our affiliate relationship with Skylum, as well as many other companies like Adobe and Topaz, help us keep the lights on.

Want to get on the list for Luminar Neo? When you preorder, you’ll get a free bundle of extras! Click here to preorder and reserve your bonus bundle today!

Skylum introduces Luminar Neo, a full-featured creative photo editing platform

This morning, Skylum introduced Luminar Neo, a new creative image editor which empowers visual storytellers to bring their boldest ideas to life. Luminar Neo builds upon the unique, purpose-driven, AI editing technologies for which Skylum has become known for.

“As the latest member of the Luminar family, we designed Luminar Neo to allow artists to take on more challenging image creation work and achieve results which often seem unattainable,” said Dima Sytnik, co-founder and CPO of Skylum. 

Luminar Neo is meant to be an application that offers more customizability, and that builds upon the company’s LuminarAI software. The two programs will be sold side-by-side.

Innovative technologies that combine AI with human control

Luminar Neo will ship with several new features, including image layers, background replacement, relighting options, dust removal and more. The software analyzes each image to recognize the depth of the scene and its contents, which allows for precise control.

And best yet — all editing steps remain editable for complete control over the final image.

Layers

After being removed from LuminarAI, layers will see a comeback with Luminar Neo, helping creatives to further the boundaries of their photographs. Layers will also make adding things like watermarks easier than ever. With layers, you can apply any tool and any mask to any layer — in any order — multiple times.

Background replacement

Building upon the AI masking capabilities first introduced in Luminar 4, Luminar Neo allows for full background replacement of portrait photos. Users will be able to quickly replace a background with an entirely new image without having to manually mask out their subject.

Relight

A new relight feature will enable photographers to fix poor or backlit exposures with just a few clicks.

Dust removal

Utilizing artificial intelligence, Luminar Neo can automatically remove dust spots from your image. No more clicking and cloning out each dust spot!

Remove power lines

Perfect for architecture photographers, Luminar Neo will come with a tool that will help to automatically remove power lines in an image.

Mobile image management

Luminar Neo will also come with a companion mobile app. This will make it easy to add pictures captured on a mobile device to your Luminar catalog. Once edited, results can be sent back to the mobile device for easy social sharing or viewing on-the-go.

All-new editing engine for high performance

An all-new editing engine drives Luminar Neo, making it possible to apply multiple tools to an image without significant performance loss. The software allows for complex layering of several RAW images. Additionally, the new Luminar engine enables Skylum to further optimize and refine the entire image-processing pipeline.

While built atop an efficient new engine, Luminar Neo inherits the proven, AI-driven technologies which made LuminarAI a ground-breaking image editor.

“The goal of Luminar has always been to help everyone create images they truly love. With Luminar Neo, we empower even more artists and photographers to achieve their full creative vision,” said Ivan Kutanin, CEO of Skylum. “With new tools and a flexible editing workflow, they’ll find powerful new ways to create while being inspired to explore new ways to do so. We can’t wait to see what our creative community comes up with.”

Luminar Neo will continue to work as both a standalone application and a plugin for Lightroom Classic, Photoshop and Photos for Mac. Microsoft has also previously shown off an integration with Luminar, but no official announcement has been made about what that entails.

Our take on Luminar Neo vs. LuminarAI

The Skylum team has made it clear that Luminar Neo and LuminarAI are meant for different audiences. LuminarAI will continue to be sold and supported, but it will not obtain new editing tools. It will, however, obtain updates for OS compatibility, new camera support and other optimizations.

Luminar Neo is meant for photographers and creatives of all levels, and for those who want full control and options with their editing. LuminarAI, on the other hand, is meant for entry-level photographers and amateurs in photo editing, who enjoy a template-based workflow.

From what we can tell, Luminar Neo seems to be going after the audience left behind with Luminar 4. It is putting its focus on professionals and tech-driven creatives who like to push boundaries. Think of Luminar Neo as a sort of replacement for Luminar 4.

Pricing and availability

Luminar Neo will ship this winter, but pre-orders are currently available. Early bird pricing is available until September 19, 2021, starting at $54. Or, take advantage of a LuminarAI + Luminar Neo bundle so you can get started right away, starting at $83.

Current Skylum customers can get Luminar Neo starting at $34, or the LuminarAI + Luminar Neo bundle starting at $63.

Create more, with Luminar Neo

Fulfill your creative ideas with Luminar Neo! Preorder now and get the Photofocus preorder bundle, full of extras like a deep dive training video, templates, LUTs, textures and more when Luminar Neo launches.