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Luminar Neo Review: The Ultimate Editing Tool for Photographers

Transform your photos with Luminar Neo, the all-in-one editing solution for photographers. Read my complete review and find out if it’s worth your money.

I recently wrote a comprehensive guide that includes some of the best AI tools that every photographer should use, or at least be familiar with. One of them is Luminar Neo, a software developed by Skylum, very well known for the quality of its products.

I’ve been using Photoshop+Luminar 2018 for a long time to edit most of my pictures, but the latest version of Luminar combines the power of AI to help you speed up the photo-editing process, and the results are quite amazing.

Before digging deeper into some of the features of Luminar Neo let me clarify something. Pretty much all of the functionality it offers can be manually replicated in Photoshop IF you are an advanced user. Photoshop allows a level of manual editing that it’s simply not possible with tools such as Luminar. But if you are not a pro-Photoshop user or you want to combine the two software, then this is where Luminar really shines. As you’ll see, Luminar can achieve basically the same results as Photoshop but in a fraction of your time and cost, and in some cases this is a deal breaker.

What is Luminar Neo

luminar neo reviews

Luminar Neo is a photo editing software that can be used as a stand-alone program or as a Photoshop or Lightroom Plugin just like Topaz Photo AI (here my review). In my opinion, this is the best way to use it. You can start editing your RAW files in Photoshop/Lightroom and then switch to the plugin to refine your images, then switch back to Photoshop, and so on. In a few words, Luminar Neo is a great photo-editing tool that can speed up your work and is especially effective when combined with Photoshop.

Luminar Neo: Main features

Skylum is constantly adding new features so chances are that there will be new ones when you read this article.

One important thing to keep in mind is that all of the edits are applied to a new layer and this means that you can go back and edit it at any time just like you’d do in Photoshop. You can also mask/unmask the layers. The most important tools are the following.

AI-powered masking

luminar ai masking

Masking is one of the most powerful features when you are editing a picture. But it’s also one of those tools that take a long time to master. Luminar Neo uses AI to automatically examine the image and identify the different elements. As you can see in the pictures it correctly selects and mask the water.

Using the AI to examine the image can take a few seconds but you only need to do it once per image. It can happen that the selection is not perfect but you can then manually adjust it within the same panel.

AI Enhancement

ai enhancement

Sometimes you really don’t have time or the budget to spend a lot of time post-processing your images. This is where the Enhance AI feature comes in handy. All you need to do is adjust the two sliders to instantly improve the picture.

This filter tends to oversaturate the image as you can see, so you might want to use it carefully unless you want to create an HDR-style photo.

Sky replacement

luminar neo sky replacer

The advanced sky replacement tool is one of the reasons why Skylum became popular in the first place. This is a feature that either works amazingly or doesn’t work at all. As you can see in the pictures I successfully replaced the sky and all it took me was one click. I could have done it in Photoshop as well but I would have been much slower.

The main issue is the lack of advanced merging features, something that you can do using dedicated plugins such as Raya Pro.

This being said I’m actually very impressed by how easy it is to get this done. In Luminar you can find a small library of skies to use but you can also buy more. I recommend the Elia Locardi preset.

Structure AI

structure ai

The Structure AI tool allows you to adjust the detail and clarity of the image. You can use it to reveal more details or get a smoother image with less detail and it’s the primary tool for increasing the contrast of the image.

The main disadvantage is that it introduces a lot of noise and it can actually ruin the image if you overuse it. Like the other tools it, you can improve the image if you use it carefully.

Powerlines and Dust removal

erase powerlines luminar neo

This is one of my favorite features. It allows you to remove those pesky powerlines and dust spots in a few seconds. Using the powerful AI developed by Skylum, Luminar examines the image and automatically cleans it. Sometimes the results are not perfect, but you can use the erase feature to complete the editing.

As I said you can do the same thing in Photoshop but it takes way longer and the AI is not as advanced. In this case, Luminar is clearly the winner.


sunray luminar

You can easily add realistic sun rays or glow and manually place it in the pictures, all in a couple of clicks. There are many settings that you can change such as sun rays length, radius, warmth, penetration, number, and so on. If used correctly it can greatly improve your images.

If for example, you have a part of the image where the lights are blown out you can use this feature to add a realistic sun and easily fix it.

Magic Light AI

magic light ai luminar

Magic Light AI is a Pro filter that you can get with the extension pack (use the code FABIO10 for a 10$ discount). All it does is manipulate artificial light sources like street lamps, but it does it really well.

It can simulate very expensive lenses by changing the number of beams. The AI identifies the light sources quite accurately, but you can further refine the selection using the mask settings.

Relight AI

relight ai

Relight is another AI-powered feature that has received a lot of hype. According to the website, “it analyzes the scene in three dimensions. By creating a 3D map of a photo, Luminar Neo can spread light naturally in 3D space across a 2D image.”

In my opinion, is not really that great. You can easily achieve the same result with a simple mask in photoshop. This being said, there are a few cases where the results are actually better using Luminar Neo.

Portrait tools

portrait luminar neo

Besides a series of tools good for landscape photography, Luminar Neo offers filters en enhancements for portrait photography.

You can add Bokeh, and improve the face using AI to identify and selectively work on the eyes, the mouth, the teeth, or the skin.

Panorama stitching

This is one of the latest features added and also one of my favorites. I take panoramic photos with my drone quite often, especially with the secondary lens, and I can easily merge them with a simple click.

This tool also allows you to combine panoramic photos taken at different exposures (bracketing).

Extensions and Other Luminar Neo features

On top of the vast number of settings available in the base version, you can buy the extensions separately (not recommended) or in a bundle (use my link to get the discount and add the coupon Fabio10 for an extra 10$ off). The Magic Light and Noiseless extensions are really great. You can choose between the monthly plan or the lifetime purchase. I recommend the last one.

These are all the features currently available in Luminar. They are nicely arranged per category and all of them are applied to a new layer.


  • Develop
  • Enhance AI
  • Erase
  • Structure AI
  • Color
  • Black & White
  • Details
  • Denoise
  • Landscape
  • Vignette


  • Relight AI
  • Sky AI
  • Atmosphere AI
  • Sunrays
  • Dramatic
  • Mood
  • Tonight
  • Matte
  • Mystical
  • Glow
  • Film Grain


  • Portrait Bokeh AI
  • Face AI
  • Skin AI
  • Body AI
  • High Key


  • Supercontrast
  • Color Harmony

Here you can find the detailed user manual.

Pros and Cons of Luminar Neo

Like any other software, Luminar Neo has its pros and cons. Here are a few of them:


  • Intuitive and user-friendly interface
  • The AI sky replacement tool is simply amazing
  • Great AI power line and dust removal tools that will save you a lot of time
  • It works in layers, like Photoshop
  • Fast and responsive, especially compared to the predecessor Luminar AI
  • Tools are arranged in a logical order
  • You can try it for free for up to 7 days


  • Heavy use of your RAM
  • Not all features are available yet
  • Doesn’t have any keyword tagging feature like Lightroom
  • Presets are no longer editable
  • Exposure-blending has its limits and is not as effective as specialized plugins such as Raya Pro (here is my review)
  • Lack of batch editing features

Should you get Luminar Neo?

luminar review

Well, it depends. As I mentioned earlier, Luminar is an amazing tool if you are not an advanced Photoshop user (in this case check out my Elia Locardi video series review) and/or think that Photoshop is too complicated. If you are just getting started with photo editing, then Luminar Neo is a no-brainer. It’s also way cheaper than Adobe’s software which requires a monthly subscription.

Another thing to consider is your photo editing style. If you mainly do reportage photography and don’t change much in your pictures, besides white balance, exposure, shadows, and highlights then you won’t probably need it. But in every other case, chances are that you’ll greatly benefit from the AI tools and automation that Luminar Neo offers.

The AI power line and dust removal tools are great and will save you a ton of time. The same goes for the AI Sky replacement tools, in my opinion, the better in the market.

I hope this review clarified a few doubts. As I stated at the beginning of the article, I use Luminar and I’m very satisfied with the results, despite a few minor issues.

If you are also looking for some video courses check out this deal: really a good option to save a lot of money.

If you enjoyed reading this review check out my guide to start selling AI-generated images.

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