This Luminar AI review is one of the first ones based on the user experience. Skylum, the company that released Luminar AI, has been kind enough to give me an early access to their Luminar AI.
I thoroughly tested this AI powered software, and I will share my findings in this honest Luminar AI review.
Luminar AI is an innovative AI-powered new photo-editing software that focuses on delivering outstanding results available to everyone, both pros and beginners.
“Luminar AI will help make image editing easier for everyone. We’ve removed the boring and difficult parts of photo editing without sacrificing creativity.” added Alex Tsepko, CEO of Skylum.
Luminar AI will be a standalone Windows and Mac software AND a plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop, allowing us to integrate its powerful features into our workflow with Adobe.
To make this as simple for as you possible, I’ll take you through this Luminar AI review, as if you were using Luminar AI yourself for the first time.
I will describe unique and new tools more in depth than those that you can find in any other photo editor.
Luminar AI Interface
When you first open Luminar AI, you’ll find yourself in Catalog, that is equivalent of Library in Lightroom. Mine is already filled with images, but yours will be empty.
In the top left corner, you’ll find LUMINARAI. By clicking it, you’ll open the menu with all the necessary menu options, that are pretty much the same as in Luminar 4.
Here’s a screenshot:
On the top part of the windows, you’ll find a bar of the main Luminar AI modules: +, Catalog, Templates, Edit, and Export.
By clicking the +, you open a small box asking you if you want to add a single image or a folder of images.
Let’s go through other modules one-by-one.
Luminar AI Catalog
As I already mentioned earlier, Luminar AI Catalog has a similar function as Lightroom’s library module.
Here, you’ll find all your images, that you can find by filtering them in the right sidebar.
Luminar AI Catalog isn’t any different from Luminar 4 Catalog. You can browse your images by viewing them all at once, you can see images that you imported as single edits, recently added, or even sort them by date.
You will also find Folders and Albums. Folder are literally the folders on your hard drive, that you can import into Luminar AI – any changes you make here, directly affect the real folders.
Albums are virtual folders, that you can create within the Luminar AI, and have no effect on the files on your computer.
Luminar AI Templates
Templates are arguably the biggest change you’ll see upgrading from Luminar 4 to Luminar AI.
You can think of Templates as automatic AI-powered presets, that Luminar AI automatically recommends based on the photo recognition.
Let’s look at how they work.
Open an image and click on Templates in the top part of the window. In the right sidebar, Luminar AI will instantly offer a handful of already installed Templates for you. You can find these on the top of the sidebar.
By selecting one of the collections, Easy Landscapes in my example, Luminar AI will open a series of around 6 Templates. You can click on them to instantly apply the edits; however, these edits are not permanent. You can click Edit in the top bar and adjust the Template, but more on that later.
Luminar AI Templates Summary:
Templates are super-useful for both beginners, who don’t have much photo editing knowledge, and professionals that just want to experiment around to see what works best. I like the Templates as a new part of Luminar AI, because they give me a general idea of what works well with my photo, but in the end I always reset all adjustments and perform all the edits myself.
Luminar AI Editing
With Luminar AI Editing hasn’t changed all that much, if you’re upgrading from Luminar 4. Some tools have been renamed and updated, but the most stayed the same.
I’ll go in detail only with the changed tools.
We already saw Sky Replacement in Luminar 4 and loved how accurately this tool masked in the sky into our shots; however, it didn’t take reflections into the account, making the replacement in such images quite obvious.
The new SkyAI changes that! Now, you can swap the skies and Luminar AI automatically adds reflections in water and to other reflective areas.
Check out this view by the official Skylum account to see the changes:
Let’s see if the SkyAI works as promised. I tested it out with two of my photos where there’s a very clear reflection in the lake.
On the first try, Luminar AI failed to even recognize the reflection and kept thinking that the forest in the back just floats somewhere in the sky. What you see in the water is not the reflection. Luminar AI masked out the lake reflection thinking it was the sky. Quite a big fail.
It’s also worth noting, that I spent quite some time playing around with the settings, but nothing could convince SkyAI tools that the water is water and not the sky.
Okay, let’s give it another shot.
The image below as my second attempt at the SkyAI. Although there was some mist above the lake, the reflection is still perfectly visible. This time Luminar AI didn’t recognize it as a sky, but it did not give it any reflection.
(I intentionally chose a preposterous example of clouds, so that you can better see the result)
I tried SkyAI on 3 other photos, all of which had very obvious reflections, but Luminar AI failed to mask in the sky properly in all of them.
Luminar AI Sky AI Summary:
I had big expectations for this upgraded tool, because I loved it in Luminar 4, but it was a huge let-down in Luminar AI. I imported the same images into Luminar 4, and its Sky Replacement successfully replaced the sky in all of them, although it can’t do reflections.
AtmosphereAI and Sky Enhancer
Landscape photographers will just love AtmosphereAI and Sky Enhancer. As you can notice in the comparison below, the AtmosphereAI tool looks a lot like a combination of Mystical and Fog tools from Luminar 4, but automatically applied in the best possible way.
Example above might seem over done with the amount of atmosphere added, but it clearly demonstrates what this tool is capable of.
These two tools will definitely be awesome additions for those photographers, who love moody or foggy conditions, and commercial photographers who are in desperate need for certain weather conditions.
In the second example, the atmosphere is much more carefully added.
Additionally, Luminar AI seem capable of recognizing the depth of an image and the distance of objects, as it “knows” how to add fog behind the trees and other objects.
BodyAI and FaceAI
BodyAI and FaceAI are designed to help sculpt and refine portraits.
These two tools semi-automatically make the body and the face of your portrait model slimmer.
We’ve already seen similar tools in Luminar 4, AI Skin & Portrait Enhancer, and we absolutely loved them. Alternatively, Photoshop is capable of doing the same, but it requires a lot more effort and experience. In Luminar AI, you just need to drag a slider – it’s that easy.
IrisAI is a rebranded tool which creates rich and expressive eyes – in Luminar 4 it was known as Eye Enhancer.
With beautiful eyes being one of the most desirable qualities, this tool will be a game-changer for portraits.
There are a few more tools that have been promised, but there is no additional information yet.
- StructureAI is the perfect tool to add more detail and texture,
- Crop and fix your images with CompositionAI,
- Achieve perfect exposure and colour with AccentAI
- Golden Hour and Sunrays – Golden Hour and Sunrays bring warm accents to photos, mimicking the light around sunrise and sunset, and allow us to enhance the sun by adding attractive sunrays.
Luminar AI Price
Luminar AI release is scheduled for this holiday season, however, you can pre-order it now.
Early bird price is limited to the first 30,000 customers, make sure you grab yours!
Luminar AI price:
- New customers: $69
- Luminar 4/Aurora HDR owners: $59
Early bird purchase grants you access to the exclusive Luminar AI Insiders community.
Skylum also promises 30-day money-back guarantee, so there is absolutely no risk for you.
In case you’re not 100% satisfied you can request a full refund by contacting support.
Preordering is risk-free and guarantees the best price.
Luminar AI vs Luminar 4
The key difference between Luminar AI vs Luminar 4 is the Templates. While a lot of editing tools have also been upgraded and updated, Templates are a completely new feature, that we have not previously seen in any Luminar version.
I ran side-by-side test to compare the performance of Luminar AI vs Luminar 4. Using the same PC and same software, Luminar AI ran significantly smoother during photo editing.
Luminar AI also starts faster on my PC. It takes Luminar 4 7.3 seconds to start on average, while Luminar AI boots in 5.6 seconds on average, resulting in a 23% faster performance.
I didn’t see any meaningful improvement in Catalog performance. Large RAW photos still take a long time to fully load.
Luminar AI vs Luminar 4 Summary:
While Luminar AI and Luminar 4 feel quite similar to use, Luminar AI feels smoother to use, and gives a better photo editing experience. The updated AI tools certainly live up to the hype.
Luminar AI System Requirements
These are the minimum and recommended Luminar AI system requirements.
Hardware: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, Mac Mini
CPU: Intel® Core™ i5 or better
Memory: 8 GB RAM or more (16+ GB RAM recommended)
OS: macOS 10.13.6 or higher. macOS 10.12 is NOT supported.
Hard disk: 10 GB of free space. SSD for best performance
Display: 1280×768 size or better
Hardware: Windows-based hardware PC with mouse or similar
CPU: Intel® Core™ i5 or better, AMD Ryzen™ 5 or better
Graphics: Open GL 3.3 or later compatible Graphic Cards
Memory: 8 GB RAM or more (16+ GB RAM recommended)
OS: Windows 10 64-bit ONLY. Windows 7 and WIndows 8.1 are not supported.
Hard disk: 10 GB of free space. SSD for best performance
Display: 1280×768 size or better
Luminar AI Plug-in hosts
- Lightroom Classic (starting from version 6)
- Photoshop (from version CS5)
- Photos for macOS
- Chinese Simplified
- Chinese Traditional
Five reason why Luminar AI is worth getting
#1 You’ll save a lot of time with Templates
Time is the most valuable asset you and I own, yet traditional photo editing tools take a lot of your precious time.
Majority of photo editors is built on the approach that been used for decades without improvements. You need to perfectly balance Exposure, Shadows, Highlights, Brightness, Contrast, Saturations, etc.
Mastering these settings takes years and even when you become a pro they still take time to perform.
Luminar AI features Accent AI which analyzes the image and automatically performs adjustments – you just need to drag ONE slider.
#2 You’ll be more productive
AI takes away the need for layers.
Professional photo retouching requires tens of layers, brushes, and masks, which not only make the process more complex but also slow down your device.
To fight that, AI performs multiple tasks with just one slider. For example, Skin AI smoothes skin, preserves texture, reduces shine, and removes blemishes.
#3 Boost your creativity
Not only is the starting part of editing the hardest, it also limits your creativity. You become too focused on one way to edit.
Luminar AI introduces Templates, which recognize the content of your image and recommend the most appropriate Template (=preset) for it, while you still retain the full control over the final product.
AI tools simplify the process. There’s no need for countless layers, masks, and tools. Everything is concentrated into a few powerful AI sliders.
#5 Designed for pros and amateurs
Luminar AI was designed based on the challenges that visual storytellers face when they’re creating, while keeping the tools to allow pros to retain full control over their images.
FAQ | Luminar AI review
I tried to answer as many question as possible here.
Feel free to ask more in the comments.
Is Luminar AI the next version of Luminar 4?
Luminar AI is a brand new product and NOT an upgrade to Luminar 4. Luminar 5 and 6 have not yet been confirmed.
Does AI mean the full-automation of photo editing?
No. The main purpose of AI is to make your image editing faster, more creative, and enjoyable. In Luminar AI the most complex and routine tasks are automated. Not matter what, you still maintain complete control over the process.
When will Luminar AI be released?
Luminar AI will be released this holiday season for Mac and Windows.
I own previous versions of Luminar. Do I get a discount?
Yes, everyone who owns a previous version of Luminar or the latest version of Aurora HDR will get a discount. To unlock your special offer you need to enter your activation code or registration email and click the Verify button.
Will Luminar 4 still be supported?
Luminar 4 will keep receiving compatibility and performance updates for at least one year after the new Luminar is released. You won’t be charged for these updates.
Luminar 4 will continue to run as long as your computer meets the system requirements.
Will Luminar AI be compatible with macOS Big Sur?
Yes, Luminar AI will be 100% compatible with Big Sur (macOS 11). It will be officially validated once Apple releases a final version towards the end of the year.
On how many devices can I use Luminar AI?
You can use the Luminar AI on one device – Mac or WIndows – as a standalone application and a plug-in.
You can purchase a license to use it on two or more devices. This costs more than a license for one device; however, it’s cheaper than two separate licenses.
There will also be licenses for small and medium-sized businesses.
Is Luminar AI fast?
The development of Luminar AI was focused on speed, performance, and ease-of-use.
For actual results, we’ll have to wait to the official release of the software so I can try it out.
Can I migrate Luminar 3/Luminar 4 catalog to Luminar AI?
Since Luminar AI is not just an upgrade but rather a brand-new program, you will no be able to move your catalogs.
Has the speed of Luminar AI been improved?
It’s too early to answer that question. As soon as I get access to Luminar AI, I will update this review.
The recent updates to Luminar 4 have brought speed improvements, so I believe the trend will continue in this way.
Is Luminar AI a non-destructive photo editor?
Yes, Luminar AI is a non-destructive photo editor.
Is it worth upgrading from Luminar 4 to Luminar AI?
It’s too early to say, since the software hasn’t been released yet.
Luminar AI will feature some unique and powerful AI tools, but it mostly depends on whether you need these tools or not.
Conclusion | Luminar AI reveal
When the Beta version of Luminar AI is released, this article will be upgraded into Luminar AI review.
If you want to be among the very first people to try Luminar AI, I recommend you you sign up for the early bird discount.
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Disclaimer: All my testings were performed on the Windows 10 version of Luminar AI on a high-performance desktop PC.
Matic is a landscape photographer from Slovenia and creator of Photutorial.