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Skylum has finally launched Luminar for iPad, but how does it compare to the desktop version of Luminar Neo? I’ve been playing around with the software on my iPad Air, and surprisingly, its editing is great but missing a few important features.

The first thing is that Luminar for iPad does not replace Luminar Neo; it is far from it. But it’s a decent app for easy editing on the go.

In the digital age, photographers are getting tired of subscription-based photo-editing software after Adobe led the way with the Creative Cloud subscription for Photoshop and Lightroom. Luminar on iPad costs $39 annually (currently on sale for $29), and a Luminar Neo subscription costs $119 every two years ($199 for a perpetual license). Do photographers really want another subscription? It’s highly unlikely.

Personally, I would have liked to see Luminar on iPad included in the price of Luminar Neo, like how there is a free version of Lightroom Mobile, and the premium version is included with a Lightroom subscription. I think it’s a better business model for Skylum and would make Luminar Neo users happier.


Luminar for iPad Review

As I opened up the software, I was quickly able to identify what each tool does. The UI for temperature and tint is well-designed. It took a minute to figure out the HSBW tools (highlights, shadows, blacks, and whites) because they could easily be confused for HSL or HSB.

Speaking of HSL, Luminar for iPad does not have an HSL or a specific color grading tool. However, it does have a tone curve with RGB channels and a filter section with Fujifilm-like presets.

The interface is easy to use for professional photographers and enthusiasts, but beginners or people who just want to make a quick edit will not have a great UX. The reason I say this is because how many non-photographers would know what the HSWB tools do? Even the obvious exposure tool with the sun icon may not always be obvious to some users.

Once you start using a tool, the tool name will pop up right above the photo. Finding the right adjustment sliders will be trial and error for some users.

On the other hand, Lightroom Mobile on iPad cleverly labels its tools, providing users an idea of what the tools will do without trial and error.

The UI and UX are undeniably important to an app’s user retention.

luminar ipad interface
The Luminar iPad interface looks cool, but beginners may have a hard time understanding the adjustment tools.

Available Tools for Luminar on iPad

  • crop and straighten
  • healing brush
  • temperature and tint
  • highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks
  • exposure and contrast
  • vignette
  • saturation and vibrance
  • Enhance AI
  • Structure AI
  • Relight AI
  • Landscape AI: foliage enhance, dehaze, golden hour
  • sharpen and detail
  • tone curve
  • monochrome
  • Background AI
  • portrait toning
Luminar on iPad filters screenshot
A few basic adjustments and the Genius filter were applied.

Landscape Photography Editing

Luminar for iPad does an astounding job with its AI tools. Enhance AI is one of the better AI tools because it controls all basic adjustments, including saturation and contrast, with one dial. I’ve been primarily a landscape photographer during my travels, and Enhance AI is pretty neat.

If I want to add texture or detail to my landscapes, I can use Structure AI. Plus, there’s a dedicated landscape section to improve foliage, dehaze, and adjust golden-hour lighting.

luminar ipad enhance ai
With one adjustment, Enhance AI, I was able to correct the entire image.

What I Don’t Like about Luminar on iPad

Comparing it to desktop and mobile photography software, I quickly noticed there’s no masking tool (other than the AI sky replacement). Masking is so important to local adjustments, especially if you want to focus on the subject or a color. One thing I enjoy doing is selective color photography, which is easily attainable on mobile photography apps.

Since this is the first version of Luminar for iPad, I assume masking will be added later.

Another thing I noticed was there is no reset button to discard all the changes. You can only undo one edit at a time. I’m hoping I just missed finding the reset all edits function.

Luminar for iPad also doesn’t save your adjustments unless I totally overlooked this important feature. This means that after you finish editing, you can’t close the app or go back to the photo album without first saving (sharing) your photo and using additional storage space. This is a real downer. Many photographers return to an edited photo later with a clear mind to make final adjustments.

Final Thoughts on Luminar iPad

Luminar for iPad is a welcoming competitor to mobile photography apps. Its AI tools of Enhance, Structure, Relight, Landscape, and Sky Replacement, offer advanced, quick editing for landscapes that other mobile photography apps lack. The filters section also has Fujifilm color presets to give portraits a professional vintage look.

On the other hand, Luminar for iPad requires improvements, especially its interface for users who are not familiar with Skylum or photography software in general. At a regular price of $39 per year, it’s a tough price to swallow, and it’s not included with a Luminar Neo subscription, unlike Lightroom Mobile, which is free with a premium version.

Vincent Croos
About the Author: Vincent Croos

Hola Parceros,

I’m the founder of Aperlust. I enjoy web development and SEO and am into snowboarding and linguistics. In my spare time, you can find me destroying my opponents in chess across the globe.

Luminar for iPad
luminar on ipad

Skylum has finally launched Luminar for iPad, but how does it compare to the desktop version of Luminar Neo? I've been playing around with the software on my iPad Air, and surprisingly, its editing is great but missing a few important features.

Price: 39

Price Currency: USD

Operating System: iOS

Application Category: DesignApplication

Editor's Rating:


  • Improves images with Enhance, Stucture, and Relight AI.
  • Easily replaces sky backgrounds.
  • Remove debris and dust spots with healing brush.


  • Additional cost to Luminar Neo.
  • No masking with layers.
  • UI not well labeled.

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