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Last updated on December 29th, 2021

Well — Skylum is releasing another photography software. This time it’s called Luminar Neo, and it will be released end of winter 21/22. My initial thinking is if Luminar Neo is going to replace Luminar AI and Luminar 4. In this Luminar Neo review, I’ll cover if Luminar Neo is worth it.

I have an early access version of Luminar Neo, which is also available to customers who have pre-ordered Luminar Neo. The early access version is missing important features but is fully functional to make fantastic images. Screenshots of Luminar Neo will differ when the full version is released.

Luminar Neo image sample

Luminar 4

Let’s just get one thing out of the way, Luminar 4 has reached its end-of-life cycle. Meaning it won’t be receiving any upgrades, bug fixes, or OS compatibility updates after August 2022. This will disappoint many photographers who moved away from Lightroom to Luminar 4. A better alternative to Lightroom and Luminar 4 is Capture One. You can read my Capture One review for more information.

Luminar Neo vs Luminar AI

So, what about Luminar Neo vs Luminar AI? From what Skylum mentions on their website, Luminar Neo will have nearly all the same features as Luminar AI. In other words, and the way I see it, Luminar Neo is an updated version of Luminar AI.

But the new Luminar Neo will have a faster engine (framework), making the Luminar Neo application’s performance smoother on Windows and macOS — we hope. In addition to the new engine, Luminar Neo will have new features, and upgraded tools that are on Luminar AI but with better execution.

What does this all mean? Luminar Neo will have better tools and a faster workflow, according to Skylum. The company is banking on this, and if there are any issues, customers can get a full refund for Luminar Neo within 30 days.

Should you buy Luminar AI? No, because Luminar Neo will replace it, in my opinion. Should you get Luminar Neo if you already have Luminar AI? Personally, I would wait for Skylum’s following software after Luminar Neo. This is a common practice for software owners to skip an upgrade year to save on costs.

Luminar Neo Review

Now in the following sections, I’ll focus on some of Luminar Neo’s features and what I know so far.

Relight AI

Luminar Neo relight

Luminar Neo’s Relight tool is a neat feature that allows photographers to quickly correct an image’s exposure with one or a few clicks. The software can analyze the photo’s depth in 3D and apply exposure adjustments to the 2D image. This allows users to make photos aesthetic without masking.

Furthermore, you’ll be able to retouch the light in the background or foreground individually, providing photographers more control of their images.

Mask AI

Luminar Neo Mask AI

The days of using Photoshop layers and masking are simpler with Luminar Neo’s Mask AI. The software quickly masks background or subjects without using the conventional masking brush. Luminar Neo detects edges and applies the mask automatically.

You can use Mask AI along with layers to make composite images which are usually done in Photoshop.

Though Mask AI is new to Luminar Neo, the idea of the tool is quite old since other photography software already have this feature, including the original Mask AI by Topaz Labs.

Portrait Background Removal

Luminar Neo Portrait Background Removal

Changing the background of portraits couldn’t be any easier with the Portrait Background Removal tool from Luminar AI.

The tool allows changing the background with a few clicks without masking. Luminar Neo does the masking in the background.

In addition, the background exposure and color will automatically be applied to the portrait/person so that color grading is not required to match the background and subject.

I’ll assume Luminar Neo will ship with a few background presets as it did with Luminar AI and Luminar 4’s Sky Replacement tools.

Automatic Spot Removal

Dust and dirt are often nuisances in photography. They can get on your lens or image sensor. The previous method of removing dust and dirt spots was to use a spot removal brush and remove one individually. This method can add extra time to your workflow when you have to edit an album.

With Luminar Neo’s Automatic Spot Removal tool, the software can remove the spots in one click. Pretty neat. I’ll have to test how accurate it is.

Remove Unwanted Power Lines

Power lines often ruin cityscape images. The Line Removal Tool allows users to paint over power lines and remove them effortlessly. I’ll have to check how it compares to Lightroom. And I wonder if it will work with fences.

Mobile App

So the Luminar Neo Mobile App sounds interesting. And it’s a new step for Skylum since they never offered a mobile app before.

You’ll be able to capture photos with your smartphone, and they’ll be automatically added to your Luminar Neo desktop application. In turn, you can edit the photos on your desktop, and the edited versions will be synced back to your smartphone. You’ll most like need cloud storage for the syncing. Check out the best cloud storage for photography.

With the mobile app, there is one thing missing — image editing. It doesn’t sound like the Luminar Neo Mobile App will have any basic image editing. Even the free mobile versions of Photoshop and Lightroom have basic editing, which is sufficient for many Instagrammers.

Personally, I prefer to edit my photos on desktop photography software because they offer more tools. But sometimes, I do edit images on mobile photo apps when I’m not editing hardcore.

This may be Skylum’s first step in providing a more comprehensive mobile photography app.


The preorder sale price for Luminar Neo is $65 for 1 seat and $76 for 2 seats. These will probably be the lowest prices you can buy Luminar Neo. The seats refer to how many installations on different devices you can have.

After the presale, you can click here and use coupon code aperlust to receive $10 off the regular price of Luminar Neo.


I think Luminar Neo will be a great creative image editor. Like Luminar AI, it allows beginners to instantly create aesthetic images and saves time for professional photographers.

The question really is how long the life cycle of Luminar Neo will be. But remember, as long as your computer meets the system requirements and with Luminar Neo’s perpetual license, you can technically use the software forever.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will Luminar Neo be released?

The early access version of Luminar Neo has been released. The full, stable version of Luminar Neo will be released at the end of winter 2021/22. Currently, the software can be purchased at discount during its presale launch.

Is there a Luminar Neo discount code?

The current presale of Luminar Neo will offer the cheapest price without a discount code. After the presale ends, you can use promo code aperlust for $10 off the regular price of Luminar Neo.