Luminar AI released: promises faster workflow without compromising creative control

Skylum first announced Luminar AI in September. In the subsequent months, Skylum teased the software’s impressive AI-powered features, including water reflections when using sky replacement. Today, Luminar AI officially launched.

Luminar AI offers a wide array of new features and improvements. A unifying theme throughout is AI-powered technology and the impact these new AI tools will have on workflows for photographers of all levels. Skylum has aimed to automate processes – and save photographers time – without removing the creative input of the photographer.

Luminar includes Enhance AI, a pair of sliders comprising Accent AI and Sky Enhancer AI. Image credit: Iurie Belegurschi.

Skylum CEO Alex Tsepko says, ‘Our approach to AI lines up with that of the best minds in the field. What differentiates Skylum is our human-centric application of this incredibly powerful technology. In my experience, only 30% of our time is actually spent being creative. Luminar AI uses artificial intelligence to flip those metrics. We created Luminar AI so people can focus on the outcomes and photos, and not worry so much about the editing process.’

At the core of Luminar AI is a new Templates system. This system automatically scans and analyzes each of your photos, identifying the subject and searching for problem areas. Luminar AI then recommends specific Templates designed for the identified subject and capable of addressing any problems with the image. Photographers can then select a Template, tweak it or skip the Template process entirely.

Of Templates, Skylum CPO Dima Sytnik says, ‘The built-in AI assistant in Templates sees the relationships between all of the elements in a photo, thanks to 3D depth mapping. Templates are designed with the help of many incredibly well-respected photographers and photo editors, to achieve very specific edits and enhancements to individual components of an image.’ Templates can be viewed as starting points or ending points. If you don’t want to spend time manually editing images, Luminar AI promises to give you that option without sacrificing quality.

Processing and retouching portrait images can be a time-consuming process. Luminar AI has numerous tools designed to speed up portrait retouching. Face AI fine tunes the details of a subject’s face, for example, while Iris AI allows quick retouching to eyes. You can completely change the color of a subject’s eyes using Iris AI. If you want, you can subtly change the shape of a subject’s body using Body AI. To speed up skin retouching, a common process in portrait processing, Skin AI leverages artificial intelligence to reduce blemishes and shine.

Landscape photographers can spice up their images using Sky AI and Atmosphere AI. The former tool automatically recognizes and creates a mask of the sky, allowing you to enhance existing details in the sky or replace it altogether. As mentioned earlier, sky replacement now includes the ability to work with reflections in water, which is a game changer when compared to Sky Replacement in Luminar 4. Atmosphere AI allows users to add realistic effects such as fog, mist and haze, while automatically recognizing elements in your image. Atmosphere AI is powered by ‘a unique 3D depth mapping technology’ to ensure ‘photo-realistic results’.

Luminar AI features Templates, a new AI-powered feature that analyzes your image and suggests different starting points based on the subject and any ‘problem areas’ the software identifies in your photo. Image credit: Cuma Cevik.

Underlying the new features and improved AI performance is an all-new AI engine. The result is a ‘faster and smarter’ photo editor compared to Luminar 4. The team at Skylum has classified more than 7,000 kinds of objects. New 3D depth reconstruction works to analyze and determine the placement of objects, which results in improved results when adjusting depth of field or adding atmosphere to your image using Atmosphere AI.

In addition to portraits and landscapes, any image can benefit from Luminar AI’s Accent AI tool. This tool intelligently applies a variety of adjustments based on the selected image. When deciding on the ideal crop for a photo, the new Composition AI tool suggests the ‘best framing’ based on different composition rules, including the rule of thirds.

Luminar AI’s Composition AI suggests crops for your image using traditional composition rules. Image credit: Cuma Cevik.

More general improvements include a new nondestructive Local Adjustments tool that allows the user to brush in color, detail and sharpness. Luminar states that this tool is ‘much faster and easier than traditional layers.’ Skylum has also improved the Eraser and Clone & Stamp tools. These tools are non-destructive and can be used at any stage of the editing process. Color grading tools are improved as well thanks to new Moods (which are powered by LUTs) and the Color Harmony tool.

Luminar AI is available as a standalone application and as a plugin. You can use Luminar AI as a plugin for Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop. Luminar AI can also be used as an extension for Apple Photos. Luminar AI is available to purchase from Skylum. For a single lifetime license, Luminar AI is $79 USD. A second license increases the total to $99.

Luminar AI can also be purchased alongside a Luminar X Membership, which includes an additional $59 annual charge. Luminar X includes monthly ‘creative assets,’ 8 professional photo courses per year, a bonus course available at the time of purchase, 10 new Templates per month, 10 new Sky Textures per month and a 15% discount on all items purchased in the Luminar Marketplace.