• Anthony Turnham

Luminar AI - Best new photo editor? Is it worth it?


Luminar has been the pioneering force in bringing artificial intelligence, known as AI, to photo editing and they have a new offering that's set to revolutionise the photo editing industry. But is it going to live up to the hype?


As excited as I am over the prospect of getting some time back in my life because AI is taking care of more of the mundane, time-consuming parts of photo editing, I’m also a little gutted. Why? Because it’s effectively making over 25 years of hard work learning the intricacies of Photoshop redundant.


Let's take a look at the new and upcoming release of Luminar AI, talk about what’s new, why Skylum has released Luminar AI, why you may feel peeved if you already have Luminar 4, and I’ll throw in my 2 cents as to why you shouldn’t.


Luminar AI Overview – In a nutshell

Luminar AI is a completely brand new editor that is built on a powerful yet easy to use AI engine. The first of its kind. It’s main goal is to help you edit amazing photos simply and efficiently. The developers say, “ LuminarAI simplifies complex tasks and removes boring manual work.” And if the current version Luminar 4 is anything to go by, I have no reason to doubt that.


As their tag line goes. Simply Amazing – Amzingly Simple.

Overview of the new editing software and why it’s different

This isn’t Luminar 5 people. It’s a brand new application that has been rebuilt completely under the hood. The software is the first photo editor of its kind that is completely driven by an AI engine. Whereas in the past, Luminar was a photo editor that contained AI tools to make your editing easier. Now Luminar IS a full AI engine that enables the help of Ai right from start to finish.

For example, its neural networks (sounds like something out of the Terminator!) recognizes scene elements and then makes enhancement recommendations using templates, sky, water, skin, trees, etc. it’s pretty amazing stuff.

So what’s so different about Luminar AI compared to a traditional Photo editor like Photoshop?

I tuned in for a webinar where the developers of LjuminarAI were putting forward their mission and goals behind the software. I’ll be honest, I was impressed! Not only was I impressed I was excited by the prospect. They’re taking the current photo editing approach and completely rethinking it for the better.

Photoshop has been around in one form or another since 1987. Yep, in digital photo editing terms, that’s like the dawn of time. And to this day, many of the tools that it was founded on during its first few releases, are still central to the way we process images. I studied computer graphics at University and have used these tools for decades so they make sense to me. But looking from the outside in, they’re actually pretty mind boggling! Surely there’s an easier way to get your photos looking great. That’s what Skylum figured, and that’s the driving force behind the company and their vision.


The main goal of Luminar is to allow the users to focus on achieving great results not the process that gets them there. With attention on the enjoying the process not getting bogged down in complexity. But Skylum are quick to point out, powerful doesn’t have to mean complex. And this is highlighted by one of their software taglines – “Simply amazing, amazingly simple”. Liking the sound of it? Get Luminar AI here.


What’s New in Luminar AI

As well as a host of new AI tools, Luminar AI Templates are at the very core of the new LuminarAI. LuminarAI recognizes the contents of a photo, suggesting the best templates to speed up the editing process. Each template collection helps tell a story. These edits can be applied and refined instantly. While artificial intelligence guides the way, throughout the entire editing process, artists retain complete control over the edits they make, the tools they choose and how they interact with their photos.

Great photography is for everyone, and with the brand-new Luminar AI, digital artists across the globe can tell their story through photography. Luminar AI simplifies photo editing without sacrificing quality and creativity.

Portraits take on new life.

Use BodyAI and FaceAI to gently sculpt and refine a portrait.

Create eyes that are rich and expressive with IrisAI.

Remove blemishes and imperfections naturally with SkinAI.

Landscape photography has never looked better.

Add depth and detail to skies with AtmosphereAI and Sky Enhancer.

Transform a photo and add an all-new sky in seconds with SkyAI.

Bring warmth with Golden Hour or even enhance the sun with Sunrays.

Professional finishing with less hassle.

Looking for more detail and texture? Then StructureAI is the perfect addition.

Get the perfect crop with CompositionAI and fix crooked images.

With AccentAI, a photo has perfect exposure and color.

What Are The Main Benefits?

  1. AI is at the core, rather than just used in specific tools which means it should make editing photos quicker and easier than ever.

  2. AI scene recognition means Luminar AI can make suggestions straight away about how to edit your photo. This can really help if you’re creatively stuck. Remember – it’s just a suggestion and you’re still in control.

  3. Removes stress from editing for newcomers and hobbyists because you can get the results without having to know or learn a bunch of techniques like you do in Photoshop or other photo editors.

  4. Creative liberation. Because results are so quick, you’ll be free to play around and try different looks without losing a whole heap of time.

  5. It’s a photo editor that gives great results for a beginner but grows with you and still has huge benefits even for working professional photographers (I know – I am one, and I use Luminar 4 almost daily).


Is Luminar AI worth it?

This is a really valid question and the answer depends on your situation. So let me speak from a professional point of view.

As a professional photographer If you’ve seen my architectural videos you’ll know I mention pricing in there and a single image licence is sold for more than a copy of Luminar, so when I go to a shoot and there’s a drab overcast day and I can recover the photos from that session with one tool in seconds (I’m talking about AI Sky Replace) then straight away it’s paid for itself. I’ve done a video on a landscape photo where I used the sunrays tool. I’ve since sold a print of that shot for $295 – again, paid for itself. And just one more example in case you haven’t got the point. I’ve created a look that I’ve added to every single architectural photo that I apply automatically, whether I’ve edited the intitial shot in Lightroom, Photoshop or Luminar.

So from a professional point of view, if a tool I use puts money in my pocket – more than what I paid for it, then absolutely I’m getting it. If a tool gives me time back greater tha the expense of that tool – then I’m getting it. It’s a business no brainer. So yes, absolutely professionally it’s worth it.

As A hobbyist Phototgrapher

If you dabble in photography and you already have Luminar 4, then the decision is a little tougher. It comes down to whether or not you want the new AI tools and the faster engine appeals to you. If you’re happy with Luminar 4 then consider staying there. Your software will continue working forever. Personally I love getting new tools, and the timesaving again is worth considering.

Someone Brand New To Photo Editing

At it’s core, the concept behind Luminar AI is perfectly designed for the newbie. Why? Because of how simple it is to use. Great results without the hassle.

You don’t need to know what a histogram is, what luminosity masks are, or how to improve a portrait with frequency separation. AI does all the heavy lifting for you while you like like a boss. As your confidence grows, if you want you can delve into the tools to make adjustments. But as a new photographer or new photo editor, you really don’t need to! Perfect.

The AI tools will make it super easy to get great results with the minimum of fuss or knowledge.

Anthony – I’m Pissed Off because I recently bought Luminar 4 and now they’re releasing a new application? Grrrr!

Firstly that’s not a question. But here’s the thing. I felt similarly frustrated that Luminar are releasing something new. I worked hard on a lot of free training for my channel – and that’s going to become redundant. So I get it. But in a webinar, a guy from Skylum explained it this way (and I’m paraphrasing here because it was a webinar and it went too fast for me to write down)… Suppose you bought a car in 2018, you’re very happy with the car but then you go back this year to the garage and see there’s a new model. It’s got an electric motor and other fancy new features which you really like, but your old car works just fine. You don’t have to buy it. But you’re not mad at the car manufacturer because they’ve released a new model that has upgraded features, or has a better engine. And you certainly don’t expect that because you already bought the 2018 model you should be entitled to the new model for free. So it’s your decision to either stick with your current car or invest in the new model.

My 2 cents

I’ve already seen a lot of whining because Skylum have developed and released Luminar AI. Personally I’m grateful that there’s tech head programmers working on new cool stuff. And while I appreciate everyone has a different budget, I grew up in a time when Photoshop was nearly $1000 and I used 3D animation software that was several thousand dollars. To me, paying $69 for all of the functionality and tools and time it saves and creative possibilities that are opened up, is nothing. Adobe and other software companies would be out of business a long time ago if they charged for their product at release in 1990 and never charged for new releases. Where would be their incentive as a business to keep creating new and innovative software for us the users?

When is it available

While an official release date has not been confirmed it has been given the loose timeframe of this holiday season. So that’s probably sometime from November or December 2020 through to January 2021.


How do I get it?

Being first pays off! Skylum are running a pretty enticing pre-order sale. They assured me during the webinar that the first 30,000 people pre-ordering will get the lowest price LuminarAI will ever be. There is also zero risk with their 30-day money-back guarantee from the product launch date, AND as a special thank you, they give you access to their AI Insiders Community which has got a load of free content. So all in all, I think it’s a no brainer. Here’s the link to get Luminar AI with the earlybird discount.

Also if you have a previous version of Luminar you will receive an additional $10 off at the checkout. I also have a discount code ATSKY10, but during this pre-release sale, because it’s already discounted, that code doesn’t apply. After that though… pop it in and you should receive a discount.

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