With the recent reveal of Luminar Neo, Skylum users have questioned the direction the company and its product line are heading in and what will become of current software. Luminar 4 is being retired, but the company says Neo isn’t its replacement.
Luminar Neo is set to ship this winter and had it been framed as an alternative to Luminar 4 and Luminar AI with different tools and a different purpose, there very likely would not be the level of confusion and frustration that has been voiced. However, as Luminar Neo was moved to the front as the primary Skylum product, Luminar 4 and its current user base were left asking what the future held for them.
As previously shared by PetaPixel, Luminar 4’s users have felt let down by the company’s product strategy. They cite Skylum’s track record shows and say that it regularly releases a new product that bears close similarities to existing software instead of focusing on regular updates that keep the customer base loyal and make them feel listened to.
The company takes the stance that it is making the best decisions it can to provide software that can grow moving forward as well as provide powerful new tools. Skylum says that Luminar Neo is built upon a new engine that is supposed to enable a smoother and faster workflow which also has the benefit of being more scalable for future upgrades and additions, which it says is not the case with Luminar 4.
Up to this point, Skylum has seemed hesitant to provide a straight answer about the future of Luminar 4, but during a webinar this week the company finally clarified its stance: Luminar 4 will be retired — in fact, it already has been. The company says that it will continue to provide support to current users for a limited period (specifically one year after the product was purchased) before it will be shelved for good.
Upon visiting the Skylum website, Luminar 4 has already been removed. in its place, the new flagship editor Luminar Neo has taken the spotlight, alongside Luminar AI, which the company says is a simpler and faster editor for less complex editing needs. Luminar Neo, on the other hand, brings flexibility and choices as a powerful multi-layered editor and is also heavily powered by AI.
Strangely, the company still doesn’t say that Neo actually replaces Luminar 4, however.
“Luminar Neo is not a replacement for Luminar 4, it solves different problems,” the company said during the online briefing.
According to Skylum, the new software carries four main values: high performance, the ability to achieve professional results, flexibility, and simplicity that makes it fun to use. It is clear that Luminar Neo is where the company has invested most resources and time because this editor offers Skylum future possibilities to build upon. Skylum has also noted that it doesn’t intend to add any major additional tools to Luminar AI and will focus more on improvements for it instead.
For Adobe users, Skylum compares Luminar AI closer to Adobe Lightroom and its capabilities of making fast and simple edits, while Luminar Neo is more akin to Adobe Photoshop with options to build refined images. The company says that current Luminar AI users may or may not find that they want to add Luminar Neo to their workflow for additional flexibility and access to more complex editing tasks — that choice is up to them.
However, when it comes to Luminar 4 users — they are being encouraged to upgrade. The company further incentivizes this by promising to offer catalog migration tools for Luminar 4 users to Neo, but has not revealed concrete details about this at the time of publication. For those who use Luminar AI already and want to purchase Luminar Neo when it ships, Skylum will also offer migration packs to convert templates for use in the new software.
Skylum has shared several impressive AI-based tools the new software will offer — like AI-powered masking that makes the job as easy as couple of mouse clicks, Portrait Bokeh AI, Atmosphere AI, Relight AI, and many more. Even though starting fresh can deliver faster performance, smoother experience, and better tools, it is evident that a move like this can cause a disruption to a photographer’s workflow.
The company is proud of its new more powerful editing engine and the possibilities it can deliver in the future, particularly in regards to making complex tasks easily achievable by photographers of all levels. However, there still remains a disconnect between what the company envisions for its future and how its current users feel about the products. When Luminar Neo ships this winter, it will become more clear how the new editor fits in the Luminar product family and if users will appreciate what Skylum is doing the same way the company seems to.