There is no doubt that cameras and smartphones have come a long way over the years. But, they are still not the best at adjusting different image attributes on their own.
You still need to manually adjust certain things like brightness, contrast ratio, shadows, vignette, and more. Not to mention the small adjustments that we have to make in specific scenarios – such as enhancing the makeup on a portrait and removing stray hairs from the shot.
So, that’s definitely a lot of work, huh? Image editing isn’t an easy thing to do. Especially if you’re a beginner and even more so if you’re a beginner without a lot of time in his/her hands.
Thankfully, AI-powered image editors like Luminar 4 are on the rise now to help us deal with such things faster and more efficiently. Let us take a closer look at it and see just how much we can accomplish by using it!
[ Suggested Read: Luminar AI vs. Luminar Neo – The Race for a Modern, Faster & Simple Photo Editor ]
What’s Luminar 4?
Luminar 4 is an image editor. However, unlike other, traditional options such as Photoshop and other alternatives, it heavily relies on AI tools to make image editing much easier and faster.
Careful! We’re not talking about the traditional filters that we can find on Instagram or anything like that.
Luminar 4 can recognize what’s the background, foreground, shadows, corners, buildings, the sky, and other details on your picture and adjust certain settings automatically. For example, if you take a close-up shot of a flower, Luminar should be able to separate the flower from the soil and adjust each part accordingly for brightness, contrast, depth of field, etc.
Not to mention that it can even recognize and replace/fix things like structures and the sky!
If you’re a beginner editor who’s not too familiar with all these terms or someone who just needs to get some basic adjustments done as fast as possible, then you can definitely take advantage of this program!
Luminar 4 review: our favorite new updates
Luminar 4 is an improvement over the previous version in a number of different ways. One of them is all the new features that it brings to the table.
For once, as we mentioned above, we definitely love how the AI can recognize various objects and interacts with them accordingly. For example, look at the image above.
The program manages to fix the blurry background while leaving the person untouched. Doing that with a traditional image editor would require you to patiently sit and draw a line around the model so that you would exclude her from any extra edits.
And if you think that’s impressive, well, we’re just getting started. This is nothing compared to the AI sky replacement.
This is a feature that automatically recognizes the sky and gives you the option of replacing it with an artificial one that looks just as real and stunning as the real deal!
But there’s actually more to it than that. As you can see in the example above, it’s not just that you’re inserting a sky, but the overall color palette of the image changes in order to fit the new sky as well!
Not to mention that there is a lot of control over how the sky will be implemented.
You can control the illumination, blending, position, focus, temperature, exposure, and even more than that. And, of course, after editing all of that, there is always the option of making extra adjustments to the image as well.
Overall, this is one great tool.
AI skin enhancer
Humans aren’t perfect. We are full of wrinkles, blemishes, dark circles, and things like that. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Beauty can be found on imperfections as well.
However, a perfect picture has no room for mistakes – even if the subject is a person. That’s where tools such as Skin Enhancer can come in handy.
This tool can detect and fix skin imperfections without details such as skin pores and hair. Not to mention things such as lighting and smoothness.
Of course, while it does work automatically, you do get to play with a lot of options as well. Eye whitening, red-eye removal, controlling how slim the face looks, enlarging the eyes, eyebrows, etc.
It’s practically an easy way to digitally apply makeup.
Other things that are worth mentioning
Luminar 4 has a lot to offer. If we were to go in detail for every single feature, this article would be way too long for your average person.
So, instead, here are some of the most useful options that you can use in a nutshell:
- Luminar 4 as a plugin: If you like Photoshop way too much to let go but you also want the AI tools of Luminar, do keep in mind that the program can also be used as a Plugin.
- AI Structure: You can use that to enhance the fix blurry photos and enhance numerous details.
- Smart Contrast: Unlike the traditional contrast adjustment tools, Smart Contrast can recognize what parts need to be enhanced.
- Sunrays: A great way to create artificial sunrays and artificial light.
- AI Enhance: A little tool that automatically adjusts everything for you (While also playing it a bit safe).
- Lots of traditional filters: Hard to go wrong with them.
- Erase: A tool which you can use to remove people, animals, or other objects from a photo quickly and easily.
- And more…
Are AI tools bad for photographers?
There is no doubt that lots of people may find AI tools to be a bad thing. Especially experienced photographers and/or editors.
But, are they, really? If you ask us, we believe that there is no universal answer. It all comes down to the personal opinion of each and every one of us.
There is the argument that such tools destroy creativity and the artistic spirit. However, there is also the argument that these kinds of programs can help us focus on what really matters. Things like trying out different locations, different corners, and anything like that.
Not to mention that a lot of people don’t really give a damn. Many of us just don’t care about being editors or photographers.
Some casual photographers are just that; casual. They are not interested in becoming artists – and we see nothing wrong with that.
Again, some of us don’t have time to sit down and learn how to adjust everything manually. But we still want our pictures to look better without having to hire an editor. So, what’s the harm in using AI-powered editors instead?
At the end of the day, if you feel like freeing yourself and getting creative on your own, nobody is going to stop you. And there’s no need to buy a separate editor either.
Most AI-powered editors, including Luminar 4, will also offer some basic image editing features. There is always room for manual editing.
In conclusion, AI tools can be both good and bad – depending on who you ask. We personally think that most professionals won’t be interested in them. But, beginners, casual photographers, and anyone who doesn’t have a lot of time in his hands to spend on editing will appreciate such things.
How does it work? Luminar 4 editing examples
So, Luminar 4 definitely sounds good in practice. You insert your picture, press a couple of buttons, and it does all the work for us. Sweet.
But, how well does it work in real life, really? Well, let’s find out, shall we?
This is a stock photo and you see it as it was captured from the camera. We had to compress it a bit in order to fit it on this page (It was way too big in its raw format). But, other than that, this is as stock as you can get.
This is how it looks with nothing but the AI Enhancer. Even without any additional touches, you can see just how the colors are more vibrant and that the details are a bit sharper. That’s with nothing but a single click.
But, as we mentioned above, if you wish to take the extra step and become a bit more creative, there is always room for it.
10 minutes later and after manually editing things like contrast, brightness, temperature, shadows, highlights, sharpness, sunrays, and a couple of other things that we probably forgot to mention, this is the (Kind of abstract) result.
Overall, you can either let Luminar do the work for you or you can also go out and indulge in your bursts of inspiration to create something new out of a single image. Your choice.
Also, in case you didn’t notice, the AI managed to tell apart the flower from its background and that’s why we were able to adjust the leaves without turning the flower from red to blue.
One last sample where you can see how much difference a single AI enhancement can make without any further adjustments and/or edits.
Can Luminar 4 replace Lightroom and Photoshop?
One of the first things that many people wonder when they first see the AI capabilities of Luminar is if they can replace Photoshop and/or Lightroom with it. And, honestly, it’s kind of a wrong approach.
This is like asking if trucks are better than racing cars. They are both great – but they excel in different things.
The racing car is extremely fast and fun to drive, but it’s not going to help you carry a heavy load. The truck, on the other hand, may be able to help in carrying a heavy load, but it’s also very slow and boring to drive.
It’s a similar situation with the Luminar 4 VS Lightroom/Photoshop comparison.
Luminar offers all these AI tools that automatically enhance your image while Photoshop along with Lightroom are more about being detailed, creative, and making every small change step by step.
That being said, as we saw in the examples above, Luminar 4 offers room for creativity – just not to the same level as Photoshop. And as we all know, Lightroom has a few AI tools as well – but they are nowhere near as decent as Luminar’s offerings (At least not at the point of writing this article).
So, in conclusion, there is no superior choice. All options have their own pros and cons. Want the best AI tools? Go with Luminar 4. Wanna invest time into becoming a full-fledged editor and taking matters into your own hands? Go with Photoshop. Need a middle ground? Then Lightroom is probably your best bet.
Luminar may not be able to replace Photoshop. But Photoshop cannot replace Luminar either. Again, pros and cons to everything. Pick whatever fits you best.
Is Luminar 4 the image editor for you?
Image editors, like many other programs, are targeted towards specific crowds. Photoshop has been the go-to choice for everyone since forever. But, the reality of the situation is that the learning curve is rather long – especially if you’re a beginner who has no idea about editing.
GIMP is known to be one of the best free alternatives, but it’s also not exactly easy to use. So, is Luminar 4 just an easy way out for those who don’t want to invest a lot of money, effort, or both into one of these programs? Well, yes – and no.
Luminar 4 isn’t just an easy way out of basic image editing. It’s also a great tool for creative people who don’t want to invest a ton of time into learning how to edit everything manually.
With things like custom sunrays, sky replacements, AI skin and foliage enhancements, and so much more stuff that you can use not just to improve an image, but to also make something brand new.
It’s something that can be used by beginners, artists, creative people, and even pros. Though, as we mentioned above, seasoned editors who like extreme attention to detail and editing in multiple layers at once will likely want to stick with Photoshop or something similar.
The final word
This concludes our review. Luminar 4 is a breath of fresh air into the world if image editing that can be used by beginners and pros alike.
All the AI tools aren’t just there to make editing easier. But they also allow us to do things that were either impossible or required way too much time to be done manually – like inserting a custom sky or improving the skin of a model.
You can generally find it anywhere from 89 all the way up to 169 dollars – depending on what you need. Though, do keep in mind that buying all the add-ons separately will set you back at 93USD.
Kindly note that Holiday $10 discount sales will go live on December 20. The price will drop to $79 for new customers and to $69 for owners of previous versions.
There is also also a 7 day trial version available if you want to try the software before buying. You can get it from the menu on the Luminar page on the skylum website.