Skylum Today Announces Luminar 4 – What Now Happens to Luminar 3?
Today Skylum has announced Luminar 4, a paid upgrade to Luminar 3, shipping this fall. Details however are still vague as to what new features Luminar 4 will have outside of the one new feature being mentioned at today’s announcement, even though Luminar 4 is now available for pre-order.
What is that new feature, and what now happens with Luminar 3? Let’s take a look.
New Luminar 4 with Sky Replacement
As I just mentioned, outside of the new Sky Replacement feature I will discuss, Skylum is not mentioning any other new features coming to Luminar 4 at this time. This is a real curious marketing strategy for a number of reasons, but first I’ll talk about this new feature.
For years I as well as many other photographers have been requesting and waiting for Skylum to give us a content-aware smart brush for those of us who need to to cutouts or to do sky replacement. Something like what ON1 Photo RAW has as well as other programs.
Well for those looking for such a brush, it isn’t looking like this is it.
Rather, it looks like Skylum is instead relying on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to replace our skies for us.
How does it work? I honestly have no idea, as Skylum has not provided us reviewers with any beta versions nor any video screenshots of it in action at this time – just some sample photos and a whole lot of marketing text.
So I will let Skylum explain how Sky Replacement works:
“Utilizing the proprietary technology based on machine learning, Luminar 4 will be the first photo editor to have a fully automated Sky Replacement tool to save the artists hours of editing.
AI Sky Replacement works by automatically detecting not only the sky, but also objects in a photograph’s scene. This helps make sure the photo ends up being as realistic as possible once you insert a new sky. It removes things like halos, artifacts and edges of transitions, problems that often were present in existing sky replacement techniques. AI Sky Replacement automatically adjusts the sky to fit the rest of your images — things like depth of field, tone, exposure and color — making it great for not only landscapes, but also portraits.
When working on an image, the AI Sky Replacement technology automatically creates a mask for the sky, taking a step that would oftentimes take minutes or even hours, and boiling it down to mere seconds with just the click of a mouse. But that’s not all it does — AI Sky Replacement also correctly selects the orientation of the sky so that it looks as realistic as possible.
Furthermore, when you select your sky of choice, you’ll see the rest of your photo change in terms of light and color. This makes sure that an image and sky match so they appear they were taken during the same conditions. Because of the toning that AI Sky Replacement does to an image, it looks as natural and smooth as possible.”
I produced a gif of some of the marketing photos Skylum has provided us so you can see the results yourself.
Without me seeing this feature first-hand, it is impossible for me to know just how exciting of a feature this is. I am concerned however when they say this is the, “first photo editor to have a fully automated Sky Replacement tool”. Is there any manual override present in case the AI makes mistakes? Some of the horizon is missing in the sky replacement photo samples that Skylum did provide – will I be able to bring that missing horizon back? Will I be able to control the toning and color that the AI delivers?
At least one reviewer is saying that this feature will not currently work with your own cloud photos, meaning you have to use those supplied from Skylum. If this is true, this seriously limits the creative use of this new feature. It is also being reported that the AI Sky Replacement feature is not suited to photos where the sky is reflected in water – another serious limit of this feature.
Do we really want and need AI for everything photo processing related instead of the proper tools that let us create our own images? Is an AI camera coming up next, which will tell us what to photograph? As you can tell, I am not quite sure yet how much I like all this AI buzz that is becoming popular with certain photo programs… Maybe I am too old-school in preferring to have the correct tools to allow me to do things myself, instead of relying on some “intelligent” machine learning to produce images for me with little input or control from me.
But maybe too I am alone in my thoughts with AI? What do you think of AI for your photo processing? Let me know in the comments below!
What Other Features Are Coming to Luminar 4 So I Can Get Excited About Pre-Ordering?
Honestly, I have no idea, nor does anyone else outside of Skylum. If the Sky Replacement feature is a game-changer feature for you – and I am sure it might be for a some photographers – then pre-ordering might be for you right now. I’ll mention pre-ordering specials in a little bit.
What Now Happens to Luminar 3 and also Flex?
Great question, for which I have little info to go by from Skylum at this point.
I posed those questions and more directly to Alex Tsepko, the CEO of Skylum, on Monday, July 22, 2019.
On September 22, 2018 Alex wrote a blog post mentioning, “there will be no paid updates for Luminar until late 2019 at the earliest”. Luminar 3 features a Roadmap that implies new free updates to Luminar 3, with In Development containing features such as IPTC edit & sync, Hidden Features Powered By AI, and Planned features such as Virtual Copies, a Lightroom Migration Tool, and a Search function.
While I was thinking that “late 2019 at the earliest” meant that the next paid upgrade might be coming in December, it also kind of implied that it might even be pushed back to 2020. Bad assumption on my part, as it is shipping sometime this fall. Were you thinking the same as I was?
When I asked if Luminar 3 will still be updated for free following their own published Roadmap, the reply was, “Yes, there will be more updates to Luminar 3 based on the customer’s feedback. The team at Skylum puts its best effort to support the products, the partners and the customers.”
I am not sure if that means the Roadmap will be fulfilled for Luminar 3 users or not.
I will say that I have my doubts that Skylum will deliver on their Luminar 3 Roadmap, as I just read an interview with Alex published the other day where he said, “In autumn, we’ll be launching a new version of the software with updated editing functionality and even an updated UI”. In my experience, when a software company announces a new version, with a new and updated UI none-the-less, all hands are on that new version and the current version continues on with little or no new features added.
And what about Flex?
Unfortunately I have no clear answer as to when or if Flex will get the Sky Replacement feature, and if it will come as a free or paid update/upgrade.
Details on Pre-Ordering Luminar 4
Here is the deal Skylum is offering if you want to pre-order Luminar 4 at this point in time.
- Luminar 4 + Signature Looks bundle for US$59/€59 instead of US$138/€138
- Luminar 4 + Signature Looks + Luminar 3 bundle for US$99/€99 instead of US$207/€207
Usually when companies announce the newest paid upgrade for software, they allow people to purchase the current version and receive the next version for free when it comes out.
Skylum has chosen a different route.
If you don’t own Luminar 3 you can pre-order Luminar 4 with some Looks (presets) for US$59/€59 instead of US$138/€138.
If you want to buy and use Luminar 3 right now and get Luminar 4 when it comes out, it’s going to cost you more, US$99/€99 instead of US$207/€207
If you currently own Luminar 3 and want to upgrade right now, they have a special offer just for you but you better hurry, as this special offer is good for only the first 20,000 purchasers.
Should I Pre-Order Luminar 4 Today?
Truth be told, no, I don’t recommend purchasing Luminar 4 just yet.
Not until we know what’s happening with the DAM (digital asset management) features – and lack of promised features – that Luminar 3 currently has at this time. Not until we can see first-hand exactly how this Sky Replacement feature works, and what controls we have over the final results. Not until we get an idea on what other features Luminar 4 will be getting once it ships this fall.
This is the first time I have ever not recommended pre-ordering an upgrade with software I use all the time (I currently use Flex and try not to use Luminar 3 that much). But right now there are too many unanswered questions and too many curious moves by Skylum recently to prevent me from recommending this right now.
I hope that Skylum can soon change my mind.
How about you? Are you ready to upgrade? Let’s hear from you in the comments below!
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Disclosure about product links and affiliations: Some of the links I provide are affiliate links which means I get a small commission, with no additional cost to you, if you click it and end up buying something. It helps me provide free educational resources and articles. So if you use them, thank you! My affiliations however never influence my opinions on any products/services and I am only affiliated with companies whose products/services I personally use.
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