One year ago, Skylum announced that it was going to bring new AI tools to its popular Mac and PC photography tool Luminar, leveraging machine learning to automate the process of professional-class photo editing. Today, the company has doubled down on AI for its latest major release, Luminar 4, which adds contextually aware tools capable of automatically bringing out detail, completely replacing skies, and rapidly fixing faces in images.

While there are numerous photo editing tools — including some with AI — already in the marketplace, Skylum has distinguished Luminar by targeting “prosumer” and professional users with higher quality results. For instance, a new “AI Structure” tool superficially might sound like the “sharpen” tools found in Photoshop and Lightroom, but it actually uses machine learning for content-aware results, isolating and enhancing only the specific areas of photos that are “important.” The tool looks for people, clouds, water, and buildings, then intelligently tweaks their sharpness in ways that are appropriate to their context rather than jarringly different.

Another tool, AI Sky Replacement, is less subtle. It scans images, uses machine learning to find all of the sky — including small areas hidden in architectural nooks — then changes both the sky and lighting simultaneously. An image that starts out with blue skies might shift, naturally, to yellow or pink lighting, with accurate pixel-level shifts even when foliage and other fine details are impacted by the swap. The key is that AI makes the changing process as simple as a click on multiple included sky presets; users can also use their own sky photos instead.

Luminar 4 also introduces an AI Skin Enhancer, trained with machine learning to apply a large collection of professional-grade skin fixes in one click. Unlike consumer tools that merely blur the face, the AI Skin Enhancer preserves detail on the pore level, also keeping the skin’s original texture and hairs, while removing “defects” such as blemishes and uneven color tones. The feature works on images shot in harsh outdoor lighting and studio lighting, with adjustable strength, across multiple skin types and ages of subjects.

These features are in addition to tools previously found in Luminar, and there are other improvements, such as a broad-based Portrait Enhancer that can ID a face and apply eight different effects — eyebrow improvement, face slimming, eye enlargement, dark circle removal, and facial lighting among them — with a single panel, improving images in a minute or less. These tools notably work without the need for specific selection of people or objects; Luminar 4 just finds the subject and lets you focus on selecting individual parameters. It’s now also capable of applying selective edits to Lightroom, Photoshop, and Apple Photos images while they’re in the process of being viewed or edited in those programs.

Luminar 4 is available today for $89 for both Mac (10.12 or higher) and Windows (7 or higher) users. Skylum is offering upgrades from prior versions of Luminar for $74; each version includes a two-computer license.


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