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Skylum Luminar Neo Review - Quick And Easy Way to Enhance Your Astro Images

Skylum Luminar Neo Logo

Skylum Luminar Neo is a photo editing software that was designed to be easy to use and work with all types of images, including astrophotography.

One of the unique features of Luminar Neo is its advanced AI integration in several areas.

In this review, we try out Skylum Luminar Neo using our own astrophotography images, and see what it can do on star trails, Milky Way, and deep space pictures!

Download Skylum Luminar Neo and get 10% off using the coupon "GALACTIC"!

QHY 715C full astrophotography review


Table of Contents

  • Introduction

  • The Skylum Luminar Neo Dashboard

  • The HDR Merge Feature

  • The Panorama-stitching Feature

  • Skylum Luminar Neo on Astrophotography Images

  • Final Thoughts


The Skylum Luminar Neo Dashboard

The dashboard of Luminar is clean and easy to navigate. It only has 3 main tabs which you can click on to change windows:

  1. Catalog

  2. Presets

  3. Edit

Catalog Tab

Here is where you can import and view all your images. From here, you simply select the image of your choice and move on to the second tab: Presets.

In the catalog tab, you can also use the plugins such as HDR Merge, Focus Stacking, Upscale, and Panorama Stitching, which we'll talk about later.

Dashboard Skylum Luminar Neo

Presets Tab

Presets in Skylum Luminar Neo

This should be your first stop after selecting the image you want to edit! The software will use AI to recommend some of the best presets you can use on your picture, and it's up to you to decide if you'd like to apply any of the presets.

Once you click on a preset theme, you will have the choice between several different presets, which you can hover on to quickly get a preview of what it would look like on your image.

If you like a specific preset, you can click on it and decide which percentage of the preset to apply to your image. Several presets might look a bit too hardcore on your picture, so it is a good idea to reduce the percentage a bit before applying it.

Some of the presets work really well on both widefield images and deep sky pictures. Some others do not fit well, for example, the AI might give you a preset to change your sky, which would not be a good preset for astrophotography images.

Edit Tab

The Edit tab is where you'll spend most of your time if you are trying to edit your image in depth. Here, you will be able to go through dozens and dozens of sliders in order to enhance every possible aspect of your picture.

AI enhancements in Skylum Luminar Neo

You will find the basic histogram transformation, curves, color saturations, hues, detail enhancements, noise reduction, vignetting, and more that you find in all other photo editing programs. On top of that, you will find several AI-powered options, such as:

  • Enhance

  • Sky

  • Structure

  • Relight

  • Atmosphere

  • Face / Skin / Body

  • Plus several additional plugins like "Noiseless", "Supersharp" and "Magic Light"

We talk about most of these in our review video, so be sure to watch it!


The HDR Merge Feature

One of my favorite features in Skylum Luminar Neo is the HDR Merge feature. It is extremely simple to use, and gives you a great result in just one click.

HDR Merge is used to combine several images of the same subject with different exposure times. This is mostly useful when taking pictures of a target where a specific part of the image is too bright in comparison to the subject. For example in our case, we shot the Milky Way from a dark site but had to deal with some lights in our field of view. In order to not let the lights ruin our images, we took two pictures each time, one long exposure picture for the Milky Way and one short exposure picture for the lights in the foreground. All we have to do now before editing them is to merge them using HDR Merge!

HDR Merge in Skylum Luminar Neo

To do this, you just need to select your pictures from the Catalog tab of Skylum Luminar Neo, and drag them to the HDR Merge box on the right side. Then, simply click on "Merge".

Skylum Luminar Neo will then give you a combined image, ready to be edited.

Under Canvas night Milky Way
The result of HDR Merge from the two images you see above.


The Panorama Stitching Feature

The Panorama Stitching feature in Skylum Luminar Neo is also one of my favorites, as it allows you to very quickly create a panorama from several shots without having to fiddle with any menu option or settings.

All you need to do to create your panorama is to simply select all of the files you think are good for stitching, and drag them into the Panorama Stitching box!

Panorama Stitching in Skylum Luminar Neo

After a few seconds, the program will give you a stitched image, with several different variations you can pick from before saving.

This is, in my opinion, much more user-friendly and quick than using something like Photoshop to combine images into one Panorama.

Skylum Luminar Neo Panorama Stitching on Milky Way astrophotography
The result of Panorama Stitching from the three images you see above.

In the video below we go over how to use the Panorama Stitching and show you our results on both daytime and night time images!



Skylum Luminar Neo on Astrophotography Images

I have tried Skylum Luminar Neo on several types of astrophotography images, and the results differ from one to the other. Let's cover each below.

Skylum Luminar Neo on Milky Way

The Milky Way is the perfect target to import into Skylum Luminar Neo! Many of the presets are fantastic to quickly enhance the Milky Way band in one click, and you can of course edit everything manually in the Edit tab. We now always throw our Milky Way images into Luminar Neo to see what results we can get, and they're almost always much better than anything else.

Skylum Luminar Neo on Milky Way

Skylum Luminar Neo on Deep-Sky Objects

When it comes to deep sky objects, the presets in Skylum Luminar Neo can be a bit of a hit or miss. Some will work great on most nebulae, especially large ones that cover your entire field of view. The presets do not work well on clusters and galaxies, and tend to give them an unnatural or over-processed look.

Skylum Luminar Neo on Nebula

What you can do for these is to simply ignore the presets, and just go to the Edit tab to try enhancing the object as best as you can using the different sliders.

I have also tried to process a raw Master file of the Pleiades using only Skylum Luminar Neo, and was honestly impressed with the results. Of course, the software was never built to process Astro-images from star to finish, but it did a good job at everything except... background extraction, as it doesn't have a built-in background extraction tool. Besides that, the end result looks okay!

Processing astrophotography pleiades using Skylum Luminar Neo

Skylum Luminar Neo on Star Trails

This can be a hit or miss too, but it usually works well! Some of the presets are great to make the trails more apparent and the background more colorful. You need to make sure to not apply too much on the image though, and find the sweet spot to carefully make your trails look better without over-doing it.

Skylum Luminar Neo on Star Trails


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Skylum Luminar Neo - Final Thoughts

I am in love with Skylum Luminar Neo, and plan to keep using it as the best tool to do final touches on our astro images. Except for maybe galaxies and clusters, I will use the software to enhance my nebulae, star trails, and Milky Way images every time! For me, Skylum Luminar Neo is much easier and quicker to use than the Adobe programs, especially for final touches.

If you would like to get Skylum Luminar Neo, you can purchase it here and use the coupon code "GALACTIC" for 10% off.

Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to stay up to date with our work!

Clear Skies,

Antoine & Dalia

Galactic Hunter

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