Luminar Neo is getting its release with the HDR extension on Thursday, and I was sent an advance copy to see how it works.
Actually, I thought it worked pretty well, with a few caveats because I was not testing final release software.
I had to dig into my files to find some brackets and came up with some images from 2015 shot at Monument Valley. In the screenshot above, you can see the files I selected with a box around them. I loaded five bracketed raw files and could see that Neo now offers a window to drag up to 10 files that are bracketed.
In that window is a settings icon. If you click it, you'll see some further options like aligning the images, which I needed to do as they were handheld. You can see those settings on the right side of the screen.
From there, I had a single merged image, and all I needed to do was click the edit button in Neo.
Here's the result:
From here, it's a matter of using the normal image editing tools in Neo. I adjusted shadows, highlights, and went all out and added one of my own skies using the Neo sky replacement tool. I also used the Relight and Accent tool.
I was told by the Luminar folks that M1 Macs should run this new version of Neo under Rosetta because merge alignments will fail otherwise. I'm an M1 Mac user, so I have been running Neo under Rosetta. I saw a few other random crashes, but don't know if that's because I'm testing on pre-release software.
I was happy to see the return of the dodge and burn tools, which have been missing in every Neo release. I'm told the clone tool will be back soon. I complained about these missing features when the HDR version of Neo was announced, and I'm thrilled Skylum is responding to the complaints.
The release of Luminar with the HDR extension is scheduled for July 28, 2022, but Luminar owners can preorder HDR Merge now for a better price.
Aurora HDR owners (that's the original Skylum HDR app) will get the opportunity to buy Luminar Neo with a loyalty discount and receive the HDR Merge extension for free. Additionally, Skylum customers with Luminar Neo subscriptions will get the Aurora HDR Merge extension for free. Otherwise, you'll pay $49 for it. You can get details here.
Luminar Neo with HDR will also be available in the Microsoft and Apple app stores.