Will replace AI software

Luminar AI Update 2.0: Sky exchange with water reflection

Markus Schelhorn

Skylum Luminar AI Update 2 improves sky swapping and supports transparent PNG files. We looked at the innovations.

EnlargeSkylum Luminar AI

At the end of 2020, Skylum introduced Luminar AI. But the software wasn't finished yet: Skylum announced that it would also be able to display an exchanged sky as a reflection in the water. As promised, the second update now extends the sky replacement tool with this function.

EnlargeLuminar AI displays the sky images as a small preview image. Six new free skies have been added. You can also buy more or use your own sky images.

In addition, there is another, long overdue feature that many have already missed in Luminar 4: Finally, PNG images with transparent areas can be inserted as textures. A function that is still not available in Luminar 4.3. This expands the possibilities of adding a watermark with your own logo to a photo, for example. In addition to these two extended functions, the update brings support for additional new cameras and file formats, which we will list in detail at the end. But first test the two highlights of Update 2.0, which is available free of charge for Luminar AI users.

EnlargeWe liked the more extensive options for adapting a sky. For example, the "Rotation" slider is new, with which the sky can be better adapted to the horizon.

Swapping sky with reflection in the water

The next generation of the sky AI tool creates new ways to better adapt a new sky to the scene. The sky can now also be rotated instead of just being able to move it horizontally or vertically. People can also be specifically adapted to newly exposed scenes. But the most noticeable innovation is certainly that Luminar AI now also inserts a reflection of the sky in bodies of water such as rivers, lakes and seas.

EnlargeThe Sky AI tool recognizes even complex subjects in the foreground well.

Luminar AI now automatically generates reflections of the sky in the water. The new sky automatically adapts to the angle and depth of the scene. According to the Skylum press release, "the smallest details are taken into account in order to achieve unbelievable results". In our practical test with various motifs, the new function delivers consistently good results.

EnlargeThe reflection of a new sky in the water usually works quite well. The intensity can also be adjusted with a slider.
EnlargeAnother variant with a completely different sky image. The better the sky matches the time of day the picture was taken, the more natural the result.
EnlargeStrong color differences between the sky and foreground objects are now better balanced, as you now have better options for setting the strength and saturation of the effect. The new control element "Manually re-expose" has been given an unsuitable name in the German translation, which few people can really relate to. In the original it is called "Relight Human". It is used to adjust people to the new sky for a more realistic effect.

Luminar AI now supports transparent areas

That was a long time coming: Since Update 2 for Luminar AI, transparent areas of PNG files are finally displayed transparently. So far, Luminar AI has rendered it as a white surface. Another function has also been added: A texture image as a local mask can not only be enlarged or reduced, as was possible with the first version of Luminar AI. Now you can move and rotate a texture image as it should be. Only then can you use this tool to insert your own watermark, for example. Once applied, your own watermark can be transferred to other images or saved in a user-defined template for later reuse.

EnlargeYou can add your own logo as a texture using the brush symbol on the right-hand side. This logo can now be freely placed on the motif.

Other improvements in Luminar AI

In addition to the two innovations just shown, Luminar AI now offers a clearer template window. To make it easier to find a template, all templates, including favorites, purchased templates, and legacy templates, are now available on the main Templates tab directly under For This Photo. However, the templates in Luminar AI did not show the effect as a preview image, as the Luminar looks of Luminar 4.3 can. So you have to try a lot until you find the right look.

Update 2 also brings support for new cameras and file formats in Luminar AI.

New cameras: Canon EOS R5, Canon EOS R6, EOS 850D, EOS-1D X Mark III (lossy compressed files), Fujifilm X-S10, Leica M10-R, S3, SL2-S, Nikon Z 5, Z 6 II, Z 7 II , Olympus E-M10 Mark IV, Panasonic DC-G100 / G110, DC-S5, Sony ILCE-7C (A7C), ILCE-7SM3 (A7S III) and Zeiss ZX1.

New file formats: Lossy Compressed CR3 Files and Lossy Compressed RAF Files.

Conclusion on Luminar AI Update 2

With Update 2, Skylum has announced functions that we would have wished for in the first version. So there remains a small aftertaste that a not yet finished version was published in December last year. So far, Luminar AI has now become an easy-to-use image editing tool. Only the template area could be more comfortable and clearer, we would especially like a preview of the effect. Even if Skylum does not see Luminar AI as a competitor to AdobeLightroom Classic or Capture One, it can certainly be used as an alternative. Luminar AI can also be used as a plug-in with Photoshop, Lightroom Classic or Photoshop Elements and thus take advantage of the intelligent tools.