luminar neo vs lightroom comparison

Luminar Neo vs Lightroom: How do they compare in 2024?

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Lightroom has been used by many photographers around the world for many years, while Luminar Neo is quite a new software in the market.

So choosing between Luminar Neo and Lightroom can give you a hard time choosing which one to use.

This article breaks down all the differences between Luminar Neo and Lightroom, providing a closer look at each photo editor.

The verdict: Luminar Neo proves to be cheaper and easier to use, while Lightroom offers professional editing capabilities, including better file organization & storage.

Luminar Neo vs Lightroom: Overview

Luminar NeoAdobe Lightroom
Pros– User-friendly interface
– One-click enhancements
– Advanced AI tools
– Simplified editing workflow
– Robust professional-grade editing
– Precise control over adjustments
– Excellent file organization
– Seamless integration with Photoshop
File Organization– User-friendly catalog system
– Album creation and tagging
– Basic file organization features
– Comprehensive catalog system
– Advanced sorting, keywording, metadata
– Ideal for large photo libraries
StorageLocal driveCloud-based (Lightroom CC)
Local drive (Lightroom Classic)
Pricing$6.63-$14.95/month or
$269 for lifetime purchase
From $9.99/month
Free Trial7 days7 days

Main Differences

Luminar Neo has quickly gained recognition for its user-friendly interface and robust AI-driven tools. Lightroom, on the other hand, is a veteran in the world of photography software.

Here are the key differences between these two photo editing apps:

  • Luminar Neo offers faster photo editing since it simplifies complex editing tasks with one-click enhancements, whereas Lightroom may take longer time to edit photos but it provides professional-grade editing capabilities and comprehensive workflow management.
  • Luminar Neo is mainly based on AI features, whereas Lightroom is not.
  • Adobe Lightroom has a steep learning curve, while Luminar Neo is a no-brainer.
  • Lightroom easily integrates with Photoshop. Luminar Neo, on the other hand, can be used as a plugin for Photoshop too.
  • Professional photographers prefer Lightroom, while beginners may benefit more from Luminar Neo.

I think we can all agree here that both platforms are popular among photographers. However, each of these platforms has its own user base.

Let’s dive deeper into comparing some of the features.

Editing Workflow

Let’s start with Luminar Neo, which, in my opinion, is something in between Photoshop and Lightroom.

Luminar Neo simplifies the editing process with AI-powered tools, making it quick and easy to achieve impressive results. The software offers several AI-based extensions, featuring Noiseless AI, Upscale AI, Background Removal AI, Magic Light AI, Supersharp AI, and other features.

The software’s one-click enhancements and intuitive interface are beneficial if you prefer a simplified editing workflow and speed up your editing process. It excels at automating tasks that would typically require manual adjustments in Lightroom.

luminar neo sky replacement example

For more information, you can read our in-depth Luminar Neo review here.

Lightroom, in contrast, excels in providing you with precise control over every aspect of your edits. It offers extensive adjustment sliders and professional-grade features, making it ideal if you want to fine-tune every detail of your photos.

However, Lightroom’s learning curve can be steep for beginners. Lightroom’s workflow is designed for photographers who demand complete control over the editing process.

File Organization

Both Luminar Neo and Lightroom offer organizational features, but Lightroom takes the lead with its comprehensive catalog system.

Lightroom’s catalog system allows for advanced sorting, keywording, and metadata management, making it a top choice for photographers with extensive libraries. This system enables you to efficiently manage and locate your photos.

Luminar Neo, while user-friendly, offers a more basic file organization system. It allows you to create albums, apply tags, and perform basic sorting.

luminar neo catalog

While it may be suitable for users with smaller photo libraries, it may lack the depth required by professional photographers or those with extensive archives.


When it comes to file storage, Luminar Neo and Lightroom offer different approaches.

Luminar Neo primarily stores your photo files on your local drive or external storage devices. This means that you have complete control over where your files are stored and how they are organized on your computer. This can be advantageous if you prefer to keep your photo library on your computer, ensuring quick access to your files without relying on an internet connection.

However, it also means you are responsible for managing your file backups and storage capacity. And if you have large amounts of photos, you might need an external hard drive for storage.

Lightroom, on the other hand, has two versions, Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic, which offer distinct storage solutions:

  • Lightroom CC emphasizes cloud-based storage. It stores your photos and edits on Adobe’s cloud servers, allowing you to access your photo library from any device with an internet connection. This cloud-centric approach is beneficial for users who value seamless access to their photos across multiple devices and the ability to edit on the go. However, if you have a large photo collection, you might need to pay for additional cloud storage.
  • Lightroom Classic, like Luminar Neo, primarily stores files on your local drive. This local storage approach offers full control over your photo library’s organization and backup processes.

Your choice of storage solution depends on your workflow and preferences. If you require easy access and editing across devices, Lightroom CC’s cloud-based storage may be a more convenient & safer option, however, more pricey.

lightroom cloud version

On the other hand, if you prefer to maintain control over your photo files and storage location, both Luminar Neo and Lightroom Classic offer the advantage of local storage.


Both photo editors offer the option of applying presets.

Luminar Neo boasts an extensive library of AI-enhanced presets, allowing users to achieve a wide variety of styles and effects with ease.

These presets cover a range of creative looks and styles, from subtle enhancements to dramatic transformations. You can try our pack of free Luminar Neo presets.

Luminar Neo also allows you to create & save your own presets.

name your preset

Lightroom also offers a rich collection of presets and profiles, and it supports custom presets. These presets enable you to apply predefined adjustments with a single click, saving time and effort. Just like in Luminar Neo, you can create and share your own presets, or get Lightroom presets from other creators.


Luminar Neo offers subscription plans as well as a one-time purchase option, which can be budget-friendly if you prefer not to commit to a subscription model.

Here are Luminar Neo pricing options:

  • Lifetime purchase: $269
  • 1-month subscription: $14.95/mo
  • 12-month subscription: $9.08/mo
  • 24-month subscription: $6.63/mo

Luminar Neo’s pricing structure typically includes updates and improvements.

Lightroom operates only on a subscription-based model, with Adobe also offering the software as part of its Creative Cloud Photography Plan.

Here are the main Adobe Lightroom pricing plans:

  • Lightroom (1TB) plan: $9.99/mo
  • Photography (1TB) plan: $19.99/mo
  • Creative Cloud All Apps plan: $54.99/mo

While the subscription model provides users with access to the latest updates and cloud-based features, it does involve ongoing costs, which can add up over time.

Luminar Neo vs Lightroom: The Bottom Line

Choosing between Luminar Neo and Lightroom ultimately depends on your specific needs, editing style, and budget. Both software applications have their strengths and are capable of delivering high-quality edits.

Luminar Neo is an excellent choice for you if you value simplicity, speed, and the power of AI-driven enhancements. The one-time purchase option can be budget-friendly and offers good value for the features provided.

Lightroom should be a preferred choice if you demand precise control over your edits and require in-depth file organization. It is a valuable tool if you have extensive photo libraries and prioritize fine-tuning your edits.

Read next

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