Is Luminar Neo Upscale AI any good? And why would we want it? We cover this and more!
What is Luminar Neo Upscale AI?
Luminar Neo Upscale AI is an image-enlarging software extension from Skylum for their Luminar Neo photography editing software. This helps your low-resolution photographs — which we all have — by enlarging them while retaining the detail in a larger photo.
Skylum, the parent company, describes Upscale AI like this: “Crop an interesting frame from a panoramic landscape, get high-quality zoom-ins of wildlife, improve macro shots, enhance old photos, prepare your images for printing, and more.”
How can Upscale AI help me?
You can essentially resuscitate smaller, low-resolution photos. But more than that, if you wanted to crop in to a particular part of a larger photo, Upscale AI could retain detail there as well.
How well does Upscale AI work?
It works quite well and does exactly what it needs to do. If you are looking to upscale something so you can share it on social media or print it, then it does exactly what it should … without losing detail. I tested Upscale AI on two photos.
First photo: Enlarging a very detailed high-ISO photo
My first test was an already high-resolution photo of our glorious Milky Way. I wanted to see what the upscaling would do to such a finely-detailed photo. I chose to pixel-peep because, why not? We all want to see what’s going on with such a finely-detailed photo, high-ISO noise and all.
Above: Original and Upscale AI, comparison to show how much extension would retain detail when doubled in size (33% view).
Above: Original and Upscale AI, comparison to show how much extension would retain detail when doubled in size (50% view).
Above: Original and Upscale AI, comparison to show how much extension would retain detail when doubled in size (100% view).
You can see that some of the contrast and brightness has shifted slightly. The enlargement definitely looks good even when we are viewing it at 100%. However, you might want to have look at adjusting the contrast or brightness slightly if the feel of the enlargement was thrown off slightly. But the details were preserved nicely even at two times the original size. I could not test enlarging by 4x or 6x because the limit is 16000 pixels across.
Photo two: Enlarging a crop of a lowlight iPhone SE 2020 photo
My next example was taking a relatively low-res iPhone SE 2020 photo of Sodaboxx performing at El Cid in Los Angeles, CA. I cropped in on Victor Gutierrez, the guitarist, then enlarged by 4x to 6004 pixels across on the top edge to see what would happen. For comparison, I also enlarged it using the usual Image Size function in Photoshop 2023 while selecting “Preserve Details 2.0.”
Above: 4x enlargement of cropped photo. Left photo was enlarged in Adobe Photoshop. Right photo was enlarged in Luminar Neo Upscale AI. As you can see, the photos look virtually identical. From the looks of it, both applications performed well!
In both instances, Upscale AI did exactly what it claims to do: enlarge a photo while retaining detail and not exposing artifacts.
How to use Upscale AI
Upscaling is easy. First, simply open the catalog in Luminar Neo, then drag your image into the Upscale AI Extension section on the right side. After that, select how much you wish to enlarge it. You may select 2x, 4x, or 6x. If your image is over 16000 pixels on the long side, that choice will be disabled. After a short while, Luminar Neo will display your newly-enlarged image. If you’re satisfied, export that to your computer. It’ll already be automatically saved to your Upscale Folder in Luminar Neo as well.
How to obtain Upscale AI or the entire Extension Pack
For more information, go to Skylum’s “2022 Extensions Pack” webpage. You can get this as an extension, or add-on, to Luminar Neo. There are several plans, including a lifetime license.