AI software for photography?

Whilst I wait for my new camera (finally joining the mirrorless full frame brigade) I have been looking at my photo software. I was an ardent Apple Aperture fan and still use this program even though its been long abandoned by Apple. I have also tried Capture 1 and DXO and am now considering going over to lightroom/photoshop.

In looking at software I have found that there are now AI software products on the market I was unaware of such as Lumina and Topaz. Having looked at their websites it seems amazing (and somewhat un-nerving) what these AI programs can do. It’s a little depressing (to me at least) in that it seems with no actual effort or skill or good kit, you can produce “fabulous” shots. I’m not saying that that’s a bad thing, but for those who have historically enjoyed the hobby, and spent time/care on any post processing, all of a sudden next doors 5yr seemingly takes better photographs than you.

Has anyone experience of the new generation of AI software ? Recommendations and comments re workflow and real world results welcome.(I picked up on TOPAZ via the nice photographs thread).

I do have to say it has also bought home to me the very real potential threats of AI, as far more than ever before it’s easy to produce images and videos that lie and lie and lie. Yes this has always been the case to an extent, but nothing like the potential now.

Hi ChifChaf. I’m at a loss to understand AI in this context. I don’t know these products but have always understood AI to mean that it creates some manipulation on its own ‘diagnosis’ of the original. Otherwise it is just an App that you use to manipulate the original. Are you able to help me understand here? What is AI doing here? TIA.

I always thought Apple were stupid to drop Aperture as it did so many basic things very well.

Their focus has shifted to mobile/portable devices unfortunately but it is pretty impressive what kind of results phones and ipad offer for editing photos and video these days.

I think you’re referencing Skylum’s Luminar - I’ve had several versions of their software along with Capture One, DxO, Lightroom (pre subscription) and often upgraded but rarely do so now primarily as this was a hobby not my work.

I really have no clear idea of what I have with Luminar - I think it’s the ‘purchased licence’ version but they now seem to have gone subscription based which I’m far from keen on.

If you take Luminar as an example it uses what it describes as ‘AI’ to do things such as removing objects/people, replacing a sky with a more dramatic one (I assume you choose) automatically with less user input to define what is sky vs mountain/ground level.

Assume the ‘AI’ features would also aim to analyse images to correct them in a subtler way than traditional ‘auto’ features in older software.

Draggable before/after examples here similar to other products such as DxO:

I assume most of these supposedly AI based packages will have some form of demo which would enable you to test features to see if they are a help or a hindrance?

I guess if the products ‘get you there’ 95% of the time fairly consistently it probably frees up time to manually adjust the ones they fail with, or at least to work on the AI’s best guess.

For non-professional usage I’d imagine most people would be happy with the output of many of these products to avoid them faffing with editors but it does remove some of the fun!

I’m quite happy adjusting photos myself in software but could really do with AI to help me cull 90% of near duplicates and poorly composed photos!

Thanks Alley Cat. What you describe is a sophisticated app which I get. As you say you still appear to instruct the program to do things. I remain confused at how it ‘learns’ to do things. Does it decide you keep removing people from photos or demanding certain light manipulations and so learns to do that automatically?

Forgive me but I am genuinely interested. It is just that the description AI seems to be a catch all. We have moved from fuzzy logic to AI! It’s not that I don’t find the manipulation fascinating and impressive, I just don’t understand why this manipulation is AI when the apple program you mentioned was just a program/app.

But maybe I have too much time on my hands at this moment questioning what everyone seems to just accept.

I’m sceptical of the use of ‘AI’ as a marketing term too, my gut feeling is that the apps just ahve smarter algorithms than in the past which is probably not surprising, but whether or not they actually ‘learn’ and adjust behaviour based on your usage I have no idea.

Try the demo perhaps?

As I mentioned I have several Skylum apps, but I’ve not used them recently and with Luminar the last time I used it was a beta a few years ago.

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Hi @James_C I assume that the AI in the title of these photo programs refers to the fact that unlike a “normal” photo processing program, these have been developed in a similar way to most current AI programs, ie they sample millions of photographs in order to “learn”/ set parameters for correct and easy processing. The normal corrections are such things as noise, tone, contrast, colour, sharpness etc. They do seem very easy to use but also seem to go beyond traditional image processing programs in that they can replace missing info and using their data base make an assumption as to how things should appear and add it to a processed image.

@Alley_Cat I agree compared with the competition at the time it wiped the floor with most, in particular in the intuitive way it dealt with image and library configurations, and also with the actual editing process. Having used Aperture from its start right through to 3.xx I was gutted when they just dropped it.

Having watched a few videos on these “AI” programs it certainly bought home some of the possible AI risks.

I belive you can still purchase as a one off.

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thank you. that indeed makes it clearer.

If you still use Mac search for Gentlemen Coders on the AppStore - they have an editing app developed by former Aperture team members.

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A lot of these tools can be used as plug-ins to your main photo editing and cataloguing software which makes life easier. For example, I use Lightroom as my main cataloguing and developing tool. This now has some AI built-in with the latest version that has a denoise function. But I also have both Topaz AI as well as the Nik Efex suite. The Topaz is excellent for an AI driven approach to noise reduction, sharpening and image enhancement and it can work on the RAW file or the edited version in Lightroom. None of these tools should be confused with the AI tools that will generate an image from scratch based on your text commands. I.e you dont even need to take a photograph to begin with.

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I’ve been doing something similar as ChifChaf alluded to insofar as that AI based photo software programs are going to become a lot more prevalent. I have three main avenues of photography, those pictures where I try and take the best possible photo that I can and only “develop” a little bit, straighten, crop, and a few touches just to enhance it a little. The second route is to try and be creative with one of my photos as a baseplate. For example I do like photographing St Albans Abbey and converting some shots to black and white to bring out the contrasts in the stonework etc. The third is where I just try and and see what happens i.e. HDR, radical effects, colouring and the like.

I did like Apple Aperture and was doing quite well with it until discontinued. I have tried and continue to experiment with other packages with Adobe Lightroom as my go to package and am trying to figure out how to do some things in Photoshop which for me is really complicated. I have the Topaz suite of AI programs and use Photo AI frequently but am starting to find that it does over process quite often and I prefer just a subtle touch if there is a bit of blurriness due to camera shake or slightly out of focus. I also have the NIK collection which is useful but I am not going to upgrade to version 6 as I don’t think it brings much to the party over version 5. I have Luminar which I started as version 3 and now have Luminar Neo, I really don’t use it much at all now and will probably remove it when I no longer can get any updates. Finally I have the Affinity Suite which I use sparingly to do some very subtle updates. Oh I nearly forgot I have a lifetime Photomatix Pro licence and again I use this infrequently only when I want to try some unusual effects.

So quite a bit of software which will be culled at some point. I did download a beta of Photoshop with the Generative AI included, it does some interesting things so I’ll keep an eye on it just incase I want to get really creative. With all of this going on I think the photo world is due for a large upheaval especially from the competition perspective and the judging criteria for photographs.


Hi @Timbo
Similar experience with software…. Very happy with Aperture then it’s become so complicated since, got DxO and Capture 1, but neither are as intuitive or easy as Aperture was. Avoided Adobe since they adopted the full subscription model and removed stand alone purchase :rage:. I will now have to look at this decision again. Just wish I could buy light room as a stand alone.

Will try Topaz AI. Really looking for a good library management program that I can buy rather than “rent”,
and then use other programs for processing.


I’ve not used it much but purchased it a few years ago. There’s a downloadable demo here:

I think the editing is probably on a par if not better than Aperture, where it may fall down is Libraries and archiving/backups. I may be wrong but don’t think it’s designed as a DAM type app.

Can’t see the current price but it wasn’t that expensive and is non-subscription.

Just noticed an iOS version I’m tempted to try.

This is the video that sold me on Luminar 4 and its AI functions.

I think Luminar products are awesome!
I disagree that it makes anyone take great photos. Composition, the use of depth, etc. are still within the photographer’s skill set and cannot be corrected with AI.


Whilst there are clearly huge benefits with the advent of AI photo programs I can see huge challenges and concerns as well.
Just found this recent video which details the new beta AI photo “generative fill” in photoshop

Certainly food for thought, the pic from 8min 25s seems to show the possibilities well.


Yep, that’s frightening for creative professionals.

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