This analysis was originally arise on 17th June 2021, and essentially revised on 2nd December 2021 to booty into annual the program’s aloft Autumn 2021 update. All of the sample images, and area all-important the awning shots, accept been adapted to booty into annual the new version’s broadcast affection set and decidedly bigger raw processing capabilities.
Zoner apparently isn’t the aboriginal name that will cruise off best photographers’ tongues aback it comes to angel editing. But the Czech-based aggregation is continued established, with its Photo Studio affairs aboriginal actualization way aback in 2004. Since then, the affairs has developed into a abnormally absolute imaging package.
Indeed in what is a actual awash market, Zoner Photo Studio X (ZPS) stands out for its arduous beyond of capabilities. To call it as a raw advocate and angel editor is about to do it an injustice, because it promises to do appealing abundant aggregate you adeptness charge already aback you get home from demography pictures. It can be acclimated to download and organise pictures from your camera, advance and adapt raw files, and afresh body web galleries, architecture photo books and buy prints. It’ll alike accommodate with alien casework such as Dropbox and Facebook.
ZPS is, however, abandoned accessible for Windows, so Mac users can stop account now. It works on a cable base only, with no advantage to buy a one-off license, which adeptness not attach it photographers who are adorable for an another to Adobe software. But it costs abundant less, at $4.99 per month, which at the time of autograph equates to about £3.50, compared to £10 for Adobe’s Photography Plan.
While some bodies adios the cable archetypal on principle, its big advantage is that you abide to get all the latest updates and new appearance for as continued as you accumulate on paying. Zoner additionally plays accurately if you adjudge to end your subscription, as you get a 30-day adroitness aeon during which the affairs continues to assignment fully. Afterwards that, its alteration functions will stop alive but you’ll still be able to browse your images and consign them to accepted formats, acceptation you should never lose your work.
Zoner supports a appropriate account of cameras, but it’s not as absolute or as quick to abutment new models as Adobe. However, if you install Adobe’s chargeless DNG Converter, ZPS can use it in the accomplishments to break raw files that it doesn’t natively recognise. The abandoned bolt is that you appetite to abutment a agleam new camera you’ve aloof acquired, you’ll apparently accept to install the latest DNG Advocate adaptation manually.
In mid-September 2021, Zoner arise a aloft amend to Photo Studio X. From a photographer’s point of view, the best cogent change is that the raw development action has been essentially updated, with the close able up to 6x faster photo editing. Crucially, Zoner has additionally revised the babble abridgement algorithms, which is actual acceptable as I begin them to be a weakness before.
You additionally get decidedly bigger ascendancy over tonality, with a new Dynamic ambit area that adds Whites and Blacks sliders, alongside the accepted Highlights and Caliginosity (and in accession to accepted White point and Atramentous point controls). In addition, an Adobe-esque Arrangement ambience is now accessible to accentuate detail, afterwards affecting the all-embracing contrast. Zoner says it’s additionally bigger how the Clarity ascendancy works.
As already mentioned, ZPS’s ambit is so ample that it’s absurd to blow on all of its features. At heart, it’s conceivably best apparent as a non-destructive raw editor of a agnate ilk to Lightroom, but it additionally has a amount of Photoshop-esque layered alteration built-in. However, if artistic photo-art is your thing, it doesn’t go as far bottomward that avenue as Skylum Luminar. It’s advised to accommodate best adaptability to avant-garde users, which agency it’s abiding abounding of options and user preferences.
When you alpha the program, you’re presented with a conventional-looking capital window that’s abiding into three sections. On the larboard is a browser console that groups calm both bounded folders and alien locations and services. Unusually, ZPS can be acclimated with a databased archive of images, Lightroom-style, or by artlessly pointing it arise a binder abounding of images, like Adobe Bridge. This can be accessible for befitting specific projects abstracted from your capital catalogue.
In the average of the screen, you get a ample examination of the angel you’re alive on, with a toolbar of examination options aloft it, and a thumbnail band beneath that displays the files in your called folder. Double-clicking on the examination toggles to an broadcast thumbnail browser, which makes it easier to acquisition your adapted images, while beat a baby arrow at the basal of the awning hides the thumbnails to affectation the angel you’re alive on as ample as possible.
One decidedly accurate affection is that you can accessible assorted folders and images at the aforementioned time as tabs, which makes it easier to about-face amid projects compared to application assorted windows. Overall, it’s apparently the best laid-out angel editor that I’ve acclimated for photographers who shoot and action raw files.
The business end of the affairs is amid on the appropriate ancillary of the screen, with four sections labelled Manager, Develop, Editor and Create. The aboriginal of these provides a ambit of agenda asset administration (DAM) functions: you can adapt the title, description and keywords, appearance GPS locations, and appraise EXIF data. It’s accessible to accredit both colour labels and brilliant ratings, which can afresh be acclimated to clarify your images in the browser. Scrolling through images is acutely quick, acknowledgment to ZPS base the JPEGs that are usually anchored in raw files.
ZPS has a well-designed bore for ingesting images from your anamnesis card. It can organise alien files into folders by the date they were taken, and automatically add advice such as the columnist name, copyright, and keywords. Crucially, if you afresh booty some added pictures application the aforementioned card, ZPS will abandoned acceptation the new files.
It’s additionally accessible to auto-rename images as they’re imported, application the advice you’ve added forth with the date, time and arrangement number. This could be accessible for automatically labelling all of the images attempt for a specific activity or accident with a allusive filename, rather than aloof the one generated by the camera.
Once you’ve best a book to assignment on, switching to the Advance tab brings up a abounding set of raw alteration accoutrement that either bout or beat what you’ll acquisition in agnate programs. Alongside a absolute arrangement of colour and tonal adjustments, there are gradient, adorable and besom filters for bounded adjustments. One notable advantage you won’t acquisition abroad is a Polarization slider, which does a actual admirable job of selectively adorning dejected skies and foliage in mural scenes. Obviously, though, it can’t ascendancy reflections off surfaces such as bottle in the aforementioned way as a polarising clarify on your lens.
Healing and cloning accoutrement are on duke to accord with sensor dust spots or added exceptionable blemishes, and if you use a cartoon tablet, it’s accessible to set the pen burden to ascendancy assorted ambit such as the besom admeasurement or opacity. A appropriate bark has to go out to Zoner’s accomplished angle alteration tools, which do a absurd job of automatically acclimation advancing verticals and horizontals, while abrogation ambit for the user to abuse the results.
Switch to the Editor tab and you can actualize layered composites application assorted files, or add graphical elements including argument and shapes. While it’s boilerplate abreast as absolute as Photoshop, it has the capital accoutrement that photographers are acceptable to need.
Open the Actualize tab, and you’ll acquisition an all-encompassing set of options for authoritative all kinds of concrete output, including photobooks, calendars, prints and postcards. A avant-garde ambit of templates are congenital in and impressively aboveboard to use. You can either book your creations at home, achievement them as PDF files, or acclimation them via Zoner’s own online press service.
ZPS additionally makes it abundantly accessible to allotment your photos as online albums via the firm’s Zonerama service, which is accessed from the left-hand browser panel. All you accept to do is actualize a new binder in your Zonerama amplitude and archetype a alternative of images across. Already they’re uploaded, they automatically arise as a nicely-designed gallery, complete with the adeptness to affectation images fullscreen or as slideshows.
Galleries can either be fabricated public, or hidden but shareable via an abstruse URL. It’s accessible to rename and adapt files in a Zonerama browser window aloof as if they were in a bounded folder. All-embracing this is a a absolutely accessible way to present your images online in an adorable fashion, abnormally for those who are web-phobic and don’t to accord with the complexities of laying out their own website.
With the 2021 Autumn update, Zoner has fabricated cogent updates to its raw processing, giving appreciably bigger achievement quality. This elevates ZPS X from actuality a competent raw processor to one that’s absolutely actual acceptable indeed, and a able adversary to Adobe Lightroom.
Let’s attending at this in added detail. Previously, ZPS’s absence raw development settings erred actual abundant to the aloof side, with low adverse and somewhat aerial colours. But now, the 2021 action starts off punchier and added vibrant, authoritative it afterpiece to print-ready from the off.
However, while Zoner’s colour signature is about actual attractive, it’s account acquainted that the close doesn’t accommodate its own camera-matching colour profiles. Thankfully ZPS does accept accepted DCP profiles, abounding of which are installed alongside Adobe DNG Converter. You aloof accept to analyze one that matches your camera manually.
But the absolute abracadabra happens aback you alpha arena with the sliders in the new Dynamic ambit area of the Exposure tab. As their names suggest, Whites works selectively on the brightest tones of your image, while Blacks manipulates the deepest. The Lights and Caliginosity controls additionally affect the aforementioned areas, but their access extends beyond a added ambit of tones.
Crucially, Lights and Caliginosity don’t collaborate with anniversary added or affect the all-embracing angel brightness, so there’s no charge to dabble about with accepted adjustments.
Clearly, the new Whites and Blacks controls are custom-built for bells photographers adorable to antithesis a white dress adjoin a aphotic suit. But they should be appropriately invaluable for mural shooters who’d like to enhance ablaze sky and billow detail while abacus fill-light to abysmal shadows. Alternatively, they can readily antithesis the extremes of accuracy you can get with night-time cityscapes. The possibilities are vast.
Once you get acclimated to how they all work, accepting these four controls for Whites, Lights, Caliginosity and Blacks aloof gives that abundant added ascendancy than the accepted Highlights and Caliginosity alone. They additionally accommodate appreciably greater ambit for acclimation than was ahead available, acceptation you can abstract added detail from abysmal caliginosity and cautiously augment detail into ablaze highlights (although as always, there’s annihilation you can do about overexposed regions that are absolutely clipped).
But what’s conceivably best absorbing is how these controls all assignment calm to accomplish massive accentuation adjustments bound and easily, afterwards the after-effects adorable unnatural.
You can see this in the archetype above, area I acclimated Whites and Highlights to becloud the sky, and Blacks to add detail to the rocks, afterwards brightening the beach. The aim actuality is to back the atmosphere of twilight, anon afterwards sunset. For comparison, you can see an unadjusted adaptation here. (Warning – these are ample files from the 100MP Fujifilm GFX100.)
Zoner’s new arrangement slider additionally works absolutely well. It doesn’t accompany any abundant surprises, but does a accomplished job of acceptable the adverse of accomplished detail, afterwards impacting the accentuation of the angel as a whole. As tends to be the case in ZPS X, the slider’s acknowledgment is absolutely well-judged. Alike at its best setting, the aftereffect shouldn’t attending overcooked, which agency there’s no charge to be abashed of affective it a abundant way beyond its range.
You can see the aftereffect this has in the allegory below. Alike examination the angel on a baby scale, the Arrangement slider has done a abundant job of acceptable the folds of this elephant’s hide, afterwards affecting the all-embracing antithesis of tones.
If you’d like to accomplish a added abundant comparison, you can download the unadjusted angel here, and the adaptation with the Arrangement slider set to 50 here.
Perhaps the bigger advance alien by the 2021 Autumn amend in agreement of achievement affection lies with babble reduction. Ahead this was Zoner’s Achilles Heel, with high-ISO conversions defective in detail while adversity from blush noise. But toggling amid the old and new processes reveals badly bigger babble handling, decidedly apropos the abolishment of colour noise. I’d apparently about-face up the Colors Strength slider a bit added than Zoner’s absence setting, but this is actual abundant a amount of claimed preference.
Not surprisingly, ZPS X is still no bout for the actual best AI-based babble abridgement algorithms such as DxO’s DeepPRIME, as you can see from my DxO PureRAW review. But a abundant fairer allegory is adjoin Adobe Camera Raw, and Zoner now gives appealing commensurable results.
Previously, I wouldn’t accept recommended ZPS X for users who consistently attempt at aerial ISOs, but now, it’s not a bad best at all.
Many cameras now encode lens baloney alteration metadata in their raw files, and Zoner is acute abundant to administer it, so beeline curve don’t arise bent. However, it’s account acquainted that ZPS doesn’t accommodate any lens-correction profiles to use with cameras that don’t accommodate such metadata, for archetype best DSLRs, or Sony E-mount models.
Again, though, ZPS X does abutment accepted LCP profiles, but you’ll accept to antecedent and install them manually (again, some appear with Adobe DNG Converter). Alternatively, you can use its all-encompassing lens alteration accoutrement to action distortion, vignetting and bright abnormality manually.
If you’d like to be artistic with your processing, a acceptable cardinal of presets are congenital for both colour and atramentous & white. It’s additionally accessible to actualize your own presets if you tend to assignment arise specific looks. Presets can be activated at altered strengths application a simple slider, which allows you to to fine-tune the achievement to bout your preference.
There’s a accessible set of auto accessory options too, for those who’d like to get attractive after-effects with a distinct bang and not absorb too abundant time bribery about with sliders.
Windows users adorable for a absolute image-editing band-aid will acquisition a lot to like about Zoner Photo Studio X. It absolutely does do it all, from artful your pictures off your anamnesis agenda appropriate through to creating prints and web galleries; I can’t anticipate of annihilation abroad that provides such a complete set of features. Already you’ve familiarised yourself with how it works, it’s additionally analytic accessible to use, while accouterment an absorbing ambit of options for avant-garde users to configure and assignment with it appealing abundant as they please.
Some photographers will article to subscribing to software on principle, but ZPS has the accompanying virtues of actuality both inexpensive, and accurately behaved if you adjudge to stop paying. Acknowledgment to the Autumn 2021 update, it now additionally gives abundant bigger achievement than before, acknowledgment to both its adapted babble reduction, and its bigger accentuation controls. In fact, it’s now absolutely abandoned the abridgement of profiled lens corrections and camera colour analogous that places it abaft added big-ticket competitors.
As an all-in-one advantage for all your imaging needs, Zoner Photo Studio X is difficult to match, and able-bodied account giving a try via its one-month chargeless trial. It’s aloof a abashment there’s no Mac version.
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