Zoner Photo Studio X: a mini review
2021, eh. Another crazy year following the madness that was 2020. Good riddance. Here’s hoping for a better 2022.
Anyway, the reason for this blog is to write up a brief review of a post-processing software. First, a bit of background. Back in September 2021 during Melbourne’s 6th and longest lockdown of the year, I was contacted by Zoner Software to trial their photo processing software called Zoner Photo Studio X (referred to as ZPS from here on out). It’s touted as the alternative to Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, one of the most common photo processing software used. I was intrigued, so I said yes and had a bit of a play around.
In this review, I’m going to compare ZPS to Adobe Lightroom since that is the software I usually use to process my photos. Here is the outline of my usual workflow in Lightroom:
1. Copy files from memory card to portable hard drive.
2. Import photos into Lightroom using the “Add Photos” function. This adds files to Lightroom’s catalogue without moving the files from their original position.
3. View raw files in Lightroom and tag all the ones I want to keep and the ones I don’t (i.e. all the blurry ones).
4. Make adjustments to photos in Lightroom, and transfer to Photoshop for more processing if required.
Note: if processing bird photos with ISO greater than 1000, I usually open those files in DxO Pure Raw, remove noise, export as a DNG file and reimport into Lightroom for further processing.
5. Export file as maximum quality JPEG.
6. Adjust files for uploading to social media.
In my recent use of ZPS, I have found that:
1. I can view my raw files without having to import them first, this is very similar to Adobe Bridge.
2. The software is very similar to Lightroom’s Develop module.
3. I don’t have to transfer the files to Photoshop for more processing as ZPS has an Editor module that performs Photoshop-like functions.
4. In my previous blog, I talked about printing my photos myself. I even went and bought a photo printer. Lightroom has a Print module that makes printing your own photos very easy. ZPS has a Create module which allows you to do the same but also has different project types like calendars, photobooks, postcards, contact sheets, and even video (haven’t tried that yet).
Essentially, ZPS has combined three different software from Adobe into one and allows for creativity with how you present your photos. There are, of course, some differences between ZPS and Lightroom:
1. Importing photos to ZPS catalogue only has Move or Copy functions. Which means, it will move or copy the files to another location. Since I already copy my files from the memory card to portable hard drive, this means it will move the files to another place, taking up more memory.
2. In ZPS, I cannot make adjustments to the photos in raw format. Or maybe it just doesn’t work on Olympus’ version of raw files. In order to process my photos in ZPS, I first need to convert them to DNG (which involves installing the Adobe DNG converter). However, if you remember in my usual Lightroom workflow mentioned earlier, I sometimes use DxO Pure Raw which converts my photos to DNG. So, I will just have to use DxO Pure Raw to convert all my photos to DNG before importing into ZPS.
3. In Lightroom’s develop module, some keyboard shortcuts makes for easier processing. For example, when sharpening a photo in Lightroom, I can see how much sharpening is being added by pressing the Alt key and adjusting the Mask slider. I find this very useful and always use this function. Unfortunately, ZPS does not have this function. Yet. Perhaps in later updates this will be added.
4. I have recently started using Huion Insparoy Keydial, a combination of a graphics tablet and keypad with a dial, when processing photos in Lightroom as this gives me more precision when making fine adjustments. In ZPS the Keydial also works but not quite as well as in Lightroom. Perhaps I just need to get used to the little quirks and adjust my workflow accordingly.
So, there you have it, my very brief review of the Zoner Photo Studio X. All in all, it’s a very good photo processing software. If you aren’t already subscribing to Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, then ZPS is a good starting point (and cheaper too). Will I continue to use ZPS for processing my photos? Most likely. If they update the software to add the use of additional keys like Alt and Ctrl, then definitely. I will just need to update my photo editing workflow to accommodate the differences between ZPS and Lightroom.
If you would like to learn more about ZPS head over to their website (zoner.com), there are a ton of video tutorials on how to use ZPS properly. I, myself, need to watch more tutorials so that I can use ZPS at its fullest potential.
Until next time,