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Tuesday, 13 November 2007


The latest version of LZ is actually 3.2 (as of today).

I'd strongly recommend taking advantage of the 30 day free trail before purchasing though, as Lightzone is a bit of a mixed bag. Some things superb, some just plain irritating.

First - forget it unless you run a dual core and a couple of gig RAM. It's very resource intensive. Second although some of the interfaces are brilliantly thought out, especially zone mapping and styles which are near genius, the programme overall is a bit of a clunker file handling, resizing and saving feel underdeveloped even to a luddite like me. I run Windows Vista (serves me right then you'll say) but Lightzone does crash quite often and can be spectacularly slow even with reasonably modest 50 meg files.

For me it doesn't do colour as well as Photoshop as the fine control isn't there, but it is sometimes easier to get an image into roughly right area as the controls are simpler and more intuative. Black and white, especialy if you convert from colour, is a totally different matter though, really outstanding and it gets even better if you like toned images. At least a generation better than Photoshop in this area.

Can someone briefly summarize where Lightzone fits in amongst the Lightroom/Aperture/Bridge group of apps, or Photoshop? Is it more like Lightroom, or more like Photoshop? Why do people use it?

Can you give us a sense of why one would wish to switch, say, from Lightroom or Aperture, or perhaps why one would wish to add Lightzone to one's workflow on top of one of these other programs?
I've been a pretty happy Lightroom user from the beginning, and have watched approvingly as the program has gotten better and better (thanks to competition).
By coincidence, I was fooling around with Capture One LE, which lots of Leica users tout for its RAW conversion. It is much less feature laden than Lightroom. Beyond that, I couldn't immediately grasp how to perform a grayscale conversion.
Can anyone help?

You can also upload an image file of your proof of purchase. The whole process took about half an hour. LightZone integrates nicely with Lighthroom. Another nifty tool is Photon from Green Volcano Software-- http://www.greenvolcanosoftware.com/ --great for sorting and organizing raw files before importing to Lightroom.

I tried running the demo of Lightzone (multiple versions) on my latest generation iBook G4, 1GB RAM. Forget it.

For those who asked, the full version of Lightzone can be seen as Lightroom/Aperture that does local editing through the use of vector masks*. It's a great concept, but very different from the Adobe paradigm, and takes some time to get used too (I never did).

*Oversimplification, I recognize.

Addendum to Mike's original post: Lightzone has just (today) released version 3.2 which features compatibility with the new Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) among other tweaks.

"Can you give us a sense of why one would wish to switch, say, from Lightroom or Aperture, or perhaps why one would wish to add Lightzone to one's workflow on top of one of these other programs?"

Honestly, I don't know why anyone would make such a switch from Lightroom or even attempt to "integrate" Lightzone into a Lightroom-based workflow. (I write this as a licensee of the full Lightzone product, although I've lived in Adobe's Lightroom for over a year now.)

A year or so ago when Lightzone was relatively new it introduced a unique image adjustment model -luminance zone adjustments- that was quite appealing. The developers have since worked quite hard to put more functional meat around the product's core feature and to refine the product's user interface. Updates have been introduced with sometimes maddening frequency during the past year.

But the underlying digital image adjustment and management game has changed during that same period of time. Adobe's Lightroom offers a similar, and perhaps more potent, type of luma-based adjustment facility as well as a bevy of other powerful editing features. But Lightroom also offers an entire image asset management platform, encompassing printing, Web presentation, and other essentials.

When I wrote-up a mini-review of Lightroom here approximately a year ago I commended Lightcrafts for introducing a fresh new head-slapping image adjustment model. They've obviously worked very hard since then but their crown jewel remains the same. Lightzone's ever-growing user interface is, at least to my eyes, becoming a bewildering maze of mini-palettes.

Lightzone may be a good alternative if you're not already committed to Lightroom or Aperture. But do take Neil's advice and try the trial version before you make a purchase decision.

My advice to the Lightcrafts developer: sell that zone-based interface to Apple and move on while you can. Time is growing short to cash-out.

Two more quick comments:

(1) Thomas Risberg is right; registering for the special offer is actually very fast.

(2) The latest version of LightZone (3.2) added support for the following cameras (among others):

-Added Canon G9 RAW support
-Added Nikon D300 RAW support
-Added Nikon D3 RAW support
-Added Olympus E-3 RAW support
-Added Sony A700 RAW support
-Updated Canon 40D sRAW support
-Updated Olympus 510 RAW support

See here for more: http://www.lightcrafts.com./support/versions/versions.html

Well, I played around a bit with the demo. I love the region-based editing, the zone mapper, and the relight tool.

That said, I'm just not sure if it offers me any advantage over Photoshop CS3 (which I already own and use extensively) as an external editor.

I agree with Ken - I hope Lightzone sells to the highest bidder. But I personally hope that bidder is Adobe, not Apple, so the great features (particularly the region editing tools) can be integrated into Lightroom.

If Lightroom had regional editing and sharpening, I'd very rarely need Photoshop anymore. Those are the two reasons I hit the "external editor" button the most.

I bought LightZone 2.0 and then, six months later or so, they come out with a major revision and insist that I have to pay again for a program I'd just started to integrate into my work flow. No. I will find another way to get to where I want to go.

One more thing I've noticed: Lightzone runs like a pig on my system (and my system is no slouch - dual-core G5 2.0 with 5 GB RAM & super-fast hard drives).

They'll definitely have to improve the redraw performance if they want this to be a viable app. Shame, because I love some of the tools.

I got version 2 sometime ago. I haven't updated to the latest version yet. However i found that I could do things more easily in LZ for certain images than I could in PS or LR (especially lower contrast images). I haven't decided what to do yet. I need more memory for my MacBook, get CS3 (along with Leopard), and maybe the latest version of LZ (not to mention a 40D). Too many toys and not enough money


I'm don't know much about programming, but with regard to LightZone's speed, Uwe Steinmueller has noted that: "We hear that LightZone is slower than other editing applications but this is always based on wrong comparisons. Comparing a RAW converter that does not have selective correction is not fair as they solve a much more simple problem. Then if you compare LightZone to other editors that feature selective operations you will find that the practical use on LightZone is actually very fast and the use of non-modal editing operations is the secret. Overall we need less time in LightZone to do quite sophisticated corrections." See http://www.outbackphoto.com/workflow/wf_a101/essay.html [Note that it isn't immediately clear what version of LightZone this comment relates to.]

At any rate, I plan on using Lightroom for most functions and LightZone when I need to do selective edits, so I imagine speed should not be an issue for me. Like I said, I don't think LightZone replaces Lightroom or Aperture, but rather complements them.

BTW, while I appreciate the efforts made on Digital Outback Photo to explain how LightZone works, the articles are frequently pretty confusing and seem to omit steps along the way in some instances. The videos on the LightZone website are much, MUCH clearer (and quite impressive, I might add).

See here: http://www.lightcrafts.com/products/videos/index.html


I downloaded the trial version last night and I've got the coupon code for purchasing Lightzone at the reduced rate, but when I went to their checkout, I noticed that it wasn't a secure site! Should I be concerned? I'm leery about putting my VISA number out there if I don't see the little padlock.

mcananeya's quote from Uwe S. prompted me into replying. Unfortunately, Uwe is not quite right in drawing the conclusion about comparisons. I've compared it on a like-for-like with .TIFF & .JPG editing and it is always significantly slower than any other image application that I have ever used. Fundamentally, I think it comes down to very poor memory management.
I wrote quite a lengthy review of 3.1 on my blog (see http://doonster.blogspot.com/2007/10/lightzone-31-more-detailed-look.html ) and I've been using LZ as my main image app sice about 1.5.

For Lightroom users the current deal looks like a bargain as you only need the basic version.

Well I decided to give a go with it... I found it as a manager weaker than bridge (speed terms)...The whole software is power hungry and is "Slower" than photoshop...but...when working with it and if you undestand ansel adams's zones it produces better results faster on BW than Photoshop. For color isnt bad, or you have a lot alternatives, nut for BW it realy produces results I cant match with plugins like photoretouche NIK or one

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