LightZone Review - Free Digital Darkroom Software

20:43 Kelly Wheelhouse 0 Comments


Anyone starting out with photography will come across one major issue, and that is the cost. Everything costs so much, from your camera, to your lenses, and even your editing software. Anything to reduce these costs is fantastic, and LightZone is one of those things. I'm not 100% sure how LightZone fairs against the highly priced Adobe Lightroom, but I do know that it offers a great deal of software for free.
LightZone can help you to edit and enhance your photographs. When many people take photographs they don't always get the desired affect straight from the camera, so digital darkroom software can be the perfect way to adjust your pictures to look how you want them to.
I have been using LightZone for about a week now, and decided I would write a little review on it for anyone wondering what it is like before downloading.
The software is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. The version I downloaded is for Mac.

The first thing to mention is the overall interface, which looks like the above image. On the left you have 'styles' and 'history'. Styles are presets which you can use to enhance your photos, and history shows you everything you have done to that photograph. On the right you have many symbols which are for your editing e.g. relight, sharpen, white balance, zone mapper, etc.

               

The zone mapper is my favourite, as you can adjust the luminosity of individual areas of your image, e.g. if you had a dark patch in the photo you could lighten it up. Depending on the quality of image and the format it was taken in this can help bring forward hidden details within the photo. The other 2 features I use the most are relight and hue/saturation. The relight allows you to adjust shadows and highlights, as well as the level of detail and depth. I don't use the hue very much, but I use saturation, vibrance, and luminosity. A mixture of these three things can help to make a dull photograph vibrant and colourful.

There are also some helpful tools along the toolbar at the top. The best of these tools being under 'modes' where you can crop your image, as well as rotating it (This can be extremely helpful with straightening horizons), and region mode which allows you to adjust a selected piece of your photo.

The software saves your edits as lzn.jpg which are clever jpg's which allow you to re-open in LightZone and continue editing. They are usually fairly small in size (Less than 2mb), so they won't take up much space on your computer.
The one thing that baffled me to start with was how to export the full size edit of my photograph. To do this you have to go to file, then 'convert image...'


Once you have done that it brings up a box asking where you wish to save it, what file type you want, the color profile (which I don't know what that part does), rendering intent (Don't know what that is for either), the ability to resize, resolution, and finally the quality. The quality comes in handy for me as I need some of my photos to be a smaller file size for certain websites, and full size for others.

My overall rating for LightZone is...

5 STARS!
I am truly impressed with what this software has to offer for completely free, all you have to do is register an account with them, and download. It does everything a beginner could ever want, with complete ease. 
If you would like to try out LightZone for yourself, head over to http://lightzoneproject.org/ now.
What is your favourite free software? and what are your thoughts on LightZone? Let me know in the comments below.
*All the photos used in the screenshots were taken by me*
To see more photos edited in LightZone, check out my like page on Facebook ~Kelly Pendragon~ 

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