Light Crafts – LightZone 3.1 review

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Photo of Light Crafts – LightZone 3.1

Light’s quite an important thing. If there weren’t any light, the world would be one giant game of blind man’s buff. And musical chairs would be unthinkably dangerous.

Without light, photography would be unquestionably dull: “This one’s a snap of the sky at night… Here’s a shot of the inside of a cinema, after the film has finished… Now that’s a black cat swimming in an oil slick.” Light is a supremely important issue in photography, and light is what this image editor is all about.

LightZone’s fundamental design philosophy is that it’s a program purpose-built to edit digital photographs, so it focuses on working with light rather than pixels. Editing is achieved via a series of simple menus which switch in filters and effects with a single mouse click. The interface is something of a work of art in itself: not only are the menus easy to use, but the layout is well thought out and it all looks rather smart, with a slick grey-on-black colour scheme.

Upon installation, the program automatically builds a catalogue of your images in its browser. You can then scroll through the pics, use various organisational tools (for example, you can rate them and then sort by rating to see your favourite images), and click on ‘edit’ to get to work on a photo.

The edit menu features an array of buttons on the left called styles. These are one-click affairs that apply various tools and settings automatically to an image. Examples are ‘clarity’, which sharpens up the image detail and depth, ‘skin glow’ (that one’s self explanatory), and the aptly named ‘wow’, that applies some very effective high contrast settings.

These styles are easily modified, as the settings employed to achieve them are displayed and you’re free to mess around with all the sliders and numbers. Alternately you can go straight to the tools menu, which boasts a large selection of utilities that can be used directly on your image.

There’s the expected kit such as a red-eye reducing tool, colour balance, saturation, noise reduction and so forth, and some more innovative efforts such as the zone-finder. This displays a black and white diagram of your photo, showing where the dark and light zones are. It’s designed to be used in conjunction with the zone-mapper to adjust the brightness and contrast in specific zones, making for some very precise image manipulation.

When tools are used, they’re stacked up in a menu to the right of the photo, and you can remove any effect at any time simply by clicking and deleting. Effective combinations of tools can also be saved as your own custom styles.

It’s worth noting that there’s also a basic version of LightZone which lacks the batch conversion facilities. However, its price tag is considerably less at £76, and the full power of the editing tools isn’t tampered with.

Company: Light Crafts

LightZone isn't particularly cheap, but it's worth the money for keen digital photographers as the program's well presented, effective, user friendly and quite innovative in places. You could always plump for the basic version to save some cash, too.