Zoner Photo Studio 13 Free

    zoner-photo-studio13_leadpic

    Photo Review 8.5
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    Zoner Photo Studio 13 Free

      In summary

      A basic image editor with an attractive interface and good facilities for online image sharing. Zoner Software in the Czech Republic has been developing imaging software since 1993. It was the first to introduce support GPS (Global Positioning System) location data and 3D picture making and these features are included in its latest offering, Zoner Photo Studio 13. The application is available in three 'editions' : Pro, Home and Free. . . [more]

      Full review

      zoner-photo-studio13_leadpic

      Zoner Software in the Czech Republic has been developing imaging software since 1993. It was the first to introduce support GPS (Global Positioning System) location data and 3D picture making and these features are included in its latest offering, Zoner Photo Studio 13. The application is available in three 'editions' : Pro, Home and Free.

      The table below shows the features available in each version.

       

      PRO

      from US$69.99

      HOME

      US $44.99

      FREE

      Download

      General:

      64-bit version

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      Multi-core support

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      Two-monitor support

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      Manage:

      The Catalogue

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      Easy file sorting window

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      Searching and filtering by EXIF items

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      Unicode support in descriptions

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      Previews for PDF, EPS, and PS documents

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      GPS support

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      Batch Rename

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      Edit:

      Transparency support

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      16 bits per channel support

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      Eraser tool

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      Healing Brush tool

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      Multi-exposures: fix by joining shots

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      Support for .8bf Adobe plug-ins

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      Quick fix: all basic fixes with 1 click

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      Histogram level editing

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      Histogram curve editing

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      Batch filter window

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      Selections

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      Editing layers and masks

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      Gradient Filter tool

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      Colour shifting

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      Soft focus

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      Graphical effects

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      Noise removal

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      HDR photo wizard

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      Panorama maker

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      3D photos (anaglyphs)

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      Droste effect

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      Share:

      CD/DVD burning

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      DVD slideshow burning

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      Multi-level web galleries wizard

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      Template-based publishing

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      Calendars wizard

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      PDF export

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      RAW:

      RAW thumbnail support

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      Advanced RAW processing module

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      This review covers the Free edition.

      Installation
      Installation involves a simple download. The application is a file of roughly 23MB that is zipped and takes a few minutes to download on a fast broadband connection. Unzipping the file is straightforward.

      When you install Zoner Photo Studio 13 you are given the option of selecting which file types you would like to associate with the program. There are plenty to choose from and cover the standard JPEG/JPEG 2000, TIFF and BMP plus, if you have the Pro edition, a wide variety of raw files, including DNG. (You can view the thumbnails associated with raw files in the other two editions.)

      Zoner-file-associations

      Selecting File Associations from the long list of options supported in Zoner Photo Studio 13.

      The Manager Module
      Zoner Photo Studio 13's user interface is polished and attractive and reasonably easy to navigate, even without referring to the online Help pages. When you load the software you can choose whether to have the Manager or Editor appear first when the application is launched. You can change your preference or swap between them any time from within the application.

      The Manager module always opens with the Browser window - and usually the Navigator window as well. You can also display Preview and Information windows simultaneously. The former displays a selected image with the basic information about it. If the Information window is not displayed, then you can switch the Preview window to Information mode.

      Zoner-Photo-Studio-browser-1

      Zoner Photo Studio 13's browser allows you to set the size of thumbnails and icons for viewing and images are tagged with their file type. The circled areas show (from top) the Workspace options, selected image and Preview display, the latter with a histogram selected.

      You can allocate images to Favourites folders, sort files by name, file type, size, extension, date created, date modified or create your own categories for organising and locating files. You can also rotate, rename, copy, move, delete or email files directly from the browser. Files can also be opened for editing or added to catalogues and Exif metadata can be reviewed for selected image files.

      Activating the Tasks pane from the Workspace options gives you quick access to the Acquire, Edit, Organise, Create, and Publish tabs, each of which provides a range of workflow functions. It appears in the bottom right corner of the workspace. Click on the name of a function to open the relevant sub-menu.

      You can play slideshows of files in the browser by clicking on the Publish tab. The Advanced setting lets you select which files to play, dictate how long each image is displayed and set the background colour. It also lets you set images to loop continuously and enables you to play sounds stored in images. Background music, headers and footers and transition effects may also be added.

      The Publish tab can also be used to select images for use as desktop wallpaper and for creating contact sheets and calendars or emailing images. Images can be uploaded to Facebook, Flickr or Picasa Web Albums via this tab.

      The Editor Module
      There are several ways to open a file in the Editor window, the simplest being to double-click on the thumbnail in the Browser window. (This option must be enabled in the Settings/Preferences sub-menu.) Clicking on the Editor tab in the top right corner of the Browser window also opens the last image highlighted for editing.

      Zoner-Photo-Studio-editing-1

      Opening the Editor Module for the first time calls up an option for viewing online tutorials.

      The first time you access the Editor window, you're given the option of viewing a number of online tutorials covering basic editing functions. Designed mainly for novice users, they are fairly basic but represent a good way to quickly familiarise yourself with some of the editing tools.

      The Editor window has several main menus: File, Edit, Enhance, Effects, Layer, Selection, and View. Beneath the menus there are toolbars with buttons for the Editor's tools and functions, including the Options toolbar for the current tool. You can add, subtract, or rearrange buttons for some toolbars using the Custom command in their right-click menu or Settings /Custom in the main program menu (i.e. outside the Editor).

      The Options toolbar changes on the fly to offer options relevant to the tool that is active in the main toolbar that lies along the left edge of the Editor window. The status bar along the lower edge of the window shows information about the picture open in the Editor.

      Zoner-Photo-Studio-levels

      The Editor window with the Levels tool open.

      Plenty of editing tools are available, although some are quite limited and not all of them are displayed on the toolbar. Those that aren't can be accessed by clicking on the arrow symbol at the end of the toolbar.

      The Pro version's toolset is comprehensive and includes: zoom, pan and crop; align horizon, perspective and morphing mesh; seven selection tools (including rectangular, lasso, magic wand and selection brush); eight retouching and drawing tools (including red-eye removal, cloning, healing brush, fill and eraser) and five painting effects.

      In the Free version, there's no support for Layers and no selection tools. Layer options are limited to Place Text, Insert Symbol and Add Filter, none of which were of much use for practical editing.

      Zoner-Layers

      Layer options.

      Levels and colour adjustment are the same as in the Pro version and you can access the same sharpening tools. You can also crop, resize and rotate images and access a Quick Fix interface that identifies faults in the image and applies automatic corrections. Image sharpening is also available.

      Zoner-sharpen

      Sharpening.

      The Free editor also provides a 'Droste' effect tool that splits the image spirally and rotates it inwards. Users can define the centre of the divisions and set its position, inner and outer radii and the point towards which the spiral converges. This tool appears to have no practical application but it can produce interesting effects with appropriate originals.

      Zoner-droste

      Using the Droste tool.

      There's also a capable tool for stitching images to produce panoramas. You select the frames in the Manager module and load them into the wizard-based interface. Here they are analysed and the program tries to guess the panorama type and the order of the pictures. Users can make some adjustments at this step. Clicking on Join assembles the panorama.

      Zoner-panorama

      The third stage of assembling several images to make a panorama. The intersections between the frames are contained in the red rectangles.

      Another interesting tool is the morphing mesh, which resembles the Warp tool in Photoshop but divides the frame more finely to provide a more precise range of adjustments. The mesh is represented as a grid of dots; you move the dots to adjust them. You can add or remove points on the mesh to increase or decrease the precision of the deforming.

      Zoner-morphing-mesh

      The morphing mesh overlaid on a panoramic image, where it can be used to tweak the positions of edges with respect to the frame as a whole to create a more natural perspective.

      Graphical Effects include greyscale and Old Photograph (sepia) conversion, Gradient Map, Add Grain, Explosion, Oil Painting, Waves, Pencil Drawing, Pixelise, Emboss, Detect Contours and Variations. Illustrations showing some of these effects are reproduced below.

      Zoner-sepia

      Sepia conversion with the Old Photograph setting. Moving the slider to the right reduces contrast and increases the amount of yellow in the image.

      Zoner-explosion

      The Explosion setting makes all edges fuzzy.

      Zoner-oil-paint

      The Oil Painting setting lets you adjust the width of the brush.

      Zoner-waves

      The Waves setting adds jagged edges in a spiral.

      Zoner-pencil-drawing

      The Pencil Drawing setting varies from dark at the left edge of the slider to light at the right.

      Zoner-contours

      The Detect Contours setting reverses colours.

      You can also configure images for printing as stamps, puzzles, filmstrips or book pages with the Envelopes setting in this menu.

      Zoner-envelopes

      Using the Envelopes setting to configure book pages showing an image.

      The Fading Borders setting lets you adjust the width of borders that will decrease in opacity. The Soft Shadow sub-menu is for creating frames around images. You can add colours to the shadows within this setting. Images can be converted into 3D buttons with bevelled edges and you can set the width and height as well as the transparency of the borders and determine the direction of the light source.

      Zoner-3D-button

      Creating 3D buttons.

      Conclusion
      Despite its limitations, the Free version of Zoner Photo Studio 13 has plenty to offer to imagign hobbyists, particularly those who looking for quick ways to correct common image flaws and upload images to social websites. Photographers seeking interesting special effects could also find the application handy.

      We'd like to see an easy way to upgrade from the free version to the Home and Pro versions via the software interface. Currently, there's an online manual in English and customer support is available for users of the Home and Pro versions. Users of the Free version can access FAQs, Forums and Tutorials but not direct technical support.

      The relatively low price of the Pro version makes it very good value for money as an image editor. We hope to be able to explore it more fully some time in the future.

       

      Specifications

      zoner-photo-studio13_leadpic

      Retailers

       

      CamBuy

       

      www.cambuy.com.au
      Digital cameras, lenses and accessories with 100% genuine Australian manufacturer's warranties.
      Ph: (02) 9029 2219

      Camera House

       

      CH_Logo120

      www.camerahouse.com.au
      Ph: 133 686
      The largest speciality photographic retail chain in Australia.

      Camera Pro

       

      www.camerapro.net.au
      CameraPro Pty Ltd
      Suite 607, 180 Queen St, Brisbane 4000
      Tel: 07 3333 2900
      Australian owned and run company based in Brisbane.

      Camerasdirect

       

      CamerasDirect133

      www.camerasdirect.com.au
      Retailer of digital camera equipment and more.
      Secure online shopping and delivery across Australia.
      Ph: 1300 727 056

      Camerastore.com.au

      Camerastore.com.au
      Ph: 1800 155 067

      Camera-Warehouse

       

      camera-warehouse120

      www.camera-warehouse.com.au
      Comprehensive range of digital cameras and accessories online (www.camera-warehouse.com.au) and an online print service (www.royalexpress.com.au).

      Digital Camera Warehouse

       

      www.digitalcamerawarehouse.com.au
      174 Canterbury Road 367 High Street
      Canterbury Northcote
      NSW 2193 VIC 3070
      Ph: 1300 365 220

      Electronics Warehouse

       

      www.electronicswarehouse.com.au
      1300 801 885
      Australian retailer of Vapex rechargeable batteries offering factory direct prices and fast, free shipping Australia wide.

      Greg Smith's Photo Accessories

       

      www.dvdreamtime.com.au
      1800 50 80 82
      Big range of photographic accessories, Australia-wide shipping.

      Paxtons

       

      www.paxtons.com.au
      285 George St
      Sydney NSW 2000
      Ph: (02) 9299 2999

      Photographic Equipment & Supplies - Retail & Repairs. Click here for list of stores.

      Ted's Cameras

       

      Teds-Logo120

      www.teds.com.au

      1800 186 895
      Big range of cameras and photographic products with stores in most states and online.

      Rating

       

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Features: 8.5
      • Performance: 8.5
      • Interface Design: 9.0
      • Versatility: 7.5
      • Ease of Use: 8.5
      • OVERALL: 8.5

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