Zoner Photo Studio X is one of the first image editors with full support for HDR photo editing – and arguably the easiest to use and most powerful. [Article courtesy of Zoner.]

Created for recently-released HDR-enabled monitors, Zoner Photo Studio X provides a full complement of photo and video adjustment tools in a well-designed workspace with useful keyboard shortcut management.

The top toolbar in the Manager and Develop modules includes a new HDR Display mode button, which will set the workspace to HDR mode by default when content with a wide dynamic range is uploaded. Users can also see whether their monitor is capable of displaying a full HDR tonal range by looking at the histogram display, which is split and labelled either SDR (standard dynamic range) or HDR (high dynamic range).  A red bar with a triangle containing an exclamation mark below the HDR section means the monitor does not support the full HDR display.

This display of the Develop workspace shows the monitor in use is not capable of displaying the full range of hues and tones contained in this raw image file.

If the bar is mostly white, the display is HDR-compatible and the user can see how much dynamic range the screen can actually show. This can be used as a guide to subsequent adjustments, effectively preventing the over-processing that used to characterise HDR images. Users can achieve natural-looking results and reproduce hues and tones the brightest highlights to the deepest shadows. Fine adjustments can be made to the dynamic range for HDR images with the HDR whites slider. This shows the image as it will be reproduced and allows details to be retained in both highlights and shadows without compromising exposure levels in the rest of the image.

The screen grab above shows a screen that can display roughly 2.0EV more exposure values.

Zoner Photo Studio X can also be used to edit images and videos for SDR screens. When the HDR mode is not engaged, users have full access to seven exposure sliders covering white point, black point, lights, shadows and whites plus two additional sliders: Lights – clarity and Lights – saturation, for bringing out the highlights in lighter areas in the scene.

The Editor workspace contains a full range of adjustment tools for both HDR and SDR image adjustment.

Users can also take advantage of look-up tables (LUTs), which have been designed to replicate specific ‘looks’ by informing the computer how to render pixels in the image array, based on their brightness levels. Each LUT can store several adjustments that would otherwise require multiple steps so they can be real time-savers.

3D LUTs make let users apply pre-determined ‘looks’ to images quickly and easily.

In Zoner Photo Studio X, you can work with 3D LUTs, which have separate pre-sets for the red, green, and blue (R, G, B) pixels, providing higher precision and greater versatility. The LUTs are accessed via the Color Style section of the Develop module and users can choose from a number of pre-installed LUTs or install their own LUTs or LUTs they have downloaded from the many options available online.

The Information tab on the main workspace includes a Rating mode to help users classify images. New Rejected and Delete Rejected Files tabs make it easy to clear unwanted files from the catalogue.

The latest version adds a Rejected rating that allows marked images to be identified and quickly deleted to allow faster access to wanted files. It also includes raw file development with support for the latest cameras and lenses. This is used as a basis for HDR editing and enables users to bring out image details that would otherwise be lost in 8-bit JPEG files.

Easy to learn and feature-rich, Zoner Photo Studio X is an affordable alternative to applications like Lightroom and Photoshop. It is available as monthly or annual subscriptions, which include 20GB of storage on the Zoner Photo Cloud. Subscribers can also take advantage of Zonerama, the free online storage/sharing platform that give users unlimited space for uploading photos and videos without compression to allow secure storage and sharing.

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