Quick verdict

Zoner Photo Studio X is an image management and editing program that offers a less expensive alternative to Photoshop. The familiarization process is actually quite quick as the interface is logical and largely intuitive and there are also some very nice touches which make the program an attractive proposition. A one-month free trial with no strings attached that can be used on multiple computers, but for a single user, means it costs nothing to try. What is there to lose?

+ Benefits

  • Fast learning curve with an intuitive interface
  • Logical layout
  • Supported RAW Formats
  • Excellent quality JPEG processing
  • Quick response time
  • One month free trial
  • Low monthly or yearly subscription
  • Manages video and photos

– The inconvenients

  • Low cost, but still a subscription model
  • Switching to any program initially slows workflow

Zoner is a company based in the Czech Republic and its Zoner Photo Studio X program is well known in its territory and throughout Europe. It has indeed received the EISA award for the best photo editing software for 2021-22. The word Zoner actually means something that divides into separate zones or areas, and that is indeed what the program does. Downloading the program is safe and it only takes a few minutes before we are up and running. No credit card details are required, just an email address.

Zoner Photo Studio X Software Features

The workflow is divided into modules – Manager, Develop, Edit, and Create, with more as we dig deeper into the details. The program handles a wide variety of file types for photos and videos. New for September 2021 are faster editing, a new noise removal feature, easier and faster video editing, and support for 2K and 4K video.

Zoner Photo Studio X Main characteristics:

  • Bitmap editor and image file manager
  • Subscription model
  • 1 month free trial for evaluation
  • Handles RAW and JPEG files
  • 2K and 4K compatible video editor
  • Create books, calendars and more from the program

Zoner Photo Studio X handling and performance

The basic requirements to run Zoner Photo Studio X are:

  • Windows 10 64-bit, version 1809 or higher
  • Intel or AMD processor with SSE2 support
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 480 MB of free disk space
  • 1280 x 800 or higher resolution

The program launches quickly with 8GB and 16GB RAM machines used to verify it.

Manager Module

001 Zoner Manager |

The management module is essentially the browser, but also much more than that because it helps organize image files. Files can be named, descriptions added, ratings applied, and anything that involves image organization. If any of the dialog boxes should get in your way, you can close it using the little arrows next to the edge of the screen.

Development Module

002 Zone Develop Module 1 |

003 Zone Develop Module 2 |

The Develop module is where most image adjustments are made. Vignetting, color balance, sharpness and all basic adjustments are handled here. The effects are not completely instantaneous, but the processing time is minimal and not annoying. There are also some great split toning tools based on color wheels.

For those using minimal processing of their images, most of the work can be done in this module alone and although there is a comprehensive set of controls possible, the process can be as simple or complex as desired.

Editor Module

004 Zoner Editor Module |

There are many repeated tools here, but we basically have a Photoshop-like program based on the use of layers. Besides Favorites, we have tool lists under the headings Adjust, Document, Modify, and Effects. Here we resize, sharpen, create layers, perform complex manipulations, and more.

Certain things will captivate in a program, and in particular, the list of effects is particularly interesting. Some of them look arguably easier and maybe even better than using Photoshop, and they’re certainly created without losing speed. Here are some examples of those considered particularly useful.

006 Zoner Editor Effects Photo damaged |

The first example is Damaged Photo and the speed with which the final result is processed is impressive. This is the simple version, requiring minimal adjustments via a slider and drop-down menu. The effect suits the subject and is so easy to achieve that it is sure to stimulate closer examination of the depths of Zoner’s many other options.

007 Zoner Editor Effects Mix Channels |

Mix Channels is essentially the same as Channel Mixer in Photoshop, still a great way to craft pseudo-infrared images. Sometimes effects like this can be tricky with Photoshop, but here Zoner nails it right away. This of course also depends on the amount of infrared light present in a given scene. To give a filmic look, possibly some grain (noise) could also be easily added.

008 Zoner Effects Tone Mapping |

Tone Mapping is another technique that’s often left to standalone programs, but Zoner has the capability in Photo Studio X. It’s worth noting that the processing doesn’t take too long.

009 Zoner Effect Variations |

Variations offers another easy way to create alternatives to an image. Presets like this can be useful starting points, and perhaps even though they only give an idea of ​​what could be changed, the photographer can create the effect themselves if they wish .

010 Zoner Effects Old Photo |

An old photograph gives us an oven-ready sepia tone, which is fine, but in this case, if the color is a little extreme for the taste, we can go back to the other settings to tweak the end result.

011 Zoner Effect Pencil Drawing |

Although this reviewer isn’t a big fan of computer generated pencil drawings, the Zoner software produces a very nice version and with the right subject it could work.

Create a module

005 Zoner Create a module |

Zoner Photo Sudio X has another trick up its sleeve with the creation module. From the program, it is possible to create a Photo Book, a Calendar, a Canvas Print, a Collage, a Contact Sheet or a Video. It is also possible to create prints. All of these items can be produced or ordered directly from the program. For some reason, the Postcard tab tells us this has been removed as a facility, but postcards can still be ordered through the Zoner website.

There’s very little to say that’s only complementary, although the resizing methods provided are significantly less intuitive than Photoshop. Other than that, everything works fine. There are also many YouTube videos that give a better insight into the working details.

Value for money

While some don’t like the subscription model on principle, perhaps preferring to purchase a program outright, there’s no doubt that there are benefits to it. Updates are constantly being delivered and everything is properly updated. Zoner Photo Studio X is offered on its website for $4.99 per month or $49 per year, which is about half the cost of Adobe Creative Cloud for photographers. ePHOTOzine members can also save 25%, for a limited time, when purchasing the software.

The bonus to all of this is the one-month free trial, which is a full version with no strings attached. You don’t even need a credit card to open an account, just an email address. For more information on the free trial, click here: Zoner Photo Studio X 30-Day Free Trial

To read more photo editing software reviews, check out our software reviews.

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Zoner Photo Studio X Verdict

When a workflow is well established, there must be a very good reason to introduce an alternative program to it, especially if the existing workflow is fast and efficient. It’s probably true that the more an individual works in Photoshop, the less likely they are to want to interrupt the flow.

However, there is such a thing as inevitable progress, so the argument would be that we should try new things from time to time to make sure nothing improves or helps. In the case of Zoner Photo Studio X, there are distinct possibilities in that it has useful features that can be used to its advantage. It’s fast, the results are great, and with the one-month free trial, there’s really no reason not to give it a try.

As asked at the start, what is there to lose? Nothing at all, and the distinct possibility that there is something useful to gain.

Benefits of Zoner Photo Studio X

  • Fast learning curve with an intuitive interface
  • Logical layout
  • Most RAW formats supported
  • Excellent handling quality
  • Quick response time
  • One month free trial
  • Low monthly or yearly subscription
  • Manages video and photos

Disadvantages of Zoner Photo Studio X

  • Low cost, but still a subscription model
  • Unintuitive resizing
  • Changing a schedule initially slows workflow
  • Not part of a larger set of programs like Creative Cloud

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