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Gadgetell Review: Zoner Photo Studio 16

Sections: Accessories, Imaging

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Zoner Photo Studio 16

Zoner Photo Studio 16

If your notion of photo editing involves more than absent-mindedly slapping an Instagram filter on a photo of your embarrassingly large hamburger, read on.

Zoner’s Photo Studio 16 brings a powerful set of editing and photo management features to Windows users. In its latest version, the software adds support for touch controls on Windows 8-based PCs. There’s also a new interface for the editor that brings most of your available editing tools into a “quick edits” pane on the right hand side, so you don’t have to go hunting through drop-down menus to find it. There’s also a very powerful content-aware resizing tool that intelligently crops and/or shrinks your photo without removing important elements.

Photo Studio 16 is available in a Home edition for $44 or pay $89 for a Pro version that adds support for RAW image processing, advanced creative tools such as HDR and tone-mapping, noise removal and greater editing functionality. (You can get a 30-day free trial of the Pro version at www.zoner.com). We put the Pro version to the test and were very pleased with the results.

Using Photo Studio
The software divides its task into four windows — import, manager, viewer, and editor — so Photo Studio is conveniently built for your entire photo workflow. Each tab contains a wealth of options for the task at hand with plenty of features photographers should find useful. For instance, when importing new photos, the software will allow you to simultaneously create a backup file on an external drive (or cloud drive if you have a cloud folder from Box, etc. on your desktop). When working in the manager, you have a traditional folder view of your photos or you can flip to a map-view and plot out images with GPS data on a map.

Photo Studio 16 does a fine job with the basic photo importing and organizing tasks but it’s when you switch into editing mode where the program really shines. From quick fixes, red-eye removal and instant filters to clone stamping and RAW processing, Photo Studio 16 is packed with more than enough editing punch to satisfy users of all skill levels. A quick edits menu on the right hand side of the software lets you make detailed edits to contrast, exposure and more using simple sliders or pop into quick filters and give your images dramatic effects (the software will preview each effect on the image in question as you move your mouse over the various filters). There’s very little you can’t do.

Hidden Gems
One of the best features of Photo Studio, beyond its editing tools, is the integration with Zonerama, the company’s online photo network. Much like Flickr, Zonerama is a place to store and (if you choose) show off your images (without the creepiness of social networks using them in ads). Unlike Flickr, Zonerama promises unlimited free photo storage. What’s more, you cannot only quickly upload images to Zonerama from within Photo Studio, you can also edit those online images right from the software.

What’s Missing

If you’re not comfortable with histograms and color curves, the software is a bit less approachable compared to Google’s Picasa  which has none of Photo Studio’s sophistication but is more straightforward to use. Another quibble is the size of the icons — in an effort to bring as much functionality out of the drop-down menus and onto the screen, Zoner compressed the icons down in size. This frees up real-estate to get a nice, large view of your photo, but if you’re not already familiar with the software, it lengthens the learning curve of understanding just what it is each button does (fortunately, though, a quick text description emerges whenever you hover the mouse over a given icon).

Bottom Line
If you’re a Windows user in the market for a powerful photo editor, Photo Studio 16 should be at the top of your list. There’s plenty to keep seasoned photographers busy and the tight integration with Zonerama makes it compelling for amateurs looking for an online space to call home.

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