Wednesday, July 10, 2013

LightZone is Now Free!

LightZone, a non-destructive photo-editing program somewhat based on Ansel Adams's Zone System, debuted in 2005 and was created by Light Crafts, Inc. It offered a more visual-based approach to image and tone manipulation and was remarkably intuitive with a relatively easy learning curve, especially when compared to Photoshop. It remains unique in that you can remove, reverse or change any step of your processing at any time in any order even in different sessions. Try doing that in any other program! And it worked in 16-bit.

I tried out LightZone shortly after it came out in 2005 and I remember liking it a lot. It took a visual approach to image manipulation, rather than a numbers- or values-based interface. And I was able to get good looking results almost immediately that were surprisingly hard to match in Photoshop. Photoshop is easier to use in cut-and-paste operations, where you area changing the image a great deal, but for just optimizing an image to look its best, LightZone was really good and fast. It was particularly good for black-and-white. It was almost like photographers designed it for other photographers to use. Imagine that!

Well, Light Crafts, Inc. went out of business in 2011 and LightZone went away, except it didn't. Fans and former employees kept the interest going and in December 2012, Light Crafts released LightZone to open source. And now a group calling itself the LightZone Project has come out with a new and free downloadable version (V4.0) for Windows and Linux, with a Mac version on its way. Actually, if you want the Windows version, hold off a bit and keep checking back since the initial release has some bugs in it that they are in the process of fixing. When they fixed things with it, they expect it to include 64-bit compatibility.

LightZone was a great program that offered features and flexibility that no other program had and now that it's free, there's no reason not to give it a try. You can download it and learn more about it here.