Price When Reviewed: 130
Pros: Simulates analog photographic techniques. Boasts a powerful built-in image browser, and true non-destructive editing. Powerful rendering engine eliminates the need to store multiple copies of an image
Cons: Lacks important retouching tools, region selection tools need refinement, and performance is slow when multiple regions and modification tools are active. Some important tools are accessible only through option- and control-click.
While new-fangled applications such as Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture aim to be the central workflow tool for digital photographers, neither attempts to take on Photoshop for deep image editing – yet. LightZone from newcomer Light Crafts, however, combines a thumbnail browser with some hardcore photo-manipulation tools.
LightZone is no Photoshop competitor though. There are no compositing and painting tools – but the process of adjusting images with LightZone feels smoother and is more direct than with Photoshop.
The application is based on the zone system, a photographic technique popularized by the famed landscape photographer Ansel Adams. The zone system lets photographers visualize and control the tonal range of their images.
The program features two main work areas: the Image Browser and the Photo Editor. The Image Browser feels snappier than Adobe’s Bridge and on a par with the latest version of Aperture (1.1) – though it’s not as powerful as Apple’s tool.