Zoner Photo Studio X is a holistic solution to post-processing and file management for photographers, and yet it flies under the radar. Despite the fact its price is a fraction of Adobe's full suite, major updates to improve it are rolled out regularly, and this latest one adds a number of features.
I first tried Zoner Photo Studio X around 18 months ago for an article on Fstoppers. I had no experience with it and as somebody who has used Adobe software since the early 2000s, it was an adjustment. I would recommend you read the above-linked article as it goes over the features I believe set it apart, but I will give a brief synopsis for those who are new to ZPS X.
ZPS X aims to be a complete, all-in-one solution for photographers. That is, you can perform varied post-production and digital asset management from the same module of one piece of software. However, there are elements that put ZPS X ahead of Adobe's suite. The primary takeaway for me is price: Adobe's Creative Cloud app package for photographers (Photoshop and Lightroom) is $19.99 per month. ZPS X is $5.99 per month or $59 per year (the equivalent of $4.91 per month) and you could argue that not only does it cover a lot of what Photoshop and Lightroom do, but it offers more — video editing for example. This includes raw processing, layer support, retouching and HDR modules, and many quality-of-life perks such as presets.
You can learn more about what ZPS X offers by clicking here, but in this article, we're going to take a look at what the most recent, major update includes.
Zoner Photo Studio X Fall '22 Update
Native Raw File Support
There's little worse than your raw files not being supported by software for post-production and this latest update means that it's highly unlikely for ZPS X. The majority of mainstream mirrorless full frame bodies are now supported and the number of models supported continues to grow. In addition to this, I will quote ZPS X directly: "New DCP profiles that are custom calibrated to the cameras currently supported provide accurate and true tone colors; much more precise than our competitors."
Finally, one smaller feature I particularly like on the raw processing front is that there is no longer a need to color match or correct when you are using more than one supported body. This is great if, like me, you use different bodies on photoshoots.
I invested in a 4K monitor and I want to use it to its fullest, so this is another welcome addition. You can now work on single or multiple photographs at the same time in full screen, without any distractions. Unlike the usual full-screen viewer, you also get all of the ZPS X UI elements while in "full" view, giving it higher utility.
Although a more niche digital asset management update, metadata tokens can allow you to customize the information and data on each photograph which can be useful for batching, sorting, and searching. Furthermore, ZPS X offers the ability to adjust how you see the information too.
Like metadata tokens, folder customization is a fantastic way to make your digital asset management more intuitive and useful. If you're still just browsing your library by rough dates to find images you remember taking, you're behind the curve at this point! ZPS X has taken this a step further by allowing the customization of each folder in how it is displayed and sorted, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution in an application's settings.
Browse Photos in Develop Module
This is without question my favorite feature of the latest update. I have tried or reviewed a number of different options for raw image development and I hate having to switch modules to easily select my next image to edit. This is a brilliant addition to ZPS X and means that you can now quickly navigate your photos while editing one, including multiple files at the same time or multiple folders.
Multiple Users for Zonerama Albums
The addition of multiple users having access to a single album on Zonerama is a nice-to-have, but Zonerama itself flies under the radar. Zonerama is a free online gallery for your images, but it has a lot going for it: unlimited space, custom privacy and sharing settings, and my personal favorite: zero compression. That is, you can upload as many of your photographs as you like, for free, and they will retain their original quality. So yes, you can now have collaborative albums on Zonerama, which is great, but I didn't realize how valuable this gallery is until I took a look at the update!
As this is a sponsored post, many will disregard recommendations made and I don't blame them, but allow me to offer my genuine thoughts on Zoner Photo Studio X, whether you believe them or not: ZPS X isn't perfect and it isn't offering industry-disrupting innovation. What it is, however, is a great holistic solution for photographers at nearing a quarter of the price of Adobe. Most countries are struggling with inflation and the ill effects of a multitude of recent issues and cutting costs is important. If you are struggling to afford Adobe or outright are unable to pay $20 per month, I implore you to give ZPS X a try. It's free for 30 days (see below) and offers much of the functionality, raw processing capabilities, and digital asset management as Adobe's suite, but all in one piece of software.
If you'd like to keep up with learning opportunities with Zoner Photo Studio, there are several ways. Firstly, check out their YouTube channel which has some great tutorials. They also have an online magazine called Learn Photography which is an excellent resource for tutorials on photography, post-processing, gear, and so on.
Finally, I want to reiterate how great Zonerama is. The free online gallery isn't part of the paid-for software and the update has a small feature addition, but it's a truly great tool if you value your uploaded images retaining their original quality!