ambient troutmask 8:58pm, 25 January 2007
Have you ever tried to get technical support for Photoshop? Posted stuff to the Lightroom forum and heard nothing?
My experience with Lightcraft has been an eye opener. I first asked for help before I had even brought their product, I received a reply on the same day (a Saturday!).
I brought RT and use it from Lightroom. I installed the new Lightzone Basic, had a problem saving images, e mailed support and a new build that sorted the problem was around in days.
Not only is Lighzone the best image processor I have ever used, obviously designed by photographers rather than graphic designers, but the support is tremendous.
I am not sure if to encourage others to use it as if it gets very popular Adobe will have to buy them.
I get a free copy of Lightroom (as a user of Rawshooter Pro) and Lightzone works great from it. No chance of me buying CS3.
Carlo Ch 12 years ago
The only time I had a problem I got an answer the day after. Very good support, I agree. I'm now using Lightzone on all the images I print or publish here. I keep using ACR when I need to convert quickly many images, and Lightzone would be too slow and detailed.
psychofun 12 years ago
Today i was reading on flickr and found a post (no big thing, just for reference) about LightZone. Then i looked for the lightcrafts' site (and searched/found this group too) and downloaded the trial version (v2.1.2 r6985).
I use a Nikon D50 and shoot raw. As HD space is something expen$ive, i transfer my files to DVD-Rs regularly.
I tried to open some of the archived .nef's in LZ but it showed an error message. Searched LZ manual, FAQ, online forum, etc and didn't find help. Looked in this group and no report of such issue. Hmmm... Hey, but there is this topic about their support! :)
Back to the site, send a message and... wow! Some hours later there was an answer in my mailbox with a link to a 2.2 beta version that fixed the problem.
Great hint. Thank you.
ambient troutmask 12 years ago
hogepodge wrote:
psychofun, if you're interested in buying Lightzone, and price is an issue, pick up the Jan/Feb issue of American Photo. It has a coupon for significant savings on Lightzone on the back cover.

also if you have Lightroom (and as a RSP user I get a free copy) you can just buy the cut down version which works fine from Lightroom.
I use Lightroom for file management, basic processing , web pages etc.. and open images that I wish to tweak into Lighzone. I tend to use lightzone for all my B&W conversions as its controllability is great.
I just hope that Adobe don't buy up Lighcrafts as the support will defiantly disappear. The present chaos that Adobe are in over the licence for Lightroom for RSP users is an example of big companies inability to respond to their customers.
ambient troutmask Posted 12 years ago. Edited by ambient troutmask (member) 12 years ago
hogepodge wrote:
The coupon is good for the basic version also. It brings the final price down to $50

at that price you should get a copy. I can't speak highly enough about the concept of this software. There maybe a few bugs (although the latest version certainly seems to work on my system) but then you do expect this with small companies. Unfortunately you tend to get more problems and less support with large companies like ADOBE and don't even mention the rip off merchants at Apple and Microsoft!
I wish I had never bothered with Photoshop now. Lightzone works in a way that is easy for any "old school" photographer to understand, the learning curve is much easier than it was with Photoshop. The whole way it has been designed is with photographers clearly in mind rather than trying to cater to graphic artists. At $50 it is an absolute bargain.
There are also some useful templates available for download on the user forum. The B&W conversion one is here I use an adapted version of this as the starting point for my conversions after first using the recovery tool (if required) in Lightroom.
rzych 12 years ago
Is this coupon available via the internet or can I only get it from the back of the magazine? I tried LIghtzone out at Christmas time back in their 2.0.5 era or something like that and while I really liked the product, performance with a gig of RAM was horrible on my computer - I know they said 2 gig, but Lightzone would just disappear from the screen opening up a Canon 5D raw file. I didn't go their technical support for help - it was Christmas and I wasn't going to spend $250 for something that could not open up a raw file without crashing sometimes - there was no point in me bothering them for help when I wasn't going to buy - there were other performance issues that I won't go into when it did manage to open a file. But now at $50 for the basic version, well that my be too good to pass up even with some perfromance issues. I tried the browser version, but I used up all my trial time. Thanks.

ambient troutmask 12 years ago
rzych wrote:
I know they said 2 gig, but Lightzone would just disappear from the screen opening up a Canon 5D raw file.

You are still going to need 2 Gb of RAM to benefit. It will run on 1 Gb but not well.
It is just the nature of the beast that a graphical application of such power and sophistication is going to need a lot of memory. As file sizes from dSLR's increase so does the computing requirements to manipulate them.
I use Lightroom for imports, file management and batch processing for this very reason (version 1 is faster than Lightzone 2). I do the basics in Lightroom and then open up any file I wish to work on in more detail as a Tiff in lightzone basic. This works well and is quite fast, but I have 3 Gb of RAM. On my laptop (750 Kb RAM) I just use Lightroom and haven't even bothered installing Lightzone.
rzych 12 years ago
I could not find a January/February issue of American Photo still on the news stands so to speak, but I wrote to the Light Crafts sales department and they e-mailed me the url link to the discount - and so I bought the basic version. I do not make a living from photography - it is a hobby and I just spend money on it, so my needs are a little different from those of a pro user. But I still want to be able to have the best picture possible based on the skills I have.

I went from film to digital 3 years ago (progression was from Canon G1 point and shoot - to Canon 10D - to Canon 5D - before that for 25 years it was Nikon film cameras). For me, the software issue after taking the picture has been a steep learing curve. When I got the 5D, I had only started to look into what a RAW file was and what I found out was that I wished that all of the pictures I had taken with the 10D were RAWS and not JPEG - but I cannot change that now. I learned that RAW gives me enough control to fix the picture even if the exposure is not dead on. I have Canon DPP and RawShooter Essentials - both free converters. When I first tried LightZone, the difference between it and DPP was startling in terms of detail extraction from shadows to highlights - but maybe I don't know how to use DPP correctly. I always did much better with RSE than with DPP.

So for $50, there is no way I can pass LZ up even with only a GIG of RAM (that doesn't go very far these days once your digital editing skills go up) - I will use LZ as my basic RAW converter. It still is not very quick on file opening and file export on my 1-year old computer, but if it just stays running and not crash, I'll be happy.

In the limited testing I have done with LZ as compared to RSE, I still cannot get subtle skin tones from flash pictures with LZ in all instances. When I learned a bit about histograms, I tried to make sure my exposures were as much as to the right as they could be without clipping. And while this gave what appeared to be an over exposed picture when first opened, I would dial back the exposure slider in RSE and get my detail back in the faces. I need to be able to learn to do this in "developing" the raws with LZ. So far, it has been easier for me to fix under exposure with LZ - I have a few of those pictures because I was always concerned about blowing out the highlights with flash.

I tried virtually all of the RAW converters I could get a trail on and I kept coming back to RSE for one reason or another. But LightZone is entirely different and to me gives a quality development in terms of detail extraction and exposure balance even without resorting to different regions. Now if I can just learn to get that detail back in faces........................

Raphael Mabo 12 years ago
Open the ZoneMapper and drag the mouse over it until the face lights up in the greayzone image. Now you have found where the face is, so all you have to do is to click the mouse on that field and than drag it up or below until the face look right. if you do not want to change all the other areas in the image within the same zone as the face, you can create a region just for the face. Simply open an additional ZoneMapper, leave it active and now click on one of the region tolls to create a region. When you have finished in drawing a region around the face, double click to "lock" the region, then use the ZoneMapper tool you just created to re-map the zones for the face. Only the area within the region will be changed.

This is more complicated to explain than it is to really do it.
Check the tutorial videos on the LightCrafts site, they explain it well...

Good luck!
rzych 12 years ago
In general, that is what I have been doing. But I still have touble with pictures exposed to the right side of the histogram (but not clipped). The default raw Zonemapper that is applied for my 5D is what I would call a bit on the "hot" side for that kind of image. To me, if I have an image that is a bit underexposed, the default tone curve really shines and pulls the the image up.

Yes, I know that I don't have to take that default tone curve, but then it is much more fooling around for me to get it better with those "right sided" histograms. I am a long way from knowing all there is about LightZone and how to manipulate it. I have used regions and they work (I helped another person sort out a picture of an adult eagle and a juvinile where the white head of the adult was blown out while trying to maintain detail in the dark feathers - but that was was easy with such a distinct area of bright tones in the adult's head).

All of my "problem" pictures are with flash. Traditionally, I tried to get the histogram to go "right" without clipping and "develop" down with RawShooter. LightZone seems to work better the other way ( try to expose -2/3 to -1 and then "develop" up).

One thing I have experimented with on some of these "right sided" images is to pull up a Zonemapper, set the blend mode to multiply (picture goes very dark) and then pull back on the opacity slider until things come into balance so to speak - but I am not 100% happy with either.

At the end of the day, I just need to play with LightZone more on those types of images. I just get frustrated when I can do a better job with RSE as opposed to LightZone on those "right sided" histograms.

Raphael Mabo 12 years ago
To move from right to left in the histogram, simply set a ZoneLock at the brightest zone, also set a Zone lock at the darkest zone in the image - so you don't go under it, and drag the brighest down. Every zone under the brightest and above the darkest will be compressed and the whole thing will be moved to the left in the histogram (you can show the histogram instead of the greyzones if this helps you more). Then you can adjust individual zones within this area to get the perfect balance. Works for me. :)

I have never used RSE, but I used Bibble and Capture One.
I prefer the LightZone way of doing things.
ambient troutmask 12 years ago
Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights. Despite the common misconception that this should be reversed for digital capture it still holds good for me. Allowing the highlights to clip in order to preserve detail in the shadows is my usual technique. An example is this image

It was getting quite dark when I took this. I spot metered on a rock in the foreground and gave it another stop of exposure. The histogram on the camera showed the sky as overexposed.
Using LightROOM to recover the highlights and the Lightzone for further selective processing I got this

Which matches my pre visualisation of the scene. Exposing for the highlights would have left me with a great deal of noise (this was shot at 800 ISO) in the shadow detail (if there was any shadow detail).
Lightzone is the first processing tool for digital that seems to work naturally with traditional zone exposures; which I think is what I like about it so much. I can almost know exactly what I will do in Lightzone when I look at a scene through the viewfinder rather than deciding only when I have opened the actual file.
The same technique can also apply to colour images, this is a recent example
rzych 12 years ago
Thanks for the tips guys. I am using LZ for my default RAW converter - I do not make a living from photography. Virtually 95% of what I do is family related candid flash photography. Where I tend to struggle on the conversions is when I don't get the flash quite right and it is a bit much - i.e. histogram looks fine, but faces are a bit washed out. I have never worried about that because I can "develop down" so to speak. In some instances with LZ, I just have trouble maintaining facial detail with enough contrast to make it look natural.

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