Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Non Review Of Lightzone

I commonly get feedback like, 'you should try', 'what do you think of', 'have you tried', etc. all referring to Lightzone. I have in fact used the demo version of Lightzone and for me it isn't the right product. It doesn't matter how well it does what it does, for me personally it's way of working is fundamentally opposite to how I work.

The premise of Lightzone is that one selects an area to modify, similar to making selections in Photoshop. You can then apply powerful adjustments to this area.

The problem is: when I work on an image, I use the mouse to apply brushstrokes to various masks. Each mask can have dozens of strokes of varying densities and size in no predetermined pattern. I use up to dozens of layers to work on an image. The net result is at the very least 12X12 or 144 brush strokes.

It's the same reason that multiple undo doesn't work well for me - I'd need to set it at 200 undo's and install multiple terabyte size disks to store the undo's and who the hell is going to undo 197 times to restore an image. No, I'll stick with multiple adjustment layers and masking with the occasional save as if I'm doing a lot of changes and the number of layers is getting unwieldy.

The idea of drawing 144 selections then applying adjustments to it is more than the mind can bear. Sure I could get close to the effects I want by using only a dozen selections and careful fading of the edges of these selections, but close isn't the same.

Not everyone is as comfortable simply stroking away at the image and the idea of a controllable selection which can be adjusted later is strongly appealing, especially if it replaces hundreds of brush strokes and does almost the same job.

THIS IS NOT A FLAW in Lightzone, it's simply that it isn't the way I work. It may in fact work perfectly for you and I wouldn't want to dissuade you from using it.

I would miss the plugins to Photoshop - Akvis Enhancer and Photomatix Tone Mapping for example, and Photokit Output Sharpening but perhaps Lightzone already has something equivalent or soon will.

No, for me, Photoshop will remain my image editing tool of choice.

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