Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs

The Art of Raw Conversion #032


LightZone™ 2.4 with all new ToneMapper

Mac & PC

review by Uwe Steinmueller


Lightzone (read our previous review) is now in the market for nearly 18 months. One of the key benefits from Lightzone is its ease of use and intuitive handling. But also some of the tools have been favorites for us:

  • BW
  • ToneMapper
  • ZoneMapper

The detail enhancement in the Lightzone Tonemapper was always helpful but there was sometimes the danger of introducing halos. The new version 2.4 improves Lightzone in very significant ways:

  • All new ToneMapper
  • New RAW tool
  • New B&W tool

We discuss these tools in an real world example:

RAW Tool

Actually Lightzone was missing specific RAW controls before version 2.4. You could get the job done with the existing tools but some operations are better done for RAW files than for TIFFs or JPEGs.

Lightzone 2.4 introduces now a new RAW tool that implements:

  • Exposure slider: you sometimes can recapture about +1EV for some cameras by using negative exposure
  • Color noise removal
  • White balance: better done before any further corrections

Image with RAW tool at default values

For this image we stayed with the default values.

All new Tonemapper

The new Tonemapper is for us a major improvement:

Using the new Tonemapper

The Tonemapper features 3 sliders:

  • Shadows: opens up shadows
  • Highlights: tones down highlights
  • Detail: enhances local detail contrast

The following crops (from screen shots) give just a glimpse what the new Tonemapper can do:

Without ToneMapper

With ToneMapper

The images get a more three dimensional look. We think you owe it to yourself to try the new ToneMapper. So far we think it is the best tool of this class we have seen in any application. Some ToneMappers that have detail enhancers have a tendency to amplify noise. The ToneMapper in Lightzone 2.4 does not share this behavior. So far we also did not encounter any halos.

While working on this article I had a look at some snapshots from my visiting sister in law. She uses a Canon G2 with JPEG setting to medium. I tried the new ToneMapper and was kind of shocked of how well it worked:

Without ToneMapper (full sized screen shot 1MB)

With ToneMapper (full sized screen shot 1MB)

The strong difference can be see in these crops:

Without ToneMapper (crop)

With ToneMapper (crop)

We hardly use the word "Wow" but here it is all we can say.

B&W tool

Lightzone 2.4 also features a new improved B&W tool. We just mention it here but plan also a special article about B&W in Lightzone.


Lightzone's new B&W tool

Often revisions like a version 2.4 sound not that much exciting. But we have to say that Lightzone's new ToneMapper is more than just a bit exciting. You need to try it yourself.



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