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Zoner Photo Studio X Software Review

Zoner Photo Studio X Software Review

Photo Studio X
 

 

Quick Verdict

Zoner Photo Studio X is an image management and editing program that offers a lower-cost alternative to Photoshop. The familiarisation process is actually quite fast as the interface is logical and largely intuitive and there are also some very nice touches that make the program an attractive proposition. A free one month trial with no strings attached that can be used on several computers, albeit for the one user, means that it costs nothing to try out. What is there to lose?

+ Pros

  • Fast learning curve with an intuitive interface
  • Logical layout
  • RAW formats supported
  • Excellent quality JPEG handling
  • Fast response time
  • One month free trial
  • Low monthly or annual subscription
  • Handles video and stills

– Cons

  • Low cost, but still a subscription model
  • Changing to any program slows down workflow initially

 

Zoner is a Czech based company and their Zoner Photo Studio X program is well known in their home territory and across Europe. It has in fact been awarded the EISA Best Photo Editing Software award for 2021-22. The word Zoner actually means something that divides into distinct areas or zones, and indeed that is what the program does. Downloading the program is hazard-free and it takes just a few minutes before we are up and running. No credit card details are required, just an e-mail address.

 

Zoner Photo Studio X Software Features

The workflow is divided into modules – Manager, Develop, Edit and Create, more of which as we go into greater detail. The program handles a wide variety of file types for both stills and video. New for September 2021 are faster editing, a new remove noise function, easier and quicker video editing and support for 2K and 4K video.

 

Zoner Photo Studio X Key Features:

  • Bitmap editor and image file manager
  • Subscription model
  • One month free trial for evaluation
  • Handles RAW and JPEG files
  • Video editor 2K and 4K compatible
  • Creation of books, calendars and more from within the program

 

Zoner Photo Studio X Handling & Performance

The basic requirements to run Zoner Photo Studio X are:

  • Windows 10 64 Bit, version 1809 or higher
  • Intel or AMD processor with SSE2 support
  • 4GB RAM
  • 480MB of free disk space
  • Resolution 1280 x 800 or higher

The program launches swiftly with both 8GB and 16GB RAM machines used to check it out.

 

Manager Module

001 Zoner Manager |
 

The manager module is basically the browser, but also much more than that as it enables organisation of the image files. Files can be named, descriptions added, ratings applied and anything else that involves the organisation of images. If any of the dialogue boxes should be in the way, they can be closed using the small arrows next to the edge of the screen.

 

Develop Module

002 Zoner Develop Module 1 |
 

003 Zoner Develop Module 2 |
 

The develop module is where most of the adjustments to the image are made. Vignetting, colour balance, sharpening and all the basic adjustments are handled here. The effects are not totally instantaneous, but the processing delay is minimal and not obtrusive. There are also some very nice split toning tools based on colour wheels.

For those who use minimal processing of their images, most of the work can be completed in this one module and although there are a full set of possible controls the process can be as simple or complex as desired.

 

Editor Module

004 Zoner Editor Module |
 

There are many tools repeated here, but we have essentially a Photoshop type program based on the use of Layers. Apart from Favourites, we have lists of tools under the titles Adjust, Document, Edit and Effects. Here we resize, sharpen, create layers, do complex manipulations and so on.

Some things will captivate in a program, and in particular, the list of Effects is particularly interesting. Some of these give an arguably easier and perhaps even better result than using Photoshop, and they are certainly created with no loss of speed. A few examples of some considered particularly useful follows.

 

006 Zoner Editor Effects Damaged Photoi |
 

The first example is Damaged Photo and it is impressive how quickly the end result is processed. This is the simple version, needing a minimum of adjustments via one slider and a pull-down menu. The effect suits the subject and is so easy to achieve that it will be bound to stimulate a more detailed examination of the depths of Zoner’s many other options.

 

007 Zoner Editor Effects Mix Channels |
 

Mix Channels is essentially the same as Channel Mixer in Photoshop, always an excellent way to manufacture pseudo-Infra-Red images. Sometimes effects like this can be tricky with Photoshop, but here Zoner nails it straight away. This does of course also depend on how much infra-red light is in any given scene. To give a filmic look, optionally some grain (noise) could also easily be added.

 

008 Zoner Effects Tone Mapping |
 

Tone Mapping is another technique that is often left to stand-alone programs, but Zoner has the capability within Photo Studio X. It is notable that the processing does not take too long.

 

009 Zoner Effects Variations |
 

Variations offers another simple way to create alternatives to an image. Presets like this can be useful starting points, and perhaps even if they only give an idea of what could be changed then the photographer can create the effect themselves if they wish.

 

010 Zoner Effects Old Photograph |
 

Old photograph gives us an oven-ready sepia tone, which is fine, but in this case, if the colour is a little extreme for taste, then we can move back to the other adjustments to tweak the final result.

 

011 Zoner Effects Pencil Drawing |
 

Although this reviewer is not a great fan of computer-generated pencil drawings, the Zoner software does produce a very pleasant version and with the right subject, it could work.

 

Create Module

005 Zoner Create Module |

 

Zoner Photo Sudio X has another trick up its sleeve with the create module. From within the program, it is possible to create a Photo Book, a Calendar, a Canvas Print, a Collage, a Contact Sheet or a Video. It is also possible to create prints. All of these items can be produced or ordered directly from within the program. For some reason, the postcard tab tells us that this has been removed as a facility but the postcards can still be ordered via the Zoner website.

There is very little to be said that is other than complimentary, although the resizing methods provided are definitely less intuitive than Photoshop. Apart from that, all works really well. There are also many YouTube videos that give a greater insight into the working details.

 

Value For Money

Notwithstanding that some may not like the subscription model as a matter of principle, perhaps preferring to purchase a program outright, there is no doubt that it has advantages. Updates are constantly delivered and everything is kept properly up to date. Zoner Photo Studio X is priced on their website at $4.99 per month or $49 annually, which is around half the cost of Adobe Creative Cloud for photographers. ePHOTOzine members can also save 25%, for a limited time, when purchasing the software. 

The bonus to all this is the one-month free trial, which is a full version with absolutely no strings attached. There is no need to even use a credit card to open an account, just an e-mail address. More information on the free trial can be found here: Zoner Photo Studio X Free 30-Day Trial

To read more opinions on photo editing software, have a look at our software reviews

 

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Zoner Photo Studio X Verdict

When a workflow is well established there has to be a very good reason to introduce an alternative program into it, especially if the existing workflow is fast and efficient. It is probably true that the more Photoshop work that an individual does, the less likely they are to want to interrupt the flow.

However, there is such a thing as inevitable progress, so the argument would be that we should try new things from time to time to make sure that nothing has come along that will improve or help. In the case of Zoner Photo Studio X, there are distinct possibilities in that it has useful features that can be used to advantage. It has speed, the results are excellent and with the free one month trial, there is really little reason not to give it a go.

As asked at the start, what is there to lose? Nothing at all, and the distinct possibility that there is something useful to gain.

Zoner Photo Studio X Pros

  • Fast learning curve with an intuitive interface
  • Logical layout
  • Most RAW formats supported
  • Excellent quality handling
  • Fast response time
  • One month free trial
  • Low monthly or annual subscription
  • Handles video and stills

 

Zoner Photo Studio X Cons

  • Low cost, but still a subscription model
  • Resizing not intuitive
  • Changing any program slows down workflow initially
  • Not part of a wider set of programs such as Creative Cloud

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Sony 16-50mm F/3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Lens Review

Sony 16-50mm F/3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Lens Review

Sony E 16 50mm On Sony ZV E10 | 0.4 sec | f/16.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100
 

There are many “kit lenses” available, usually having in common a very low price, especially when purchased as part of a kit, a small and light form factor and an often indifferent performance. Here we have Sony’s kit lens for the APS-C line of E mount cameras and it certainly fits the profile of being light, compact and inexpensive, but can it raise its head above the parapet, buck the trend and shine optically as well? Let’s couple the lens up to the 24MP Sony ZV-E10 body and see what its capabilities are.

 

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Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Handling and Features

Sony E 16 50mm Vertical View | 1/6 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 100
The lens is tiny and light, weighing in at just 116g. There is no weather resistance, which is a shame. There is also no lens hood provided, also a shame. The filter thread is 40.5mm and it would suit well one of those small screw in lens hoods provided by some other marques. However, there is none, nor do Sony provide one for purchase separately.

Switching the camera on, the lens immediately extends. There are only two controls available. The focus/zoom ring is electronic and operates as a focusing ring if the camera is set to MF or DMF (Direct Manual Focus, where AF can be tweaked any time) and as a zoom ring if the camera is set to AF. There is also a small zoom lever that also operates the zoom. As if that were not enough, the camera’s zoom control will also zoom the lens. Even with all this control, the zoom action is one speed and is a little difficult to move to a specified value, although the actual focal length is shown on the camera monitor. That is potentially helpful, but the zoom action is too jerky and also a bit too noisy for video work.

 

Sony E 16 50mm Rear Oblique View | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 100
 

Focusing is down to 0.25m (0.82 feet) at 16mm and 0.30m (0.98 feet) at 50mm. The maximum magnification is 0.215x, around 1:4.8. This is reasonably close at 16mm and closer than average at 50mm. Given that the “35mm equivalent” field of view is 24-75mm, this will enable very effective close-up portraits.

The optical construction is 9 elements in 8 groups, including 4 aspherical and 1 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion). The 7 bladed diaphragm offers a circular aperture for improved bokeh. The OSS (Optical Steady Shot) is highly effective, giving, with care, an advantage of up to four stops.

Being compact, light and having lightning-fast AF, the lens has a lot going for it as a travel companion and as part of a vlogging kit. The downfall is the zooming action – the power zoom is quite noisy (so zooming during vlogging will be heard) and quite jerky, so that camera shake may well be seen if we zoom during video handheld. There are three ways to zoom, unfortunately, all with the same characteristics, so no comfortably smooth way is really possible. It does improve with practice, but at best seems a bit crude in its action. In all other respects, the lens is good to handle.

 

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Sony ZV-E10 Mirrorless Camera & 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6/PZ OSS Lens Review

Sony ZV-E10 Mirrorless Camera & 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6/PZ OSS Lens Review

Sony ZV-E10
 

Quick Verdict

The ZV-E10 is a very small and light interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with an excellent 24MP Exmor CMOS sensor. This truly fits into a jacket pocket, provided a similarly compact lens is attached. The 16-50mm is such a lens and the two together make an extremely portable kit. It is billed as a vlogging camera and could be ideal for this, with plenty of connectivity options, as well as being a constant travel companion to record the world around us as we go. There was a time when compact cameras were bigger than this, so there has been real progress made. The package also delivers on quality, being intuitive to handle and a pleasure all-round.

+ Pros

  • Light and compact
  • Capable of high-quality results
  • Excellent connectivity
  • Keenly priced
  • Easy vlogging solution
  • Wide potential in lens range available

– Cons

  • Some controls fiddly
  • No weather resistance
  • Zoom action not smooth
  • OSS in lenses only

 

 

Vlogging is the thing of the moment, and it looks as though it will continue to be so way into the future. The ZV-E10 offers an easy one-stop path into vlogging, with an affordable, compact bit of kit that can be used for streaming, as a webcam or even for stills. It is a capable camera in all of these areas, albeit it was a bit fiddly in terms of some controls. We team the camera up with the compact 16-50mm kit lens and take it out into the world to put it through its paces. Will it be fazed by the current flurry of bad weather and a trip to Fountains Abbey at night? Let’s find out.

 

Sony ZV-E10 Mirrorless Camera Features

Sony ZV-E10
 

The first impression is of a very light (343g) and compact camera that could easily be mistaken at first glance for a compact camera. However, it is actually a fully interchangeable lens body with a high degree of specification to offer both stills and video photographers.

Starting our camera tour on the top plate, there is a hotshoe for external flash units and other accessories, likely to be filled with the rather cute windshield for the three-way directional microphone. It gives the camera an instant Beatles haircut and all the kids want to reach out to see how soft it is. Quite a few adults as well…The on/off switch is also on the top plate, perhaps not quite so convenient as the usual Sony position around the shutter release button. The reason for this change of placement is that around the shutter release is a zoom lever. There is a slider to choose still, movie or S&Q, the last one standing for Slow and Quick and referring to slow-motion video shooting. A red button is for starting and stopping video recording. The C1 button selects a defocus mode which switches in a defocused background for instant bokeh effects. The Product Showcase setting switches to a product being lifted into view for a smooth vlogging presentation.

The back of the camera is standard Sony, so for existing Sony users, all the adjustments are in the right place. There is the usual Fn menu, bringing together a selection of frequently used settings. The rotary dial is nice and firm so that it cannot be changed accidentally. The four-way rocker switch that contains the dial controls drive settings, display, ISO and exposure compensation. There is an excellent 3” vari-angle touch screen with 920,000 dots.

Sony ZV-E10
On the left of the camera, as we look down on it from the shooting position, a small door reveals a USB-C connection that is also used for charging, an HDMI connection and a headphone jack. There is a second smaller door that reveals a microphone jack and a power connection, should we need to operate the camera for extended periods on mains power. On the camera base is the usual battery compartment, housing a Sony NP-FW50 battery that is rated, according to CIPA standards, at 440 shots or 80 minutes of video. This compartment also houses the single SD card slot.

The tripod socket is metal and placed at the centre axis of the lens mount. This leaves the battery door free to be opened and closed whilst the camera is on a tripod. This is much more convenient than having to dismount a camera to replace a battery mid-shoot. A handgrip is available that should improve stability whilst vlogging and there are also external microphones available for improved audio.

Sony ZV-E10
 

There is no SteadyShot built into the camera, but it relies instead upon lenses having OSS being used. This need not mean hugely expensive lenses, as the kit 16-50mm does indeed have OSS and at a very reasonable price. There is no weather resistance either, and this is always a pity. However, the camera does seem very well put together, so the quality of the manufacture is not in doubt.

Focusing is fast using a Hybrid system that combines phase detection with contrast detection. In practice, it works, and when using the camera for vlogging it also keeps up thanks to Real-Time EyeAF, keeping the vlogger firmly at the focus point of the shoot. The EyeAF is impressively tenacious, keeping the subject’s eyes locked into the focus point at all times.

Key Features

  • 24.2MP CMOS APS-C format Exmor sensor
  • Shutter speeds 30s to 1/4000s
  • ISO range 50 – 51200 plus Auto
  • Metering range EV -2 to EV 20
  • Vari-angle 3” vai-angle monitor with 921,600 dots
  • 4K and UHD Video
  • Streaming/webcam capability
  • Bluetooth Ver 4.1, 2.4GHz
  • Hybrid AF – 425 phase-detection/425 contrast-detection AF points
  • AF range EV -3 to EV 20
  • NP-FW50 battery 440 shots or 80 minutes video
  • Media: Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick Micro (M2), SD memory card, SDHC memory card (UHS-I compliant), SDXC memory card (UHS-I compliant), microSD memory card, microSDHC memory card, microSDXC memory card
  • 11 fps
  • Shutter speeds 30s – 1/4000s
  • Picture Effects: Toy Camera (Normal / Cool / Warm / Green / Magenta), Pop Color, Posterization (Color, B/W), Retro Photo, Soft High-key, Partial Color (R/G/B/Y), High Contrast Monochrome, Rich-tone Monochrome, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Miniature, Watercolor, Illustration
  • Creative styles: Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Black & White, Sepia

 

Sony ZV-E10 Mirrorless Camera Handling

 

Sony ZV-E10
 

Cameras have an ethos, a design style, and this is pure Sony, despite the small size. It means that Sony users will be very comfortable with this right from the start. Non-Sony users should get the hang of things very quickly as it is all very logical.

The camera has a wide set of possible settings that can be applied, to customise as the photographer wishes. The settings only apply to one type of capture, so having set up for, say, stills it will be necessary to start again to customise for video. This is no bad thing as the requirements for each may not be identical.

Like all new kit, it takes time to assimilate all the details and with a full range of options for both stills and video, this one takes quite a bit of time. Reading the instructions always helps (unthinkable…) and there is often the wish that we were supplied with a proper printed book, rather than having to go looking on the web and downloading it.

There are not many glitches in the smooth operation of the camera, the main one being the inconveniently jerky one-speed zooming during handheld video shooting. When mounted on a tripod it is much easier, although the single-speed zoom may remain a slight issue.  

 

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ImagenAI Software Review | ePHOTOzine

ImagenAI Software Review | ePHOTOzine

 

 

Quick Verdict

Every so often a product comes into your life that you didn’t realise you needed and then when you find it, you wonder how you lived without it and that’s exactly how we feel about ImagenAI. It’s clever, it’s quick and most of all, the results are excellent. For those with thousands of images, you can apply your own personal edits at speed while those with fewer photos can choose from the many styles/profiles the software has set up and quickly apply them to your photos. We really like ImagenAI and we think you will, too. 

+ Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Clever AI
  • Quick processing
  • Great results 

– Cons

  • Pay per use/subscription-based
  • You need Adobe Lightroom 
  • ‘Talents’ are very much wedding based

 

ImagenAI is, basically, your own personal photo editing assistant that learns your photo editing style and edits images, in batch, based on what it’s learnt from you. Sounds almost too good to be true, right? We thought the same so we’re putting ImagenAI through its paces to see if we can really put our feet up with a cuppa while the AI-based personal editing assistant does all of the work for us. 

 

ImagenAI Software Features

ImagenAI

 

ImagenAI software integrates directly with Adobe Lightroom, using the previously edited images in your Lightroom Catalog to learn how you apply edits to your photos. Once it’s acquired its knowledge, your profile will be available so that you can apply it to batches of photos, speeding your workflow up and cutting down the time you have to spend in front of your computer as a result. You can also fine-tune the AI-edited photos in Lightroom should you think you need to and re-train the AI so it knows how it can improve the profile for future edits. 

There is also the option to use Pre-defined AI TALENT profiles which can be easily applied to your photos and reviewed in Lightroom where the AI makes edits. This will be useful for the ‘everyday’ user as to create your own profile, you will need 5,000 edited photos in your Lightroom catalog which is more of an option for professional wedding and events photographers.

So far, it sounds all very futuristic and impressive but it’ll be interesting to see how taking the human element out of the process changes the workflow and outcome. 

ImagenAI Software Key Features:

  • AI Tool that will automatically analyse your photos
  • The perfect AI photo editing assistant 
  • Pre-defined AI TALENT profiles are available 
  • Fine-tune images and re-train the AI for improved results
  • 1 second average edit time per image
  • Boosts productivity by 4X

 

ImagenAI Handling & Performance

Downloading ImagenAI couldn’t be easier and it’s a pretty quick process, too. Once you’ve downloaded the software and opened it up, you’ll arrive at a welcome screen with various options. If you have more than 5000 previously edited images in your Lightroom Catalog you can unlock ImagenAI Creator where the AI learns your style by studying the photos you have in Lightroom. If you have less than 5000 images you can use the ImagenAI Talents option where you send photos for editing from your Lightroom Catalogs and apply one of the many Talents (styles) available. 

With ImagenAI Creator, the more images you have in your Lightroom Catalog, the more accurate the profile it creates will be. This process can take a while, the number of images depending, so you will need to be patient at this part of the journey. Once the AI has studied your images and worked out your style, the processing can begin. If you’re not 100% happy with the results, you can adjust the image in Lightroom from which the AI can be re-trained to produce more accurate results. 

 

ImagenAI Software Review | ePHOTOzine 1

 

If you have a few different styles, such as shooting in black and white as well as colour, you’ll need to create individual profiles for each style. To do this you need to only include images edited with a consistent editing style and if your style has changed recently, using your most recent photos which have been edited this way will improve results. You should also include a wide variety of scene scenarios (if possible) so night, day, indoors, outdoors etc. that have been edited the same way as, again, this will improve the AI’s response. 

When processing, ImagenAI can control white balance, tone, presence (clarity, vibrance etc.), colours and there are options to straighten/crop. 

We can see how this type of technology will speed up a professional photographer’s workflow as all of the small edits usually applied to individual images to create ‘their look’ can now be completed by the AI which means photographers have more time for fine-tuning or even getting out of the office, taking photos.

Setting up the separate profiles can take some time initially but once they’re in place, your workflow will speed up in no time. If you do happen to send coloured images when you want to create a black & white profile, the non-relevant photos are filtered out. 

 

ImagenAI Software Review | ePHOTOzine 2

 

The process for uploading images and creating a profile is pretty self-explanatory with the software easy to understand and the method being rather chronological. It’s worth mentioning, though, that you can’t open up Lightroom when browsing catalogs in ImagenAI. You also can’t see previews of your images, just a file name but you can choose which images your catalog you want to send for analysing by star rating, labels, flags and format (if you used these in Lightroom). 

Uploading projects for editing can take some time, which is understandable if you have hundreds of images, but there is a timer showing you how long is left and you receive an email from ImagenAI after your edit is ready for download. 

Once it is, you have to download the edits to your Lightroom Catalog which you do from the ImagenAI home screen. Once downloaded, your catalog will be automatically updated with the new edit.

It might sound like there’s a lot of opening and closing of apps/software but when you’re actually following the process, it is straightforward to do. 

On a side note, there are some great video tutorials over on YouTube that show you how the ImagenAI software works and you can even schedule a demo with the team should you need it. The emails you receive when your project are ready also feature instructions in them so you’re never left wondering what you need to do next.

For those who don’t have thousands of images, you can still take advantage of what ImagenAI has to offer as you can access styles created by other photographers and apply them to your photos. 

 

ImagenAI Software Review | ePHOTOzine 3

 

To access these, click on Edit (send photos for editing from your Lightroom catalogs) which brings you to the window where you can select a Lightroom Catalog to select images from. Under the ‘Choosing an editing profile’ you can select from the various ‘Talents’ which include ‘Romantic Pastel Colours’ and ‘Warm Skin Tones’ but you have to be working with RAW files, not JPEGS. You can see why this software is aimed at those who capture portraits or shoot weddings as the Pre-defined AI TALENT profiles are very much wedding inspired but there’s no reason you can’t use them for other subjects if you want to. 

 

ImagenAI Software Review | ePHOTOzine 4

Left: Original Image, Right: After Processing In ImagenAI

 

ImagenAI Software Review | ePHOTOzine 5

Left: Original Image, Right: After Processing In ImagenAI
 

 

So you can see what the Pre-defined AI TALENT profiles look like, you can learn more about them on the ImagenAI website (a link is provided in the window you choose the Pre-defined AI TALENT profiles from) but you won’t 100% know what they’ll look like on your own images until the software has processed them and you open up Lightroom again. You can, however, adjust the TALENT profiles to make them your own, using the tools available in Lightroom to do this. It does make the process a bit more time consuming as you might decide you don’t like a particular look then need to go through the whole process again with a different option. This is why it makes more sense for the software to learn from your own images as the results will be more to your own tastes as, after all, the AI will be learning from edits you’ve made personally. However, the black and white Pre-defined AI TALENT profiles was particularly superb and we didn’t have to make many adjustments to the images at all after they were reloaded in Lightroom. 

Here are some of the images edited with the help of ImagenAI. 

 

ImagenAI Software Review | ePHOTOzine 6

 

ImagenAI Software Review | ePHOTOzine 7

 

ImagenAI Software Review | ePHOTOzine 8
 

 

Value For Money

ImagenAI is available for both PC and Mac with a free trial available for your first 1000 images. After this, you can cancel your membership or sign-up for the monthly plan. The minimum monthly payment for maintaining and building on your personal profile is $7 but if you use the profile you have created on a set of images, the following prices will apply: 

  • 1-1000 images – 6 cents (per photo)
  • 1001-5000 images – 5 cents (per photo)
  • 5001 – 10,000 images – 4 cents (per photo)

The $7 fee is included in your final bill when using your unique profiles as this is just a minimum fee that has to be paid. 

For those wanting to use the ‘Talents’ option, the following ‘pay per use’ fees apply:

  • 1-1000 images – 5 cents (per photo)
  • 1001-5000 images – 4.5 cents (per photo)
  • 5001 – 10,000 images – 4 (per photo)

Some won’t like this payment method but when you compare it to the cost of employing a photo editor, you do save a considerable amount of cash. You can’t really put a price on time, either, and ImagenAI does save you quite a bit of this. For ImagenAI to work, you also need to be using Adobe Lightroom which is another cost to consider. 

There’s not really another product out there like ImagenAI that doesn’t involve some sort of discussion with another person on what your expectations are in terms of product results so it’s rather unique. 

To read more opinions on photo editing software, have a look at our software reviews

 

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A picture, a moment can change the way we feel. Change how we see ourselves. Change our understanding and change the rules. Provoke and change history.


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Sell the kit you’re not using to MPB. Trade in for the kit you need to create. Buy used, spend less and get more.

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ImagenAI Software Verdict

We’ve seen AI popping up in tools found in photo editing software for some time now (Adobe Sensei, Excire cataloguing AI etc.) so it’s no surprise that it’s now studying the images we create, learning the process and creating profiles we can apply to images in batch. AI is designed to make our lives easier and this is 100% true when it comes to the AI built into ImagenAI. The whole process couldn’t be easier to complete and once you have, you’ll have profiles that turn what could be hours or days of work into something much more manageable. Plus, the results are great. 

For those who batch process, it’s ideal as the turnaround is quick and you don’t have to discuss with another person what you’re trying to achieve (if you usually use a photo editing assistant of the human form). It’s also less expensive than outsourcing work like this. 

When it comes to the Talents, it would be great to see some that are for other genres of photography but this is always something ImagenAI could add further down the line. 

Overall, we really like ImagenAI and we think you will, too. 

 

ImagenAI Software Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Clever AI
  • Quick Processing
  • Great results 

 

ImagenAI Software Cons

  • Pay per use/subscription-based
  • You need Adobe Lightroom 
  • ‘Talents’ are very much wedding based

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Parrot Print Custom & Personalised Canvas Print Review

Parrot Print Custom & Personalised Canvas Print Review

Parrot Print Canvas
 

Quick Verdict

parrotprint.com canvases are of good quality, delivery is next day and free, plus the canvases come ready to hang meaning you can take them out of their packaging and put them straight on the wall. Easy to create, good quality and fast delivery – you can’t really get better than that. 

+ Pros

  • Super easy to order
  • No app required
  • Great print quality
  • Fast free next working day delivery 
  • Easy to hang on a wall

– Cons

  • Canvas prints are the only print product available

 

 

parrotprint.com is an online store that sells canvas prints in several sizes and formats you can personalise with your photos. Prices start from £14.99, which is very reasonable, and as they offer free next-day delivery, what they have to offer sounds even better, but what type of service do they offer and are the products worthy of a place on your wall? Let’s find out as we put them to the test. 

 

parrotprint.com canvas features

Parrot Print Canvas Software
 

 

parrotprint.com turn your digital photos into canvases. With various sizes and formats available, they have products perfect for showcasing your landscapes, or you could gift a shot of family members to grandparents.

Other features include free next day delivery on orders over £20 (in the UK, orders placed before 12 pm on a weekday), assistance with making your image look its best before printing. This digital printing service uses 100-year+ fade-resistant pigment inks, European pine used to create canvas frames that feature premium canvas and no-hassle returns. 

For those who like to know the specifics, parrotprint.com say they use a heavyweight archival grade textured bright white poly-cotton blend canvas with a robust and tight weave that contains no additives or agents. They also use solid pine artist gallery stretcher bars, and each frame is made to order. HP Vivera inks and a class-leading 12 colour print process that create over 72 million vibrant colours are used to create your print which is then manually finished with a protective varnish.

Canvas Features: 

  • Free next-day delivery
  • Money-back guarantee
  • State-of-the-art digital printing
  • Strong frame materials
  • Premium, archival-grade canvas
  • 100 year+ fade-resistant pigment inks
  • Professional image enhancement
     

 

parrotprint.com canvas handling & performance 

We have to say that placing an order couldn’t be any easier unless someone from parrotprint.com did it for you! In all honesty, it’s the most effortless process we’ve walked through when creating a personalised print, and we reckon anyone could do it (even those who are a little less tech-savvy). In a nutshell, you upload your photo, choose the canvas size/shape, customise your print and place your order.

Parrot Print Canvas Software

 

The website is intuitive and doesn’t overcomplicate the process with easy-to-follow steps that are well explained and are simple to work through. You don’t need to download an app or separate software either, making the process much quicker. Plus, the website is mobile-friendly so that you can create canvases directly from any device. 

You have two formats to choose from then once you click on one, the next option automatically opens up, which is size. You can go back to a previous step if you change your mind about anything, too. 

We selected an 18×12″ (45.7×30.5cm) rectangular canvas, which, when we popped it on the wall, seemed to be a perfect size for a standard living room, but even the next size up wouldn’t look overly big. 

After uploading your chosen photo, the website will give your image a rating, so you know if it’s good enough quality for printing (our image size was 19MB and had a 3-star, high-quality rating). The minimum size recommendation is 1MB, and the software uses a calculation that compares the size of your image against your selected canvas size to determine the overall quality of the final print. JPEG, TIFF, PNG, HEIC, and HEIF image file types can be uploaded with the website supporting up to 30MB file sizes. For those colour managing photos during editing and before upload, parrotprint.com recommends you use Adobe RGB 1998.

 

Parrot Print Canvas Software
 

Parrot Print Canvas Software
 

A crop will show you how much of your image will feature on your canvas. You can adjust the canvas crop as many times as you like, but changing the crop could reduce the star quality rating, so do keep an eye on this as if it drops to the poor, you might want to consider purchasing a smaller canvas size. For comparison, our image was captured on an iPhone 8 Plus, and it looks great on the 18×12″ canvas size.

 

Parrot Print Canvas Software
 

The final step of the personalisation process is choosing a border style, and you have image wrap, white or black, to choose from. We opted for image wrap as we like the finished look, but this is totally down to personal preference. 

Then, all you have to do is add your canvas to your basket and pay for it – easy as 1,2,3. 

parrotprint.com is true to their word, and our canvas arrived the next working day after ordering it, which we still couldn’t quite believe when it arrived. We were asked for our name when the parcel was delivered as proof of postage is required, which is a reassuring step as you know your canvas won’t just be left somewhere it could get damaged. We were also kept up-to-date on the order process via regular emails, and parcel tracking is available. 

The canvas print arrived packaged securely in strong cardboard and was protected by a plastic film/wallet. parrotprint.com use pine for their canvas frames, and it does feel solid and well constructed. The canvas is stretched and stapled in place, corners are smart, and the mirrored image wrap looks lovely. It does look a little untidy on the back where the staples aren’t going through the canvas, but it looks similar to other manufacturers who offer canvas prints at a similar price point. Plus, the back will be hidden against a wall anyway.

 

Parrot Print Canvas

 

Parrot Print Canvas

 

The in-expensive prices offered by parrotprint.com might put some off purchasing as you may think the print quality won’t be that high, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised as even our image captured on a smartphone looks great on a canvas. The colours are accurate, and there’s no loss in detail when compared with the original image. The canvas is also laminated to protect it from UV light and also to help enhance the colours.

 

Parrot Print Canvas

 

Parrot Print Canvas
 

Parrot Print Canvas
 

Parrot Print Canvas

Overall, the canvas frame is strong, well built, and the print is pulled tight across the frame. Colour reproduction is good, and it’s a really lovely canvas that looks great on the wall. A hanger also comes fitted on the frame, which means you can hang it as soon as it arrives, and you don’t have to pay extra for a hanging set (as you do with some other print manufacturers). 

 

Value For Money

parrotprint.com canvas prices start at £14.99 for a 12×8″ rectangle canvas, with prices topping out at £49.99 for a 30×30″ square canvas. This is similar to other canvas manufacturers, but the advantage of parrotprint.com is that there are no delivery costs if you spend over £20, which is a smaller figure than some other companies want you to spend to get free delivery. Plus, their normal delivery costs are just £4.99, and that’s for next day delivery (when ordered before a specific time from the UK), which is not only less expensive than other manufacturers, it’s quicker as well. A hanger also comes ready-fitted to the canvas, so there are no hidden extra costs. 

Other manufacturers creating wall art at a similar quality include Pixum and My-Picture, but do a quick Google, and you will find plenty more.

 

parrotprint.com canvas verdict

parrotprint.com makes creating a canvas for your wall or as a gift for a loved one a straightforward process that’s also inexpensive and quick. For products with such low prices, quality is excellent, sturdy frames, and colour reproduction is good. A good amount of size options are available in square or rectangular formats, but they only offer canvas prints. In contrast, other printing companies offer acrylics, glossy box prints, aluminium prints etc., so they’re not a ‘one-stop-shop for all of your print types. However, if you’re producing one type of product well, why confuse people with more choices? The canvases are of good quality, delivery is next day and free when spending over £20, plus the canvases come ready to hang meaning you can take them out of their packaging and put them straight on the wall. Easy to create, good quality and fast delivery – you can’t get better than that.

 

parrotprint.com canvas pros

  • Super easy to order
  • No app required
  • Great print quality
  • Fast free next working day delivery 
  • Easy to hang on a wall

 

parrotprint.com canvas cons

  • Canvas prints are the only print product available

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DxO FilmPack 6 Software Review

DxO FilmPack 6 Software Review

DxO FilmPack 6
 

 

Quick Verdict

DxO FilmPack 6 brings analog looks to the digital era with filters and effects we’re sure will be a big hit with young photographers looking for easy ways to improve their images for ‘the gram’. More seasoned photographers will also find the ease at which great black and white images can be created and for the first time, X-series Fujifilm cameras are supported which will be a welcomed addition for Fujifilm shooters. 

+ Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Quick to apply presets
  • 84 analog film looks available
  • 214 presets in total
  • No subscription
  • Great value

– Cons

  • Some may find it too basic

 

It’s been quite a few years since we’ve seen an update for DxO’s FilmPack software and with version 6 you get new films, effects, frames and like PhotoLab 5 (also recently announced), you also get support for Fujifilm X-Trans cameras. 

DxO FilmPack 6 (PC and Mac) is available now from the DxO online store with introductory prices available until 14 November 2021 and we’ve been putting it to the test to see if the software really does bring the feel of analog film back to life in a digital age. 

 

DxO FilmPack 6 Features

FilmPack 6
 

DxO FilmPack 6 is a film simulator that makes it easy for photographers of all levels to browse, select and apply any of the 214 presets that are available to your own photos. 

With FilmPack 6 you get the addition of new films, effects, light leaks and frames which can all be used to bring a bit of nostalgia to your photos and celebrate the perfect imperfections of film. To enhance images even further, a new colour rendering engine based on eight channels, rather than the six channels used in previous versions, is built-in so users have more precise control over colour. Users can also select their own hue in the highlights and shadows of their images, combine colours, and create split toning effects.

As well as a wide array of new effects, DxO has also added a new feature called ‘Time Machine’ which is, basically, an interactive introduction to the history of film photography.

 

DxO FilmPack 6 Key Features:

  • 84 analog film looks available
  • 214 presets in total 
  • New films, effects, light leaks and frames
  • ‘Time Machine’ feature
  • New colour rendering engine
  • Improved image control (highlights/shadows and split toning)
  • Fujifilm X-Trans camera support 

 

DxO FilmPack 6 Handling & Performance

FilmPack 6 Start-Up
 

Installing and start-up is quick and easy to do as is selecting an image to work on once the software is open. We’re using DxO FilmPack 6 as a standalone product built it does work as a plug-in with DxO PhotoLab 5 and Adobe Photoshop, too. 

 

FilmPack 6 PS Plugin
 

The user interface of DxO FilmPack 6 is basic but you don’t really need that many buttons and tools as the software does the hard work for you. Across the top are options for saving, comparing before/after shots, zoom tools, a quick way for browsing through your images and a few modifying tools should you want to crop or rotate an image. There are also tools for adjusting the film rendering you apply to your shot which includes adding grain, developing tools such as adjusting exposure, lens effects such as adding a vignette and graphical effects so you can add frames, textures and light leaks. You can also view a histogram should you need to. 

 

FilmPack 6 Compare
 

The presets are displayed on the righthand side with live previews of how each effect will change the look/feel of your image. 214 presets are now available in FilmPack 6 which includes analog film presets long with more modern film looks and even cinematic effects. You can browse all of the presets in one long list or use the filter tab to select specific film types/looks you want to preview. You can also add presets to your favourites list or create custom presets by using the built-in presets as a base or you can use the adjustment tools to create a brand-new preset designed by you. Should you need them, search and sort filters are available when browsing presets, too. 

 

B&W Image, User Interface
 

15 new renderings have been introduced which includes the famous EKTACHROME Professional Infrared EIR Color Slide Film from KODAK and the monochrome instant film for the Polaroid 600 camera, IMPOSSIBLE PX 600 SILVER SHADE. Plus, 20 new effects are available along with 15 new light leak effects and 15 new frames. 

Fujifilm camera owners will also be happy to hear that their cameras are now supported (X-Trans RAW files) but like with PhotoLab 5, this feature is currently in ‘beta’.

 

FilmPack 6 Timemachine
 

A new feature you’ll find under presets is ‘Time Machine’ which gives users a detailed look at the history of film while organising presets into decades/years. For example, there are 27 films found under the category of 1990-1994 and when you click on one, a description of the film appears on the lefthand side. When you don’t have a specific film selected, facts from that time period are shared instead with the release of the Sony Playstation appearing on the timeline for the 1990-1994 films. You’ll also see iconic images and famous figures in photography pop up along the way. 

DxO collaborated with the Friends of the French Museum of Photography in Bièvres to bring this feature to life and even though it doesn’t really add anything to the creative process, it’s a fun feature that will feed you with facts you can use to impress your friends with. 

 

FilmPack 6 Compare Side-By-Side
 

Adding a preset to an image couldn’t be easier as you simply have to click on a preset and it’ll appear on your photo. Of course, not all presets will suit every photo but the previews do help with this as you can see how a particular preset will look before applying it. We weren’t fans of every preset but the world would be a boring place if we all liked the same things and there are so many presets built-in, there will be something for everyone. Plus, you can adjust the presets that are applied with the development tools so you can make a look that’s just right for you. This is also an area DxO has worked on as FilmPack 6 now offers 8 channels for hue, saturation and lightest adjustments instead of the previous 6 so colour adjustments, as well as split toning and the adjustment of highlights/shadows, is more improved.

We’re not massive fans of the built-in frames you can use on your photos but the light leaks can look good when used correctly. Once happy, you can save your image as a JPEG or TIFF. 

 

Edits
 

We like how easy DxO FilmPack 6 is to use and can see it as a tool photographers of all levels will find useful but it’s the younger generation who have been brought up on filters and Instagram we can see really liking the software (if you can pull them away from their smartphones for long enough that is). Plus, it’s a simple introduction to photo editing for people who may want to learn more about it without complicated tools and options confusing them. 

You can, of course, find filters and presets in other photo editing software but the list available probably won’t be as comprehensive as what’s on offer in PhotoLab 6. 

 

DxO FilmPack 6 Sample Photos

 

 

Value For Money

DxO FilmPack 6 (PC and Mac) is available now from the DxO online store at the following introductory prices until 14 November 2021:

  • DxO FilmPack 6 ESSENTIAL Edition: £48.99 instead of £75.
  • DxO FilmPack 6 ELITE Edition: £99.99 instead of £129.

This is a one-off price so there’s no subscription and when compared with similar software that’s currently available, the price is about on-par. Alternatives would be Nik Collection (also by DxO) priced at around £135 (£89.99 while on offer), Exposure X7 priced at $149 and ON1 Photo RAW priced at around £90. You could also try Snapseed which is free but it’s only available as a smartphone app.

To read more opinions on photo editing software, have a look at our software reviews

 

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DxO FilmPack 6 Verdict

DxO FilmPack 6 brings analog looks to the digital era with filters and effects we’re sure will be a big hit with young photographers looking for easy ways to improve their images for ‘the gram’. More seasoned photographers will also find the ease at which great black and white images can be created and for the first time, X-series Fujifilm cameras are supported which will be a welcomed addition for Fujifilm shooters. 

We like how easy DxO FilmPack 6 is to use and you’re definitely not short on choice when it comes to the presets that are available. You probably won’t like every filter that’s on offer but that’s fine as there’s that much choice, we can guarantee there will be something for everyone. We didn’t really like the frames on offer but the light leaks can look cool when used correctly and having the ability to fine-tune a preset is also a positive thing. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to apply film analog presets to digital images, DxO FilmPack 6 is the software for you. 

DxO FilmPack 6 Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Quick to apply presets
  • 84 analog film looks available
  • 214 presets in total
  • No subscription
  • Great value

 

DxO FilmPack 6 Cons

  • Some may find it too basic

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Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR Lens Review

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR Lens Review

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR
 

Fujifilm’s most compact and unobtrusive lens is here, the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR, intended for APS-C format. This equates to a “35mm equivalent” field of view around 40mm, a popular focal length that is considered a “wide standard” lens. Add an aperture ring and weather resistance and we have a lens usable in the outdoors, able to withstand all its fickle weather, even down to a freezing -10C. It looks great, so let’s couple it up with the compact 26.1MP Fujifilm X-E4 body to put the lens through its paces and see what it can do.  

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Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR Handling and Features

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR
 

This is a compact “pancake” design and as such adds very little bulk to the X-E4 body. It weighs in at just 84g, definitely a featherweight. There is a standard 39mm filter thread and a supplied screw-in lens hood. Although this is a very small hood, it offers excellent shading. There are also two lens caps, one for the lens itself and one for the hood. 39mm is a fairly uncommon filter size, although it is used on some Leica lenses. The Fujinon protector filter for this lens costs £74.99.

The thin manual focus ring can be used to modify AF after that has locked on and is always active. Via the camera menus, the direction of travel of the ring can be reversed if desired. This could benefit those who are used to a particular traditional direction of manual focusing – one way for Nikon/Pentax and the reverse for Canon, for example. Focusing is down to 0.34m, or 13.4 inches. This is what would be expected for a standard lens of this focal length. AF is achieved using a DC motor and this acquires the point of focus very quickly and very accurately.

Fujifilm seems to make a statement with their fine aperture rings and this is no exception. It is generously prominent, affords a good grip and has slick click stops that operate very smoothly indeed. There is a click-stop for the “A” setting, used if the camera is to adjust the stop. A small button has to be depressed to release the “A” and return to using the aperture ring and it is a pity that this catch does not also prevent accidentally moving into the setting. That would mean using the aperture ring with the camera to the eye would be less prone to locking the ring in error.

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR
The well-engineered metal lens mount clicks firmly into place and has no excess play. The rubber seal around the mount indicates that the lens is designated WR, having weather resistance. This is a major benefit, enabling us to keep on shooting even in wet or dusty environments.

Optical construction is 7 elements in 5 groups, including 1 aspherical. The diaphragm comprises 7 blades. The lens uses Fujifilm’s well established Super EBC (Electron Beam Coating) technology.

In terms of handling, the lens is elegantly simple. There is very little to adjust and what there is functions superbly well. The focal length is actually a very useful one and covers most subject matter, including street, architecture, landscape, travel and even portraiture. It makes for an ideal pocket notebook, or indeed as a street camera/lens combination, being non-threatening and discreet. The aperture ring is interesting in that some lenses work better ergonomically using the camera, some work better using the camera controls. In this case, the aperture ring was the main method of choice, although this may or may not be the case with any given camera body. It is good to have the choice.            

 

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Voigtlander 110mm F/2.5 Macro APO Lanthar Lens Review

Voigtlander 110mm F/2.5 Macro APO Lanthar Lens Review

110mm F/2.5 Macro APO Lanthar
 

This new Voigtlander 110mm f/2.5 Macro APO Lanthar lens is designed for full-frame Sony mirrorless cameras, although of course it can also be used on crop sensor APS-C format. In this latter case, the “35mm equivalent” field of view is around 165mm. It evokes the long and distinguished history of Voigtlander, including the highly sought after APO Lanthar designation, once the pinnacle of the company’s design ethos. It is a traditional, metal-bodied manual focus lens and, being a macro optic, does not necessarily leave us wanting any AF capability. Many photographers use AF macro lenses in MF mode, particularly for close up work on a tripod. We need to be talking quality here, so let’s couple up the lens with the 42MP full-frame Sony A7R III and put the new lens through its paces.  

 

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Voigtlander 110mm F/2.5 Macro APO Lanthar Handling and Features

Voigtlander 110mm F2,5 Macro Apo Lanthar E On Sony A7RIII At Infinity | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 60.0 mm | ISO 100
 

This is a fairly large, chunky and quite heavy lens, weighing in at 771g. A deep metal lens hood is provided and this screws into the conventional 58mm filter thread. Interestingly, two lens caps are provided, one that fits the filter thread of the lens and one that fits the front of the lens hood. Given the many advantages of a lens hood, protecting the front element from damage and the lens from flare, there is little need to use the lens without the hood.

There is a very wide manual focusing ring that just keeps on turning. Marked only in metres, we start off with white engraving as we focus closer and closer, with magnification ratios also clearly marked. Once we get to around 1:1.4 we are again passing the infinity mark on the scale and a red set of markings take over as we move onwards to a closest focus of 1:1, which is reached at 35cm. At this point, the lens has extended a long way, but the barrel is still absolutely stable. The focusing action is just right, being firm enough not to allow the lens to extend when pointing downwards on a tripod, and beautifully smooth.

There is a depth of field scale, but the pitch of the focusing and the distance between distance markings does mean that this is of limited usefulness. Behind this, closest to the camera body, is the aperture ring, with positive but light enough click stops that ensure smooth operation. This Voigtlander lens does not allow the click stops to be switched off.

 

Voigtlander 110mm F2,5 Macro Apo Lanthar E Rear Oblique View | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100
 

The nicely engineered metal lens mount has electronic contacts. This enables a distance encoder to support 5 axis Image Stabilisation where this is available in a Sony camera body. EXIF information is also available as is MF focus peaking. This MF feature works amazingly well as a touch on the focusing ring immediately gives a magnified view for critical focusing. If the widest aperture has been used for critical focusing then stopping down to the desired working aperture restores the full-frame view, as does a half-press on the shutter release button. Many photographers use even AF macro lenses in MF mode, especially when working at high magnifications on a tripod.

Optical construction is 14 elements in 12 groups, with these arranged in three floating groups to maintain sharpness as we focus closer. The diaphragm comprises 10 blades, a generous number that should assist in providing smooth bokeh.

 

Voigtlander 110mm F2,5 Macro Apo Lanthar E On Sony A7RIII Front View | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 60.0 mm | ISO 100
 

When using the lens as a macro lens it behaves faultlessly and is a high-grade professional tool that is so easy to use. In the field, shooting anything from landscapes to architecture to portraits, the focusing process is an absolute breeze, even when it comes to nailing the focus of a portrait firmly onto the eye. Simply open up the maximum aperture, focus and the image instantly magnifies for real precision. Then stopping down reverts to the full image and the shot can be taken. It works quickly and smoothly, every time. A beautiful lens to use.

The 110mm focal length is an interesting choice, giving us a whisker more reach or working distance than the more usual 100mm. The f/2.5 aperture also gives a slightly faster, brighter lens and this can only aid open aperture focusing and increase accuracy.

 

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DxO PhotoLab 5 Software Review

DxO PhotoLab 5 Software Review

PhotoLab 5
 

Quick Verdict

DxO PhotoLab 5 brings additional/improved tools to an already excellent line-up of photo editing and management tools but we can still see where improvements could be made to the Photo Management section of the software. Having said that, the fact that it’s built into the user interface alongside the photo editing options does mean you’re not switching in and out of different programmes and it is really easy to use. Plus, the addition of EXIF editing along with the new ‘keyword tree’ makes it a better photo management tool overall. 

The minimal upgrades might not be enough to persuade everyone to upgrade/switch but we can see many of those who are already using DxO PhotoLab 5 finding the updates to the software useful. As a result, DxO PhotoLab 5 still comes ‘Highly Recommended’.

– Cons

  • Minimal updates
  • PhotoLibrary options could still be improved 

 

DxO PhotoLab 5 is the latest version of the French company’s photo editing software that also combines a photo library/management tool within the same user interface. With version 5 comes updates to both areas of the software so we’re putting it to the test to find out just how easy it is to organise and edit our photos with the new software. 

We’ll mainly be focusing on ‘what’s new’ in DxO PhotoLab 5 so if you do want more of an overview of what the PhotoLab software is, have a look at our previous reviews and take a look at the DxO website

 

DxO PhotoLab 5 Features

The introduction of DxO PhotoLab 5 brings improvements to local adjustment tools as well as an updated PhotoLibrary. You also get a speedier RAW file development tool and support for additional cameras including the Fujifilm X-Trans sensor camera range which is a first for the software. 

New Features:

  • RAW editing speed improvements 
  • Support for Fujifilm X-Trans RAW files 
  • Selective metadata copy/paste
  • IPTC editing
  • Keyword tree
  • EXIF editing
  • Metadata display
  • Selective metadata-export options
  • Standard metadata copy/paste
  • Control Lines (U POINT Technology)
  • Selective application of Control Points and Control Lines

 

DxO PhotoLab 5 Handling & Performance

PhotoLab 5
 

When you first launch DxO PhotoLab 5 you are asked how many of the automated features you’d like to appear in your workspace so more experienced photo editors can choose to work in a less cluttered workspace with options to toggle palettes and automated features as needed. 

As with version 4 of the software, PhotoLab 5 offers two interfaces: PhotoLibrary and Customise so where you organise photos and edit them are kept separately. 

Those who have used previous versions of PhotoLab will be familiar with the setup and those who have used Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop will also see some similarities between the brands. The grey tones used for the user interface are great for photo editing as the neutral tones won’t affect the colours/tones of the images you are working on. You can also move/remove/add panels so you can customise the workspace to show only the tools you need. 

 

PhotoLab 5
 

As we’ve taken a look at previous versions of DxO PhotoLab, we won’t be going into too many details about the overall performance and layout as you can see our comments on this in our previous reviews but, before we take a look at the new features on offer in DxO PhotoLab 5, we thought we’d summarise what we think of DxO PhotoLab overall and it’s a really great piece of photo editing software that’s backed up by a comprehensive photo library/management tool. The in-built PhotoLibrary means you can organise and then edit your images all in one place without having to switch in-and-out of different software and DxO has added new tools that improve how the PhotoLibrary works. The Customise tab where you make all of your edits is still easy to use and has plenty of tools that make improving your photos a straightforward process. Plus, tools such as the HSL colour wheel just make the whole process a bit more fun and the Control Points which use the in-built U-Point technology are still excellent tools for speeding up your workflow, especially with the introduction of Control Lines which we’ll be looking at in more detail. 

As for performance, we didn’t experience any issues with lag or loading which is a positive. 

 

Right. Let’s have a look at the new tools and improvements…

 

U Point Technology: New Pointer & Control Lines 

PhotoLab 5
 

We’ve never had a bad word to say about the U Point Technology built into DxO PhotoLab as it’s fun to use and makes applying/editing masks for specific photo edits a really simple process. Now, when you have a large area you want to edit you can use the ‘Control Lines’ option as this selects larger areas faster. Both Control Points and the new Control lines are also equipped with sensitivity settings so you can use luminance (light) and chrominance (colour) sliders to adjust how strong the effect you’re applying is. As before, you access these going to the Local Adjustments panel and right-clicking anywhere on the image. 

 

PhotoLab 5
 

All of these edits are non-destructive so you can click on the points/lines you’ve applied to tweak them and there’s a history panel so you can go back to specific edits you’ve made if you need to. There’s still no Layer system built-in but, really, it’s not needed as you can apply multiple masks/control points to one image which can all be individually adjusted. 

 

PhotoLibrary Improvements

PhotoLab 5

 

This was one area we thought DxO was lagging behind in when you compare it with other software which does a similar thing such as Lightroom or Excire Foto. This part of the software indexes your photos that contain images but unlike other photo management software, you can’t import images. Instead, you work on the images from the files on your computer but you can create Projects should you want to. 

PhotoLab 5 now processes IPTC and EXIF data, something previous versions didn’t do, and you can edit/add IPTC data but Metadata is still not editable. We do see an improvement in keywording, though, with a keywords list that is ordered alphabetically/numerically so you can see how many images have a specific keyword attached to them. It’s also really easy to add new keywords to images but the method isn’t quite as fluid as it is in other photo management software. There aren’t any preset keywords either – you have to add them all yourself. However, it’s good that DxO has reorganised the PhotoLibrary so all of the Metadata and Keyword information can be found to the right of the user interface which was missing in previous versions. 

Overall, the best way to describe the PhotoLibrary is ‘a bit basic’ but DxO is great at bringing new features/improvements to PhotoLab so perhaps this is an area they will continue to work on. 

 

DeepPRIME: Developing RAW Files Quicker

DxO PhotoLab has always offered excellent RAW file editing and improvements this time have come in terms of speed with the noise removing process alongside ClearView and Colour Rendering been up to 1.6X faster than PhotoLab 4. To be fair, we didn’t really experience speed issues when using previous versions but any improvement that speeds up workflow will be welcomed by users. Those who use Macs will see speed improvements of up to 4.5X. 

An improvement that won’t be applicable to everyone but will please Fujfilm fans is the fact that DxO PhotoLab 5 now supports Fujifilm X-Trans sensor cameras as previously, DxO’s RAW demosaicing process wasn’t compatible with the colour filter array the Fujifilm X-Trans sensor used.  Additionally, DxO PhotoLab 5 now supports the Canon EOS Ra, DJI Air 2S & Mini 2, Nikon Z fc, Olympus PEN E-P7, Panasonic GH5 II, Pentax K-3 III, and Sony ZV-E10.

 

PhotoLab 5

 

Value For Money

DxO PhotoLab 5 (PC and Mac) is available now from the DxO online store at the following introductory prices until 14 November 2021:

  • DxO PhotoLab 5 ESSENTIAL Edition: £99.99 instead of £129
  • DxO PhotoLab 5 ELITE Edition: £149.99 instead of £199

The Elite version unlocks extra features/tools so it’s worth taking a look at the comparison table over on the DxO website to see if the extra money is a justified spend for you. There’s also a 30-day free trial available so you can test out the software before parting with any cash.

One bonus that comes with a DxO PhotoLab 5 purchase is that it’s a one-off fee which makes it rather good value for money when you compare it to Adobe’s monthly/yearly memberships which give photographers access to their software.

Alternative RAW editors include On1 Photo RAW which is available for around £70-90 and Corel AfterShot Pro 3 available for around £64. You may also want to take a look at Serif Affinity Photo which offers RAW editing, plus much more, for under £50. ACDSee Photo Studio Professional is priced at $99.99 and Zone Photo Studio X is available for $4.99 a month. 

 

DxO PhotoLab 5 Verdict

DxO PhotoLab 5 brings additional/improved tools to an already excellent line-up of photo editing and management options. Plus, for those who are new to photo editing or are looking to upgrade from a more basic photo editor, tools such as DxO’s U Point control make applying edits an intuitive and quick process. As it’s subscription-free, it might also tempt those who have used Adobe products across. 

Improvements in the Photo Management section of the software are welcomed with EXIF editing now available and the introduction of a keyword tree speeding the organisation process up but it still doesn’t feel quite as efficient as other photo management software we’ve used. However, the fact that it’s built into the user interface alongside the photo editing options does mean you’re not switching in and out of different programmes. 

The minimal upgrades might not be enough to persuade everyone to upgrade but those already using DxO PhotoLab 5 will find the updates to the photo management section useful and the U POint technology will always be impressive. As a result, DxO PhotoLab 5 still comes ‘Highly Recommended’.

 

DxO PhotoLab 5 Cons

  • Minimal updates
  • PhotoLibrary options could still be improved 

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Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO Lanthar E Lens Review

Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO Lanthar E Lens Review

Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO Lanthar E

Collectors of fine vintage cameras will be well aware of the legendary Voigtlander Bessa II rangefinder of the 1950s, available with several different lenses, but most sought after with the superb APO Lanthar lens. Here we have a modern Voigtlander APO Lanthar 50mm f/2 lens for Sony mirrorless full-frame cameras and, as well as that enticing name that implies quality in itself, we have the declaration “The best performance standard lens in Voigtlander history”. This sounds like a worthy challenge for our review process, so let’s team up this fine looking lens with the 42MP Sony A7R III body and put that statement and the lens to the test. It should be interesting.

 

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Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO Lanthar E Handling and Features

Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO Lanthar E
 

First impressions show us a metal lens construction, very nicely engineered. There is no weather sealing. The Apo Lanthar name refers to an apochromatic design, that is, one that is corrected fully for all three colours red, green and blue, with the intention of eliminating CA or colour fringing. Lanthar traditionally indicated the use of lanthanum glass, although whether or not that is still the case is not known. In any event, we have a compact lens, beautifully finished and weighing in at a very modest 364g. 50mm is of course a standard lens for full-frame Sony mirrorless cameras, but the lens can also be used on crop sensor APS-C models, where the “35mm equivalent” field of view would be around 75mm.

At the very front of the lens, there is a standard 49mm filter thread and a screw-in round metal lens hood is provided. Lens hoods are always a good idea, not only for protection from flare but also for protecting from slight knocks to the front of the lens.

Just behind this is a thin ring with small raised and ribbed areas to assist with grip. If this ring is pushed towards the aperture ring it can be rotated so that the aperture index mark is moved from the white dot to a yellow line. At this position, the aperture is de-clicked, a benefit, particularly for videographers.

The aperture ring itself is quite slim but easy to grip and very well engineered. The click stops, if used, are smooth and operate in steps of one-third of a stop. The direction of travel is the traditional Nikon/Pentax.

 

Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO Lanthar E
 

The wide scalloped metal focusing ring is also simple enough to grip and the action is reasonably firm but smooth, the direction of travel following Canon convention. The distance scale is part of this ring and is clearly marked in metres (white) and not quite so clearly marked in feet (red). Finally, there is a small depth of field scale that is extended enough to be useful at smaller apertures. Focusing is of course manual only and goes down to 0.45m, about 1.5 feet. This is exactly what might be expected from a full-frame 50mm lens of traditional design.

The metal lens mount is as well made as the rest of the lens and carries electronic contacts so that EXIF information can be exchanged with the camera body.

Optical construction is 10 elements in 8 groups, including 5 with anomalous partial dispersion glass and 2 aspheric. There are also floating elements in the design, usually aimed at improving the close-up performance.

Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO Lanthar E
 

Not everyone can get along with manual focus lenses, and there are plenty of AF alternatives for those who prefer them. Manual focus is something that needs perhaps working on as we have become so used to automation, but slightly putting on the brakes and having a more thoughtful approach can yield benefits of its own. Clearly, with so many MF lenses appearing, manual focusing is nowhere near being a lost art. The Sony A7R III actually makes the process very simple and very accurate, with its quick enlargement of the centre of the image kicking in as soon as the focusing ring is turned. A half-press on the shutter release and we are back to full-frame to recompose and make the exposure. Or, if on a tripod, just to take the shot straight away. Focusing can be done at full aperture and then the clicks counted down to the required setting and the precision of this technique is very high.

In summary, a very fine lens in use and the critical question now is how does it perform?

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