Zoner Photo Studio 16 Review

4.5
December 13, 2013 | Matt Grayson | Software Reviews |

Introduction

Zoner Photo Studio 16 is an affordable all--in-one software program for the keen photographer, covering everything from downloading your images, editing and managing them, then sharing them. Can it compete with the likes of Paint Shop Pro and Adobe Photoshop Elements? Read our Zoner Photo Studio 16 review to find out...

Photo Studio 16 from Zoner is an editing, tagging and organising software application for your photographs. Zoner say that it’s the best one available. In this test, we’ll be tagging and editing to the hilt to see if that claim has any basis. Photo Studio 16 costs $44 for the Home edition or $89 for the Pro edition. Both can be downloaded from the Zoner website.

Installation and Use

Installation of Zoner Photo Studio 16 is fast at around 20 minutes on our super slow half meg broadband connection. Installation only takes a few minutes if you use the Quick download option.

Zoner Photo Studio 16 is a stand alone program and looks like Adobe Lightroom, Cyberlink Photo Director 5, Corel Paint Shop Pro X6 and any other tagging and editing suite on the market today. Given the similarity of the layout, we're extremely interested to know what makes this the best editing suite available. It has some hot competition to beat.

Zoner Photo Studio 16 Zoner Photo Studio 16 - Main Interface

The program has five sections to it: Import, Manager, Viewer, Editor and Raw. The Import page will fetch pictures directly from anything attached to the computer or you can select a folder. You can also do this by going directly to the Manager page. In fact, Zoner Photo Studio 16 automatically opens on the Manager page. 

Zoner Photo Studio 16 Zoner Photo Studio 16 - Perspective Correction

The general layout of the Manager page is split into three sections. To the right is another Import section, which kind of makes the import page redundant. The centre section has a large preview of the image you've selected. If you don't want to use the ticker style browser on the bottom of the window, you can clock on Browser and the images will cascade through the middle window. Click on Preview and you're back to the default setting of your selected shot where you can check any part of it, rotate, preview, zoom in and check the blown out areas of the shot.

Zoner Photo Studio 16 Zoner Photo Studio 16 - Assign GPS

If you click on Map, you can add any geo-tagging information by dragging pictures onto the map. It's worth noting that the map will only work once you've created an account on the Zonerama section of the website. You can create one by clicking the Not Logged In button at the top right corner of the window. Select the type of account you have and enter your details. You'll need to reboot the program and log in again after confirming via email. One of the new features to Zoner Photo Studio 16 is the integration of Facebook albums to your Zonerama account. Now if you've linked your Facebook albums to your Zonerama account, any time you upload images to the Zonerama acount, it automatically updates onto Facebook.

Zoner Photo Studio 16 has a dedicated page to checking the picture you've chosen called Viewer. It's a great area to look at your photographs without the complications of all the fussy menus scattered either side. The black background helps to cancel out distractions, although there is some options around you. In the top corner, you can give the photo a rating and a colour tag. This allows for faster searching in the future.

Zoner Photo Studio 16 Zoner Photo Studio 16 - Content Aware

Adobe revealed content-aware cropping in CS4 which was released in 2008. Now, five years later, Zoner have included it in their program. They're not the first ones to use it, but it's good to see more stand-alone independent companies utilising the technology. You can also determine areas of the image that you definitely want to keep by using the Mark Regions window. You simply colour the bits in green that you definitely want to keep and red for the bits that can definitely go. Otherwise the program automatically decides whether you need them or not.

Zoner Photo Studio 16 Zoner Photo Studio 16 - Adding Text

Other cool features in the Editor are the Quick Filters which will apply a number of vintage and retro filters to the photographs. There's also a number of frames to make the pictures look like they've been taken on film. Of course, you could just get a film camera and get the real thing, but if not, these look pretty good. They don't have the precision and random generators of more dedicated programs, such as Alien Skin's Exposure 5 but it's good to have it if you might use it rarely.

Zoner Photo Studio 16 Zoner Photo Studio 16 - Saving

The Clone brush seems to have been removed and only a Healing tool remains. The Healing tool isn't bad. In fact, it works very well. However, there are some areas where it won't erase over completely, like a Clone tool would, it works in the same way the Patch tool does in Photoshop. Shadows and the like won't be affected, but spots are removed. We had an item we wished to cover completely though, and it took several clicks to apply enough layers. You can alter the intensity under the Histogram, but we sometimes couldn't get it strong enough.

Entry Tags

review, photos, images, test, photo, image, editing, editor, manage, image editor, edit, backup, create, share, Paint Shop Pro, Zoner Photo Studio, Zoner Photo Studio 16, download, Adobe Photoshop Elements, zoner

Tracker Pixel for Entry

Your Comments

16 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Brand

Hi, do you think is it worth to buy zoner photo studio while having a Corel Paint Shop Pro X5 ?
I’m trying to find something new, but I’d like to know what you think about this idea ?

6:34 pm - Friday, December 13, 2013

#2 Jay

Hi Brand, the best way to find out is to try. Download it and try it for 30 days for free.
Personally I love this piece of SW. Especially the unlimited photo cloud and web gallery integrated in the app.

8:24 pm - Friday, December 13, 2013

#3 JFC

As far as I am concerned the Zoner folks are on the fast track to ruining Zoner. Version 16 cut the browser off at the knees (no more custom layouts, no more compare in tabs, no more vertical preview with thumbs - very wasteful of screen real estate - , no preview at all when in dual pane browser mode, etc, etc.) plus loss of the fine histogram equalization tools. It’s just too bad. I don’t understand why they would “dumb-down” such a powerful and flexible program. The new stuff they tout so strongly is mostly one-time-use effects gimmickry.

I’m sticking with version 15 (highly recommended,  excellent tool) and keeping my fingers crossed that the developers will see the light in version 17. Not holding my breath, though. IMO the “mobile” paradigm has infected their thinking.

8:36 pm - Friday, December 13, 2013

#4 den

I’m using Zoner 15 pro.realy excellent software.highly recommended.

8:15 pm - Saturday, December 14, 2013

#5 June Pinto

I learned something today. If you are looking for a software to send pictures to someone then take a look at Binfer. http://www.binfer.com

6:16 am - Monday, December 16, 2013

#6 Erik Piper

Hello there!

This is Erik Piper from the customer support team at Zoner. A friend of mine let me know about this review, so I thought I’d say a bit about it in Zoner’s name. We appreciate every review and sure don’t mind criticism - it’s a part of life! - but there are a couple of points in the review worth clearing up.

Installation of Zoner takes however long it takes to download and install a 53-megabyte installer. Since how much time that is can vary wildly, that issue is probably best left at that. :-)

The Manager section doesn’t have an Import section on the right. The column on the right in the Manager either shows EXIF, etc. information, or it can be switched to a tool for drag-and-drop keyword tagging. There is a set of switcher buttons at the top right though, with one of them being for the Import section.

The Map mode in the Manager isn’t hooked in to Zonerama accounts in any way - it will work whether you’re signed in to Zonerama or not.

Regarding the Clone brush - although we never had a Clone Brush, we’ve always had a Clone Stamp, and it’s still there (as well as the Healing Brush). I always hesitate to “play name games” like this even when writing to people as a tech support guy, since it can make me sound like a jerk, but sometimes it can be the difference between finding something and missing it!

JFC - There’s no better way for us to lose customers than by arguing with them, so I won’t argue with you! I’ll just note that it’s our sincere hope that we won more people over with version 16’s radical interface changes than we lost. From what little I’ve watched of “the numbers,” it seems to be working out, which makes me happy. And nowadays I hardly see complaints of Zoner being too complicated anymore.

We weren’t thinking of tablets with these changes at all, by the way. Our advertised “tablet-friendly interface” refers to things getting juggled around when the program detects you’re working on a tablet. Above all, buttons get bigger in that case so you don’t have to fumble around trying to click them.

I have a faint suspicion that I might have been in touch with both of you in the course of technical support - in that case, an extra hello to you both. In any case, I hope my words above have been useful!

5:19 pm - Wednesday, December 18, 2013

#7 Cesare

Just one question: is this SW working with Windows XP platform ?

9:19 am - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

#8 Erik Piper

Hello Cesare,

Yes, this software does work on Windows XP.

6:00 pm - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

#9 reviewer

Just wanted to say… this has to be the WORST review I’ve ever read and wanted to thank the zoner folks from stopping by to correct this imbecile “reviewer”.  It is obvious that Matt Grayson doesn’t review photo or DAM software very often..  mistakes ALL over the place.. and the download time for the software!?!?  What is this.. 1990?  Skip this “review” and just trial the software.. it is quite good!

8:31 pm - Sunday, January 19, 2014

#10 Brian

I have finished my trial of Zoner 16. I found it easy to use and glad I did download the trial version. After initially reading this review I was going to skip it because I thought there was no clone “brush”. But sure enough, there is the clone stamp, in all its glory.

I ended up really liking nearly all aspects of the software, except one: layers! I HOPE I missed something and was just ignorant, but I couldn’t figure out how to do layers. There is a “layers” tab at the top, an eraser tool, etc… all of the things that point to being able to do layers, but I couldn’t figure it out…so I ASSUME it is user error.

PS Elements does layers, Paint Shop Pro does layers. If Zoner PS16 did actual layers, I’d purchase the Pro version without hesitation (even though I have PSPx6). The program understands opacity, blur (like hardness), etc, so it was a little off-putting to not be able to do actual layers. Why put a “Layers” tab at the top if it doesn’t actually DO layers?? That could have been renamed to something more accurate to what it really does/mean. But I assume I’m missing something.

Other than that (deal breaker) issue, I really liked this software. The inability to do true layers made me think this was more of a Lightroom competitor, which is a shame, because it could have easily challenged PSE or PSP.

12:03 am - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

#11 Erik Piper

Hello Brian,

Zoner Photo Studio is Digital Asset Management software. Like most such software, includes an Editor. But that does not make it dedicated editing software, and as such, it avoids features that only make sense in dedicated editing software. Layers, despite the occasional question about them, are the #1 such feature out there. Layers…

...would require the creation of a special Zoner-only format, since no standard image format supports layers,
...would mean people would send “Zoner files” to their grandma and blame us when Grannie couldn’t open them,
...would require our entire development resources for a year, leading to a release where that was the ONLY new feature, something that nobody would accept even in editing software (which, again, we aren’t), let alone in DAM software.

These are the main problems; there are other smaller ones as well.

The single floating layer that we offer is a compromise that represents what can be done without introducing a “Zoner Image Format.”

So in short - the reason we don’t have a must-have feature for editors is because we aren’t an editor; we just have an editor, as all good DAM software must.

6:29 pm - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

#12 RRROCK

@ Erik Piper

I completely agree with JFC, you’re going wrong direction. Degrading your software to please not demanding users with simplicity and sleekness is dead-end. It’s Apple’s way to manage things. And they will loose soon to android as OS-X lost to Windows. You do it to make more money (or as you call it “the numbers”), but it’s a short-term boost of customers, because there are bunches of simple image managers and only few are pretending to be professional. Making application more simple through cleaning up and organizing the interface is the way to bright future. Cutting off functionality to please dumb customers is nonsense.

9:40 pm - Sunday, April 13, 2014

#13 eric watt

Been using zoner for a good few years now 15 and 16 learning something new every day about each package 16 best for water marking .
Will admit at my age can be hard to work out sometimes its a lot easier than photoshop as far as am concern .
For me a great deal at the price i have two packages one for my main computer and one for my laptop why pay £900 for photoshop a year when zoner does the same job

2:39 pm - Sunday, May 18, 2014

#14 Ron

I read somewhere that Zoner 16 PRO uploads to Picasa (web albums, I assume) and can send via Gmail.  The package is attractive to me and a “Yes” to these two questions would cinch the deal for me.

Clarification will be much appreciated

3:05 pm - Friday, May 23, 2014

#15 Erik Piper

Hello Ron,

Zoner can upload to Picasa Web Albums, using the Picasa Web Albums item in Zoner’s “Publish” menu.

Zoner can’t send email through Gmail directly, because that’s a lot harder for programs to do than it sounds. Zoner sends email via a Windows service called “MAPI,” which only works with programs running on your computer. (Gmail is a tab in your browser rather than a program on your computer.)

But we do offer at least something for webmail users - our Send by Email window includes a “Copy to Clipboard” button, which can copy email-ready pictures to the Windows Clipboard, so you can paste them in your Gmail tab from there.

The simplest way to get a feel for how the Picasa support and the work with Gmail work is to try it out in the free trial, so definitely give it a look!

10:13 am - Sunday, May 25, 2014

#16 chuzzy

I’m using Zoner 15 pro.realy excellent software.highly recommended.

8:35 am - Friday, June 13, 2014