Zoner Photo Studio Free: Powerful Photo Suite for a Great Price
At a Glance
It takes a while to get to know Zoner Photo Studio Free 14. The interface is a tad daunting at first, but it's time well spent. There's little that the program won't do in terms of cataloging, displaying, or editing photos and images--and it's free. It beats the pants off of GIMP in ease of use and is more powerful than Picasa, though the language tends to be a bit more technical.
Zoner Photo Studio Free's interface is divided into three sections, which you switch between using tabs placed in the upper right corner of the main window: Manager, which handles file browsing and cataloging; Viewer, where you view individual files and slide shows; and Editor, where you manipulate your images.
The Manager has several tabs so that you can switch between views of the files as they reside on your computer, placed by date in a catalog, photos you've added to your favorites, and photos you've uploaded to vendor Zoner Software's Zonerama online sharing service. The Viewer is simple, with a thumbnail slider at the bottom to preview multiple photos in the current location so you can jump forward and backward by several photos, as well as a view a slide show of your photos. Though the program doesn't edit video, it does play video in the viewer section.
The Editor offers many effects, such as emboss, detect contours, pencil drawing, waves, etc. Standard editing functions like crop, canvas size, red-eye reductions, clone are on hand--as well as some more esoteric functions such as mesh distort, deform, align horizon, and others.
Zoner PHoto Studio free supports 3D, tags, GPS, and the usual cataloging tools. You will not be disappointed with the editing capabilities--and performance is top-notch with nary a lag anywhere. The program supports a wide variety of file types, including JPEG, BMP, GIF, TGA, PCX, PNG, HDP, JXR, WPG, and Zoner's own BMI.
There is one thing about Zoner Studio that I most decidedly do not like: persistent delete confirmation. I found no way to turn off the dialog asking me if I truly wanted to delete what I just said I wanted to delete. I often scroll through photos to weed out those that aren't up to snuff, and facing this dialog every single time wore on me. In fact, it sent me back to Windows Photo Viewer as my default viewer/pruning tool.
All in all, Zoner Studio Free is probably the best free photo editing software to be had. Unless you're a pro who needs dual-monitor support, HDR, batch operation, and advanced photo correction filters provided by the pay version, the free version is probably all you need. Now if Zoner would just let me get rid of that darn delete confirmation dialog.
Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.
--Jon L. Jacobi