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Zoner Photo Studio X Review – Lightroom Alternative For Pros and Beginners

Zoner Photo Studio X Review – Lightroom Alternative For Pros and Beginners

Like most photographers, I’ve been using Adobe’s Lightroom for a while for post-processing my images. However, when I heard about Zoner’s offering, I thought I’d try it out to see how it held up against Adobe’s Suite. In this Zoner Photo Studio X review, I’ll highlight some key features and benefits for those considering making the swap, or for new Photographers and digital creators who are looking for an alternative.

At a Glance

Before we get into the full Zoner Photo Studio X review, here are a few pros and cons for you to consider.

Much cheaper than competitors at $49 for a 1-year licenseLimited Split Toning capabilities
(overhaul expected in a forthcoming update)
Free online gallery without data compressionNo native support for Mac
Full Raw development supportLayer editing not as comprehensive as Photoshop
Useful search features
Useful batch editing and one-click processing features
Intuitive cataloging: works with files on your computer

Update 2021: Zoner has just been awarded best imaging software expert at TIPA World Awards.

Zoner Photo Studio X Review

Here is a breakdown of some of the most important features that I personally look for in an image processing suite. Throughout the review, you’ll find some images that I’ve processed only using Zoner Photo Studio X.

Pam bok waterfall pai

User Interface

My first impression of Zoner Photo Studio’s user interface was that it was very similar to the industry standard. In my opinion, this is a good thing as it makes transitioning over from other programs much easier.

At first glance, you’ll notice that there are three primary columns. The left is used for organizing your gallery and files either from your computer or various cloud platforms. The middle column will either include a gallery thumbnail view or a large live image view depending on the active module. Finally, the right column is the primary working column, where editors can make edits or change metadata.

As expected, there are a few primary working modules including

  • Manager;
  • Develop;
  • Editor;
  • Create
Zoner photo studio x review
Zoner Photo Studio X User Interface

Typically, I only use image processing software for touching up my photographs and for organizing my gallery. Therefore, I spend most of my time in the Manager and Develop modules, which are similar to Lightroom.

Editor module has layer-editing capabilities similar to Adobe Photoshop, which is nice since you won’t have to swap between programs to make quick layer edits. Finally, the Create module is used for making custom designs such as calendars and collages, etc. To be honest, I can’t see myself using this module. However, I understand that it might be attractive to some readers.

Personally, I like the clean and easy-to-use layout and design. I especially like the ability to add metadata to images like Titles, descriptions and even tags straight from the Manage section. Batch operations like EXIF editing and bulk renaming was also a surprisingly useful addition to my workflow.

Zoner photo studio x review catalogue
Easy Cataloging – Google Drive and OneDrive Support
Monk statues at what pa lat temple

Editing Tools

Let’s be honest, you’re going to purchase a Photo editing suite for one primary reason; Editing. That’s why in this Zoner Photo Studio X review, I’ve covered this section the most comprehensively.


The primary module for photographers is the Develop module. This is where you’ll make the bulk of your changes to your photographs. In Zoner Photo Studio X, you’ll find all of the basic developing options including exposure, white balance, and color shifting. For beginners who just want their photos to look better, this is probably all that you’ll need to start off.

More advanced features include a wide range of tone and color curves, noise handling, brushes, radial filters, graduated filters and most other features that you might expect of a professional image processing suite.

Overall, I found that developing images on Zoner Photo Studio X to be very straight forward when coming from Lightroom. Adjusting exposure, adding filters and touching up colors was a breeze. The only thing that I felt was missing split toning. It was possible to adjust colors in highlights and shadows. However, it was a bit more complicated than I felt it needed to be. In saying that, I have heard that Zoner might be working on adding color curves, which would be a warm welcome for those who are used to video processing suites!

Big Plus: Zoner lets you edit photos straight from Google Drive without any lengthy import windows. This is awesome for quick touch ups!

Layer Editing

Digital content creators will rejoice at the ability to make layer adjustments without having to swap between programs. The Editor module is something that I’ve felt was missing from Lightroom for a long time.

Surprisingly, Zoner supports some pretty advanced layer editing features for White Balance, Exposure, Levels, Curves, and Color. You can also work with layer masks and effects as well as having the ability to merge, paste, duplicate, and even rename layers. Upon diving further into Zoner’s layering capabilities, you’ll even find that you can apply several tens of filters to any given layer. 

Wallaman falls waterfall girringun national park

Overall, I was impressed with Zoner’s layer editing capabilities. Since it’s an all-in-one package, I was expecting layer editing to be limited. However, I found that the system was well-rounded, and had everything that I would need as a photographer. 

Zoner photo studeo x user interface editor module
Native Layer Editing Support

Device Support and System Requirements

In a nutshell, Zoner Photo Studio X is relatively lightweight and well optimized. This means that it will work on most modern PCs. Below are the minimum system requirements:

OS: Microsoft Windows 7* / 8 / 8.1 / 10 (64 bits)
Processor: Intel or AMD with SSE2 support
Memory: 2 GB RAM
HDD: 300 MB free disk space
Resolution: 1280 × 800 or higher

Taken from

As you can see, these requirements are very basic. However, for best performance, Zoner recommends at least 4 GB of RAM, a quad-core processor and GPU memory of at least 2 GB.

So far, you can probably tell that I was pleasantly surprised with Zoner Photo Studio X. Nevertheless, the biggest let down for me was the lack of support for Mac OS. Since many professional photographers use Macbooks and Macs for their creative work, it’s a disappointment to see the lack of native support.

In saying that, I was able to get Zoner to run relatively easily using Apple Boot Camp. All in all, this isn’t that much of an inconvenience if you’re a Mac user with a dedicated Windows 10 Boot, but an inconvenience nonetheless. Of course, for Windows users, this is irrelevant.

Should I Buy Zoner’s Photo Studio?

After being married to Lightroom for so many years I was inevitably a little hesitant to make the switch. However, after installing Zoner Photo Studio X and processing photos for my recent blogs in Thailand, I was pleasantly surprised.

After comprehensively testing the program for myself and writing this Zoner Photo Studio X review, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is an excellent suite for both beginner photographers and professionals.

In my opinion, the biggest reason for choosing this program over the competitors is the price, online gallery, layer editing support, and the very intuitive cataloging system. Of course, the lack of native Mac OS support will dissuade many Mac users, which is probably my only pet peeve.

So, should you buy it? Well, you can test it out for free for a month when you download it from their website. And, If you have a Windows computer and want to save money while still getting professional-level photo-processing features, then I’d definitely recommend it. If you’d rather try before you buy, then you can also download the free version, which has fewer feature restrictions than typical free alternatives.

Have you had the chance to try this photo editing software? Did you enjoy this Zoner Photo Studio X review? Let me know in the comments below.

Advertisement / Endorsement Disclosure: We Seek Travel was paid for writing and publishing this review. Regardless, I aim to only provide honest and truthful information about my personal experience with this product.

Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure travel journalist & photographer. Traveling non-stop since 2018, I've published over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. These draw on my personal experience to share unique itineraries, accommodation tips, & fun adventure guides covering hikes, viewpoints, beaches, waterfalls, & tours. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

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