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LightZone for Linux: Professional Photo Editing

Photo connoisseurs seeking a simple yet featured photo editor for Linux will find plenty to get excited about in professional image editing software ‘LightZone’.

LightZone, a commercial proprietary cross platform application, delivers a vast array of effects, tools and image editing capabilities in a tight and largely uncluttered interface, making the application an ideal choice for photographers looking for something with much more mileage than simple lighting filters in Photoshop or GIMP.

And yes it supports RAW.

Main Features

LightZone is brimming with useful features, filters and tools that can help you turn your photos into great-looking pieces of work. It uses a similar approach to photo editing as Photoshop in that it uses layers to apply filters rather than affecting the ‘base’ image directly. This approach not only makes reverting steps easy, by either by deleting a layer or using the History pane to ‘go back’ to an earlier, but also means each layer can be independently configured giving users control over opacity, blending mode, etc.
Other tools on offer include ‘clone’, ‘region’, ‘blur’, ‘zone’, ‘noise reduction’ and an incredibly intelligent one-click ‘relight’ option.
Whilst these tools offer attentive post-processing of photographs, the app does also provides users with a wide range of one-click ‘styles’. These are filter/effect pre-sets that, aside from taking the pain out of manually processing, takes into account each photo’s attributes before application. You can easily preview how your photo will look with a certain ‘style’ by hovering the mouse over the style’s name and noticing the change in the preview box. As with manual editing these are also applied as layers and are configurable making them a great starting point to work from.

Interface

The interface is, to my tastes, excellent. LightZone has oft been criticized as being ‘cluttered’. I choose to see this criticism as the reverse: LightZone puts everything you need close to hand. 
It uses two main ‘view’ modes – one for browsing photos and one for editing photos. Sadly switching between them ad-hoc isn’t permitted so you will need to save any editing before you can browse for another file.

LightZone Linux is Java-based however it runs very seamlessly on the desktop and, shock horror, doesn’t feel like a Java application. Fonts do look rubbish, however. I tested LightZone on 64bit Ubuntu 10.04 and it ran perfectly, including utilizing my multi-core processor.

So…

As mentioned above the application is both commercial and proprietary costing a sweet £99.99 – not a high price for software of this calibre but, for casual users looking to tweak the odd photo of Rover playing in the park, a substantial slice of money for some software. 
The developers do offer a 30-day full-functioning trial to whet your appetite with so take it for a ride (I’ve run out of photography related puns) and see whether it’s good enough for you. It is, to my mind, the finest photo editing tool currently available for Linux users and well worth a play around with.

Download
LightZone can be downloaded @ http://www.lightcrafts.com/lightzone/ Annoyingly you need to provide e-mail to access download but there are opt-out boxes for anything smelling of spam.

Install
Extract the .tar.gz and double click on the ‘lightzone’ file inside to run.