Zoner Photo Studio Free: view, manage, and edit your images via a single, integrated app

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Are you looking for a good freeware image viewer? If so, you should look into this one. Zoner Photo Studio Free is a brilliant free image viewing and management app that combines a wealth of features and functions with a stylish, attractive user interface.

The program is laid out in three different sections: a photo viewer, photo manager, and a photo editor. Users can navigate to each section via the tabs in the top right of the screen.

And while the main draw of this program may be the very attractive interface, it also provides a slew of sophisticated functions, most notably: a wide range of filters, color enhancement, publishing to Flickr or Facebook, tagging (and geotagging), intelligent image filtering and search (by tags, filename and path, exif info), support for a every imaginable image type, as well as a few unusual functions such as panorama image stitching and “3D image creation”.

Zoner Photo Screenshot - image managerZoner Photo Screenshot - image viewer

However, this program is not perfect by any means, Below is a list of PROs and CONs.

After using this program for a while, it became clear that the program has a lot to offer; however, despite

PROS: Ten things I like about this program:

  1. The image viewer section is very cool, esp with the option to display a “thumbnail pane” on top (as in the top right screenshot above). The slideshow function is also quite nice.
  2. The tabbed interface: allows you to view different images, manage different folder, etc. and switch back and forth.
  3. Windows shell integration: allows you to right click on an image and send it straight to the viewer, editor, or manager sections (folders can be opened in the right click menu straight to the manager section).
  4. Publishing to Facebook, Flickr: straight from the image management section.
  5. Integration with Google Earth: for geotaggins and GPS data. You will need to have Google Earth installed on your machine for this option to work.
  6. Support for every imaginable image format: which is not something to be taken for granted, and definitely to this program’s credit.
  7. Zoner Photo Screenshot - virtual foldersThe filtering and search functions: are very nicely done, via a tabbed interface. Searches are saved as virtual folders (see image to the right), which is nice.
  8. An excellent range of editing tools and filters: e.g. morhing on a grid (“morping mesh”), the “clone stamp tool”, a blendig “iron” tool, to name three editing tools that I really like. Also offers a lot of interesting image filters, e.g. pixellize, oil paint, emboss, etc.
  9. Zoner Photo Screenshot 5Informational icons on the image thumbnails: especially useful when you have implemented a tagging scheme and/or have added metadata to your image library (see screenshot to the right).
  10. Panaroma stitching: if you have a number of snapshots that you want to consolidate into a single panoramic image. Delivers amazing results, especially if you do not want to venture into using specialized apps for this such as Hugin or Microsoft Image Composite Editor.

CONS: Four things I do not like about this program:

  1. Image annotation: is extremely rudimentary; no shapes, arrows, lines, etc.. Makes you wonder with all the editing tools that they put in there why good annotation tools are so lacking. A major strike against it, as far as I am concerned. Also once you place the text you do not seem to be able to move it around or change it in any way.
  2. The selection tool: is inaccessible; I am not even sure if there is one in the free version, although mouse-clicking plus shift seems to sometimes do the trick. Which obviously makes it hard to, say, select a section and apply pixellization to only that section, although in theory I believe that is possible.
  3. You cannot tag in batch or tag a folder: or so it seems. For example, you can drag and drop a tag from the keyword pane onto an individual image, but not on a selection of images or on a folder containing images.
  4. Image overlay: it will let you overall an image atop another; but strangely, does not seem to allow you to manually move the image around or manipulate it

The verdict: definitely a nice program, with a lot of bells and whistles. Generally speaking I would say that this will mostly satisfy as an image viewer and manager, but the editor section is somewhat lacking. It seems that the developers might have focused less on the bells and whistles and more on usability testing, since some of the items in the “cons” section above are somewhat baffling.

Still, a great effort, and an excellent program overall. If you’re looking for a good free image viewer and manager this one comes highly recommended.

Version Tested: version 12 build 8

Compatibility: Windows XP/Vista/7 (runs on 32/64-bit Windows).

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 20.05 megs).