which tool to start with

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which tool to start with

I see that some folks prefer to do their main work with the Relight tool, while others use the Zone Mapping one. Is it just personal preference or is there logic behind using one more than the other?

I Use Both

I can easily set the white and black points with Zone Mapper.  I can also select "zones" that I may want to add, or decrease, contrast, brighten, or darken.  The Relight tool does a nice jop with shadows and highlights.  I've recently been using the Guassian Blur tool with Soft Light or Overlay blending modes, adjusting the opacity along the way.  It's become a favorite for me, adding plenty of "punch" to my shots.


On a personal note, youy wouldn't happen to be the same Rafi that is/was on the Canon Digital Rebels group, would you?



the same rafi?

Sorry Steve, but no- Ive never used canon anyway, only Pentax and Nikon mainly.

I'd say there is definitely a logic

But it depends a lot on your workflow and what you are trying to do with the image.

If you are starting with a raw, then obviously the raw tool is the first thing.  From there I may then go in two directions:

  • If I'm doing some sort of fine arts repro, or other task that requires minimal processing, then it's color accuracy I'm after and then required sharpening.  It may be that the raw tool is enough for the color, but often not.  The Zonemapper or Relight tools don't really come into play here much, especially the Relight tool.
  • If I'm batch processing, then it's somewhat the same as above, but it may be that the Zonemapper and or Relight tools do come into play.  Usually for me the Zonemapper is the go-to first tool.  But for batching we are talking about global adjustments, so really it's only those tools applicable to all the shots that should be used.  In the case of B+W conversions by batch, I would do that before any other tool but the raw tool.  This may mean application of a personal style for the B+W.
  • For me, if working on solo images, after the raw tool it might be the B+W conversion if applicable, or a global Zonemapper to set the general contrast or tweak exposure beyond what is possible in the raw tool.  Then I might move to a Relight, which includes the detail slider, to further refine contrast and begin the sharpening process.  Otherwise I begin to use either the Zonemapper or Relight tools for selective editing (just the sky, for instance, for the former, or the land and trees portion for the latter, & etc).  In these cases I wait to do color adjustments until I have my tonalities set across the image, globally or selectively.  Additional NR would be applied as I saw what happened with the tonality changes, and of course sharpening comes in last, with a possible return to any Relight tools to adjust those detail sliders.

That's kind of a quick overview of how I approach it.  Others may have a very different way.  But I will say this:  The Zonemapper/Zonefinder combination, used in concert with your top tool bar tabs (such as Histogram, RGB/LAB values), is an excellent image analysis tool, even without applying any changes---it can be deployed at the beginning for this purpose and then canceled out after the analysis is done, and a Relight tool can be used for the contrast/tonality changes.

Hope this helps.

logic to workflow

Great- thanks a lot!

LZ learning curve

I vaguely remember seeing what I think was a version of LZ for learners, with actual tips coming up on the screen when looking at a preloaded image for beginners. Is there really something like that around? My learning curve is very gradual because of lack of free time but I am dying to  become preficient with this program! 

Perhaps the annotated screenshots?

Maybe you're thinking of the annotated program screenshots that tex did?

annotated program screenshots

Hi Doug- Thanks! This looks like the thing I was thinking of.

Tex- thank you too- great job!

magenta colour of some images

Hi Doug- I just saw your remark about the magenta colour that can come up on some RAW images. I have the same problem. I tried clearing Browser Cache (both local and global) but to no avail... I think my version of LZ is the latest- (4.1.5) so I doubt that an old version is the problem... Any new ideas?

What kind of camera are you using?

What kind of camera are you using? And can you double-check in the Documents/LightZone/lightzone.log file -- that's a Windows path; if you're using Mac or Linux you'll have to find the lightzone.log file -- and see for sure which version of LightZone you're using?

magenta tinge

Hi Doug

this is the lightzone.log file (Im using Windows10 and a D3300 Nikon camera):

JavaAppLauncher checkWindowsVersion()     dwMajorVersion=10     dwMinorVersion=0     wServicePackMajor=0   = Windows 10 Set jre\bin\ directory: C:\Program Files\LightZone\jre\bin\ Apr 12, 2016 11:05:35 PM java.util.prefs.WindowsPreferences <init> WARNING: Could not open/create prefs root node Software\JavaSoft\Prefs at root 0x80000002. Windows RegCreateKeyEx(...) returned error code 5.

Thank you


Sounds like something else

Sounds like LightZone isn't starting up for you. I'll let Masahiro address that. In the meantime, you might try reinstalling.

Here's what my Win10/LZ 4.1.5 log file looks like:

JavaAppLauncher checkWindowsVersion()
  = Windows 10
Set jre\bin\ directory: C:\PROGRA~1\LightZone\jre\bin\
This is LightZone 4.1.5 (bd557dc)
Running Java version 1.8.0_66
Verifying Libraries
Initializing Engine Utilities
Max Memory:    1431830528
Total Memory:    64487424
Running on 4 processors
Allocating 170MB for the image cache.
found sRGB IEC61966-2.1
Display profile 1-Dell 2209WA(Digital)
Display profile 1-Dell 2209WA(Digital)
Loading Classes
Scanning Color Profiles
Restoring Preferences
Starting Logging
Scanning Saved Documents
Light Crafts JAI Library - 02/05/07

magenta tinge

Hi Doug

I noticed that LZ utilizes Java so I downloaded that, and also reinstalled LZ. It didnt help.

BUT- I noticed that only some images will give the magenta tinge while others wont. The ones that do turn magenta are tentively the ones that I have used in the past with other RAW editors so - they may have become corrupted?

This is my new log fie:

JavaAppLauncher checkWindowsVersion()     dwMajorVersion=10     dwMinorVersion=0     wServicePackMajor=0   = Windows 10 Set jre\bin\ directory: C:\Program Files\LightZone\jre\bin\ -------

There was a warning on the Java site that Java can conflict with Chrome which I am using, but I doubt that this has anything to do with my problem. Is there a way to find out if a RAW file has become corrupted?

Which other software have you

Which other software have you used?


Nikon's own?


Was the image shot with any special attributes in camera? DLite (or whatever it is called) for example?  And then processed in Nikon software?






magenta tinge

I have used Nikons Capture NX-D, as well as UFRaw, and RawTherapee.

It seems to me that one of the above must have affected the RAW image in such a way that opening it again in LZ shows it in magenta. But its just a guess.

Form reading information

Form reading information elsewhere I believe that NX-D may well write changes back to the RAW file. As I understand it (I may be worng) is allows people to modify the RAW data with the special attibutes that other manufacturers only apply to their jpg images. Things like Dlite for example.


That measn that the files will not be "normal" in some way as far as LZ is concerned. The chances are that in this case the colour cast is the result of the modified RAW data not working well with the normal RAW Tone Curve.


Now, one might suggest that you create a revised RAW Tone Curve to deal withe problem BUT the chances are that any Dlite (or whatever) type modification will not be consistent form use to use - it is after all dealing with variables, that's its purpose.


So I would guess that all you could do would be to work out the best way to treat the problem and then use that technique when required.


Or don't use any application that modifies the image data in the RAW file since they will invariably be presenting something that the next RAW converter will not be expecting further down the chain.









As a long time user of

As a long time user of capture NX-2 which worked the same kind of way CNX-D does, The image data in the RAW file are not modified, but the RAW metadatas are (in a similar way LZN tool stack is embed in the lzn.jpg or tif file).

When you speak about magenta pictures, does it some magenta cast or completely magenta picture (like grayscale but with magenta).

If it's completely magenta, it may come from some corrupted metadatas (or unsupported ones by DCraw or Lightzone). For a long time, I had a Nikon D200 and use Digikam and Capture NX-2. I set Digikam to write metadatas to raw files, and sometime, some exiv2 bug modify metadatas in a way these picture appears completely magenta if opened in Digikam (or Capture NX 2 don't remember well).


One thing to try, is to compare the metadatas of two pictures (one which works one with magenta matter) using exiv2 or exiftool and see if there's some noticeable difference (espacially in EXIF data and makernote).


Since this matter happens to me, I now always keep a backup of my "out of the box" RAW files and doesn't use anymore "write metadatas to RAW files option"

Relight is the tool that made

Relight is the tool that made me choose LightZone as my go-to tool for casual photography.

If your picture is under-exposed or over-exposed, Relight might not have the adjustment range to correct it.  It can't take the highlights any higher and can only take the Shadows lower a smidgen.  I find I need to use ZoneMapper to fix exposure problems, then fine-tune with Relight (Detail, Depth, etc.).

I have always found Relight

I have always found Relight to have plenty of range for its purpose but if you need quite extreme exposure correction - even if only at the lightest or darkest end for recovery, you really need to do that in the RAW  Exposure tool before deploying anything else. (Assuming editing RAW files.)

If you are only working with jpg then you will be starting out with pre-existing limitations for a challenging exposure and may struggle to find anything really successful.