Monday, 3 December 2007

Lightzone 3.2: a brief look

After my review of Lightzone 3.1, I spent some time looking at the latest update, 3.2. Main reason for re-evaluating was the tidy discount for November. Plus a weak dollar means that upgrading was pretty cheap for me. Question was: was it worth upgrading, even at low cost?

I was really looking to test 2 related aspects memory management and speed. There are no documented new features and there wasn't any specific release mention of enhancements but I know that these things are constantly tweaked.

My major gripe with the memory management is that Lightzone loads a whole bunch of stuff into memory, eats its full allocation then slows to a grind. It doesn't use Windows virtual memory so is severely limited in available memory (I've cranked it to use the max memory which means about 890MB real and 870MB virtual in practice). If you've a lot of images (or just a few TIFFs) in the current directory, that gets eaten quickly. Memory is also not released well when changing modes (especially from Edit to Browse).

For Lightzone 3.2 things are better. Reading a folder with 40-50 images gets up to max memory use but edit mode seems to see some memory released. Running through a series of edits on images I was rarely getting full memory allocation and memory was getting released between modes. This certainly speeds things up. When all the allocated memory did get used, screen refreshes were noticeably quicker than before. This is all better - not outstanding but much more usable.

I've also found that large files (~200-300MB scanned MF & LF) get handled better than before. I'm being cautious, though, and editing them one-by-one from a dedicated folder (i.e. only one image in the folder at a time). As less memory seems to be used in general, things tick along nicely. Not super fast but workable.

Overall, then, some noticeable improvements in the right direction. I paid the money & upgraded (just need to get the license key working). I think 3.2 is a worthwhile upgrade, especially as it sits alongside v2.x. I'll still use 2.4 as my main version (.lzn files) and use 3.2 for the shadow recovery capability on under-exposed stuff.

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