As another year steadily plays out, the world of photography keeps making new advancements that interest us. Especially those photographers who have been editing raw (or JPG) photos for a very long time, you’ll remember the “good ol days” …weren’t actually very good in terms of the early digital cameras and their raw image quality. (Terrible noisy shadows, clipped highlights, etc.) Today’s modern digital cameras deliver stunning image quality, with truly impressive dynamic range.

However, one area that has been overly complicated, and usually off-limits to more discerning photographers, has been HDR imagery and HDR displays. Finally, that is changing, and fast!

Today we are diving into the latest update from one of our favorite photo/video editing workflow solutions, Zoner Photo Studio X. Indeed, the most prominent aspect of this latest update of ZPS X is its array of features related to HDR display and editing. However, there is quite a bit more, and we’ll get into it now.

What Is HDR? (Not Your Dad’s Over-Processed Pics!)

For those of you photographers who are old enough to remember the early days of digital photography in the 2000s, the term “HDR” probably gives you visions of over-processed, “overcooked” images with bizarre tonal ranges… Bright shadows, dark highlights, and the contrast dialed up to what I’d call, well, “crispy”. Make no mistake, today when we mention “HDR”, we are talking about an entirely different world of High Dynamic Range imagery, indeed!

HDR today is simply a new standard for computer displays that are capable of displaying a whole new level of bright highlights, dark shadows, and all the subtle tones in between.

Of course, the conundrum is, even if you get a 4K HDR computer display, you still have to have the right software to edit photos correctly so that they appear how you want them to when viewers see them on their own HDR displays!

That is where we as photographers may have hit a roadblock in recent years. HDR technology has advanced, but there has been little (to zero) protocol or standard for actually guaranteeing what your imagery will look like on them. Finally, that is starting to change, and in a big way. Only a few photo editing apps are at the cutting edge of true HDR technology, however, especially if you’re looking for a complete workflow solution.

Simply put, HDR display and editing is now highly relevant to both photographers and videographers, basically all types of content creators who want to share their imagery on any and all types of devices in the near future.

This may feel intimidating at first, because it is a whole new world of equipment and technical understanding, however, it’s really quite simple! Of course, you’ll need to calibrate your HDR display using an HDR-compatible calibration device, but, other than that, you simply need to use an editing program that natively supports that HDR display.

Zoner Photo Studio X is HDR-Ready

That is where this latest update to Zoner Photo Studio X comes in: it is one of the few raw editing workflow solutions that offers true HDR compatibility. From start to finish, whether you are editing photos or videos, you can now experience your workflow as it was meant to be viewed on an HDR display.

Whereas the HDR imagery of yesteryear actually ended up displaying flat tones, dull highlights and weird shadows, today you will instead see stunningly clear images, with that “almost like you’re actually standing there” effect in terms of the white in the brightest highlights, or the black in the darkest shadows, and vibrant colors as well.

Also, when you’re done editing, you can save imagery in HDR (compatible) formats such as JPG and AVIF, or exclusive HDR formats such as JPG XL.

What if you don’t have an HDR display?

If you would like to ensure that your imagery is correctly displayed on HDR devices, you can use a “gain map” to emulate what your highlights and shadows etc would look like on an HDR display. In other words, you can future-proof your imagery, today!

Zonerama Supports HDR Content

Lastly, it is important to note that Zonerama also supports HDR content. (NOTE: it has done so since June 2023) Once again, this means that even if you don’t have an HDR display, any viewers who see your work on an HDR display will be seeing your imagery correctly!

Additional Updates To Zoner Photo Studio X In 2024

New Develop Module Effects

A “special effects” collection that includes tools such as Glow and Halation, for those who want to add a digital, sci-fi vibe to their imagery, and 3D grain, for those who wish to go in the other direction and emulate analog photography.

3D LUT Update:

We went over LUTs in great detail in one of our previous updates to ZPS X, and this Effect 3D LUT update continues the advancements of a LUT workflow. You can now choose a Color Style at the time of input/ingestion, do your editing/color grading, and then additionally apply a 3D LUT during the output process, too.

Color Fringe (Chromatic Aberration) Removal/Reduction

One of the great things about modern mirrorless lenses is that they are able to use software corrections to achieve sharp images in a more portable and affordable package. However, one of the common drawbacks is that, sometimes, the issue of color fringing may not be perfectly corrected, even with a profile. Therefore, having this special tool to eliminate or reduce such an unwanted effect is a huge necessity for any photographer’s workflow!

“Reject” Sorting / Culling

In addition to marking photos with star ratings or color labels, you can now add a “Reject” status, which marks them with an “X” for significantly faster culling. If you have ever returned from a vacation or a job with hundreds or even thousands of photos to sift through, then you’ll know how valuable this tool is.

More Keyboard Shortcuts

For advanced users who want to fully customize their workflow, especially the technical details of their editing process, having as many keyboard shortcuts as possible is a good thing. They’re easy to set up, easy to change, and easy to reset if you don’t want them!

New Video Module Features

For video editors, the ZPS X dedicated Video Module has a few very important updates, including six times more transition effects, (36 total now) a timestamp feature for keyframes, and improved keyframing overall. So that you can mark where you want to zoom in/out, or add special effects, sounds, etc.

Native Support For Even More Cameras and Lenses

As ever, new cameras and lenses are arriving on the market at a rate of dozens more every year, so having native support for the latest cameras’ raw files, as well as the latest lenses and their various optical corrections, is a huge advantage for any raw editing software.


We have been putting ZPS X to good use for quite a while now, and we already appreciated the value in even the earliest versions of the software. At this point. It’s virtually a no-brainer for us to recommend Zoner Photo Studio X to any photographer (or videographer) who is looking for an affordable option that doesn’t compromise on performance, image quality, or even current-generation features and compatibility.

So, check to see if your camera gear is supported, and if so, you absolutely should check out the ZPS X website for their free 7-day trial!