Zone Express System 4.0

mcasan

Active Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
577
Location
Atlanta
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
For those that wish to keep their processing centered around Adobe CC (Lr, AcR, Ps, Br) you might want to check out the Zone System Express created by Blake Rudis. The product is a panel in Ps that has tabs for tone, color, effects, and export. The panel delivery includes many hours of training videos and PDFs on how to install and use the panel.

Blake will introducing ZSE 5.0 on the 15th of June. It will likely have a reduced intro price. Also members of the f64elite community get 15% off on any of the products.

Zone System Express Education Bundle - f.64 Elite
The Zone System Express!
 

Attachments

  • Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 12.21.42 PM.jpg
    Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 12.21.42 PM.jpg
    201.5 KB · Views: 423

PhilBurton

Lightroom enthusiast (but still learning)
Premium Classic Member
Premium Cloud Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
2,314
Location
California, USA
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
For those that wish to keep their processing centered around Adobe CC (Lr, AcR, Ps, Br) you might want to check out the Zone System Express created by Blake Rudis. The product is a panel in Ps that has tabs for tone, color, effects, and export. The panel delivery includes many hours of training videos and PDFs on how to install and use the panel.

Blake will introducing ZSE 5.0 on the 15th of June. It will likely have a reduced intro price. Also members of the f64elite community get 15% off on any of the products.

Zone System Express Education Bundle - f.64 Elite
The Zone System Express!
One of the testimonials mentioned Lightroom, but the course description is so meager that I can't tell what I would learn that pertains to Lightroom, or how to use Lightroom more and Photoshop less. Or even how I woujld use Photoshop better/faster. I wish I could see a "free sample download."
The title itself is intriguing. Is this course inspired or modeled after Ansel Adams' Zone System? No indication of that.

Phil Burton
 

mcasan

Active Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
577
Location
Atlanta
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
If you use Lr more less will depend if you like to use Lr Develop as raw editor or ACR as raw editor. Either can do the basics. But when you need to the heavy lifting of masking and blend if selections with adjustments, neither Develop or ACR is the answer. I would say I start to use Ps more and plugins less.
 

PhilBurton

Lightroom enthusiast (but still learning)
Premium Classic Member
Premium Cloud Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
2,314
Location
California, USA
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
If you use Lr more less will depend if you like to use Lr Develop as raw editor or ACR as raw editor. Either can do the basics. But when you need to the heavy lifting of masking and blend if selections with adjustments, neither Develop or ACR is the answer. I would say I start to use Ps more and plugins less.
I dont' see how I could substitute LR plug-ins for heavy use of masking and blends. I don't think I have found LR plug-ins that claim to do this, so that the user doesn't have to use PS. However, for me the issue is that the Zone System website is basically saying, "Trust me, and spend a lot of money without any real proof that you will receive a benefit."

I will freely and publicly acknowledge that my PS skills are so limited that "rudimentary" would be an improvement. And I know that I will need to invest time and money to build up those skills. But I'm just not convinced that the Zone System is the way.

Back in my film days, even shooting 36 exp rolls of 35 mm film, I thought how I could use Ansel's system to improve my photography. I even bought a spot meter with Zone System labels on the lens ring. So I was prepared to really like this new Zone System. Instead, I am disappointed.
 

Jimmsp

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2011
Messages
1,044
Location
Green Valley, Arizona, USA
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic
If you use Lr more less will depend if you like to use Lr Develop as raw editor or ACR as raw editor. Either can do the basics. But when you need to the heavy lifting of masking and blend if selections with adjustments, neither Develop or ACR is the answer. I would say I start to use Ps more and plugins less.

I am not quite sure why this post is here as the web site says:
The systems have been tested on the following platforms:
  • Photoshop CC ONLY!
  • This extension WILL NOT work with Lightroom
From what I can see and read, this is a method to speed up the use of masks, particularly luminosity masks.
But the product seems to be a course and a panel, not a plug in. Does using the panel actually change the photo?
And it is not obvious how I would change my current workflow of starting in LR, do all the global tonal work in LR along with some local, then move to PS for more masking and blending, then back to LR.

$247 seems pretty expensive, especially when there is no free trial or demo time period. It all "trust me".
 

mcasan

Active Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
577
Location
Atlanta
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
It is here because this forum is about using Ps and External Editors. There is a completely separate forum for using Lr to edit images. Since this thread is about an extension to Ps, it should qualify to be here. You can start your workflow in Lr and go to PS where you use the panel or, you could start in Ps that will use Acr to do the raw editing and then use the panel. The Adobe CC subscription gives us choices on which workflow products to use.


There are videos about ZSE 4 on Youtube:
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 29, 2007
Messages
22,773
Location
Isle of Wight, UK
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
So have you used this mcasan, to be able to personally recommend it? We don't want to become a place for advertising stuff, but on the other hand, if you've found this useful in your Lightroom-based workflow, we'd certainly be interested to hear your experiences.
 

mcasan

Active Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
577
Location
Atlanta
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
For using Ps, I have found this to be the best help in learning what Ps can do for images and how to do it quickly. The author Blake starts in Acr most of the time. But I start in Lr Develop, send to Ps, and get the edited image back in my Lr Library. This panel is no substitute for Lr Develop or Acr. It is about making it easier to continue past what either Develop or Acr can do.

Sorry if I made a problem. I had to pay for my copy; no sales commission of any kind goes to me.
 
Joined
Sep 29, 2007
Messages
22,773
Location
Isle of Wight, UK
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
Sorry if I made a problem.
Not a problem - we just want to hear about how it's helpful for you, rather than just reading their marketing blurb! :) There's nothing like personal experience, especially if there's no trial version available. What kind of images do you find it useful for? Tell us more!
 

Jimmsp

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2011
Messages
1,044
Location
Green Valley, Arizona, USA
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic
Re use.
Occasionally I'll send an image from LR to PS, where I may use multiple effects of Topaz on an image (generally one per copy of a base layer) - such as to darken a complex road, add texture to a wood building, modify hues in a sky, etc. I may the mask out (or in) multiple areas I don't want in each layer, then blend the final result with the original from LR before I send it back.
Topaz can be pretty quick, except in finding and deciding on a look I might want.
If you have used Topaz modules before, how would you compare the speed and ease of it to this Zone System?
 

mcasan

Active Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
577
Location
Atlanta
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
I am
Not a problem - we just want to hear about how it's helpful for you, rather than just reading their marketing blurb! :) There's nothing like personal experience, especially if there's no trial version available. What kind of images do you find it useful for? Tell us more!


The wife and I mostly shoot wildlife and landscape. Lr Develop does a good job with the raw basics. Of course you can so much further along in Lr/Acr that in years past due to color range and luminosity masking and now profiles. But Lr/Acr can no do things like content aware fill if you transform to straighten a building. With Lr you can at least try to fill in any missing pieces before you have to crop. And of course Ps lets you layer in a replacement sky. So for now have removed all my previous Lr/Ps plugins with the exception of Topaz. Since we are paying for Ps as part of the CC subscription, I thought it was past time to learn how to use more. ;)
 

mcasan

Active Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
577
Location
Atlanta
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
Re use.
Occasionally I'll send an image from LR to PS, where I may use multiple effects of Topaz on an image (generally one per copy of a base layer) - such as to darken a complex road, add texture to a wood building, modify hues in a sky, etc. I may the mask out (or in) multiple areas I don't want in each layer, then blend the final result with the original from LR before I send it back.
Topaz can be pretty quick, except in finding and deciding on a look I might want.
If you have used Topaz modules before, how would you compare the speed and ease of it to this Zone System?

I think I can work a little faster in Ps with the panel as I think it is faster for to do masking and use blend if. I really like the Precision Detail and Precision Contrast adjustments in Topaz Studio. Very hard to find better. That is why Topaz is the only plugin I have left on my Mac.
 

Jimmsp

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2011
Messages
1,044
Location
Green Valley, Arizona, USA
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic
Thanks. for the info.
I too use Detail and love it.
I use both Studio and some of older stand alone products like Restyle. They are quite good.
However, I don't like the organization, or lack there of, in Topaz Studio. It seems to take me a long time to find the exact adjustment I want to to start with.
 

mcasan

Active Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
577
Location
Atlanta
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
Last night was to official release of ZSE 5.0 by Blake Rudis. ZSE is two panels that run in Photoshop that you give quick and powerful actions to select and modify tone and color plus apply effects. The main panel handles the tone, color, and effects. Blake added a tab for Heat Map. That tool lets you see the tone zones, (0-11) as colors. For example zone 0 might be set to deep blue while 11 is set to bright magenta. The second panel is new and it is for proofing and export images for print or the web.

If you purchase a version of ZSE, you get all future upgrades. I purchased ZSE4 and got ZSE5 as free upgrade. The package has hours of training videos and PDFs.

If you are a Ps fan or want to learn how to use Ps, this product gives you structured work flow starting with doing the basics in ACR or Lr Develop and then moving to Ps. I use it with Lr.


The Zone System Express!
 

Jimmsp

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2011
Messages
1,044
Location
Green Valley, Arizona, USA
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic
If you are a Ps fan or want to learn how to use Ps, this product gives you structured work flow starting with doing the basics in ACR or Lr Develop and then moving to Ps. I use it with Lr.

I would like to try it, as I see potential value. But I won't pay the $147 into price without a demo or a trial period.
I'll just continue to use Topaz (which I demo'ed) with masking when I need it.
 

mcasan

Active Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
577
Location
Atlanta
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
I can only guess there is no good way to put a 30 day timer on a Ps extension panel. It is not like a standalone app that is used as a plugin.

If interested, write to Blake and see what is possible.
 

Alandb

New Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2011
Messages
11
Location
NYC
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
I bought both the Zone System Express 5.0 and Palette Effects. Yes, it is a lot of money but, for some, it will be worth it. I am an experienced Lightroom user and have been looking to use Photoshop for a while. Photoshop is very overwhelming and it is hard to know how to approach it. I have several tutorials (Ben Willmore's Creativelive is very good) but they only teach you the mechanics of what each part of Photoshop does. They don't give you an approach to view all your photos in the same way. I first came across Blake Rudis in his CreativeLive course, "Color Theory for Photographers" and was intrigued with his approach and bought the course. If you are patient, you can usually get CreativeLive courses for at least a 50% discount.

I'm not sure if sure of the Zone System Express is good for experienced users of Photoshop as it may require a rethinking of how you use the program (maybe). For Photoshop novices, I think it is excellent. I can't divorce the teaching modules from the program itself. He explains everything in Photoshop that he thinks a photographer might use with a very specific, coherent approach. I doubt this approach will work for everyone. It worked for me.
 
Joined
Sep 29, 2007
Messages
22,773
Location
Isle of Wight, UK
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
Thanks for the specific review Alan. That's great to hear about the courses, as I haven't seen either.
 
Joined
Aug 24, 2018
Messages
1
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
For those that wish to keep their processing centered around Adobe CC (Lr, AcR, Ps, Br) you might want to check out the Zone System Express created by Blake Rudis. The product is a panel in Ps that has tabs for tone, color, effects, and export. The panel delivery includes many hours of training videos and PDFs on how to install and use the panel.

Blake will introducing ZSE 5.0 on the 15th of June. It will likely have a reduced intro price. Also members of the f64elite community get 15% off on any of the products.

Zone System Express Education Bundle - f.64 Elite
The Zone System Express!
Hello everyone. This is my first post on a forum.
I bought Zone System Express (ZSE) 4.0 when it was on a reduced offer price. I already had the much cheaper Lumenzia plugin which also enables easy luminosity masking but its documentation is not very clear. I can honestly say that the ZSE system is well worth the extra money. You get the panel which is easy to install. You get free updates so I now have ZSE 5.0 at no extra cost. You get hours of video explaining how to use the panel. The quality and clarity of the teaching is top class. I was struggling with Photoshop until I installed this panel and watched the videos. I now feel I can do quite a lot in PS and can understand other videos by other people. ZSE's Blake Rudis is a brilliant teacher and issues videos regularly. Check out the free ones on YouTube. He does not use Lightroom at all but does use Camera RAW and has recently done sets of videos on it including how to create presets for it and how to adjust a picture that has variations in colour temperature across it.

Just as Lightroom has panels like Basic, Tone Curve, HSL, Split Toning etc, which help to define a workflow and make Lightroom easier to master, ZSE puts panels into Photoshop for Tone, Colour and Effect. This provides a path to work through in Photoshop which otherwise seems to me to be a bundle of great tools with no guidance as to how to use them. You start in Lightroom or ACR and sort out the basics of the picture and maybe apply a preset but then, if it needs more work, move to PS and the tone panel where you work through grades of Luminosity masks adjusting tone at the different levels by simple curve manipulation clicking buttons (although you can do the full thing manually if you want). Then hop over to the colour panel and do a similar thing to adjust the colours. After that the fun begins with the Effects panel where there are options for Black and White conversion, Spotlighting, Colour grading, Radiance, Enhanced Contrast (the new Enhanced Contrast 2 button in ZSE 5.0 is amazing) and others. Blake also sells a separate Palette effects panel which provides more options here. Although you can do all these things by just clicking buttons Blake urges us to watch the videos where he explains how all of these things work and how to do them in PS without the buttons so the training is very thorough and means you know what you are doing when you click a button.

Why do all this in Photoshop and not stay in Lightroom? Because luminosity masks provide even more control over areas of the photo than the recent Lightroom selection feature, because there are blending modes available to fine tune effects, because there is blendif to tweak the impact of effects on lights and darks, because you can adjust the opacity of effects.

I have no connection with Blake Rudis. I am just a very satisfied paying customer.


For those that wish to keep their processing centered around Adobe CC (Lr, AcR, Ps, Br) you might want to check out the Zone System Express created by Blake Rudis. The product is a panel in Ps that has tabs for tone, color, effects, and export. The panel delivery includes many hours of training videos and PDFs on how to install and use the panel.

Blake will introducing ZSE 5.0 on the 15th of June. It will likely have a reduced intro price. Also members of the f64elite community get 15% off on any of the products.

Zone System Express Education Bundle - f.64 Elite
The Zone System Express!
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2016
Messages
1
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
I know this is an old thread but for those that might be interested v6 is available on discount for a couple of days. Aug 2019. About $147. Just considering a purchase so the above comments were of use. Thanks.
 

mcasan

Active Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
577
Location
Atlanta
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
I have it and palette effects. Both are excellent for use with Ps! get an elite f64 membership and then purchase ZSE or PE on the days of a new launch and you can save a lot. I think PE 3 will launch before the end of the year.

BTW, if you purchase either panel, you get all future upgrades for free.
 
Top