The Zone Systems… with everything else out there… why bother?

I get this question a lot… why the Zone Systems?  I’d say at least 3 times a month.  With the Launch of the new Zone Systems Master Class I feel like I have not heard the end of it!  However, I get it.  If you are new to image editing the Zone Systems seem like daunting labor intensive redundant tasks.  The likewise is actually more accurate.

While the Zone Systems are Layer Intensive, they are not Labor Intensive.  They do create a lot of layers in the process, but when you get focused and used to them, they make editing at least 80% faster.  With that many Layers how can that be possible?

BandADZSCZS 2 Zone Systems

Well the Zone Systems are designed for Accurate, Deliberate, and Efficient editing.  Let’s break these down:

  • Accuracy:  With any image it is important to know exactly what is being edited.  There is no other technique or program on the market like the Color Zone System.  It shows you exactly what the selection of your color is so you know what will be edited.  The Digital Zone System does the same for tone.  While Lightroom, ACR, and Photoshop are all designed to be efficient and deliberate, they are missing this critical element… Accuracy.


  • Deliberate: When I first started editing photos in Photoshop it was like I was in hog heaven.  I was bouncing all over the place between Saturation, Curves, Levels, Exposure, etc.  I would make all kinds of hodgepodge edits and never be able to reproduce the effect exactly like the last one.  The Zone Systems are structured and meticulous and designed for deliberate editing.  This makes reproducing the effect from one image to another a breeze.


  • Efficiency:  While most products on the photo editing market are designed for efficiency (they wouldn’t be on the market if they weren’t) they fail to establish a blueprint for your workflow.  They are designed to be in and out and have the tools in the right place.  While that is efficient it does not minimize your time in the program.  The Zone Systems are blue print structured for efficiency, modify Tone, Color, Dodge and Burn, maybe a sharpen and you are done.  Most of my Masterpiece edits don’t take me longer than 10 minutes to produce, they used to take hours.

Check out this video tutorial.  I elaborate much more on the possibilities of the systems by showing you the loopholes and deficiencies in Lightroom and Photoshop editing without the Zone Systems.  Also checkout the new Zone Systems Master Class!

Learn More About the Master Class


Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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