DxO PhotoLab

What is DxO PhotoLab DxO PhotoLab is an advanced photo editing software package with a primary focus on RAW photo processing. After having used Lightroom from version 1 through 6, we refused to move to Adobe’s subscription service. We then started trialing many packages looking for a good replacement for lightroom. Our criteria was ease of use with good lens correction. We initially chose ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate but found the RAW conversion a little slow for our travel laptops. The search continued and we settled on DxO PhotoLab. D x O P h o t o L a b does not provide any real Digital Asset Management features beyond creating simple Projects which are named collections of photos. To provide this function, D x O P h o t o L a b uses a simple database which stores metadata about images included in the database. D x O P h o t o L a b comes in two versions, Essential Edition and Elite Edition. We recommend the Elite Edition for the following features, among others: Local Adjustments using U-Point technology The best optical corrections available Prime Denoise (RAW only) DxO Clearview Plus Customisable Tool Palettes Multiple Exports Preset Editor For a full list of differences visit their web page here . Notable Features Being able to customise tool palettes is extremely useful because you can arrange these palettes, and the tools in them, to exactly fit your workflow. We have a standard routine that we mostly follow when developing our photos and so have arranged the tools in our personal palette to reflect this. Your customisations can be saved and you can have different layouts for different workflows if required. The optical corrections facility is based on scientifically analysed lens and camera characteristics which are automatically applied to your photos. Profiles for more than 42 000 lens and camera combinations are used to correct photos by correcting distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberrations, and sharpness. Your photo’s EXIF data is used to identify which camera/lens profile to download and apply. If a profile does not exist then you can make manual corrections as required. Clearview Plus can really cut through haze and make images ‘pop’. You do need to be careful with tool as it can overdo itself, but fortunately you can adjust the strength of the effect. Prime Denoise is probably the best denoise function I have seen. It only works on RAW files and is very compute intensive so you will only see the effect on the whole photo once you export it. You can see the effect in the tool’s preview window which shows just a small portion of the photo. Local adjustments are extremely good and have a number of tools to masking areas requiring adjustment. These local adjustment are internal implementations of the very popular U-Point technology from the NIC Collection of tools. When you have done editing you normally export the photo to another format and/or location on disk. You   can   define multiple   named   export   settings   and   then   you   can   select   one   or   more   to   use   for   your   export. If you select more than one your photo will be exported multiple times in one export. Using DxO PhotoLab DxO PhotoLab has two modes, PhotoLibrary and Customise . In the PhotoLibrary you can browse your hard drives, index a folder, search for images, manage your photos, rate, tag and compare images. When you index a folder, image properties are stored in the database. Once properties are in the database the search function can be used to find photos quickly. The search function is unique but very easy to use. The Customise window is the place you develop your photos. All changes made are recorded in sidecar files with an extension of .dop . These are standard text files so you can look at what has been done to the photo and also keep the develop settings with the photo when moving photos from one location to another. Unfortunately, DxO has decided not to use the standard XMP files but there are indications that this may change in the future. DxO PhotoLab has a full set of tools for editing your photos. These tools are laid out in a number of palettes which can be configured to be a floating palette or can be docked to the left or right edge of the screen. Essentially, you can customise your workspace to suite your needs. Each tool controls a single function which can be turned on or off using the switch on the top-left of each tool. This is extremely useful because you can get a before/after view by simply toggling this switch. You can also turn of that particular tool and it will not be applied to your photo when you export it. The order that these tools are applied is controlled internally and you have no control over this order. This method of applying changes to your photo is very different to Lightroom which has a list of adjustments made which could include multiple changes to individual tools. Local Adjustments Local Adjustments, as the name suggests, is a set of tools allowing you to make adjustments (edits) to selected portions of your photo. These tools came from the very popular set of tools called the NIC Collection. The NIC Collection is still available as plugins for other software such as PhotoShop and Lightroom. These tools are very easy to use and consist of Brush , Graduated FIlter , Control Point , Auto Mask and Eraser . Control Points and Auto Mask are the most interesting. Control Points allow you to put a point on your photo to sample the colour and lightness in the immediate area of the point. You then adjust a larger circle to indicate the area you want to operate on. You can add additional points which will all act together. Finally you make your adjustments and they are applied to the colour and lightness of the region covered by the control point radius. Auto Mask allows you to draw a mask but uses edge detection to limit the mask to the subject’s outline. This is most useful if your subject has a distinct edge separating it from the background. The tool shows an inner circle which samples the colour and lightness of the subject being masked. An outer circle defines the area where edge detection occurs. The object is to keep the inner circle within your subject’s outline and at the same time make sure the outer circle covers an area outside the subject’s outline. The mask will then only operate on the subject within its outline. Once you have defined the mask you can make your adjustments. Conclusion DxO PhotoLab is a very efficient and very capable RAW photo editor with many advanced features that enable you to develop photos and make local adjustments without the need for other photo editing software such as PhotoShop. DxO PhotoLab has a very customisable interface allowing you to create a layout that fits with your workflow. Prime Noise reduction does an incredible job but is very compute intensive although the effort is well worth it. DxO PhotoLab has some small downsides but they are not show-stoppers. The sidecar files are proprietary and could and should be included in standard XMP files. The Repair brush does the job of removing dust etc, but not great for complex object removal such as content-aware removal tools available in other software. We do suspect that some Digital Asset Management features will be added in the future as the framework for this functionality is already in place. Finally, we are very happy with this software for its superb image quality due to the best lens correction function along with outstanding local adjustment tools that are easy to use and produce great results without resorting to heavyweight editing software.
On / Off Switch Before After Before After
Keith & Vlasta Ross-Jones
© Keith Ross-Jones

DxO PhotoLab

What is DxO PhotoLab DxO PhotoLab is an advanced photo editing software package with a primary focus on RAW photo processing. After having used Lightroom from version 1 through 6, we refused to move to Adobe’s subscription service. We then started trialing many packages looking for a good replacement for lightroom. Our criteria was ease of use with good lens correction. We initially chose ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate but found the RAW conversion a little slow for our travel laptops. The search continued and we settled on DxO PhotoLab. D x O P h o t o L a b does not provide any real Digital Asset Management features beyond creating simple Projects which are named collections of photos. To provide this function, D x O P h o t o L a b uses a simple database which stores metadata about images included in the database. D x O P h o t o L a b comes in two versions, Essential Edition and Elite Edition. We recommend the Elite Edition for the following features, among others: Local Adjustments using U-Point technology The best optical corrections available Prime Denoise (RAW only) DxO Clearview Plus Customisable Tool Palettes Multiple Exports Preset Editor For a full list of differences visit their web page here . Notable Features Being able to customise tool palettes is extremely useful because you can arrange these palettes, and the tools in them, to exactly fit your workflow. We have a standard routine that we mostly follow when developing our photos and so have arranged the tools in our personal palette to reflect this. Your customisations can be saved and you can have different layouts for different workflows if required. The optical corrections facility is based on scientifically analysed lens and camera characteristics which are automatically applied to your photos. Profiles for more than 42 000 lens and camera combinations are used to correct photos by correcting distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberrations, and sharpness. Your photo’s EXIF data is used to identify which camera/lens profile to download and apply. If a profile does not exist then you can make manual corrections as required. Clearview Plus can really cut through haze and make images ‘pop’. You do need to be careful with tool as it can overdo itself, but fortunately you can adjust the strength of the effect. Prime Denoise is probably the best denoise function I have seen. It only works on RAW files and is very compute intensive so you will only see the effect on the whole photo once you export it. You can see the effect in the tool’s preview window which shows just a small portion of the photo. Local adjustments are extremely good and have a number of tools to masking areas requiring adjustment. These local adjustment are internal implementations of the very popular U- Point technology from the NIC Collection of tools. When you have done editing you normally export the photo to another format and/or location on disk. You   can   define   multiple
named   export   settings   and   then   you   can   select   one   or   more   to use   for   your   export. If you select more than one your photo will be exported multiple times in one export. Using DxO PhotoLab DxO PhotoLab has two modes, PhotoLibrary and Customise . In the PhotoLibrary you can browse your hard drives, index a folder, search for images, manage your photos, rate, tag and compare images. When you index a folder, image properties are stored in the database. Once properties are in the database the search function can be used to find photos quickly. The search function is unique but very easy to use. The Customise window is the place you develop your photos. All changes made are recorded in sidecar files with an extension of .dop . These are standard text files so you can look at what has been done to the photo and also keep the develop settings with the photo when moving photos from one location to another. Unfortunately, DxO has decided not to use the standard XMP files but there are indications that this may change in the future. DxO PhotoLab has a full set of tools for editing your photos. These tools are laid out in a number of palettes which can be configured to be a floating palette or can be docked to the left or right edge of the screen. Essentially, you can customise your workspace to suite your needs. Each tool controls a single function which can be turned on or off using the switch on the top-left of each tool. This is extremely useful because you can get a before/after view by simply toggling this switch. You can also turn of that particular tool and it will not be applied to your photo when you export it. The order that these tools are applied is controlled internally and you have no control over this order. This method of applying changes to your photo is very different to Lightroom which has a list of adjustments made which could include multiple changes to individual tools. Local Adjustments Local Adjustments, as the name suggests, is a set of tools allowing you to make adjustments (edits) to selected portions of your photo. These tools came from the very popular set of tools called the NIC Collection. The NIC Collection is still available as plugins for other software such as PhotoShop and Lightroom. These tools are very easy to use and consist of Brush , Graduated FIlter , Control Point , Auto Mask and Eraser . Control Points and Auto Mask are the most interesting. Control Points allow you to put a point on your photo to sample the colour and lightness in the immediate area of the point. You then adjust a larger circle to indicate the area you want to operate on. You can add additional points which will all act together. Finally you make your adjustments and they are applied to the colour and lightness of the region covered by the control point radius. Auto Mask allows you to draw a mask but uses edge detection to limit the mask to the subject’s outline. This is most useful if your subject has a distinct edge separating it from the background. The tool shows an inner circle which samples the colour and lightness of the subject being masked. An outer circle defines the area where edge detection occurs. The object is to keep the inner circle within your subject’s outline and at the same time make sure the outer circle covers an area outside the subject’s outline. The mask will then only operate on the subject within its outline. Once you have defined the mask you can make your adjustments. Conclusion DxO PhotoLab is a very efficient and very capable RAW photo editor with many advanced features that enable you to develop photos and make local adjustments without the need for other photo editing software such as PhotoShop. DxO PhotoLab has a very customisable interface allowing you to create a layout that fits with your workflow. Prime Noise reduction does an incredible job but is very compute intensive although the effort is well worth it. DxO PhotoLab has some small downsides but they are not show-stoppers. The sidecar files are proprietary and could and should be included in standard XMP files. The Repair brush does the job of removing dust etc, but not great for complex object removal such as content-aware removal tools available in other software. We do suspect that some Digital Asset Management features will be added in the future as the framework for this functionality is already in place. Finally, we are very happy with this software for its superb image quality due to the best lens correction function along with outstanding local adjustment tools that are easy to use and produce great results without resorting to heavyweight editing software.
On / Off Switch Before After Before After
© Keith Ross-Jones
Keith & Vlasta Ross-Jones