First launched in early 2004 below the title Optics Professional, DxO rebranded its Uncooked processor as PhotoLab again in 2017 to higher mirror that its capabilities now go far past simply lens corrections, and concurrently absorbed the favored Nik Assortment plugins from Google for integration into its personal software program. It has additionally shuttered its nascent {hardware} enterprise altogether, and spun off its DxOMark digicam, lens and smartphone testing lab as a separate firm in 2017.

Now completely targeted on software program improvement, DxO has nonetheless stayed the course with a perpetual licensing mannequin for PhotoLab, eschewing the controversial subscription-based pricing that rivals like Adobe have used to extend revenues.

Since it is a complete digital darkroom software, I am not going to goal to cowl each function of PhotoLab on this evaluation. As a substitute, within the curiosity of readability, I am going to goal to hit the highlights whereas evaluating enhancements versus the earlier launch, and towards its still-dominant Adobe rival as applicable.

Key Takeaways:

  • Aggressive pricing, no subscription
  • Class-leading (however sluggish) DeepPRIME noise discount filtering
  • Pleasant and easy-to-learn consumer interface
  • Nice automated lens and picture high quality corrections
  • Good to nice efficiency in most areas
  • No assist for multi-shot imaging or Fujifilm X-Trans photos

DxO PhotoLab Four is on the market instantly priced at US$129 for the Important version or US$199 for the Elite version; the additional value will get you PRIME / DeepPRIME ‘denoising’, batch renaming, moiré elimination and extra. There’s additionally improve pricing in case you have a earlier model of PhotoLab or OpticsPro.

What’s new in DxO PhotoLab 4

In comparison with the previous main launch, PhotoLab Four has a number of important new options and a raft of extra minor ones. Key amongst these is the brand new DeepPRIME denoising engine, a man-made intelligence-based evolution of DxO’s already-impressive PRIME noise discount from earlier variations. DxO has additionally launched a selective copy-and-paste perform which lets you take simply your chosen elements of the recipe you’ve got utilized to 1 picture, and apply these to as many different photos as you want with minimal fuss.

PhotoLab 4’s consumer interface now permits looking out, filtering and customization. At left, I’ve clicked the “Colour” button (marked in blue on the prime) to filter to color-related instruments, then began to sort “saturation” within the search area, and after two letters my chosen software was already positioned in two totally different palettes. At proper, I’ve made my very own consumer palette known as “Optics”, and populated it with copies of DxO’s common lens correction instruments.

Additionally new are a historical past palette that permits you to see and shortly revert processing adjustments, and a DNG export choice that allows you to save photos both with all corrections, or optical corrections solely. There’s additionally a batch renaming perform and the flexibility so as to add both textual content or image-based watermarks to your photos. And DxO has additionally made PhotoLab’s consumer interface extra approachable, permitting extra superior controls to be hidden, particular person controls to be rearranged or added to your individual user-created palettes, and out there controls searched or filtered by sort (see above photos).

Lastly, assist has been added for a raft of cameras together with the entire following: The Canon EOS R5, R6 and Insurgent T8i (EOS 850D); DJI Mavic Air 2; Nikon D6, Z5 and Z6 II; Olympus E-M10 IV; Panasonic Lumix S1H and S5; Sony A7c and A7s III. A full and searchable listing of supported cameras will be discovered on DxO’s web site.

The brand new Superior Historical past palette tracks your adjustments to photographs, permitting you to roll them again or see precisely what adjustments you made later. Right here, I’ve tweaked colour, publicity and perspective, then cloned out quite a lot of distracting leaves within the temple’s courtyard.

The fundamentals: DxO PhotoLab’s function set

At its core, DxO PhotoLab is a full-featured Uncooked processor that provides a variety of quick-and-easy automated corrections based mostly on lab testing of digicam our bodies and lenses, in addition to a profusion of handbook controls permitting you to tune the look of photos to match your creative imaginative and prescient. Digital camera physique and lens corrections are contained in profiles which the appliance prompts you to obtain as required.

In addition to world changes to variables like publicity, distinction, white stability and the like, PhotoLab additionally permits for native changes that may be brushed into particular areas of your picture, overlaid as graduated filters or hooked up to particular areas with management factors. Primarily based on U Level know-how first developed by Nik Software program, these are a intelligent means of making masks to pick out particular areas of the picture with no need to resort to hard-to-master instruments like Photoshop’s magic wand or lasso.

Your edits will be saved in two methods, neither of which alters the unique file itself so there is not any danger of corruption and edits can simply be undone. Firstly, DxO shops these edits in its personal database, a lot as does Adobe’s rival Lightroom app. On prime of this, PhotoLab may also write sidecar recordsdata in the identical folders as your edited photos, both routinely or manually. These sidecars will be copied between computer systems to make your edits transportable, and if that machine already has its personal edited model of the identical picture, PhotoLab will intelligently create digital copies for you.

In addition to world changes, DxO PhotoLab Four additionally permits for native changes that may be brushed onto and erased out of your picture, in addition to graduated filters just like the one I’ve utilized right here, and in addition extra selective filters set utilizing the U Level know-how purchased from Google and initially developed by Nik Software program.

Pictures can be keyworded and rated, and once more, these adjustments aren’t saved into the unique file itself, however moderately the database and sidecar file, though exported variations of the picture can have this metadata baked-in. PhotoLab may also learn IPTC metadata added to photographs on the time they had been captured, in case your digicam helps this. Assist can be offered for each printing and export to Flickr.

Trendy options like high-resolution 4K shows, touch-screens and pens are all supported. So are a number of screens, permitting you to make use of one show for modifying and one other for file shopping.

PhotoLab 4’s newly-customizable Good Workspace will be rearranged to imitate that of different purposes as carefully as doable. Right here, I’ve tried to make its format (left) match that of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (proper). There are clearly variations within the instruments that every provide, however you may nonetheless get pretty shut.

Modifying controls can be moved to the secondary show if first docked to a consumer palette, permitting close to full display preview on the first show. And most changes will be previewed in virtually actual time, though previews for some extra computationally-intensive changes reminiscent of curves or noise discount can take a little bit longer.

In the event you choose to make use of one other app to handle your catalog, DxO PhotoLab can perform as a plugin for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Basic. It may additionally export processed photos to Photoshop or Lightroom, and its performance will be prolonged by DxO’s personal ViewPoint, FilmPack and Nik Assortment plugins.

PhotoLab can perform as a plugin for Lightroom, and accepts a number of plugins reminiscent of the favored Nik Assortment suite itself.

ViewPoint and FilmPack combine into PhotoLab’s personal interface, whereas the Nik Assortment suite is accessed through a popup menu. On selecting a Nik plugin, PhotoLab exports your picture as a TIFF file, and that is then opened in your chosen plugin. Since this takes you out of the Uncooked workflow and bakes in your prior PhotoLab edits, it is sensible to do it as a final step earlier than last export.

How DxO Photograph Lab Four compares to Adobe Lightroom

So what’s lacking when in comparison with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom? Fairly a couple of issues, though many are pretty obscure options that many photographers will not want. There is not any import/ingest perform to repeat photos out of your digicam or flash card to native or community drives, or tag them within the course of. Multi-shot modifying capabilities like panoramas, focus stacking, decision enhancement or HDR are usually not supported.

Much less important omissions embody tethered taking pictures or a mapping / GPS module, though PhotoLab can acknowledge and show location data in its metadata panel. Nor can it create slideshows, and aside from Flickr assist it supplies no built-in photobook or net gallery creation performance.

DxO PhotoLab Four gives most Lightroom / Photoshop options that photographers repeatedly want, whereas foregoing a few of their lesser-used, extra obscure capabilities

DxO’s software program additionally tends to assist fewer cameras than does Adobe, particularly for older and extra obscure fashions. Significantly noteworthy is a scarcity of assist for any digicam utilizing Fujifilm’s X-Trans sensors, one thing that appears unlikely to vary within the close to future. And simply because it lacks assist for multi-shot imaging, PhotoLab additionally does not absolutely assist single Uncooked recordsdata based mostly on multi-shot methods like Pentax’s Pixel Shift Decision and Uncooked HDR, or Canon’s Uncooked Burst format. These recordsdata will usually open, however are handled as in the event that they had been commonplace single-shot Raws.

Nice picture high quality and true-to-life colour

Very similar to its Adobe rival, DxO PhotoLab is able to offering wonderful picture high quality, with pleasing colour and a great deal of element. There are some attention-grabbing variations within the two firms’ approaches, nonetheless, that change into obvious when evaluating their automated corrections side-by-side. For the beneath photos, PhotoLab Four is on the left, Adobe on the suitable.

The place Adobe tends in the direction of a consumer-friendly look with increased distinction and far punchier colour: typically virtually cartoonishly so. DxO PhotoLab’s automated outcomes are likely to really feel extra convincing and reasonable, if maybe a little bit muted.

And the state of affairs with publicity changes is comparable. PhotoLab’s automated corrections have a tendency to make use of a softer contact, whereas Adobe usually makes larger adjustments to publicity. With scenes the place the digicam missed the mark on publicity, I discovered Adobe’s algorithms tended to do a greater job, however with more difficult scenes they often yielded moderately unnatural outcomes. DxO comes nearer with difficult scenes just by dialing up its Good Lighting correction from the default Slight mode to Medium or Robust, nonetheless.

DxO’s algorithms (left) usually do not make enormous changes to publicity by default, whereas Adobe (proper) appears to offer extra free rein to appropriate troublesome photos.

In fact, ought to their automated corrections miss the mark, each firms’ outcomes will be tuned to match your tastes. By way of element, I discovered little to decide on between the 2, though Adobe’s apps default to increased ranges of sharpening by default, typically leaving noticeable haloes when seen at 1:1. And whereas PhotoLab and Lightroom’s automated lens corrections do range considerably, neither program appeared constantly higher in my testing.

Evaluate the default PhotoLab outcome with Good Lighting set to sturdy as an alternative of sunshine (left) versus Adobe (proper).

The story could be very totally different in the case of noise discount, nonetheless, the place even DxO’s base HQ noise discount appears to do a greater job each of squashing noise and holding onto finer particulars at increased sensitivities, the place Adobe’s outcomes are usually grainier. And enabling DxO’s PRIME or DeepPRIME noise processing places it in a unique ballpark.

The large information: DeepPRIME denoising could be very spectacular

In fact, that distinction comes at a price. Each PRIME and DeepPRIME work by throwing a lot extra processor energy on the drawback of figuring out and eradicating noise out of your photos. When both approach is in use, processing your photos will take considerably longer – we’ll quantify this in a second – and you will additionally lose the flexibility to see a full-size preview of your outcomes as you dial in your corrections. As a substitute, you get a comparatively tiny 278 x 150 pixel preview which you’ll be able to transfer across the picture to verify the leads to totally different sections.

The opposite predominant downside to PRIME and DeepPRIME denoising is that they work solely with Uncooked photos and never JPEGs, as a result of their algorithms perform earlier than the information is demosaiced, a course of which tends to smear noise throughout adjoining pixels and make it tougher to take away.

Let’s begin off with an excessive instance. Above is an ISO 204,800 shot from the 51.4-megapixel Pentax 645Z, as processed with DeepPRIME. Beneath, and clockwise from prime left, are 100% crops as processed by Adobe, PhotoLab HQ, PRIME and DeepPRIME. (Click on or faucet the earlier hyperlinks for full-res variations.)

Let’s proceed our have a look at how DeepPRIME compares to PRIME, HQ and Adobe denoising with extra samples, in addition to evaluation of much more new options and our last conclusion on the subsequent web page.

Learn web page 2: PRIME and DeepPRIME continued

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