DxO Optics Pro is a RAW converter includes photo management and a print module, and which has been on the market for a couple of years. It is a competitor of Lightroom, available for Windows and Mac for 200 (for amateur cameras) up to 300 euros (for semi-professional cameras). It is renowned for its exceptionally good lens/camera correction profiles. No other program can match it on that. With Optics Pro version 9.5, DxO has made a spectacular move: DxO Optics Pro can now also be used as a plug-in for Lightroom. Why would you create a plug-in for your competition?
"Haven't I heard that before?" I hear you thinking. I thought so too..
An additional RAW converter for Lightroom may not seem interesting. You'd be mistaken. DxO Optics Pro is different from other RAW converters and in my opinion definitely an improvement to Lightroom or Photoshop. Thanks to this plug-in, you more quickly get beautiful final results. You learn to use the program quickly, despite the many functions it has. The software is free to download to review for a month. That's why I'm sitting here typing a piece about it now, to persuade you to try DxO Optics Pro. Did you know that it's also useful for those not shooting in RAW?
Shooting in RAW? Worth the "trouble"!
When I shoot, I always save the images in the camera as jpg and as RAW files. Disk space is not expensive, and you can compare RAW files with negatives from the analog era. Indispensable for later.
Do you need RAW files? Modern cameras are so good that the jpg file, for me, after some experimenting with the various camera settings and picture styles, in 98% of cases is good enough.
The remaining two percent are shots of which I have fond memories, but are incorrectly exposed (underexposed, bleached highlights, wrong white balance) and where distortion or disruptive noise are visible. Then I decide to edit the RAW file.
Striving for perfection?
Since the rise of digital photography, I have tried several RAW converters. They differ not only in ease of use, but also in quality: preserving highlights and shadow areas, noise reduction, sharpening and color reproduction (white balance, saturation and tone scale). Depending on the brand and type of camera, each RAW converter has its strengths and thus fervent supporters.
That's how I came to the conclusion that multiple RAW converters deliver a quality that is good enough for me. Many roads lead to Rome. The final quality depends more on your chosen settings, and so the person behind the buttons, than on the RAW converter.
I get – with some exceptions – the best results with the RAW converter that I know best. So I opted for Lightroom as a RAW converter, because I'm satisfied with the picture quality and I already manage my shots in Lightroom.
All's well that ends well?
Many will think that I've given up in my pursuit of perfect shots. Others think that I'm too easily pleased and thereby will never achieve perfection. I don't care.
What does bother me is that over the years I have built up a collection of shots that I believe could be nicer, but for which I have not been able to achieve the correct image quality with Lightroom from the RAW files. My potential toppers, that haven't yet made it to print, fall into a few groups:
Overexposed highlights that even in RAW cannot be saved
Disturbing distortion and/or deformation in shots that still look unnatural after correction, for example if there is a person on the edge of the image. I shoot a lot with an extreme wide-angle lens.
Unnatural, watercolor-like colors in shots that have undergone extreme editing, especially HDR shots and pictures in which the shadow areas have been made much lighter.
Too much noise to be able to remove without artifacts
DxO Optics Pro version 9.5
DxO comprehensively measures the performance of cameras and lenses. Distortion, for example, depends with zoom lenses on the focal length, but also on the distance at which the shot is taken. Also vignetting and blur of a lens they set as a function of focal length, aperture and focus distance. DxO Optics uses this measurement results to automatically and very accurately correct a RAW file for lens errors. That's always been the strength of DxO Optics Pro. Why was my attention drawn by version 9.5?
PRIME (Probabilistic Raw IMage Enhancement) noise reduction, with which noise is suppressed without losing details or the introduction of artifacts.
"Unrivaled highlight management and color rendering"
Integration of DxO Optics Pro in the Adobe Lightroom workflow
A more user-friendly interface, with which you can start photo editing in as little time as possible
Visual presets of various effects, as you may already know, for example, Nik Effex
Because the new additions in Dxo Optics Pro 9.5 show a lot of overlap with my list, I decided to explore further. And when I did, there appeared to be more possibilities than I expected.
I downloaded the software and let loose on a set with problem situations. I am so happy with the results in the next few weeks I'll share the practice shots with you in a few articles:
Lens correction with DxO Optics Pro
Perspective correction with DxO Optics Pro
DxO Optics Proand color reproduction
Recovery of virtually impossible bleached-out highlights
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.