Quick Look : DXO PhotoLab 2

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The good people at DXO have just updated their photo editing software called PhotoLab to version two. PhotoLab was first released as a replacement for the excellent DXO Optics that delivered the best in lens corrections, but whose name did not make clear that it was an editing tool.

With PhotoLab, all the great optics features are preserved but delivered in a more user friendly interface that is extremely rich and powerful. The approach is an interesting cross between the better known Lightroom Develop module and Capture One Pro.

DXO PhotoLab does not pretend to be a Lightroom replacement. There is no Digital Asset Management similar to Lightroom’s Library module. There is no web, slideshow or book module, although given their level of use, this may not matter. Where Lightroom has a very rich and powerful print module DXO PhotoLab’s printing is functional but not nearly as rich.

 Shot handheld with an evaluation camera, a Fujifilm, I believe.  All processing was done in DXO PhotoLab including the application of the texture.  The print of this has been very popular

Shot handheld with an evaluation camera, a Fujifilm, I believe. All processing was done in DXO PhotoLab including the application of the texture. The print of this has been very popular

What it gives up in feature breadth, it makes up in speed and performance. The product runs on any processor from an Atom 2 on up and is usable with only 4GB of memory. Lightroom is rather boggy at 8GB and you need 16GB of memory to get decent performance out of the current V8 of Lightroom Classic CC.

Note that I am talking about Lightroom Classic CC here, not the web oriented Lightroom CC designed and built predominantly for those using their phones to take pictures. Lightroom CC is rather brain dead for serious editors. Not so DXO PhotoLab,

In fact, that may be a minor downfall for DXO PhotoLab, although not in my case. There are a number of Lightroom develop alternatives out in the market such as Skylum’s Luminar and ON1 Photo RAW. Their user focus is built around the use of presets. This is very Instagram user friendly, and ideal for those who really don’t want to actually edit and just want to slap a look on a picture and be done with it. You can edit with these tools, but it is absolutely not the primary UI.

DXO PhotoLab is best suited to the more serious editor. It is not preset based. You actually are doing the editing yourself, not just whacking the image with someone else’s generic idea. It therefore does have a learning curve to some extent and there are tutorials available to help you with learning the tool.

One of my favourite features is Clearview, a function that I have not found elsewhere. A few years ago I was photographing over the Grand Canyon from inside a Eurocopter and regulations did not allow for the doors to be open. Thus I was shooting through the bubble. I tried lots of tricks to knock down the glare and reflections that were coming from so many angles that a polarizer was no help at all. Bringing the image into DXO PhotoLab made all the difference in the world.

 Shot from inside the bubble of a Eurocopter 165 with a Canon 1Dx and Canon 28-300 zoom and processed in DXO PhotoLab Elite V1.  You cannot tell that this was shot through flaring and reflecting helicopter glass

Shot from inside the bubble of a Eurocopter 165 with a Canon 1Dx and Canon 28-300 zoom and processed in DXO PhotoLab Elite V1. You cannot tell that this was shot through flaring and reflecting helicopter glass

DXO PhotoLab 2 comes in two versions, Essentials at $99 USD and Elite at $149 USD. As an owner of the prior release version one, my upgrade was about $90 CAD. DXO has stores in different currencies. There is a limited time 30% offer on now. Head over to https://shop.dxo.com/us/photo-software/dxo-photolab to purchase or download a 30 Day trial to see if the software fits your needs.

As some of you may know, it is DXO that saved and rejuvenated the popular Nik Collection. DXO PhotoLab 2 not only brings the best optics correction in the industry, it also brings Nik’s powerful and easy to use U-Point controls. If you have never used U-Point it allows you to define where changes get made similar to an Automask in Lightroom but with more control, although that level of control may not be immediately obvious.

I like the tool very much. In my own use cases it is more valuable to me than say Luminar or ON1 but you should make the determination based on your own use cases.


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I'm Ross Chevalier, thanks for reading, watching and listening and until next time, peace.