Although not as well known as other software packages, the DXO name IS known from the excellent Nik Collection. DXO as a company are responsible for testing lenses and cameras in great detail, and with this knowledge, its allowed them to build possibly one of the best editing packages available right now.
Right from the start, DXO PhotoLab 6 proclaims to be “The most advanced, end-to-end,
RAW photo editing software”. Its a bold claim to make, when you consider how great other raw editing software has become lately. However, with all their knowledge behind them, DXO do have the ability to bring class leading software to the masses.
What makes DXO stand out from the rest?
DXO has unparalleled image quality. Their unique “DeepPRIME” denoising and advanced colour science not only sets the bar for raw processing, but raises it above all other packages. In fact, their colour science is so advanced, the have developed their own “DXO” colour workspace that gives better colours then sRGB and Adobe colour workspaces. Please be warned, if you’re a Fujifilm user, the latest and most powerful version of DeepPRIME is not compatible, however, the other settings for DeepPRIME still work wonderfully.
With their knowledge of optical corrections, it means that you have the finest and largest array of optical corrections for the lens you are using. You’ll have perfect corrections, giving you straighter verticals, corrected corners, no visible vignette and generally much sharper images with their technology.
Masking is more advanced, and using DXO’s exclusive “U Point” technology, you can target sections in ways that you simply can’t achieve in other software. Using U Point regularly, you wonder why all other software doesn’t mask in this way. It is genuinely ground breaking, no matter what your level of expertise.
DXO PhotoLab is your one-stop solution for photo management too, as it has some very powerful photo management. You can search and sort your photos with tags and keywords to make finding images easier. Add to that, you do not need to import images, it makes for a much faster workflow.
The User Interface (UI)
When you are using editing software, it is important that the user interface is as simple and intuitive as possible. DXO PhotoLab V6 will be familiar to users of other packages, and after only a few moments of getting to know the software, you will be able to use the software with confidence.
You are able to reposition, hide, collapse and expand the modules as needed so that you can customise your workspace if needed. You can also add your most used tools to the favourites section for quicker access, which is essential in efficient editing.
A useful feature is that you can display only the tools that are actively being used and making changes, this can come in very handy when tweaking your image and seeing what you have used throughout the edit.
In modern editing packages, it is essential that the software you are using just works. Unlike some other software packages out there which can, and do lag, DXO PhotoLab is very good with system resources.
Opening an image takes just a split second, and you can edit your photo from that moment on. When you move the sliders, the effect of the slider takes place immediately, meaning you get real-time feedback on the changes you make.
I have already touched on the fact that DXO PhotoLab V6 has its own colour space. This colour space is applied by default on new images that have never been edited in previous versions of DXO.
The HSL section in PhotoLab is particularly powerful. You can make instant changes to a colour or slice of colour very quickly and simply. If for instance you want to change the colour of an object from red to green, there’s no messing, you can click on the colour picker in HSL and then using the rotating slider, make the tweak in an instant. Its the ease of doing things like this, with such precision that separates PhotoLab from other pieces of software (and yes, it can be done on other software, its just much quicker in PhotoLab).
Choosing the colour rendering for the colour science of your camera body is also a pleasing experience with DXO PhotoLab. By default, the software will choose your camera bodies default colour palette, however, you can instantly make your Olympus use Lecia Q palettes, or your Fuji look like a Canon. Its the ease of this that just makes it enjoyable to you.
You can of course make your own looks and save them as presets. I know a lot of non-professionals dismiss presets, but as a starting point, when you’re editing a batch of images, they are essential to keep the look and feel the same throughout the photo shoot.
DXO PhotoLab exclusive settings
There are a number of features in PhotoLab which make the software worthy of the price of purchase. Once you use them, you wonder how you ever lived without them.
DXO Smart Lighting does what it says in the title. It will intelligently light your image with the switch of the button. You can then fine-tune or refine the look if you wish, with options for uniform or spot lighting. Its a simple idea, but works amazingly!
DXO Clearview Plus is one of the main reasons you will fall in love with PhotoLab. Hit the dedicated button and your images will naturally and intelligently come to life with this technology. It works in a dehaze sort of way, but without being dehaze. It adds vibrancy, reduces atmospheric haze and boosts the contrast in a natural way, while not introducing halos into the edits. Its probably one of the best reasons to switch to DXO PhotoLab V6.
DXO DeepPRIME noise reduction has already been mentioned, and when used, the noise reduction gives fantastic results, cleaning up noise and sharpening the image.
The Lens Sharpness setting uses DXO’s vast collection of lens data to increase the sharpness of your images using their special algorithms.
Of course, DXO wouldn’t be what it is without having the tools you need to edit an image. You’ll get a great array of tools such as cropping, perspective control, settings for lens distortions, straightening and of course masking tools.
We’ve already mentioned the U Point technology, and it is something very unique to DXO products. Using control points on your image, you can fine tune very accurately to get the looks your want. Right clicking brings up the menu of U Point options (Control Line, Graduated Filter, Eraser, New Mask, Reset, Brush, Auto Mask, Control Point), enough to get every job done.
DXO PhotoLab V6 is an amazing piece of editing software, it’s fast, has plenty of features and has unparalleled colour and lens correction options. It’s not without its faults though, most notably the new noise reduction not working with X-Trans sensors. This is a shame, as I could not test the highest level of the noise reduction on my top end cameras, but instead could only try it on my Olympus camera that I tend to use for family use (which I wouldn’t normally use noise correction with as they’re just family photos).
Also, without the Filmpack which is sold separately, you’re missing all the fun additions for colour grading (those film simulations are so much fun and so useful). The Filmpack really adds so much more to the package, plus it adds the ability for frames, which are standard on most other editing packages. Sadly, PhotoLab is also missing LUT support, but hopefully in the future this feature will be added!
Would i recommend DXO PhotoLab V6 over other leading software? Yes, I would! It’s the perfect balance of performance, price (it’s not a subscription!) and features. It handles Fujifilm X-Trans files very well, which I know some find an issue with other software and every update means we have something more to look forward to.
• No subscription
• Fast and responsive
• Class leading lens corrections
• No AI gimmicks, just powerful software
• U Point technology is outstanding
• Film simulations are limited without Filmpack
• Latest noise reduction not compatible with Fujifilm cameras (and possibly others)
• More expensive than software focused on gimmicks