Raw Converter Showdown: Capture One Pro 7, DxO Optics Pro 8 and Lightroom 4

Imaging workflow

Next to image quality, the ability to work efficiently may be the most important attribute of any raw converter. Whether you need to edit one image or 50, being able to quickly make and evaluate adjustments, isolate specific areas of an image to manipulate and save previous adjustments for future use are paramount in establishing a productive workflow.

Tool adjustments

All three apps provide a slider interface for most image adjustment tools. Here you see basic exposure adjustment palettes for (from l to r), Capture One Pro 7, DxO Optics Pro 8 and Lightroom 4.

Both Capture One Pro 7 and Lightroom 4 provide smooth real-time updates to the image preview as you drag a slider. DxO Optics Pro 8, on the other hand, not only incurs a brief delay when dragging a slider, but the image preview immediately switches to a lower resolution version with visible artifacts, making fine-grained adjustments more difficult to evaluate until you let go of the mouse. Neither does DxO Optics Pro 8 allow you to highlight a slider's corresponding value box to adjust the numbers via your keyboard. Instead you must click on very small up/down arrows to move the value in single increments. Both Capture One Pro and Lightroom 4 allow you the option to move in larger value increments by holding the Shift key while pressing the up/down arrows on your keyboard, a very useful way to quickly make gross adjustments.

Lightroom also offers the handy trick of activating the slider value's number box simply by hovering the mouse anywhere over the slider bar. You can then adjust the value via the up/down arrows on your keyboard.

TWO-WAY TIE: Capture One Pro 7 and Lightroom 4 provide real-time feedback when adjusting sliders.

Localized edits

The ability to restrict edits to specific regions of an image is crucial to many photographers' workflows. Capture One Pro 7 offers this functionality via an adjustment layer interface in which you create and then paint on image masks, a là Photoshop. A full complement of exposure, color correction and sharpening edits can be made in this way. Lightroom 4 bypasses the need for user-created layers, automatically creating a mask each time its localized editing tool is employed. Lightroom 4 also offers the option to apply localized edits, including white balance adjustments, with a graduated filter tool. DxO Optics Pro 8 offers no region-based selective editing tools.

WINNER: Lightroom 4 allows for localized white balance adjustments and automatically creates a layer mask with the Adjustment brush and Graduated filter tools.

Before/after comparisons

Lightroom 4 offers a very efficient and flexible solution to before/after comparisons. With a single keyboard shortcut (Y), you can display a 2-up comparison of the image's current state with its appearance at the time of import. Better still, you can select any editing step in the History panel and set it as the 'before' image state. This means you can compare your current image to any previous editing state, whether it occurred 10 minutes or 10 months ago.

When editing an image it's often useful to compare its current state alongside a previous one.

Capture One Pro 7 allows similar, if less robust functionality. But here, in order to view any side-by-side comparison you must first create a 'variant', Phase One's term for a virtual copy, or metadata-based duplicate of the original image. You can easily make a variant that reflects the image in its original default conversion state, but making a comparison against a more recent edit is only possible if you had the foresight to have created a variant at that earlier point.

DxO Optics Pro 8 lets you view the current image alongside the unedited version without creating a virtual copy. Bafflingly though, this 'before' image has all default corrections disabled, meaning you're comparing your current edits not against the image state you began working on, but alongside one that has every auto feature of the software turned off. It's hard to image a scenario, outside a product demo, where this type of comparison would actually be useful.

WINNER: Lightroom 4 offers a user-defined choice of the 'before' image state.

Batch editing

Edits made to one image can be batch-applied to multiple images, though each application differs in the way these can be applied. All three allow you to create a preset consisting of adjustments you've made to all editing tools or just a user-defined subset of them. But Lightroom 4 and Capture One Pro 7 also give you the option of batch applying edits while avoiding the additional step of creating a preset.

In Lightroom 4's Library and Develop modules, once the source and destination image(s) are selected you can choose to batch-apply some or all of the available edits shown above, all from a single window.

In Capture One Pro 7, there are two distinct methods for applying edits from one image to another, depending on whether you want to copy editing parameters for all adjustment tools or just a subset of them. To batch-apply all adjustments you must first select the source image and copy its adjustments. Then, with another image(s) selected, you paste the adjustments. To apply edits on a per tool basis requires you to select both the source and destination images and click an 'Adjustments Clipboard' icon that is located atop the appropriate tool panel.

WINNER: Lightroom 4 has a unified interface for batch-applying edits for all tools or a subset of them.

UI customization

You can take advantage of a dual-monitor workstation in all three raw converters by displaying the thumbnail view and image preview window on two separate screens.

While DxO Optics Pro 8 and Lightroom 4 have a modular interface, in which tool access is restricted by the currently active tab, Capture One Pro 7 (shown here) lets you move individual palettes so that they float anywhere on either screen and, more importantly, remain accessible no matter which category you select from the Tool Tab Bar (highlighted in red).

WINNER: Capture One Pro 7 allows you to arrange individual tool palettes so they're accessible from any organization, editing or processing tab.

Click here to continue reading our Raw Showdown article...

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.


Total comments: 415
By historianx (2 months ago)

If Aperture is "dead," as many seem to think, why is Apple offering FREE No Questions Asked upgrades to the newest version/update, even if one has a pirated/illegal copy on their computer? I upgraded my OSX from Snow Leopard to Mavericks for free (quite painless) to get Fuji X-Trans support, and when I upgraded my Aperture to the lastest and greatest, I expected to pay, but not a dime spent. I don't think it's dead, aamof I think those of us who will stick it will be surprised at a 4/X offering, one fully integrated with iOS.

Dimitris Servis
By Dimitris Servis (8 months ago)

Just bumped on this one. To provide an answer to all the apple people: Apperture is not included because you don't care for other software. Or, actually you do care, if it comes first. If it wasn't, this would be full of complaints "why apperture is not first" :-D

Frankie Lumi
By Frankie Lumi (9 months ago)

I don't use One but I came to a similar conclusion. I surprised that Lr is so good in highlight recovery compared to DxO. Good thing, I read this great review. I can adjust shooting to +1/2 shifting the data to the right and still recover.
Basically NCX2 is out the door. I migrated to Lr 5. Talking to expert on the NCX2, even hard core Nikonlodians say that the use of CX2 may only be needed on less than 5% of all images going into serious processing.
Cool stuff. Thank you.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
By 3sisters (9 months ago)

So many comments. Did I miss that Nikon users do have the slickest raw converter available in Capture NX2? Keeps all in camera settings (no sliders needed to reproduce what was done in the first place), Color control point technology (uses smart mask technology), and maybe the most important it uses in house algorithms and therefore can do without the proximations of third party software.

1 upvote
Frankie Lumi
By Frankie Lumi (9 months ago)

3Sisters. You can have all that and more in Lr with Nik Google plug-ins for just $149 the complete suite.

Guy Swarbrick
By Guy Swarbrick (8 months ago)

Slickest? No... It isn't slick. The output quality is awesome and some of the tools are great, but the speed and workflow are execrable. If I'm doing a massive print, I'll always process in NX2 - but there are almost no other circumstances where I would bother.

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
Richard Peterson
By Richard Peterson (9 months ago)

Astonished that Aperture is not included, but I guess this is a review of cross-dressers :). I own or test all of the RAW converter software available for Mac.
Fuji files on Aperture make the Lightroom and the others mentioned here as equivalents look like mud. Aperture holds far more detail, has better colors by default, is light years faster. Of course, there's also: Iridient Developer 2.1.1 for Mac, which at this point is the stellar star of Fuji conversion. I just tried it and was ASTONISHED at the image quality.
As a pro who doesn't want to get lost in the clunky landscape of Lightroom (which I own just to use one plugin by X-Rite), and someone who wants to produce exquisite images, and get them done in time with sleek, sexy and easy to understand controls, Aperture is the one.

1 upvote
Beat Traveller
By Beat Traveller (9 months ago)

How does Aperture's highlight and shadow recovery compare to Lightroom though?

By historianx (9 months ago)

count me in the pro using Aperture crowd. I needed a DAM and since I don't edit or alter my pics radically its logical and fun workflow suits me fine. Forget Lightroom. That was too much like working instead of creating, as with Aperture.
But I understand why it didnt get the attention here. It seems stuck in Apple's development muck, with no forseeable upgrades from current, so it would be unfair to stick old Aperture in with new products. If they do upgrade it here in the future, i hope DPR does a revised comparison.
My question, any Aperture pros use Cap1 or DxO, either separately or with Aperture? I tend to lean towards trying C/O as i do primarily portraiture and fashion thanks

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 11 minutes after posting
1 upvote
By JIMMYCHENG (9 months ago)

Interesting that many mentioned Aperture here. Yes, I am a pro and I use Aperture too. I have a 50/50 feeling about including in this comparison review because Aperture will win in terms of asset management but Apple hasn't updated its pro software for years and it's now aging in terms of performance and more importantly feature sets.

I don't do a lot of Photoshop but there are some handy features that are getting hard to resist from rivalling softwares. Speed is also a factor too. I see Aperture 3.x is much faster than 1.x and 2.x and I can easily say that most of the current softwares tested here will be faster than Aperture because of algorithm updates.

I am still an Aperture user and really hope Apple can up its game once again and give us pro something good to use on their fabulous machines!

1 upvote
indipix images
By indipix images (9 months ago)

It is a pity aperture was not included in this comparison. It is way better than the rest as far as image management and ease of use is concerned and does great raw conversions.

1 upvote
By macalterego (10 months ago)

I own or currently use all of these, but Aperture 3 still reigns supreme in two key aspects for pros who shoot hundreds of photos per day: input management (sorting/stacking/etc.) and output (better slideshows, printing, etc). For most people, I still think LR 4 (and now 5) is the best tool to begin with. I use LR5 as a plugin. MOST photos just need imported and sorted and graded. SOME photos make it to post-editing, and those go to LR5 (it's a plugin for me, using Automator and LR's excellent auto-import service) and then back to Aperture as 16bit tiffs, in a very painless workflow), and FEW photos get the ultimate treatment, which means PS and plug-ins. Someone quipped that Aperture users could only justify it's usage by doing all their work in plug-ins, as if LR were somehow as good in any single feature as a pro-level plug-in. Laughable, to say the least.

By Dadorian (10 months ago)

This was a very useful article, thank you!

By RoyceLowton (10 months ago)

I do not chase big names (and high prices!) when I just want to turn a folder or raw files into jpegs without much editing. I personally use Total Image Converter from CoolUtils. This small tool converts raw files in batches, and it supports my Canon files all right.

By vlad2304 (10 months ago)

I recently bought my new Canon OES M only to find out that its RAW files were not supported by my PS Elements 10 and I either have to use the bundled Canon software (that is quite good as standalone software) or look elsewhere.
I deliberately didn't consider PS Elements 11 as the way Adobe supports exsisting clients is beyond my understanding.
So, I end up with Capture One Express that they sold me for 34.5 Euro through their limited offer. From my perspective it is excellent bundle covering all my needs.

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
1 upvote
By brentbristol (10 months ago)

In the past it has been my experience that DXO was much better at correcting chromatic aberrations than ACR. What is the experience of others here with regard to CA.

Phillip Lynch
By Phillip Lynch (10 months ago)

More of us Pros use Aperture than most people seem to know
So I think it should have been included

By tvstaff (10 months ago)

Lightroom seems to have lost it's lead and opened the market.

I'd say Lightroom needs to send updates to it's users ASAP but ALL they do is push their NEW ver of LR and leave their ENTIRE custmer base holding the bag.

ADOBE IMHO is going to loose huge market share. The quality of the other two products make me think I need to switch from LR.....

By d3xmeister (11 months ago)

I use Aperture. But more importantly, Chase Jarvis, David Bergman and other succesful photographers use Aperture.

From a detail and noise reduction standpoint Aperture cannot compete with Lighroom. What I like about Aperture is that RAW conversion are A LOT closer that what I want them to be, so my work on them is about 20% than in Lighroom. More time to shoot or spend with the family.

By Thatcannonguy (11 months ago)

If you don't care about color correction and how your prints look and when you drench your photos with buckets of filters and effects, then Aperture is perfect for you. But if your workflow contains color correction from photo to monitor to print, then Aperture is useless. No matter who else uses it.

By PeterTea (10 months ago)

Yes! i suspect because Aperture is now an APP Store purchase This web site, as good as it is is, compromised by this. We are disappointed and it tarnishes an otherwise VERY thorough approach.

Jacques Cornell
By Jacques Cornell (10 months ago)


I totally disagree. You must be thinking of Instagram. I have great success using Aperture with a calibrated NEC PA271 display and Epson Stylus Pro 4000 large format printer to make prints for exhibition and sale. It would seem that either you haven't used Aperture or you haven't understood it correctly.

By SemperAugustus (11 months ago)

I would happily trade-in my LR4 for any of these two packages. If they launch a competitive trade in program they will really poach many ADBE customers.

Rainforest graphics
By Rainforest graphics (10 months ago)

I would keep LR4 and purchase capture one 7 express, I have both of these and I do 95 percent of my processing using capture one express then export as Tiff 16bit then use LR4 for the final tweaks.
The results are fantastic.

victorian squid
By victorian squid (8 months ago)

Lightroom 4 never should have seen daylight. It's a known fact that the program slowed to a crawl after LR3. It was cheaper for them to come out with 5 and charge people for the "new features" than to give everyone a fix (read a whole new release) for 4.

That said, and as much as I dislike Adobe these days - LR5 is a huge improvement and I actually use it now.

Simon Elwell
By Simon Elwell (11 months ago)

Another surprised Aperture user here - can't understand why the premier apple converter wouldn't be included in a test such as this.

By PeterTea (10 months ago)

Aperture is a significant product and emotional responses as below are not helpful.

By n8gray (Apr 17, 2013)

Wtf? Where is Aperture?

By JasonC66 (Apr 25, 2013)

From my MacBook Pro... I use Lightroom 4 on this and a Windows 7 machine. This was a review of 'Cross Platform" Raw converters. Also have to say since Aperture does not have automatic lens correction, I'm not sure it is in this class.

By JasonC66 (Apr 25, 2013)

I'd like to try Aperture, but that will cost me $80. What will it do for me that is better than Lightroom 4+?

Dean Baird
By Dean Baird (11 months ago)

I'd like to try Lightroom, but that will cost me $150. What will it do for me that is better than Aperture 3+?

By wublili (11 months ago)

Lightroom doesn't cost $150 to try out, it has a free trial.
Aperture doesn't have free trial anymore.

By HubertChen (11 months ago)

In my research about alternative RAW converters to Lightroom I found many posts that complain Aperture has not been updated since a long while. Combine this with very personal, very hard experience, that Apple has a tradition to suddenly discontinue a SW application. After it happened twice to you that you converted all your workflow to suite one app and then it is discontinued, you will be very careful to give a third App from the same vendor a try.Changing a RAW converter is a big thing if you have a large legacy library and you have a carefully worked out workflow.

By dboeren (Apr 16, 2013)

This would be a lot more useful to me if Aperture was included. Perhaps the reviewer just didn't have access to a Mac? Nonetheless, it still omits one of the most common converters.

1 upvote
By Sordid (Apr 18, 2013)

Yeah, he probably didn't have access to a Mac.
That's why he wrote:

"For this comparison I imported 200 raw files from a class 10 SD card plugged directly into the USB 2.0 slot of a 2010 27-inch iMac with 8GB of RAM."

By Neil2112 (Apr 12, 2013)

Odd review. Only 'cross platform' apps are covered, but why? It's like comparing 1970s classic rock albums but excluding British bands.
Seriously, I have NEVER encountered an issue with images needing to be processed on more than one platform.
My only theory for such a bizarre criteria is that they didn't want Aperture to show the others up in the one area they each suck in: DAM.
My theory doesn't hold up tho' as they left out Bibble, I mean, 'AfterShotPro' which runs on all 3 OSes.
Mr Diallo, explanation please?

By PeterD07 (11 months ago)

The reality in any Raw Converters is that none will do what most working pros need which means most of us use specific plugins that do a much better job than any stand alone app. I personally think Apple was smart to not try to become the swiss army knife of converters in creating another monster like some Adobe products, but to offer what I think is a superior file management system. To this extent Aperture works very well in seamless exports to virtually all the plugins and or apps like CS6, etc. etc., when you need them. As a Raw converter it is more than capable and will handle 80% of my workflow but when I need more it is only a click away.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
Bjrn SWE
By Bjrn SWE (Apr 8, 2013)

I miss Aperture in the test. I guess it is still the one raw converter that most (!?) photographers use. (for a living)

By AidanMJ (Apr 4, 2013)

Where is Apple Aperture????

By dennishancock (Mar 27, 2013)

What a great effort! This review offers a significant service to photographers trying to sort out the features/distinctions/advantages of existing raw converter software. Thanks for this review DPR.

And a request for a new category of evaluation for the follow-on review: how easy is it to learn this software. I know you allude to the availability of on-line resources. The point though would be how good are they. I'm evaluating DxO Pro 8 right now, moving from their version 5, and their manual and on-line resources leave me at a fork in the road with no place to go. Maybe it's me. But the manual seems to have been written by the programmer who knows the UI and doesn't realize he's explaining things in terms of undefined concepts.

Thank you.

By yukonchris (Mar 26, 2013)

I have been evaluating Lightroom 4 for the past week. I have tried it along with DxO Optics Pro and Capture One pro in the past, but I keep coming back to ACDSee Pro 6 for its truly beautiful usability, efficiency and feature set. While I feel that Lightroom may have a slight edge in terms of image quality (if you look very closely), I feel it looses in many of the categories you've examined here when compared to ACDSee Pro 6. The only thing that really puzzles me is why, ACDSee Pro 6 is never included in these RAW software comparisons. In my opinion, it really should be. Frankly, I think it is a better match for Lightroom and Capture One than DxO.

1 upvote
By irm (Mar 23, 2013)

I have the 3 reviewed packages plus a couple of others. Originally I bought each because they had features the others didn't. LR, came free fort eh first version, currently have v4.x and don't like the fact you have to import everything just to look at it. DxO because it lens correction features. To continue using DxO I need to upgrade to cover my coming soon 6D, that is one of the major failings of DxO.
I don't like LR or DxO fro the fact that you have to import and export everything. This is at odds with the review, but it is my experience. I Use IdImager for that function because it allows me to structure my imports.
C1 I have had since v1 and I find it the easiest to work with. Still coming to terms with some of the new features in it.
I also have the various MAC software because originally not everything worked on the MAC. Haven't tried Apeture much. The MAC is my travel device quad core i7 16gb and two SSDs.

Thank you for the review and the opportunity to comment.


Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
By GregEigsti (Mar 9, 2013)

I want to thank you for a great article! I use LR4 on both OSX and Windows and have recently downloaded, but not installed, Capture One Pro. I still may install Capture One Pro but your article showed me that LR4 remains the best software for my needs. I even managed to learn a few things about LR4 (as well as the others). So thank you again for your efforts, which were beneficial to me and once again proves that DPreview is at the top of the heap.

1 upvote
By Neodp (Mar 8, 2013)

Using these does not make one a professional, they are completely unnecessary. They are a waste of your money; that you do not need to spend. However, you have the right to do so.

By Neodp (Mar 8, 2013)

Using these does not make one a professional, they are completely unnecessary. They are a waste of your money; that you do need need to spend. However, you have the right to do so.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
By jPhotonica (Mar 27, 2013)

I must agree. I've been using a free software called FastStone Image Viewer since 2007. When on the job sorting through my shots, it's the most intuitive and fastest tool out there. No importing/exporting, just browse your folders, highlight your best picks, right click and open just those that you labeled directly into an assigned photo editor in your computer. Other than being really fast, it has the ability to zoom your previews to check for sharpness, even with RAW files. FastStone is my favourite, but, not the only freebie out there.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
Robin Casady
By Robin Casady (Feb 22, 2013)

Evaluating defaults seems of little value to me. Users can setup the defaults they want. I don't care which converter renders skin tones best at default settings, or whether red is too magenta with defaults. I want to know if red can be rendered properly when adjustments are made. Can adjustments provide good skin tones without sacrificing something else?

I know this would a lot more work for the reviewer, but just evaluating defaults is fluff journalism.

I saw no mention of camera calibration profiles. I know Lightroom 4.3 has them, but what about the other converters? One can edit profiles in the free Adobe DNG Profile Editor, or use ColorChecker Passport or QPcard 203 to create their own profiles based on their cameras, lenses, and lighting.

The rendering of colors in LR is very dependent on the profile being used. When one reports that red is rendered too magenta in LR one needs to report the profile used and whether this can or cannot be corrected with other profiles.

1 upvote
Yann Alexandre
By Yann Alexandre (Mar 4, 2013)

DXO don't open DNG files!

By Douglas69 (Feb 17, 2013)

After Shot Pro seems to be favoured by many photographers but... I am one of the fools who bought Bibble in the days before it was silently sold to Corel. Any support? Nah. I feel not only betrayed but very let down that there doesn't seem to have been any 'deal' done to provide an upgrade path for existing Bibble users... Just a hand full of bucks to the developers. Who cares about customers. Maybe why its been left out?

DxO? OK just so long as you don't own a Nikon. Only my experience mind you but I think Lightroom comes from an ethical company. Adobe gave me the first copy of Lightroom for free because I was a Raw Shooter Pro user (the origin of Lightroom). Like I said, Just my opinions.

Mike Dobbs
By Mike Dobbs (Mar 10, 2013)

Not true...I was a longtime bibble user and I got a discounted upgrade to AfterShot Pro...something like $25. There are some improvements. I've also seen the full app on sale over "Black Friday" Thanksgiving day week in the USA for under $40.

1 upvote
By d3xmeister (Feb 17, 2013)

Where is Apple Aperture ? YEs it's mac only but it seems good enough For Chase Jarvis, David Bergman and others, but not dpreview.

Richard Wonka
By Richard Wonka (Feb 16, 2013)

surprised no one is missing darktable here...

By Douglas69 (Feb 17, 2013)

Ever the day it works on Windows 64 bit and I'll trial it. Until then, Linux remains a play thing for me.

1 upvote
By Neodp (Mar 8, 2013)

A "Linux" base system (like Linux Mint, with Mate to start), does not exist to be like Windows, or OS-X systems. It has already surpassed them. Do not put it on outdated, and broken hardware. Yes! If you take the time to install it (or have it done for you), and to your custom wishes, it is the least of all, overall evils, and by a very large margin. In other words, the pros, and cons, situation is far better. This however requires a large mount of myth busting; but doing it solves that quickly, if you don't give up to soon. You absolutely must be willing to think. Such as, do not run beta testing versions, and expect 100% stability. Be patent, and always run the stable sets, on your *main* system. An OS (and top system) is more complex than you might guess. There’s a good reason for the comprehensive design, down into the foundational core. You don't have to understand it all, and you do not have to compile anything. You can enjoy fewer limits, by far.

John McCormack
By John McCormack (Feb 13, 2013)

HUH? Where is AfterShot Pro? I can't believe they left it out entirely. Is DPR playing favor to the "big names" in RAW conversion?

Terence Kearns
By Terence Kearns (Feb 13, 2013)

Wow. Very hard to believe they completely left out AfterShotPro (formerly known as Bibble).

I do this stuff professionally and I frequently come out with 2000 frames when shooting a wedding and I had to switch to AfterShotPro to DRASTICALLY speed up my shot-selection workflow. It was too cumbersome working with a tool like Photo Mechanic. As it turns out, by the time you add plugins, you can do a lot more with your images in ASP than you can in LR (LightRoom was my main expertise).

This review is incomplete without the inclusion of AfterShotPro.


By Timmbits (Feb 11, 2013)

Good at this, bad at that... it seems like a lot of hair-splitting with no clear winner - if there was, there wouldn't be a market for all these programs.
I'll just stick to what came with the cameras. ;-)

1 upvote
By photogeek (Feb 27, 2013)

They excluded the clear winner - Apple Aperture. Given decent hardware, Aperture is literally 3x faster than anything else at browsing and rendering large pictures. Why? Because it's GPU accelerated. And it also does all image manipulation in floating point and has soft-proofing.

By zerostudio (Apr 3, 2013)

I have used all of them - aperture by far the best user experience.

Timur Born
By Timur Born (Feb 10, 2013)

DxO offers better demosaicking than LR4 for RAW images coming out of the E-M5. LR4 uses a BayerGreenSplit/Green equilibration offset that smear the very finest detail. And after manually removing that offset there are labyrinth patterns. DxO and Raw Therapee have an edge in that department, cannot tell about Capture One.

On the other hand DxO not only struggles with shadows and highlights recovery compared to LR4, but also suffers from strange behavior of its filtering pipeline, especially where moire is concerned.


1 upvote
Laurentiu Todie
By Laurentiu Todie (Feb 10, 2013)

I think that the camera manufacturers should suggest a RAW processor for each of their camera models.

Mark A. Lamb
By Mark A. Lamb (Feb 14, 2013)

Most do, their own bundled software.

By Lucas_ (Feb 8, 2013)

Good review, although I'd like to see a comparison with Silkypix Pro5 which, IMHO, has a better NR engine than the three tested and superior graphics interface.

james laubscher
By james laubscher (Feb 21, 2013)

That may be so but the last time I used SP (V3 I think), the demosaicing was very clearly the worst of the better quality softwares. If you want to see what a good standard for demaosaicing is, start with Raw Therapee.

Keith Cooper
By Keith Cooper (Feb 7, 2013)

Very good overview given the inherent difficulties of comparative reviews. Also a subject that some have strong, but not necessarily well researched views on, so never going to please a few ;-)

Avoids going into minutiae that would likely lose a lot of readers - for people complaining about lack of detail, just get the demo versions and try your own comparisons.

As someone who writes reviews, including some of what's here, it's a brief I'd not have liked to see land on my desk ;-)

1 upvote
john Clinch
By john Clinch (Feb 6, 2013)

I've skimmed this and I sort of agree with the comments below. LR for my Nikon camera offers a range of camera profiles that quickly achieve good colour off the bat.

Is LR the only one to offer selective adjustment? I use these alot.

I've never been a fan of saying DPREVIEW is biased but I think we should remember DXO is now a business partner

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
By Douglas69 (Feb 17, 2013)

Very well put. As an editor of magazines (not potographic) I realise only to well the balancing act of comparative articles. We are all biased at times. Particularly when our existance is risked. Nothing I've trials matches Capture NX2 when it comes to processing Nikon images. The one ting DxO was good at (fixing lens anomolies) is now included with most of its competitors.

Frankie Lumi
By Frankie Lumi (9 months ago)

I agree in general. The constrain is that Nikon has not updated its software since 2006 or so other than adding new cameras. The differences becoming so small these days, it's not even funny anymore. I wish Nikon would see the potential but after years of input and nora, the bus left. A DNG is practically a NEF file so here too, one has to really look hard to see anything different. As I said earlier, only selected images get into CNX2. That excludes at least 95% of all images in my catalog. The rest is still professional grade no matter what converter is used. I focus on the workflow. Everybody as its unique Use Case.

Frankie Lumi
By Frankie Lumi (9 months ago)

Good point John. Unbiased is best!

D Gold
By D Gold (Feb 5, 2013)

Having used both LR4.3 and DXO, there is no contest - LR4.3 is a feature rich and powerful program that works with virtually all digital camera formats. DXO was buggy to say the least and certainly did not render RAW files all that well.

Unintentionally, much of this article hides the power of LR. Nobody for more than a week uses the out-of-box default profile. The nice thing about LR, is you save a profile per camera and it then applies it to each image for that camera going forward.

At any rate, I do appreciate this lightweight test for what it is - a brief comparison.

By Lan (9 months ago)

Last time I tried DxO, v8, it was rock solid on my system. Have you tried the current version (v8)?

In the past v6 proved as buggy as an entomology conference hosted in a swarm of locusts; but I think DxO have made significant improvements to the stability and reliability of Optics Pro since v8 was launched.

I know, a sample size of one isn't statistically viable, but credit where credit's due; I think DxO have made a major leap forward in reliability/stability with this version.

1 upvote
sean lancaster
By sean lancaster (Feb 4, 2013)

I've been very pleased with NIK's DFine, but I don't see it was reviewed. Is it just not considered good? I certainly like it over Lightroom, though.

Yanko Kitanov
By Yanko Kitanov (Feb 2, 2013)

A review that might cut it for novice and amateur users, but lacks in-depth analysis and some detailed comparisons.

By PhotonCanvas (Jan 31, 2013)

Agree with the comments suggesting adding Photo Ninja to this comparo. Photo Ninja (out-of-the-box) produces better, more 'photographic' results.

By owenleve (Jan 30, 2013)

Hmm... Downloaded/tried capture one. Exports corrupt .DNG files. Awesome.

David G O Smith
By David G O Smith (Jan 29, 2013)

If you want the closest to what the camera actually took, you could try dcraw. In Windows it is used command-line in All programs/Accessories/Command Prompt. There are batch commands available in the Windows Command Prompt environment to process a number of files one after the other.

dcraw offers various algorithms for demosaicing. PTLens will remove distortion and one's photo editor of choice will adjust color, saturation, etc.. dcraw does do some highlight recovery. If I remember correctly, it won't process RAW files that don't use the standard Bayer pattern.

My experience is that the combination of dcraw, PTLens and one's preferred photo editor will produce excellent results.

This method is best used with small numbers of files, not hundreds at one time.


1 upvote
james laubscher
By james laubscher (Feb 21, 2013)

Prefer Raw Therapee for a good implementation of DCRaw, which I agree does the best demosaicing.

Serban Alexandru
By Serban Alexandru (Jan 28, 2013)

I want a Gallery!

By Chiemsee (Jan 28, 2013)

By the way, is it unproblematic to access the SAME raw files in a given directory structure with DIFFERENT raw converters?

E.g. LR4 and Photo Ninja... do the share the same xmp-file?? Are the settings completely independent?

Denis de Gannes
By Denis de Gannes (Jan 29, 2013)

Raw converson software providers offer their own individual recipe for processing the RAW sensor data.
So they are not compatible, this is the whole idea of shooting in RAW format , you have the choice of choosing your chef so that you have the taste you prefer.
The competition is what drives the improvements in the processing of raw files. There is no correct/ best "RECIPE". Enjoy.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
By Chiemsee (Jan 29, 2013)

I was asking whether different RAW converters write to the same xmp-file?!? But to completely seperate sections within this sidecar file?

Do they keep their settings COMPLETELY seperate? I'm thinking of properties with the same name in both converters (e.g. "Brightness")?

In other words: Is it possible/save to browse/import a directory structure full of RAW-files with different raw converters COMPLETELY seperately and parallel (not affecting ANYTHING in the other converters when e.g. changing brightness in one converter)?

1 upvote
By borgelite (Jan 30, 2013)

I'd also like to know this. Anyone?

1 upvote
By keeponkeepingon (Jan 28, 2013)

This article has still not been updated to reflect that dpreview has an affiliation with DXO.

The response given a couple of pages ago is completely inadequate. Publicizing it on a post that has long since vanished from the homepage and not including that relationship in this review of a DXO product is not exactly "transparent".

Original response:
By Amadou Diallo (4 days ago)
We incorporate DxO Mark test data in our lens reviews and smartphone camera reviews. We publicized the announcement on our homepage and include their logo on the relevant review pages. So we're being as transparent as we reasonably can.

Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (Jan 28, 2013)

We, like many publications, use DXOMark test results as part of our review process (phones and cameras). This data is publicly available at www.dxomark.com. This is the full extend of our 'relationship'. We have no affiliation with DXO Labs (the team behind Optics Pro).

By Michael_13 (Jan 29, 2013)

Do you see any bias in this review towards DXO? If yes, where exactly?
I find this comparison very helpful and its conclusion very objective. Cannot understand why you are picking on the reviewer.

Total comments: 415