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.

Comments

Total comments: 415
1234
photonius
By photonius (Jan 24, 2013)

Did I miss something? Where is the analysis of image quality under image quality? I mean slightly different colors or contrast can be adjusted, but which of these programs can produce, for example, the best looking output from a high ISO RAW in terms of resolution and noise?

1 upvote
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (Jan 24, 2013)

I agree; in my personal experience, DXO provides the best quality because of their Lens Modules feature. And the very versatile Noise Reduction tools. (Yes, Luminance NR is much too high at default in DXO for RAW photos at any ISO; easy to set a lower level.)

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Sam Carriere
By Sam Carriere (Jan 24, 2013)

How interesting! A six-page review that ultimately doesn't even reach a conclusion. What will DPreview waste our time with next?

5 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (Jan 24, 2013)

This is a showdown, not a review.

0 upvotes
AshMills
By AshMills (Jan 24, 2013)

Oh, what is your definition of a showdown, other than "final test or confrontation intended to settle a dispute" ?

3 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Jan 25, 2013)

What conclusion did you want them to reach? Seems to me they already gave us the most reasonable conclusion possible: There is no clear winner, because each has different areas of strength and weakness, so logically you pick the one that fits your quality preference and the way you work.

You want to know what's really bad about some reviews? When they pick one single winner even though the results indicate that it doesn't make sense to single one out. What's next, picking a winner between New York or LA, or between your mom and your dad?

2 upvotes
iShootWideOpen
By iShootWideOpen (Jan 26, 2013)

Why not Aperture?
What, Apple does not advertise on Dpreview?

0 upvotes
Jouko Ruuskanen
By Jouko Ruuskanen (Jan 24, 2013)

I think this article concentrates too much on how the "default" output looks like. The fact is, that (at least in LR) you can customize the default processing per camera, save it, and then use that setting as the default.
I have also tried C1 and Dx0. With the cameras I have (Canon and Panasonic) I find that Dx0 creates mush where LR renders detail, so I'm sticking with LR for speed and for "compare" function

4 upvotes
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (Jan 24, 2013)

Which version of DXO are you using? I am fairly recent to DXO and used version 7 and now 8. The newer versions have Lens Modules for a lot more camera/lens combinations and I find that provides superb quality. If your camera/lens combinations do not have a Lens Module in the version you are using, then perhaps that is the reason for your disappointment with DXO.

0 upvotes
Jouko Ruuskanen
By Jouko Ruuskanen (Jan 24, 2013)

I'm testing the latest, so that's not the reason. And the camera/lens combinations are in place. I've also noticed that while I can get less mushy results by reducing noise reduction, I get jagged edges with DxO

0 upvotes
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (Jan 24, 2013)

Hmmm .... I am not seeing that with files from my D800 and D7000.

0 upvotes
borgelite
By borgelite (Jan 25, 2013)

I've had the same experience as Jouko with my Canon S95 and Lumix G3 in Optics Pro 8. Mushy looking images even though I have the lens profiles downloaded. Maybe there's some other issue at play here.

Comment edited 28 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (Jan 25, 2013)

Yeah, DXO works best with photos made with a digital SLR using a lens that DOX has a Lens Module for. Then, the image quality can be amazing. (e.g. D800 and my 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II)

0 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (Jan 24, 2013)

Too short and way too amateur.

Today, photographers spend much more time in front of those stupid softwares than in front of the finder. Dpreview must understand it.

1 upvote
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Jan 25, 2013)

You know what was wrong about film photography? Photographers like Ansel Adams spent much more time in front of those stupid enlargers and trays than in front of the finder.

3 upvotes
HankK
By HankK (Jan 24, 2013)

Availability and thoroughness of documentation and training materials is one area that I did not see covered in the review. Each of these products is difficult to master. I have used C1 for years and have always become frustrated because of the weakness or lack of detailed documentation. Each new release has changes that I frustrate myself trying to learn. DxO I purchased and was even more frustrated with its lack of documentation and training materials. Simple things like if you open a RAW file in another program first like LR or C1, the RAW file will not show up in the DxO browser -- this took me two weeks of slow emails with Dx0 to figure out. With LR you have books and tutorials from Adobe and third parties. So why do I use three products -- because not all cameras are supported or supported equally by each product. An example of this is the Fuji X-trans sensor.

3 upvotes
jamie8848
By jamie8848 (Jan 24, 2013)

Partial defishing is where DxO8 shines, with Canon full frames and the Canon 15mm f2.8 fisheye. LR4's tool is better than it was but still doesn't come close, sadly. In DxO untick the ratio box, and use a setting of 65-85, and WOW.

DxO's Smart Lighting is also really good, a realistic pseudo HDR that isn't easy to reproduce quickly. However I often find DxO is too bold with tricky images, things blow out or get ugly quickly; LR4 is far more subtle, gives more latitude and doesn't lose it. DxO's output never seems to look like on the screen; LR4 does, exactly.

In LR use Masking to get better high ISO results than in the article. I haven't tried C1.

1 upvote
_sem_
By _sem_ (Jan 24, 2013)

Pg 4, Tool Adjustments
"Both Capture One Pro 7 and Lightroom 4 provide smooth real-time updates to the image preview as you drag a slider."...

I think this is a very important consideration, particularly for those using raw converters a image editing apps (instead of PS, or with highly diverse raw files so that batch isn't a good option).
But I couldn't agree the real-time updates in LR4 are "smooth". Probably due to my slightly aged computer. But Picasa for instance is way smoother (I wouldn't consider it a serious raw converter but it does read raw files, and the few controls it has do work much more smoothly).
Any difference in the "smoothness" between LR4 and C17?

2 upvotes
DStudio
By DStudio (Jan 24, 2013)

The conclusions are a bit confounding. Why suggest equivalency when there are clear differences?

Of course each product has value and has its own strong points. But it doesn't take much effort to see that Capture 1 is pulling out amazing results that the others can't achieve. DXO is second, and LR is far behind. C1 is taking the exact same image and giving it better color, impact, and detail! This isn't surprising, as it aligns with other comparison reviews on the web.

LR has clear advantages in 3rd party support and list price, but let's not pretend its fundamental image processing abilities are equivalent!

1 upvote
plasnu
By plasnu (Jan 24, 2013)

false. I use both C1 and LR and I know them very well. Neither is better.

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
DStudio
By DStudio (Jan 24, 2013)

@plasnu - you're kidding, right?

Start at the begining, looking at the Default Color Rendering. LR is too washed out, and DXO is too dark. Then move to the skin tones - same thing. C1 gives you pleasing skin tones and colors without going one way or the other. Different cameras, same result. By rendering colors so well it gives more dimensionality to the images. Then look at the moire test, and tell me which one does a better job of rendering the singer's face, and the colors on his wrist band, and so on. Or the white fence toward the top of the crop from the Nikon D800E shot we've seen before. Only C1 delineates each of the horizontal lines, while maintaining a vivid white color. And if you keep looking you'll find more examples.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (Jan 24, 2013)

Your argument with respect to color, skin tones and detail rests on the false assumption that the default settings always give you the best result. In fact, they rarely do. DPR doesn't try to squeeze the very best out of each raw converter, they show you what you'll get with a minimal amount of work.

Thom Hogan's review of the NEX-7 illustrates my point perfecty. Scroll down a bit, and you find a comparison between three versions of the same image: a straight raw conversion (using ACR), an out-of-camera JPEG at default settings, and an "optimal" raw conversion. The difference is striking.

http://www.sansmirror.com/cameras/a-note-about-camera-reviews/sony-nex-camera-reviews/sony-nex-7-review.html

Comment edited 13 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (Jan 24, 2013)

DStudio, I do not disagree with you, but try them first. Once you start tweaking your image, you'll know why many uses LR. There are a few things that can be done only with LR.

0 upvotes
DStudio
By DStudio (Jan 24, 2013)

@Revenant - interesting review. How ironic that he chose a sports photo, a category where the choice is often between doing minimal processing and none (because JPEGs need to be sent in on a strict timeframe).

Nevertheless, he managed to also produce a washed-out, flat, non-dimensional photo - as if this is the price of using LR.

I amazes me how people can be so undiscriminating, becoming almost giddy as they jump at the chance to do "a lot of work" with their preferred product to produce a mediocre result.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (Jan 24, 2013)

So... just a question. Bibble aka Corel AfterShot is no longer cool, or something?

4 upvotes
Just a Photographer
By Just a Photographer (Jan 24, 2013)

This test finally shows that LR sucks as RAW converter.
Still 95% of its userbase will be pleased with its crappy results.

Too bad people fall for the 'Adobe' branded name instead of its real performance.

9 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (Jan 24, 2013)

, but the RAW conversion is only a small part of LR job.

1 upvote
Nikon007
By Nikon007 (Jan 24, 2013)

I was surprized to see how bad LR did in the noise comparison as I have been very happy with the results.

0 upvotes
raincoat
By raincoat (Jan 24, 2013)

Don't worry so much. Unless you regularly shoot underexposed crap, NR doesn't matter much at all.

6 upvotes
Esign
By Esign (Jan 24, 2013)

For Nikon users, Capture NX 2 is the only RAW converter you need. I guess Canon user will also say that of DPP. How much market share is now covered?

1 upvote
Joe Braun
By Joe Braun (Jan 24, 2013)

Well, Capture NX 2 might be the only converter that YOU need. Two quick and obvious points... Some of us don't like Capture NX and some of us have more than one brand of camera so a RAW converter that supports Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Olympus, Sony, etc. doesn't tie your workflow down to one brand.

6 upvotes
mumintroll
By mumintroll (Jan 24, 2013)

Exactly. Capture NX2 has far more best results for image quality from RAW.

1 upvote
nightshadow1
By nightshadow1 (Jan 24, 2013)

I shoot Nikon and I think the raw color conversion is the best with Capture NX2, but the service, interface and updates are terrible (Nik software service is fast and courteous - I am only speaking about Nikon). Nikon makes it so easy to choose another converter.

3 upvotes
MadMacStew
By MadMacStew (Jan 24, 2013)

Guessing is dangerous - I use a Canon 5D mkIII and I definitely get better results from Photoshop ACR than from DPP.

0 upvotes
Stanchung
By Stanchung (Jan 24, 2013)

NX2-although I like it's IQ- I dare say I can get similar IQ from tweaking ACR. ACR on default is quite flat.

Workflow wise NX2 is a piece of crap. So slow any of my enthusiasm is killed before I even turn on the program.

1 upvote
Mike921
By Mike921 (Jan 24, 2013)

So, OSX has single digit market share and you do the comparisons on a Mac????? If this was going to be an Apple article, might as well have reviewed Aperture also.

14 upvotes
T3
By T3 (Jan 24, 2013)

But when you consider how much of the photographic and graphic arts community uses Macs, the number is huge! Sure, the average lay person buys a cheap Windows PC to surf the web and whatnot, thus making up the majority of the mass market. But when it comes to working photographers, I don't know anyone who is still on Windows. They've all gone Mac.

After being a lifelong Windows user, I switched to a Mac about a year ago. Just wish I had done it sooner. And I'm even happier now that I've tried Windows 8! Wow, what a big misfire for MS. I think even more people will be switching over to a Mac now that Windows 8 is out.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
13 upvotes
Just a Photographer
By Just a Photographer (Jan 24, 2013)

@Mike921
How wrong and single minded can one be?

You never guess how many professional photographers use Mac OS X as their preferred type of OS. Therewith its far more popular then Windows in the market of photography and design.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
9 upvotes
sunnycal
By sunnycal (Jan 24, 2013)

I am a Windows person, and find it far more flexible then Macs (I own a MacBook also so I speak from experience). However, whay does it matter what the author used?

Aside from performance, which can vary on different platforms, the Image processing and feature set are common across platforms. So either one is fine.

14 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (Jan 24, 2013)

I don't know any professional photographer who doesn't use Mac, and I'm talking about well known photographers in NY.

8 upvotes
Bjorn_L
By Bjorn_L (Jan 24, 2013)

You're half right (at least).
Mac's have a fairly trivial marketshare. They also have a fairly trivial marketshare in photo processing (ask Adobe at the next trade show).
But given that it is just a datafile being processed by what I think is safe to assume are the same algorythims (on MAC and on PC) I doubt it made any difference in the outcome.

6 upvotes
John Driggers
By John Driggers (Jan 24, 2013)

Geez. The OP is so 1990s. Apple's PC market share for 2012 is a little over 12 % and they are the number 3 PC retailer against all other brands. Also, Apple users tend to keep their machines in service longer, so they really represent a larger share of the user market than sales alone would indicate. But, as noted above, it makes no sigificant difference with respect to the raw algorithms, so what's your point OP? Are you just a MAC hater?

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (Jan 24, 2013)

I am still using Windows and have no desire or intention of switching. But yes, most of my friends are now using Mac.

0 upvotes
sagebrushfire
By sagebrushfire (Jan 24, 2013)

This was not bad but ... why on earth did you compare Lightroom and Capture One Pro at two different preview sizes? They BOTH support 2048 and 2880; what on earth would make you think that changing Lightroom's setting but not Capture One's setting wouldn't be biased?

That is just such an incredibly amateur mistake I really had to make myself continue reading because I was expecting a train wreck of uneven and biased comparisons.

Overall I think this came to the right conclusion but would have benefited from ar least one section where you do a "Best Case Scenario" comparison and take a really noisey, poorly exposed image and try to make it as best as possible in each program - that's what a lot of people really care about: how far can I take my shooting and get good results? How many more images will I be able to save? Journalists and sports photographers are probably more interested in that sort of thing.

4 upvotes
sunnycal
By sunnycal (Jan 24, 2013)

Once you start editing, there is no end to it. After 100 steps, someone would still be complaining why the author did not do X or Y.

7 upvotes
Detail Man
By Detail Man (Jan 24, 2013)

While it is true that it is necessary to purchase the DxO Optics Pro Elite 8.x version (normally priced at $299 USD) in order to ensure compatibility with some relatively higher-priced dSLRs, DxO Optics Pro 8.x Standard version (normally priced at $169 USD) can suffice in all other cases - where it is, as a result, much more competitively priced in comparison with Lightroom 4.x's $149 USD costs.

0 upvotes
raincoat
By raincoat (Jan 24, 2013)

Actually, no, you need DxO Optics Pro Elite version for ALL full frame cameras, even the low priced Nikon D600 and Canon 6D

2 upvotes
Detail Man
By Detail Man (Jan 24, 2013)

OK. Thanks for that specific information. I guess that DxO Labs figures that "full-frame > full price".

Now that DxO Labs writes the essential core of the DxO Optical Correction Modules into the software application itself, rather than into the downloadable Modules themselves (ever since the release of Version 7.50) ...

... that means that roughly once per year (as in the case of Versions 8.x replacing Versions 7.x), if you want support for that newly added camera body or lens, the customer will be forced to purchase (Version 9.x, etc.) all over again.

$299 USD per year could get rather expensive, indeed ...

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
gabidan
By gabidan (Jan 24, 2013)

First of all: I am DxO user so I am slightly biased.

You are somewhat right with the costs once new version is released. However, you do not pay full price but upgrade price which is substantially lower and further you can get it normally with 30% discount at the launch of the new version + several times a year.

List price is currently too high imho and it is also reflected by constant "sale" offer from DxO (-30% of the list price). I think they will have to drop the price a bit, especially the euro price.

1 upvote
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (Jan 24, 2013)

DXO has a price deal right now, so it's a lot more affordable than that. But yes, I was suprised that when there was an update, from v. 7 to 8, owners of 7 still had to pay full price to get v. 8. Many software companies provide a big discount to the owner of a previous version when upgrading to a new version.

0 upvotes
Olivier from DxO Labs
By Olivier from DxO Labs (Jan 24, 2013)

Hello Peter,

at DxO we also offer special upgrade price to existing customer.

Concerning the price of the upgrade on DxO Optics Pro 8 :
From version "x" (any version) to v8 the upgrade price was as low as 49USD (Standard edition) and 69 USD (Elite edition) during the launch.
Those prices were only available for those who have purchased a previous version of course. (only online via the DxO customer account)

Best,
Olivier

0 upvotes
Detail Man
By Detail Man (Jan 25, 2013)

<< Hello Peter,

at DxO we also offer special upgrade price to existing customer.

Concerning the price of the upgrade on DxO Optics Pro 8 :
From version "x" (any version) to v8 the upgrade price was as low as 49USD (Standard edition) and 69 USD (Elite edition) during the launch.
Those prices were only available for those who have purchased a previous version of course. (only online via the DxO customer account)

Best,
Olivier >>

This is to inform DxO Labs that the statement in the first paragraph (above) is only partially accurate, and past-tense references of the second paragraph (above) are not accurate.

Since the Release of Version 8.0 on Oct 30, 2012, DxO Labs emails sent to members of the DxO Labs mailing-list show that there was no notification of any upgrade license availability whatsoever, until ...

... four emails (dated 22 and 27 Dec, 2102, and 4 and 16 Jan, 2013) advertise $49 USD (Standard) and $69 USD (Elite) upgrade licenses still being offered through 31 Jan, 2013.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Detail Man
By Detail Man (Jan 25, 2013)

<< << Hello Peter,

at DxO we also offer special upgrade price to existing customer. ...

Best,
Olivier >>

The above statement relating to the availability of upgrade licenses for DxO Optics Pro could only be interpreted to be accurate if the word "special" is construed to have been intended to mean:

"possibly for certain time periods if and when DxO Labs may so choose" (with reference to the existence of an upgrade license price that is reduced in cost relative to the full license price in effect at any given time).

... as opposed to being construed to have been intended to mean:

"special" (with reference to the monetary cost of an upgrade license that is reduced in cost relative to the full license price in effect at any given time).

Thus, it appears that customers who have purchased licenses for previous release-versions of DxO Optics Pro are "special" to DxO Labs only if and when DxO Labs may at times so choose.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Detail Man
By Detail Man (Jan 24, 2013)

Regarding DxO Optics Pro:

In the case of Panasonic, quality of rectilinear distortion correction appears to be notably higher than Panasonic correction meta-data utilized by applications such as Adobe LR/CR. Presumably characterized at more Focal Lengths.

"Lens Softness" correction default settings were changed (in V 6.x) to "V2" (Global=-0.5, Detail=50). Have found that these settings can overdo the sharpening effects. I typically use the original "V1" (Global=0.0, Detail=0).

I find the auto NR controls' settings can be (uniformly) reduced by factors of between 2 and 5.

Adobe LR/CR Color NR is more effective than DxO Chrominance NR. DxO Luminance NR (particularly at settings <= 10) appears to result in less detail-smearing than LR/CR Luminance NR. This article speculates as to why that may be so.

See Section (1) here:

http://www.alpha-numerique.fr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=395:la-reduction-de-bruit-avec-dxo-optics-pro-6&catid=67:dxo-optics-pro&Itemid=317

2 upvotes
nightshadow1
By nightshadow1 (Jan 24, 2013)

Thanks for your info... The settings you are referring to are for only the Panasonic or others as well? How about your experiences with Nikon... D800E or others? What settings do you like for landscapes?

0 upvotes
Detail Man
By Detail Man (Jan 24, 2013)

My experience is primarily with the Panasonic DMC-LX3, and LGV 14-45mm and LGV 7-14mm lenses on a DMC-GH2 body. Sorry, no Nikon camera/lens experiences to recount.

It is possible that other manufacturers provide more rectilinear distortion correction image-file meta-data pertaining to more individual ranges of Focal Length. Don't know.

I have a feeling the the "Lens Softness" setting characteristics (may) well apply in general relative to different manufacturers.

The business about (in the case of Panasonic cameras) being able to reduce the NR-control settings below what is automatically selected (may) apply (to some extent) in general - as DxO Labs states that they characterize the image-noise spectrums for each camera model, and adjust the (internal) weighting of their NR controls accordingly.

0 upvotes
Detail Man
By Detail Man (Jan 24, 2013)

Almost all of my applications are nature/landscape - and I am the type who (with any RAW processor) prefers to process each image individually using manual controls (Versions 6.x followed by Version 7.23 using the "DxO Lighting" interface).

It is not clear to me whether I would prefer the new ("just like Lightroom") tone-control-sliders. I don't tends to let much in the way of detailed subject-matter "clip" when shooting RAW.

Lightroom 4.x's "highlight recovery" is less than impressive for things other than wispy clouds - and it sounds like DxO's offering is not better.

Then there is the question of how well the "Lens Softness" corrections function in conjunction with "highlight recovery"?

"Auto-brain" controls are not for me. I like the use of the Gamma control (in "DxO Lighting" interface) combined with Exposure Compensation - though that (pre-versions 8.x) interface can tend to overdo the shadow-tones. That "DxO Lighting" interface is available as an option in versions 8.x.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (Jan 24, 2013)

I agree with your comments re DXO noise reduction. Noise Reduction is set too high (especially Luminance) and I get better quality with low ISO photos especially when setting NR at lower levels.

But I don't find the default sharpening (Lens Softness) to be much too high. Of course, photographers who prefer only minimal shapening before converting a RAW photo may find DXO too aggressive in this respect. (Adobe definitely is more gentle in this respect.)

1 upvote
Kim Letkeman
By Kim Letkeman (Jan 24, 2013)

Interesting article and the results show that the 800 pound gorilla is the 800 pound gorilla for a reason.

As usual, though, I am again faintly disappointed by the fact that all comparisons are done at "default settings" ... I am always left thinking "what self-respecting enthusiast is going to process images in an advanced tool and not touch one single slider or use one single preset?"

It would have been nice for this article to spend some time pushing each of the tools to see how difficult it is to get pleasing skin tones or great noise reduction with detail retention -- but instead, we get the tests that tell us how the tools work "with zero extra effort."

I get why the image comparator must use defaults, as misleading as it can be at times. But a full length article was the perfect place to explore each tool more deeply and show us if one could do things that the others could not. IMO of course, and YMMV.

19 upvotes
Dave Luttmann
By Dave Luttmann (Jan 24, 2013)

I agree. It's like doing a camera test with default jpg settings. Hardly tells us what can really be pulled from a raw file.

2 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Jan 24, 2013)

In addition to a default comparison of color rendering, the article has side by side examples of the converters used with custom settings.

4 upvotes
TLD
By TLD (Jan 24, 2013)

Yes. That made the entire article pointless.

0 upvotes
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (Jan 24, 2013)

A friend of mine is a wedding photographer. He and the second shooter spend 6 to 8 hours shooting .... thousands of RAW photos. (Not a high priced company so they cannot afford to spend 20 hours modifying RAW photos.) For them, it is important that default settings provide nice results. They use DXO for this reason.

But I agree that most photographers do not fall into this category.

0 upvotes
Jan Privat
By Jan Privat (Jan 24, 2013)

True, but in Lightroom (for example) you can set the default settings for each slider very easy. If you constantly find yourself adding some saturation, you simply change the default saturation value to +10. You dont even have to access the preferences for that.

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
jboyer
By jboyer (Jan 24, 2013)

Not sure the following question makes sense: If you made a DNG file, say in LR2, and convert it using LR4, would you get the current LR4 quality as described in this review or, would the quality remains LR2?

When I upgraded from LR2 to 3 and now 4, and from Capture One Pro 3 to 7, I can say that my older RAW images got a real boost in quality. I was wondering if the same happens with DNG files.

BTW, the negative of this situation is that I am tempted to reprocess some older images... when I have the time.

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Jan 24, 2013)

Good question. Using the DNG format preserves the attributes of the raw file in its original state. So in the vase of software that reads DNG, like Lr you will indeed get any IQ advantages that Lr 4 has over Lr 2. You'll just need to update the file to the latest process version.

1 upvote
rfsIII
By rfsIII (Jan 24, 2013)

For people who say the software is too expensive; I agree with you...However it has been my experience that almost every new generation of software improves the results from my RAW files about as much as buying a new body would (better noise reduction, better dynamic range, and better color).

So if I have a choice of spending $1000 or $2000 on the latest Canikon body or upgrading Lightroom for a tenth of that price, I'm going with the software upgrade.

2 upvotes
Benarm
By Benarm (Jan 24, 2013)

What makes Lightroom great is the easy integration with third party add-ons like Photomatix for HDR and Silver Efex Pro for B&W.

4 upvotes
RobBobW
By RobBobW (Jan 24, 2013)

Aperture (which was not included in this review) offers easy integration of 3rd party plug-ins as well.

5 upvotes
John Driggers
By John Driggers (Jan 24, 2013)

Actually, Aperture only has limited support for plugins and forces you to use a lot of third party products in external editor form.

3 upvotes
rfsIII
By rfsIII (Jan 24, 2013)

Great job as usual. But next time you do a skin tone rendering test, throw some Chinese, Japanese, or Korean folks into the mix please.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Jan 24, 2013)

Fair enough.

3 upvotes
Gary Dean Mercer Clark
By Gary Dean Mercer Clark (Jan 24, 2013)

Gimp anyone? I use DXO and lightroom 4.0 depending on which camera I'm shooting with.

1 upvote
Nuno Souto
By Nuno Souto (Jan 24, 2013)

Been using Capture 1 Pro for a few years now and it is truly excellent. But since release 7, Phase One decided to only support 64-bit Windows. I use 32-bit Windows and will NOT upgrade for reasons to do with other software I must run. So now I'm picking an alternative.
So far good old Bibble, aka Corel Aftershot Pro, is well ahead of the pack, with full support for the multi core AMD CPUs I use. Nothing else is even remotely in the same ballpark when it comes to speed. And the results are at least as good as Capture One Pro 6. Pity it wasn't tested as well..

Comment edited 40 seconds after posting
1 upvote
iru
By iru (Jan 24, 2013)

In my tests Bibble/Aftershot crashed a lot and the skin colors were really bad (grey banding).

Sidenote: You realize that you can run 32bit applications on 64bit Windows, right?

2 upvotes
Bjorn_L
By Bjorn_L (Jan 24, 2013)

@iru. Not entirely correct. You can run some 32bit programs on 64 bit but not all. If the program includes any 16bit code it will work on 32bit windows but not 64bit. Also not all 32bit software which runs on 64bit runs identically on 32bit. Then there is the hardware. Not all are well supported in 64bit. I have a lovely printer which I have to have a 32bit printserver to use.

1 upvote
Roadtripper
By Roadtripper (Jan 24, 2013)

I realize that Apple's Aperture is Macintosh only, but it should be included in this "shoot-out" because it is a viable contender for those who use Macs, both on an amateur as well as professional level. It may not be a "leading contender" but it does draw Mac users away from the so-called leaders. I chose Aperture over Lightroom after trying both of their free trials. I not only preferred Aperture for it's ease of use, but also it's cost - $79 vs Lightroom's $149. There are professional photographers who use Aperture for their entire workflow... please don't slight them (as well as us amateurs) in your reviews.
Thank you for listening....

10 upvotes
DigitalMission
By DigitalMission (Jan 24, 2013)

I agree... should have reviewed Aperture, but I will look through the article for at least a COMMENT about it. WHY wasn't it reviewed? Not enough users? Just not in the big-boy league? I am currently deciding which to use as a NEW Mac user. Seems like Ap would interact with other Mac programs better. And ya know, I spend so much money on the Mac products, Nikon products, AND the Ladies... I gotta look at the cheaper software!

3 upvotes
RobBobW
By RobBobW (Jan 24, 2013)

I agree. Aperture should have been included. I also selected it over LR in trials and while the learning curve is steep, it is very powerful, integrates well with plug-ins and other OSX applications. The workflow is very natural and frees the creative spirit.

6 upvotes
MtnBikerCalif
By MtnBikerCalif (Jan 24, 2013)

Agreed. In October 2012 Derrick Story, a professional photographer, did a podcast comparing Lr and Ap. Ap is his day to day app because of its organizational capabilities and he uses Lr occasionally for its image tools. You can listen via iTunes or probably on his site, http://thedigitalstory.com. He compares many other features too, some of the ones covered in this article as well as other considerations.

He also points out that at least for Lr and Ap the price shouldn't be a driver. You're spending $50 to $100 or less per year which is not much relative to the other costs of photography.

1 upvote
BBGunWB
By BBGunWB (Jan 24, 2013)

Title says "CROSS PLATFORM" - so I wonder why Aftershot Pro isn't included. I think that's the point of the article the software selected appeals to all computer users. It would have been good, however, to include at least a comparison test or two for each piece of software per platform, i.e. the import/export on both mac and PC and, say the batch editing. Just to compare if there is a difference in performance between platforms.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (Jan 24, 2013)

Well, since it is Mac only I can see why they did not included if their space and time allowed for testing only three.

Aperture might have won several categories but not everyone uses Mac. I do not.

What surprised me more is that they did not include Photoshop; entirely different workflow than LR. But if they could only test three, then yes, LR makes sense.

2 upvotes
Jolly Oly
By Jolly Oly (Jan 24, 2013)

Fantastic read, thank you very much.

Having both Lr4 and DxO 7.5, and sometimes also using Olympus Viewer2 (for the OMD files) one thing is not clear and I would appreciate if someone could explain it to me.

Why the same WB color temperature value will result in more or less different colors in all three on them ?

2 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Jan 24, 2013)

Good question. White balance is not 'baked into' a raw file, rather the WB settings chosen in the camera are reported as metadata. A raw converter's demosaicing process will influence the colors it renders for the image.

Comment edited 12 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Detail Man
By Detail Man (Jan 24, 2013)

There is a lot more than the de-mosacing algorithm used that influences color rendering.

While image-file meta-data contains color matrix coefficients (not absolute color temperature and tint data), different RAW processors use differing color matrices applied to the de-mosaiced RGB image-data. The latitude taken is significant - and does not lend itself to consistency in absolute color temperature comparisons.

A given indicated color temperature in Lightroom 3.x yields an image (viewed on a sRGB-calibrated monitor) that is appears to the eyes as being approximately 500 Degrees Kelvin "cooler" than DxO Optics Pro Versions 6.x and 7.x.

In example, 5000 Degrees Kelvin in DxO (6.x and 7.x) looks about the same as 5500 Degrees Kelvin in Lightroom 3.x (for sunlit scenes).

In addition to the numerical value of WB Color Temperature, the amount of applied WB Tint alters chromaticity as well.

Most "As Shot" WB co-ordinates include both Temperature and Tint; these are not simple matters.

2 upvotes
SirSeth
By SirSeth (Jan 24, 2013)

I've know it's been mentioned, but for you students and teachers out there, the Adobe educational discount is amazing. $89. Wahoo.

Corel Aftershot Pro at $34 is spanking and you really don't need more. Very nice, but not as established so I understand why it's not included above.

Cheers,
Seth

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
photo_rb
By photo_rb (Jan 24, 2013)

Couple things I didn't see when skiming through the article. First Capture One has the ability to output a number of different formats at the same time. Just choose them, click develop, and walk away. As far as I can see with Lightroom, you have to output each one separately which takes time.

Also the keystone correction tool in Capture One is brilliant and anyone doing architectural photography should look at it, even if they use a shift lens as you don't always get the camera level.

0 upvotes
Jim Lewis
By Jim Lewis (Jan 24, 2013)

True, but for the record, that is in the review.

4 upvotes
photo_rb
By photo_rb (Jan 24, 2013)

Thanks if you are talking about the output formats, I missed that. I still can't see a reference to the keystone tool. What page is it on?

0 upvotes
jboyer
By jboyer (Jan 24, 2013)

I saw none of these features noted. I use both C1 and LR4. But, in most cases, I do the RAW conversion in C1, using LR4 as mostly a keywording application and permanent storage catalog. I am still not comfortable with Capture One database.

A good analysis, though, and I am pleased to see that your mileage may vary. I am wondering about the selection of software. What was it based on?

0 upvotes
Donald Duck
By Donald Duck (Jan 24, 2013)

I have been using DXO and LR for many years with several Canon bodies. I have processed tens of thousands of images with either software. My conclusions are more or less opposite of the DPR findings.

1. DXO has really bad colors. Skin colors cannot be salvaged.

2. LR has much better highlight control. DXO actually got worse with its latest version.

3. Detail recovery is not important with today's high resolution cameras.

4. DXO has really good high ISO NR.

3 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (Jan 24, 2013)

Experience ≠ ability.

4 upvotes
Donald Duck
By Donald Duck (Jan 24, 2013)

Huh?

0 upvotes
glastoria
By glastoria (Jan 24, 2013)

Am I wrong, or are you actually drawing the same conclusions as the article?
The review reports that LR has better colour skin rendition for Canon, has better highlight control than DxO and DxO has better Hi-ISO rendering....

0 upvotes
Bjorn_L
By Bjorn_L (Jan 24, 2013)

I think it is how you use it as much as anything. I use DXO, LR, Photoshop and others... but mostly photoshop and DXO.
I find that the colors, skin tones included, from DXO is very good. I also find the distortion correction on my lenses to be better with DXO then anything else. However I agree with the reviewer's comments based on the results in the test images.
To me, the surprise was how good Capture 1 was not how bad LR was.

1 upvote
Donald Duck
By Donald Duck (Jan 24, 2013)

Not all of my conclusions are opposite to DPR, you are right. But DPR says "WINNER: DxO Optics Pro 8 typically provides more pleasing saturation at its default settings." I disagree with this (for Canon RAWs), and not only when it comes to skin colors. LR renders much more pleasing colors with landscapes as well, for example - there is certain warmth to the image that DXO cannot reproduce regardless of the WB settings. Also, the tint and the luminosity of the blue skies is much more pleasing with LR (DXO tends to blow them); yellows become lemon type of yellows with DXO instead of slightly gold ones, etc.

DXO has several dozens of color rendering choices, and many Film Pack ones, as well. None of them can do what LR can. LR looks better sometimes with the Camera Standard profile - improves the reds.

Moderate ISO NR is better with LR but super high ISO NR is better with DXO.

0 upvotes
Peter K Burian
By Peter K Burian (Jan 24, 2013)

I have been using DXO extensively after using primarily Adobe and I agree that Adobe has better highlight recovery. DXO does very well with shadow recovery however.

Although I shoot with the D800, and often the AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II, I find that the Lens Softness feature (sharpening and maximizing per pixel detail) provides a definite improvement. The Lens Modules (for specific camera/lens combinations) make DXO my favorite in terms of image quality (vs. Adobe and Capture NX 2).

0 upvotes
iru
By iru (Jan 23, 2013)

Thanks! I enjoyed the read. I recently switched from DxO to C1 and I'm *veryveryveryvery* happy with my decision. That has mostly to do with the responsiveness of C1 (see Page 2, "Image Viewing" and Page 4, "Tool Adjustments") and the flexibility of the UI. I could configure the UI exactly the way I want it to be (two screens: 1 filled with tools, 1 with preview). I didn't go with Lightroom since it had severe color problems with neon highlights in my tests. Is that fixed now?

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
sean000
By sean000 (Jan 23, 2013)

Thanks for the comparison. I haven't tried anything outside of Lightroom for years (except Photoshop and the Nik plugins). These other two products look great, but this kind of confirmed that LR4 still offers the most efficient workflow while providing robust RAW editing capability. I used to prefer Nikon Capture over Photoshop for RAW, but it was such a dog for workflow and speed. When I tried Lightroom 3 I never looked back. With any of these products you have to learn how to get the best out of them. I don't shoot Nikon much anymore anyway ;-)

0 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (Jan 23, 2013)

Isn't it standard practice to include the fact that y'all have a relationship with DXO when reviewing DXO products?

10 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Jan 23, 2013)

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.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
7 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jan 23, 2013)

Amadou Diallo:

No the relationship should be noted in the text of this article. In about the first paragraph.

12 upvotes
philipW99
By philipW99 (Jan 23, 2013)

What about the other raw converters?

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Jan 23, 2013)

In the opening sentence of the article, we stated that we looked at the leading cross-platform raw converters.

3 upvotes
Dyun27
By Dyun27 (Jan 23, 2013)

Just downloaded the trial version of DXO Optics Pro 8 and compared a couple of photographs that I processed in DXO and in Lightroom 4.3. I have a Nikon D600. As far as I can tell, I much prefer the results I get in Lightroom 4.3 to DXO. DXO isn't bad and maybe has some advantages that I can't see, but in my opinion and at this point I would take Lightroom 4.3 over DXO any day. Lightroom is easier to use, faster, more intuitive, and in my eyes produces better results. It felt a little painful working with DXO due to the constant lagging each time I applied a change to the RAW file. As if that wasn't enough, Lightroom is also much cheaper. Nearly half the price, especially if you're a student and can buy it at less than $100.00.

2 upvotes
Antlab
By Antlab (Jan 24, 2013)

To see some of the advantages of DXO, try with pictures that need perspective or distorsion corrections (also for example UWA or fisheye).
In my opinion DXO is not great as complete raw editor, not very responsive, but very good as specialized tool for the above mentioned features.
Probably for this reason now they also offer ViewPoint, a simplified program just specialized in those corrections.

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Donald Duck
By Donald Duck (Jan 24, 2013)

You can do perspective and distortion corrections with LR as well. What DXO does but LR does not are Volume anamorphosis corrections.

3 upvotes
SeeRoy
By SeeRoy (Jan 24, 2013)

Volume anamorphosis correction is the "invisible feature". No-one seems to notice it or comment on it. Maybe no-one uses UWA lenses?

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Donald Duck
By Donald Duck (Jan 24, 2013)

It helps with moderate WA as well, to cure the "this lens makes me look fat" phenomenon for people away from the center. LR should have it as well.

0 upvotes
Denis de Gannes
By Denis de Gannes (Jan 23, 2013)

All very good raw processing software in their own rights. However there are at least six other programs that can offer matching quality conversions. The competition is great and will ensure we continue to see continued improvements.

1 upvote
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (Jan 23, 2013)

I've compared Lightroom and DxO Optics Pro 7 for a month. This showdown exactly matches my conclusions. Lightroom is better at everything, except what counts the most for me - lighting, geometry, distortion, chromatic aberration and noise corrections. (though Lightroom has a small edge at correcting highlights). I didn't try Capture One because it was too expensive - I use DxO's standard version, which is much cheaper than Elite -, but it is quite impressive.
All in all, three great programs, each one with their strengths and weaknesses. There was really no point in finding a winner here, as you should choose the one that best suits your needs rather than the Gold Award.

3 upvotes
Neodp
By Neodp (Jan 23, 2013)

Shoot Raw

Pull the embedded JPEG out, with dcraw ("draw -e *", and setup in your chosen file manger; as a right click option.) This is not developing, and is instant, and camera dependent(size).

Use the JPEG(s), where sufficient to your own goals. AKA, you got the settings right, in the camera, and controlled the light where you could.

For time purposes: For those fewer Raw shoots; that would benefit, from 16 bit light adjustments (including color), then just click the Raw file, that you preset, to bring up "ufraw".

Learn what the ufraw (free, and cross-platform) settings do, from it's web page. You do not have to adjust all of them; but only the few, that matter, and to effect the change you are after. With ufraw, you just download, or make your camera's profile, first, and then ufraw produces a default photo; matching your cameras JPEG, if that's what you want. It mostly finished developing; upon loading. You can match any style, this way. Do the rest in gimp, and it's plug-ins.

2 upvotes
Neodp
By Neodp (Jan 23, 2013)

While ufraw will not seem as flashy, at first run, it is a better Raw developing component; like the built in Camera Raw is to Lr, and Photoshop.

Extensive photo organizing can be done SEPARATELY,; by Picasa, in Windows, and the most advanced (flashy) DigiKam, in GNU/Linux (such as Linux Mint to start).

Everything I recommended is free.

I dropped the catalog heck, along with Lightroom, and simply use the simple, one click transition from ufraw, to gimp, and save in whatever format I choose. As you know, it is not good to edit JPEG's; so when I wish to put a photo through many editors, I simply save it in PNG format, and that has 9 times compression. I prefer PNG to TIFF. Yet, this way is so much faster, for me, that I just go back to the Raw file (or pulled JPEG), quickly, when needed. If I want a "master" photo, again, I just save as a .png file (by adding .png, at save). That could be used for making B&W, Instagram type stuff, and other versions, of the same shot.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Neodp
By Neodp (Jan 23, 2013)

Lastly, Gimp is a wonder, in itself. What you need to know: Be sure to load all the plug-ins, that you need; along with the gimp. There are numerous, one click, slide-able, treatments, and all manner of things it can do automatically; without doing it all manually. From Lomo, to inverse diffusion, and from advanced NR, to auto CA reduction. Plug-ins are the deal. Video tutorials are also all over the net.

One of my favorite things, is when you save, as a JPEG, it automatically selects the best compression size, based on the picture. You get the best looking JPEG, in the smallest size.

Of course, gimp gives you the power to do any kind of edit, and so it becomes a one stop catch-all, for anything you could want. The menus are rich with options, and you learn where stuff is, very quickly. But these are not stupid features; but powerful ones.

ufraw, and tagging etc., being separate, is more logical, and is offset, by the massive power of the Gimp, for everything else.

Comment edited 49 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Neodp
By Neodp (Jan 23, 2013)

The first curve, in ufraw, is for all your photo's; with that camera. I find you can leave it alone, with a downloaded CAMERA profile loaded. The second curve, can do any style you would like. If you have not worked with curves, you need to do it. That's another subject.

You can do fun things, with ufraw; like give a Pany shot, a Nikon color look (at load time).

Tips: You can invert negatives, simply buy taking that second curves, and moving the right dot, down, and the left dot up.

Also, once you get all your ufraw defaults set they way you like, don't forget to click the "save once" option, BEFORE you save, or transition to the gimp.

You can crop in ufraw, or later, in gimp. Just drag the corner.

Save most things for the gimp. You just want the greater latitude; when it's really needed.

You can (re)set WB easily, with the eye dropper, on a Gray, or snow white section of your shot. Yet, I recommend using a Gray card (or snow-white something), as your WB preset, in cam, first.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Neodp
By Neodp (Jan 24, 2013)

All is no cost to you, and also cross-platform.

Not only does it work better for me (and I used them all!), in order to get, or match, any look, color, or treatment, including Canon, and Nikon's own programs for their own cameras; but I find it better, and as I said, with no "catalog", or any other database dragging me back. See, you do not need that. If your camera is doing well, then we are talking about alterations, that can be easily repeated, and if you start over, with Raw. Which you probably want to do anyway; as this is a progressive learning experience. If you want to save a master, for client, then as I said, that's easy enough to do, also. Maybe you want those variations, or maybe you want to start from what you did, as a master, later. No problem. Just save a 9X compressed PNG. But if you think about it, it is not even required. Free yourself. Your Raw, is your real original. Your Raw is never changed; but only "developed", or its JPEG pulled.

Stay in the Light.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Detail Man
By Detail Man (Jan 24, 2013)

UFRaw 0.18 is positively "ancient" at this point, and uses older DCRaw binaries which do not support any camera released in what is now (nearly) 2 years time.

20/02/2011 - UFRaw-0.18 released, based on DCRaw v 9.06:

http://ufraw.sourceforge.net/

Further, it will not function with versions of GIMP later than 2.611 on WinXP OS. I uninstalled UFRaw 0.18 (and the 8-bit only GIMP 2.80) completely as a result of this unfortunate situation.

0 upvotes
Norbert75
By Norbert75 (Jan 24, 2013)

Ok for your showdown, but DxO is disqualified as it is the only one that doesn't handle the RAW files from the Fuji X-trans (and it seems that it would not)

0 upvotes
Martin Kulhavy
By Martin Kulhavy (Jan 23, 2013)

My comparison for FAIR USD / GBP exchange rate:
(current exchange rate is about 1.6)
1. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: 149/106.48 = 1.4
2. Capture One Pro: 299/228 = 1.31
3. DxO Optics Pro: 299/269 = 1.11

2 upvotes
clv100
By clv100 (Jan 23, 2013)

Interesting article, but, as others have mentioned, not including Aperture was a mistake. At the very, very least it warranted a significant mention in the intro and closing comments. I hope you can find the time to revisit this work with Aperture included in the not too distant future.

6 upvotes
Stu 5
By Stu 5 (Jan 24, 2013)

They were reviewing cross platform software which Aperture isn't.

4 upvotes
Jacques Cornell
By Jacques Cornell (Jan 24, 2013)

The "cross-platform only" stipulation is a fig leaf. This site has long stubbornly ignored Aperture. The editors have insisted that this reflects market share, but I refuse to believe that there are more DXO users than Aperture users.

5 upvotes
Osiris30
By Osiris30 (Jan 24, 2013)

Not a fig leaf at all. A lot of folks don't use Macs. Nor will some of us ever... we just don't like being ripped off!

3 upvotes
SDPharm
By SDPharm (Jan 24, 2013)

> Not a fig leaf at all. A lot of folks don't use Macs. Nor will some of us ever... we just don't like being ripped off!

Still live in the '80s? The money you save by buying Aperture rather than Capture One can buy you an iPhone.

0 upvotes
clv100
By clv100 (Jan 24, 2013)

Stu 5, yes, I did read the 'cross-platform comment', that is precisely the mistake I'm highlighting! The review would have been far more useful if it hadn't limited itself to being cross platform only.

0 upvotes
Antlab
By Antlab (Jan 23, 2013)

At present I use ACDSee Pro for cataloguing and Raw development, and DXO Pro mainly for perspective and distortion corrections, where in my opinion is unbeatable.
The review (showdown) is interesting, but I agree with other comments, it would be better to also have other alternatives, cross-platform and not, considering that in these days the sector is quite crowded.

Comment edited 28 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
ohcello
By ohcello (Jan 23, 2013)

am I reading this right in that he applied NO luminance NR to the 25K ISO sample for Light room? that's his custom setting?

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Jan 23, 2013)

Yes, that's correct. As stated in the text above it, the second column of images was used to illustrate the relative saturation levels possible with the converters without introducing excessive color noise.

0 upvotes
Pix Man
By Pix Man (Jan 23, 2013)

And what about Aperture?

4 upvotes
Stu 5
By Stu 5 (Jan 23, 2013)

It's not cross platform and they were only testing cross platform software.

10 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (Jan 24, 2013)

Any reason that only cross platform software was chosen?

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jan 23, 2013)

Fantastic article. Will become a definitive resource for years to come. Explains what you have been doing instead of testing some 9-months-old-and-still-untested cameras. :)

If only you could have add bundled software into comparison. They maybe lacking in some advanced areas, but everybody's needs are different, and free is free. :)

1 upvote
arscii
By arscii (Jan 24, 2013)

A lovely touch in irony, peevee1!

1 upvote
arqomx
By arqomx (Jan 23, 2013)

would like to see the above 3 products compared with RawTherapee. And oh yes, some "value for money" scoring would be appreciated :D

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jan 23, 2013)

Value is a subjective thing, different people value different features differently. Some features can even be assigned negative value, if they are not used but still take up space in the menus. :)

0 upvotes
JohnnyWashngo
By JohnnyWashngo (Jan 24, 2013)

I was going to say the exact same thing. I use RawTherapee all the time and it would be interesting to see how it compares to the others mentioned in this article.

0 upvotes
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (Jan 23, 2013)

Comparison of expensive, big-name tools. Not immediately useful. Somehow I never doubted that if I had plenty of cash to throw around, I can pump IQ easily. That's not a challenge. So to my point:

How about shedding some light on cheaper or free alternatives?

0 upvotes
tlinn
By tlinn (Jan 23, 2013)

For the vast majority, LR4 is so inexpensive now that cost is almost irrelevant compared to the price of gear. Given this, I don't see the point of reviewing low end freeware.

8 upvotes
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (Jan 23, 2013)

LR4 costs $150.

That is a price of decent s/h lens.

Relatively speaking: it is expensive. Because, given free cash, I'd rather get a lens.

0 upvotes
joejack951
By joejack951 (Jan 24, 2013)

Lightroom can make every image you take better. Those few $150 lenses that exist will only benefit those photos you take with them. I bought Lightroom (back when it was $300) before I made any investment in lenses beyond a standard zoom. It has been well worth it.

2 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Jan 24, 2013)

I can find it for $120 without even trying (from B and H). That's not a trivial amount, but it's low enough I can afford it, and I'm on disability. Compared to the cost of bodies, lenses, and computers, $120 is not very much for a powerful piece of software. And there are cheaper/free options, but none that offer as rich of a feature set.

That said, a less detailed comparison of the various alternatives would be a great companion to this article. Many of us do not need professional workflow and asset management features, and whether an application is available on platforms other than the one we use is unlikely to matter.

But thank you very much for all the work that went into this. I found it very interesting.

0 upvotes
Paul Guba
By Paul Guba (Jan 24, 2013)

Any lens that retails for less than $150 is just an expensive body cap. I have thought that Lightroom is a bargain. I have a bag of lenses that sell for 10 times that but LR processes every image I photograph. Having used most of the convertors one time or another they all do a fine job with pluses and minuses. Pick one, learn it and go out and take pictures. I choose Adobe because I felt it is most likely to have long term stability and support as an Adobe product, and can leverage their corporate resources.

0 upvotes
JimmyMelbourne
By JimmyMelbourne (Jan 23, 2013)

Nice article. I have DXO Optics Pro 8 and Lightroom 4, and use DXO mainly for individual edits, and Lightroom for large volume file edits. Very nice review agree with most of the comparison information. If i cant get something right in one, I can usually switch over and get the results I seek.

0 upvotes
a lucky shot
By a lucky shot (Jan 23, 2013)

Does Amazon have an investment in DXO Labs?

3 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Jan 23, 2013)

No.

6 upvotes
photo nuts
By photo nuts (Jan 24, 2013)

But DPReview has a working collaborative relationship with DXO Labs. :)

4 upvotes
Aleo Veuliah
By Aleo Veuliah (Jan 23, 2013)

And now there is another very good player, the Photo Ninja from Picture Code, is an amazing RAW converter.

I have tried and it is really good, better in somethings that Lightroom.

8 upvotes
bloodycape
By bloodycape (Jan 24, 2013)

How do you find it in terms of sharpening? I didn't see a difference in sharpening quality in your examples.

0 upvotes
Aleo Veuliah
By Aleo Veuliah (Jan 24, 2013)

I did not tested much the sharpening, I was more concerned about the colors and low and high light recovering. But it seemed good with the medium amount of sharpness I gave. I am really liking this Photo Ninja for image quality and the interface. But this is me, anyway besides my experiences, I only read good opinions about the quality of this RAW converter.

2 upvotes
Robgo2
By Robgo2 (Jan 24, 2013)

Yes, Photo Ninja is easily the best raw convertor on the market today, although it is less rich in features than some of the others. Anyone who tries it will immediately see a difference from whatever he/she is currently using.

1 upvote
bloodycape
By bloodycape (Jan 24, 2013)

Yeah I remember the thread you made about it, and the color output was indeed very good. Did you test out the clarity, or would that be part of color and contrast?

0 upvotes
Jetfly
By Jetfly (Jan 24, 2013)

I agree in terms of pulling up details, noise reduction and illumination - there is no other player on the ground. However, other aspects not the best, eg. workflow, wb, preview speed. and, on osx is very irritating the handling of magic mouse (usually zoom in/out while simply moving the cursor across the frame)

0 upvotes
rivercanyon
By rivercanyon (Jan 24, 2013)

Where is ACR?

0 upvotes
increments
By increments (Jan 23, 2013)

As mentioned by others, it's a shame no printing tests were done (including photo-book options).

However another important aspect is stability. One thing that makes me a it wary of DXO or Capture 1 is that I've heard they can be less stable than Lightroom or Aperture.

I've no idea whether that's truly the case, so observations on this would have been appreciated (even if the answer is there's no problem with any of them).

It was very interesting to see a little about how the programs render differently.

BTW I believe a Lightroom review exists. Does this mean we'll get reviews for other processors?

0 upvotes
increments
By increments (Jan 23, 2013)

EDIT: I see you do mention that Lightroom offers Photobook printing.

It would be good to see how well it works though. (Much like the request to see how well printing works in each program in practise.)

0 upvotes
Carl Schofield
By Carl Schofield (Jan 23, 2013)

Printing is (for me) the final step in the workflow process and the most important output option. I use LR primarily because it excels in this last step of the workflow. Did I miss comparisons of printing capabilities in this evaluation?

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Jan 23, 2013)

Last page, under 'Additional Features'.

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Jan 23, 2013)

Ron Poelman:

Agreed. The omission was a big "mistake".

0 upvotes
Total comments: 415
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