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

Additional features

DxO Optics Pro offers little in the way of features beyond the image adjustment process, with even basic print functionality having only been introduced in version 8. Both Capture One Pro 7 and Lightroom 4 by contrast offer a much broader range of options.

Capture One is perhaps best known for its robust tethered shooting capability, which allows you to auto-apply exposure adjustments and editing presets to each image as soon as it is captured. With a compatible camera attached you can even control shooting parameters and fire the shutter. New to version 7 is live view capability directly in the application for select DSLRs.

Capture One Pro 7 also offers a very useful Focus Mask tool (highlighted in red) that uses image contrast to identify areas of sharp focus for more efficient selection during the image culling process. Note that the focus mask is applied to image thumbnails in the filmstrip viewer as well.

Photographers whose work goes off to a four-color press will appreciate the ability of Capture One Pro 7 to output raw files in a CMYK color space, while those involved with self-publishing efforts may benefit from the ability to overlay an existing graphics file (headline text, for example) to aid with image composition and cropping. 

Lightroom 4 has expanded its offerings significantly from its original release in 2006. Version 4 offers a Map module which allows for both automatic and manual geo-tagging of images. A new Book module lets users design custom photo books and even place orders directly through the app with the online book publisher Blurb.

Also new to Lightroom 4 is the ability to soft-proof your images, previewing changes in contrast, color and saturation that will occur when printing your image so that you can proactively make a separate set of adjustments to compensate for them.

All three applications offer color-managed printing with user-selectable output sharpening and print resolution, along with the ability to print multiple images on a page. Lightroom 4 and Capture One Pro 7 both offer a choice of rendering intents when an ICC output profile is selected and watermark options. Lightroom 4 is the only app that allows freeform (non-grid) image placement, which is helpful when printing images of dissimilar aspect ratios and resolution.

TWO-WAY TIE: Lightroom 4 clearly has the larger feature set. And recent additions like mapping and book-creation modules as well as soft-proofing reflect its appeal among a wide range of users. Yet Capture One Pro 7 has two features, namely robust support for tethered shooting and a focus check tool that may well be indispensable for product and studio photographers.

Recap

After taking an in-depth look at the performance of Capture One Pro 7, DxO Optics Pro 8 and Lightroom 4, it's clear that these applications all have areas of strength and weakness relative to each other. And that's undoubtedly good, as there's no truly bad choice among them. But this does make it more difficult as a consumer to decide among them. Indeed, selecting the 'best' raw converter really means identifying the one that best fits your photographic needs and priorities. With that in mind, let's recap the results from our showdown.

Speed 

If you regularly come back with hundreds of images from a shoot, your first objective is evaluating what you have, separating the keepers from the rejects. While Capture One Pro 7 can import and render image previews twice as fast as Lightroom 4, Adobe's raw converter pays big workflow dividends as you can cycle quickly through your newly imported images without waiting for the screen to refresh with high resolution previews. To be fair, the lag in Capture One Pro 7 is only a second or two between images, and only occurs with the first instance of a newly imported file. And both apps outperform DxO Optics Pro 8, whose image preview cache appears to be rebuilt every time you relaunch the app.

And while Lightroom 4 does not allow you to export files to multiple formats all in one go, as both its rivals do, it does export images in about half the time.

Image quality

While image quality is what most of us think of as the defining trait of a raw converter, the truth is that the differences among Capture One Pro 7, DxO Optics Pro 8 and Lightroom 4 are relatively small. And those that do exist, revolve around default image rendering. Where global color, contrast and saturation are involved, it's rare that you achieve a result in one converter that cannot be reasonably matched in the others.

Having said that, there is obvious benefit to having the most pleasing image to work with at the very start of the image editing process. And while each app handles colors from some camera models better than others, it's hard to find much fault with DxO Optics Pro 8's default settings. Its highlight recovery and moiré removal capabilities are not as robust as the competition, and luminance noise reduction at very high ISO values can be overly aggressive, but if I were on a tight deadline and had to export a JPEG to a client with no time for even basic manual corrections, I'd probably have more confidence in DxO Optics Pro 8 to produce the most pleasing file.

Workflow

When it comes to putting in the work of making your image look the best via manual adjustments, I found Lightroom 4 to have significant advantages in efficiency. From multiple methods of tool slider manipulation, to brush and gradient localized editing tools that don't require user-generated masks, and highly flexible before-and-after comparisons, precision image editing is a very quick process. And batch-applying changes from a single image to multiple ones is very straightforward. 

Output

Lightroom 4 offers by far the greatest number of options for sharing your work. Its API allows for publishing and syncing to social media and it also supports old-school book creation. An extensive collection of both HTML and Flash web templates lets you upload highly customizable gallery pages to your site via FTP, and custom onscreen slideshows can also be saved as video files. 

Asset management

Capture One Pro has made significant strides as an asset management tool in version 7. Catalog support means you can search, sort and edit metadata for files that are currently offline. Images can be tagged with both keywords and IPTC metadata. You can easily separate keepers from rejects with a star rating system and highlight image status with color-coded labels. If all this sounds like a description of Lightroom 4, that's really the point. Both apps are well-suited to keeping track of your image collection and Capture One Pro 7 even has one trick that Lightroom does not: its catalogs can be shared on a network among multiple users. 

Wait, which one should I use?

As I said earlier, the choice of which of these raw converters to use comes down to how you work. Shoot primarily in the studio and need robust tethering capability? Then you'll be very happy with Capture One Pro 7. If you work on a relatively small number of images and/or already have an existing asset management system in place, DxO Optics Pro 8 offers perhaps the best starting point for your edits. And if you're all about workflow efficiency, need tight integration with Adobe Bridge or Photoshop and want the most feature-rich cross-platform app on the market, Lightroom 4 can fit the bill. As raw-shooting photographers we've really got an embarrassment of riches at our disposal right now. You can create some great images no matter which one you choose.


Amadou Diallo is a photographer and staff writer at dpreview. You can keep tabs on what he's up to on his Facebook, Google+, Instagram or Twitter feeds.

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
historianx
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.

0 upvotes
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

0 upvotes
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
0 upvotes
3sisters
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.

0 upvotes
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
2 upvotes
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?

0 upvotes
historianx
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
JIMMYCHENG
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
macalterego
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.

2 upvotes
Dadorian
By Dadorian (10 months ago)

This was a very useful article, thank you!

0 upvotes
RoyceLowton
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.

0 upvotes
vlad2304
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
brentbristol
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.

0 upvotes
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

4 upvotes
tvstaff
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.....

0 upvotes
d3xmeister
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.

5 upvotes
Thatcannonguy
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.

2 upvotes
PeterTea
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.

0 upvotes
Jacques Cornell
By Jacques Cornell (10 months ago)

Thatcannonguy,

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.

0 upvotes
SemperAugustus
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.

4 upvotes
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.

0 upvotes
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.

0 upvotes
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.

7 upvotes
PeterTea
By PeterTea (10 months ago)

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

3 upvotes
n8gray
By n8gray (Apr 17, 2013)

Wtf? Where is Aperture?

6 upvotes
JasonC66
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.

5 upvotes
JasonC66
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+?

3 upvotes
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+?

3 upvotes
wublili
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.

3 upvotes
HubertChen
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.

6 upvotes
dboeren
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
Sordid
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."

7 upvotes
Neil2112
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?

3 upvotes
PeterD07
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
2 upvotes
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)

4 upvotes
AidanMJ
By AidanMJ (Apr 4, 2013)

Where is Apple Aperture????

4 upvotes
dennishancock
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.

2 upvotes
yukonchris
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
irm
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.

Ian

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
GregEigsti
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
Neodp
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.

3 upvotes
Neodp
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
2 upvotes
jPhotonica
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
4 upvotes
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)

Hello,
DXO don't open DNG files!
Yann

0 upvotes
Douglas69
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.

0 upvotes
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
d3xmeister
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.

10 upvotes
Richard Wonka
By Richard Wonka (Feb 16, 2013)

surprised no one is missing darktable here...

2 upvotes
Douglas69
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
Neodp
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.

2 upvotes
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?

6 upvotes
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.

http://youtu.be/cawRajAxuC4?t=11m45s

6 upvotes
Timmbits
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
photogeek
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.

4 upvotes
zerostudio
By zerostudio (Apr 3, 2013)

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

2 upvotes
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.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3237395

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.

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

Most do, their own bundled software.

4 upvotes
Lucas_
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.

3 upvotes
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.

0 upvotes
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
Douglas69
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.

3 upvotes
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.

0 upvotes
Frankie Lumi
By Frankie Lumi (9 months ago)

Good point John. Unbiased is best!

0 upvotes
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.

6 upvotes
Lan
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.

0 upvotes
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.

0 upvotes
PhotonCanvas
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.

0 upvotes
owenleve
By owenleve (Jan 30, 2013)

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

0 upvotes
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.

http://www.cybercom.net/~dcoffin/dcraw/

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.

2 upvotes
Serban Alexandru
By Serban Alexandru (Jan 28, 2013)

I want a Gallery!

0 upvotes
Chiemsee
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?

0 upvotes
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
0 upvotes
Chiemsee
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
borgelite
By borgelite (Jan 30, 2013)

I'd also like to know this. Anyone?

1 upvote
keeponkeepingon
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.

4 upvotes
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).

8 upvotes
Michael_13
By Michael_13 (Jan 29, 2013)

@keepon:
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.

5 upvotes
Total comments: 415
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