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DxO Optics Pro

August 2004 | By Vincent Bockaert

DxO Optics Pro 1.1 Review
Vincent Bockaert, September 2004

DxO Optics Pro Version 1.1 from DO Labs is a standalone application that works on Windows or Mac and which allows you to make four corrections in an automated way based on specific camera-lens configurations:

The above corrections link to the corresponding glossary topics on this site.

For this review I used the popular Nikon D70 with the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 G IF-ED kit lens. Results with other camera-lens configurations may differ. The purpose of the images in this review was purely functional. They are intentionally "bad" in order to test the performance of DxO Optics Pro. It is far easier to make great pictures with the D70. Let's have a look at what's under the hood and how the results compare to Adobe Photoshop, and PTLens (for distortion corrections). We assume that photographers at this level already have at least a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements or higher or equivalent software.

Note on Original Images in this Review

The thumbnails link to original JPEG images as they came out of the camera. The results of DxO, PTLens, and Photoshop were all compared based on TIFF output (all crops in this review are made from these TIFF's). In order to increase download speed, thumbnails link to JPEG versions of these results (saved in Photoshop with JPEG setting "11", except for the vignetting results which are saved at setting "8"). As a consequence, there may be minor differences due to compression artifacts. Other than the modifications mentioned in this review and the above mentioned compression, no changes were made to the output images. Except for Lateral Chromatic Aberration (which requires Distortion to run as well), we have tested all DxO corrections separately.

Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page).

Ease of Use

Making the image adjustments can hardly be any easier. The user interface is very friendly and the user has to make virtually no decisions. However, given the price tag (see below), one would expect at least some optional user intervention (e.g. adjustment sliders) to adjust the results if these do not turn out as desired.

Speed

DxO allows for easy automation and can batch process files. It will automatically identify the camera and lens. In the event it is unable to handle a certain camera-lens combination, DxO does not interrupt the batch process, but communicates this via a dialog box at the end of the process. On a 2.6GHz Pentium 4 machine with 756MB RAM and no other applications running, it took about 1 minute to process eight six megapixel JPEG images with all 4 adjustments and output them as 100% quality JPEG images (there is also a TIFF output option which we used for the comparisons in this review).

Image Formats

From the "Pro" designation it would appear that DxO Optics Pro targets the prosumer and professional digital photographer. Although many such photographers will shoot a combination of RAW and JPEG, DxO currently only supports JPEG. Also note that DxO Optics Pro will only accept JPEGs as they come out of the camera. So opening a RAW file with another software and saving it as a JPEG is unfortunately not a workaround option. DO Labs told us that a version of DxO Optics Pro which supports RAW should be available soon. This may of course change some of our review conclusions.

Pricing

Pricing consists of three parts:

  1. A one time cost of US$49 for the DxO Correction Engine
     
  2. A per camera cost for the 'DxO Camera Body Correction' (examples below)
       - Nikon D70: US$49
       - Canon EOS 10D: US$69
       - Canon EOS 1D Mark II US$119
       - Nikon D2H: US$119
  3. A per lens cost for the 'DxO Lens Correction Module' (examples below)
       - Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 G IF-ED: US$29
       - Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 12-24mm F/4 G IF-ED: US$99
       - Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM: US$99

So for the D70 kit used in this review, you will spend US$127, while a Canon EOS 1D Mark II with a 16-35mm lens will set you back for US$267, more than double the price for essentially the same functionality. We were surprised to see such a big price difference between different lens-DSLR combinations. Given the given the limited number of adjustments, DxO is not a replacement for software like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro. You would still need such software for contrast/level adjustments, color adjustments, cropping, resampling, adjusting perspective, cloning etc.

On the next pages we will have a look at the actual performance of DxO Optics Pro.

This article is written by Vincent Bockaert,
author of The 123 of digital imaging.
 


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this review (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (normally 1024 x 768 or smaller if cropped) image in a new window.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2004 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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