DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne

Started Sep 29, 2018 | Discussions
bsas
bsas Contributing Member • Posts: 618
DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne
4

Hi all,

I am a Lightroom user since forever but I was never fully satisfied with sharpening and noise reduction on it. Since I am a CC monthly subscriber, I always fall back to Photoshop to do those and that always slows my workflow so I just do that with very few images.

But recently I decided to test other RAW converters. I downloaded the trial of CaptureOne, DxO, Affinity, Nik Collection (to use just the denoise and sharpening plugins inside LR), ON1, Rawtherapee and Darktable.

- Affinity I discarted right away because it failed to open one of my sample G9 High Res RAW files.

- RawTherapee, Darktable and ON1 all looked very dull and soft on a straight conversion. I tried to tweak them but they never got super sharp. They probably can improve, but then, it is too much work and I just prefer to stay on LR/PS that I am used to.

- I was expecting better results from the Nik Collection (specially the denoise tool) but it look very artificial too me.

- CaptureOne has almost the same level of detail of DxO (but not the same), better denoise than LR (but not better than DxO) but the best colors.

- For me DxO gave the best results (specially pulling details out of the RAW, sharpening and noise reduction). But, they are so much better that I kind of doubt it. It looks like that they are doing something weird, some strong sharpening filter or something, that is tricking my eyes. Here is a simple example (for me the difference on this 1-1 on the details of the trees and the green gazebo behind the statue are crazy):

Left is DxO, right is LR

So, right now I am between three options:

1) Keep Adobe CC and learn to fix Lightroom limitations on Photoshop. Basically disable denoise and sharpening on LR and try to do both on PS better than DxO or C1 can do;

2) Move to DxO and blindly believe on their magical code;

3) Learn to tweak C1 to get the same results from DxO and keep its amazing colors.

My biggest doubt on DxO is the companies reliablity (patches, support, future camera support, etc) since the price is quite steep: It is the same as paying Adobe CC for 2 and 1/2 years since I need the Photo Suite to have the perspective correction from ViewPoint to replace LR "Transform" that I use a lot and FilmPack just to be able to create a vignette.

So, does anyone already tested all those and have some feedback to help me choose?

Thanks!

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Digital Nigel Veteran Member • Posts: 8,881
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne
12

bsas wrote:

My biggest doubt on DxO is the companies reliablity (patches, support, future camera support, etc) since the price is quite steep: It is the same as paying Adobe CC for 2 and 1/2 years since I need the Photo Suite to have the perspective correction from ViewPoint to replace LR "Transform" that I use a lot and FilmPack just to be able to create a vignette.

DxO has frequent sales, so you can get at least 25% off the normal price, sometimes more. This applies to both the initial purchase and any future upgrades you choose to buy, as well as to the essential DxO Viewpoint and the nice-to-have DxO FilmPack.

I think that PhotoLab is the best RAW processor available, partly because its modules are based on detailed lab tests of every supported camera and lens. But that has the inevitable side effect that it takes a while, sometimes many months, for new cameras and lenses to be supported; some never are.

One other thing to be aware of: when DxO adds support for a new lens or camera, it only works with the latest version of the software. So although you're never forced to upgrade the software, and don't have to pay any annual fees, you will need to upgrade PhotoLab (but not necessarily Viewpoint or FilmPack) if you want support for a future camera or lens. Dot releases are free, but major version changes incur upgrade fees.

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bsas
OP bsas Contributing Member • Posts: 618
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne

Thanks for your answer!

They are running a 25% off right now, that is why I am thinking about buying it or not.

The DxO Photo Suite ELITE Edition is 289USD right now. Do you know if it can become cheaper than that? (that is 29x Adobe CC months :D).

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Digital Nigel Veteran Member • Posts: 8,881
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne
4

bsas wrote:

Thanks for your answer!

They are running a 25% off right now, that is why I am thinking about buying it or not.

The DxO Photo Suite ELITE Edition is 289USD right now. Do you know if it can become cheaper than that? (that is 29x Adobe CC months :D).

From memory, sometimes the sales have up to a 40% discount, but of course I don't know when/if that might happen again. I've been a satisfied DxO user for many years, and don't begrudge the price for such good software.

With FilmPack, try experimenting with colour renderings from different cameras. I always use Leica M9 colours, and have set that up as my default. Not only do I like those colours best, but it means that images from the several different cameras I might use on one day (none of which are Leicas) are all rendered with consistent Leica colours. It means that every image I process uses FilmPack, even though I seldom make any explicit use of the FP tools palette.

PS: yes, you should definitely get the Elite, not the Essentials, edition of PL. All the really cool features are only in the Elite edition.

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SC489 Contributing Member • Posts: 860
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne
1

I used to use DxO but now just use Lightroom which has extra useful features including soft proofing, good printing support and cataloguing.

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davidedric Veteran Member • Posts: 5,526
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne
1

A more expensive fourth option (which is what I have started to do):

Use PhotoLab as a front end for culling and for their RAW rendering and PRIME noise reduction.

In batches (so you're not waiting forever) pass to Lightroom as .dng files

Everything else in Lightroom.

Dave

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terrydev Regular Member • Posts: 173
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne

You can also send Raws from LR to DxO for raw processing...

File -> Plug-in Extras -> Transfer to DxO Photolab

and send back a dng.

mcslsk Veteran Member • Posts: 5,093
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne
1

For me, it doesn't really matter how a software initally and without corrections renders a raw file. Most programs allow you to tweak import settings so that they match my expectations. More important to me is the workflow and in that regard, LR is hard to beat (can of course al be because I am so used to it). Critical work on sharpeness and noise (which is not often requried for my work) I do outside of LR in either PS or Nic.

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myotisone Senior Member • Posts: 1,904
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne
5

bsas wrote:

So, does anyone already tested all those and have some feedback to help me choose?

Have you tried using the clarity and structure sliders in C1 to match the DXO detail, or even the detail slider in noise reduction panel.

I'm not sure it matters a tremendous amount what you use, as the important differences are more related to how well  you are able to use any particular program.

For what its worth, I use:

LR for DAM and flexibility in output (also tends to handle purple fringing better than C1)

C1 for image processing and basic editing. DAM is a bit clunky compared to LR, but sessions are very useful.

DXO for prime noise reduction because the noise reduction is quick and easy to use once you set up your own defaults, but I prefer using PS and Noiseware or Neat Image when I have the time.  I have used Nik in the past, but prefer the layers approach of C1 and PS, so think DXO is still limited as an editor, but that is obviously down to personal preferences and needs.

Photoshop is my preferred editor, because  I like the control it gives me (it also runs faster on my Mac than C1, so I tend to jump to PS, even when I could do some of the same things in C1). What I use changes on an image to image basis.

Overall, I think its difficult to beat the LR/PS combo, and you only need to look at how many excellent photographs are produced with LR/PS to realise that even if the colours really are "better" in C1 that doesn't mean that LR/PS aren't also capable of excellent colours.

But I still spend most of my time in C1, I like the workflow and find it the quickest (out of LR and DXO) to get results that I like.

Cheers,

Graham

davidedric Veteran Member • Posts: 5,526
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne

terrydev wrote:

You can also send Raws from LR to DxO for raw processing...

File -> Plug-in Extras -> Transfer to DxO Photolab

and send back a dng.

You can, but it's one at a time and tedious.  That's why I reversed the process (see my post above).

Dave

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Bags27 Contributing Member • Posts: 500
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne

Assuming you can develop in Photolab and fine tune in Photoshop? How do you have to save your file to do that?

gscotten
gscotten Senior Member • Posts: 1,634
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne
2

bsas wrote:

- For me DxO gave the best results (specially pulling details out of the RAW, sharpening and noise reduction). But, they are so much better that I kind of doubt it. It looks like that they are doing something weird, some strong sharpening filter or something, that is tricking my eyes. Here is a simple example (for me the difference on this 1-1 on the details of the trees and the green gazebo behind the statue are crazy):

The DxO version looks a trifle oversharpened and the LR version seems undersharpened. Are these examples using the default settings? Or have you processed them already?

It could simply be that DxO is applying more sharpening as their default. I do not try to judge raw processors by their default conversions. These can always be tweaked to your taste. I have found only minor differences between raw processors after applying comparable adjustments, although I have not reviewed this for several years.

If you like that slightly crunchy look, it is easy to crank up the sharpening in any raw processor.

-- hide signature --

George

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phil from seattle
phil from seattle Senior Member • Posts: 3,230
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne
4

bsas wrote:

Thanks for your answer!

They are running a 25% off right now, that is why I am thinking about buying it or not.

The DxO Photo Suite ELITE Edition is 289USD right now. Do you know if it can become cheaper than that? (that is 29x Adobe CC months :D).

I just use DxO PL Elite, none of the extras. Got it for $150, on sale. Upgrades are in the $80-90 range. In the 3+ years I've been using it there has been one upgrade so they aren't promiscuous on that front.

I also use Affinity Photo for sophisticated stuff but DxO PL with it's local effects is very quick to make edits.  So, I use DxO for 80-90% of my processing.  Best RAW support (with excellent lens corrections) and best NR (I shoot M43 so that's important to me). If you take out stacking, panos and HDR, it's closer to 99%. Very solid product.

Affinity Photo - they are responsive to bug reports. It would be great if you could file a report on your G9 raw problem so they could fix it. Overall, it's a very good product. Very stable. For $50, it's a great deal.

Zeee Forum Pro • Posts: 18,904
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne
2

From my fine detail tests this is the order I place these. I don't care about colour because it is not critical for my needs. Canon colours that are simulated in LR are very close and I have always like Canon. If I need industry standard colour I'll use the colorchecker.

1. DXO

2. LR

3. C1

I still prefer to use LR for everything. I send an occasional file to DXO PL but it always comes back to LR for exporting. DXO is very good but is missing some things for me. You really have to pixel peep many times to see the difference. For most everyday work most won't notice the difference.

If I got rid of the plan I would more than likely use DXO but I would miss the DAM. Even take a temporary real time history would be nice. I know you can turn the switches off.

If you use LR's Detail page properly and export you get outstanding images. For tougher NR jobs LR could use AI like Prime. This is the only reason I currently use DXO and I only send a few select files there for further processing. As for clear view you do the same with DeHaze.

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Zeee Forum Pro • Posts: 18,904
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne

Zeee wrote:

From my fine detail tests this is the order I place these. I don't care about colour because it is not critical for my needs. Canon colours that are simulated in LR are very close and I have always like Canon. If I need industry standard colour I'll use the colorchecker.

1. DXO

2. LR

3. C1

I still prefer to use LR for everything. I send an occasional file to DXO PL but it always comes back to LR for exporting. DXO is very good but is missing some things for me. You really have to pixel peep many times to see the difference. For most everyday work most won't notice the difference.

If I got rid of the plan I would more than likely use DXO but I would miss the DAM. Even take a temporary real time history would be nice. I know you can turn the switches off.

If you use LR's Detail page properly and export you get outstanding images. For tougher NR jobs LR could use AI like Prime. This is the only reason I currently use DXO and I only send a few select files there for further processing. As for clear view you do the same with DeHaze.

Someone here posted this video and he says he talked to C1 and even they say LR's fine detail is better. I determined that last October when I was testing a replacement for LR and this video came out months later.

Starts at about minute 9 but it get's into it a 10:30. The whole video is a good constructive overview of both products.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZdzcaaqaeY

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SkiHound Veteran Member • Posts: 3,636
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne

I agree. The DxO version looks over-sharpened and the other looks too soft. My experience with DxO has been that the default sharpening when using modules for the camera and lens generally provide a very good starting point. So I'm curious about the DxO settings as well. I've often reduced the intensity of the Prime noise reduction when working with relatively low iso files. I think the default raw development settings in LR are generally very neutral. I'd try to set up an import preset with sharpening settings more to your liking. I generally increase amount and detail sliders while keeping the radius tight. I've never used C1, so I can't compare to that. As a raw development tool I think DxO does the best job. But I find it pretty slow. It's just never really worked for me as a photo management tool and exporting with Prime noise reduction is very slow (I don't have a very up to date computer and am looking at an upgrade). DxO had financial problems and I've sensed they've been very slow to release upgrades for new camera models and lenses.

bsas
OP bsas Contributing Member • Posts: 618
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne

All the conversions I used default settings with almost nothing turned on. On the DxO I just turned on the following modules turned on:

1) Essential - White Balance - As shoot

2) Light - Vignetting - Auto

3) Detail - Lens sharpness - Auto

4) Detail - Chromatic aberration - Auto

5) Geometry - Distortion - Auto

6) Color - Rendering - Camera default

7) Obviously I applied automatically the DxO Optics Module

In Lightroom I let everything default (so, luminance is 0 and sharpness is 40 and color noise is 25).

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SkiHound Veteran Member • Posts: 3,636
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne

When I look again with the loupe I'm not seeing halos or obvious sharpening artifacts. I may not be the best one to judge. The LR conversion definitely looks too soft but I always think LR conversions look kind of flat at default settings. My only advice at this point would be to convert several photos in each program and choose based on what looks best to you. I share the same concerns about DxO. I think they are out of the bankruptcy stuff but one wonders about long term viability. I have noticed there has not been an update for quite a long time. I'm not talking about a feature update, just a camera compatibility update. Good luck.

Jefftan Veteran Member • Posts: 3,163
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne

SkiHound wrote:

I have noticed there has not been an update for quite a long time. I'm not talking about a feature update, just a camera compatibility update. Good luck.

this is not true

check the fact

Zeee Forum Pro • Posts: 18,904
Re: DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom vs CaptureOne
4

Bags27 wrote:

Assuming you can develop in Photolab and fine tune in Photoshop? How do you have to save your file to do that?

I only know this about LR. I would think this would apply to PS.

If you want your color adjustments in DXO to apply then you need to export as TIFF to Lightroom.

If you use DXO for lens correction and noise reduction only and want to do all color work in Lightroom export as DNG.

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