Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives

Image Adjustment Gets Better: DxO Optics Pro v6.6

By Marianne Drenthe

201109we_dxo_box.jpg

DxO Labs recently came out with updates to its award-winning optical correction and raw conversion software, DxO Optics Pro v6.6. DxO Optics Pro functions like a digital photo lab, improving the quality of straight out of camera (SOOC) raw or SOOC jpeg images. It's image enhancement addresses optical corrections, noise removal, exposure optimization, keystoning correctionn, color control and dust removal.

In this review I opted to use the standalone version of DxO Optics Pro v6.6. The program is easy to use within recent editions of Photoshop and Lightroom or as a standalone appplication.

When I first opened DxO Optics Pro, a pop up window appeared with tips on how to utilize the program. I found it helpful, and you can turn it off once you’ve learned the ins and outs of the program. The wizard took me step by step through the image correction process. You can select one or many images to work on at one time, and when you make corrections, you can have them apply all at once to a batch of images—a real time saver.

When you first open original images from your camera, the software will detect its EXIF metadata. If it detects that an Optics Module exists for your camera and lens combination, the software will automatically download camera profiles from the DxO website for your camera. There is no guesswork, no worrying about where to install these profiles—the software does it automatically. I like that my computer isn’t storing useless profiles camera and lens combos that I will never use. The ease of use is much appreciated in that regard.

For automated processing and speeding workflow, professionals and advanced amateurs are likely find DxO Optics Pro preferable to usual go-to options simply because of the personalized Optics Modules and presets. What might take hours converting and adjusting takes mere minutes in DxO Optics Pro v6.6, which is an impressive feat. The processing automation enabled by the camera/lens-specific modules is amazing, though, as you’ll see after the jump, it’s not a miracle worker in every case.

201109we_dxoimagepresets.jpg

201109we_crxpreviewtree.jpg

The user can take time customizing the DxO experience further by manually adjusting settings for Exposure, DxO Lighting - HDR, Vignetting, Distortion, DxO Lens Softness, USM, Noise corrections and Chromatiic aberration. You can also opt to use the collection of image presets found under Image > Apply Preset I personally like to create my own customizations, and I like my vacation shots that don’t include people to have a bit of edge. I chose the Strong option under DxO Lighting for the image above.

DxO Optics has a fairly extensive list of profiles for distortion correction on lenses commonly used by both pros and amateur photographers. While the lens profiles do an adequate job on some of the images I had corrected during this software trial, it did not do well on others. For example, the shot below, which was taken at the wide end of my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L lens. In this example I began using the Force Parallel tool to attempt to correct. This image in particular requires further correction beyond what the Force Parallel tool can do.

201109we_manualdistortionfix.jpg

I brought it up in Adobe Photoshop CS3 and was able to quickly fix the distortion within a minute and crop it (below). It needs a bit more TLC, but a simple adjustment in CS3 worked well.

201109we_dxo_cs3crx.jpg

The benefits of DxO exist on many levels. DxO’s raw conversion algorithms are superb for image processing, retaining fine details and reducing noise even at higher ISOs. My aging Canon EOS 1-DS Mark II already has a tendency to underexpose, so the finer raw conversion was appreciable.

DxO Optics Pro is available in two versions, Standard or Elite. They use the same set of features, but the Elite edition covers professional cameras in addition to the cameras supported by the Standard edition. The DxO website provides a handy tool to decide which edition you need. The Standard edition is $169 and the Elite edition is $299. If you’ve purchased a previous version of DxO Optics Pro in the past two years, you are entitled to a free upgrade to the current version. You can trial the DxO Optics Pro version for your system for 30 days risk free at the DxO Image Science website at dxo.com.

Marianne Drenthe is a Chicago family photographer, marmaladephotography.com.