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Software Review: DxO Optics Pro 8 from DxO Labs

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DxO Optics Pro is a software product that was created for automatically improving the quality of your photographic images. Where most image editing programs offer a wide range of corrections and let you do the work, DxO Optics Pro 8 actually analyzes the image, makes these corrections, and shows you the result. From there you can fine-tune to your taste.

So just what is DxO Optics Pro? It performs image corrections to your photos with or without human intervention. DxO Labs, a company based out of Paris, France, created DxO Optics Pro and based it on a database that combines cameras and lenses based on highly technical testing that measures not only optical defects such as distortion, lens softness, and vignetting, but also check and measure noise, colorimetry, and tone curves.

This analysis is then applied to the images you create, and the adjustments are made in an attempt to produce the most correct image possible. You can also check out which cameras and lenses are supported which will help you to determine which version of DxO Optics you should buy.

DxO Optics Pro 8

DxO Optics Pro 8

While Optics Pro is similar to Adobe Lightroom or Apple’s Aperture, it has some basic differences. Instead of importing your images into the software, you store the images on your hard drive and work with them there. This means that you do not have to spend time importing and organizing.

It will also remove camera noise and chromatic aberration – that purple fringing sometimes seen on photographs, especially when they are enlarged. It fixes exposure and contrast problems without degrading the image and by using local correction. That is, each area of the image is treated separately so that the image is fixed where it needs to be fixed.

DxO Optics Pro 8

DxO Optics Pro 8

It has advanced de-noising processing, and through the use of its database information about each camera body, it gives you the ability to shoot Raw or JPEG photos at speeds of up to ISO 100,000.

DxO Optics Pro gives you the ability to correct all five optical distortions: geometric distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration – both longitudinal and lateral – and lens softness. This again is because of the high-level measurement database that the company’s labs have been building up for years. It also gives you a correction tool for wide angle shots, which corrects deformation of faces and bodies by using non-conventional (cylindrical or spherical) perspective methods.

You can change the color rendering of your photo so that it looks as though you have shot it using another camera or on a particular film. There are a number of presets that can give you a lot of different looks such has Single-shot HDR, Black & White, Highkey, Vivid coloring, and more.

Another major feature is highlight recovery. This happens when one or more of the color channels are maxed out. DxO Optics Pro has a specialized “Highlight recovery” engine, which adjusts the exposure level of the global image to the exact amount necessary to recover highlights.

DxO Optics Pro 8

DxO Optics Pro 8

So what is new with DxO Optics Pro 8?

• DxO Smart Lighting – gives you the ability to easily brighten or darken your images. Through the use of a slider, Optics Pro 8 lightens the dark areas – the under-exposed ones – and restores details to areas that are too bright – the over exposed ones – all while preserving contrast through the ability to dynamically adapt settings.

• Brilliant colors – are restored by retrieving all of the details and rich textures in your images with the Protection of Saturated Colors tool. Even the smallest details are revealed, even in zones that contain “burnt” colors. The new algorithm looks at the photo’s global color rendering and uses your settings to produce the best colors possible while maintaining the texture quality.

• Fix optical problems – with the Lens Softness tool. This has been enhanced significantly to improve the sharpness of your images no matter how much you push them. This happens because DxO calibrates cameras to lenses in the lab and uses that to analyze image content in greater detail. This is something that no other image processing software can claim and is only available in Optics Pro.

• Advanced RAW conversions – will enhance your low-light images. When you push your camera’s sensitivity – especially when using high ISO and/or long exposures (> 2 seconds) – Optics Pro is able to restore details and texture in your photos through its extensive use of its cameras and lenses database. It can even eliminate dead or hot pixels that can come about in these situations.

• Integrated printing – gives you the ability to directly print your RAW and JPEG photos in both full-page and contact modes. You have the ability to set margins, image size, and print EXIF information. It even supports ICC profiles.

• A better organized workspace – means a better user experience. You now can quickly find the tools you need in the new Lighting palette and perform all the major operations in the same workspace. The DxO Smart Lighting uses just one slider to adapt the light and contrast to low-light zones and restore details to highlights in your images.

DxO Optics Pro 8

DxO Optics Pro 8

• Live Preview – lets you look at your images in real time. You can make your selection immediately in the image browser, thanks to the new live preview that updates the photo thumbnail in real time. No need to figure out if a photo is the original or a version you worked on – you can tell instantly. Also, every photo, once it has been opened in DxO Optics Pro, loads instantaneously, even after closing and reopening the application, which can be a real time-saver.

DxO Optics Pro 8, a reasonably good upgrade, has some interesting new features. The Smart Lighting that works with RAW and JPEG files seems to work really well depending on the image that you are using. Really great additions are the improved interface, the printing feature, live preview, and the advanced RAW conversions.

What really makes DxO Optics 8 stand apart from the other software of its kind is the ability to match camera and lens and, through the use of EXIF data, make more intelligent decisions about how to handle a particular image. It is through this that the Smart lighting, color handling, and the fixing of optics really shine.

If you need that ability to take an image to a level that you are not able to get to within traditional methods, or if you are looking for a solid alternative to the standard methods of maintaining, organizing, and processing your images, then DxO Optics 8 fits the bill.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • krono

    lol

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