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DxO Optics Pro V11 review

  |   Articles and reviews, DxO, Image Editing, Review, Software review   |   2 Comments

DxO Optics Pro V11 – software update review

Looking at image processing with DxO


DxO Optic Pro has been a key element of Keith Cooper’s image processing workflow for many years, and we have reviews of every version of the software since it first appeared.

Last year V11 of the software came out right in the midst of Keith’s re-writing of our site and his review fell through the cracks.

In processing a number of images taken recently with the Sigma 12-24mm f4, he’s noted some of what are the software’s key features and what’s been added to V11.

All Keith's DxO reviews may be found via the Article Categories listing for DxO in the right column of any page.

dxo software v11

DxO Optics Pro V11 changes

On the surface, changes from V10 of the software to V11 were relatively minor, concentrating of performance increases and refinements of existing capabilities.

Of course, the software continues to expand the range of cameras and lenses supported, and whilst testing the relatively new Sigma 12-24 F4 DG HSM zoom lens on my Canon 5Ds, a note flashed up, offering to download the appropriate lens information module.

sigma 12-24 module

Key features noted in the DxO V11 release notes [DxO notes of changes]

DxO Prime Noise reduction improved:

“With DxO OpticsPro 11, photographers can capture new images at an even higher ISO by using a new version of PRIME that is better and faster than ever. DxO PRIME 2016 better preserves bokehs and smooth transitions, retains more details, and more faithfully preserves colors in dark areas, and it does this all automatically by reading each camera’s precise calibration data. And through an intense effort to adapt and optimise this technology, DxO PRIME 2016 is now able to process RAW files up to 4x faster than before — in fact, the higher the ISO, the bigger the benefit of processing time.”

Automated spot weight corrections

“…a new enhancement to DxO OpticsPro’s Smart Lighting tool that uses face detection to apply an intelligent tone map on the entire image, to better extend the dynamic range, add fill light, and improve contrast while optimising illumination on faces. The result is genuine spot processing—after capture—with the very same results as spot metering typically provides in camera, but with the added benefit of fine-tuning flexibility.”

Also added are an option to adjust micro-contrast for the image and alterations in auto processing settings, along with better white balance control and improvements to general usability.

Using the DxO software

Given the relatively incremental improvements, I’d suggest reading my much longer DxO V10 review first, if you are new to the software.

Even with a huge 32″ BenQ monitor I like to undock the image browser and move it to my second display when evaluating sets of images.

There is the option of full screen display, but as I’ve been used to multiple very large monitors on Macs for some 25 years, I just don’t like it (feels too much like a PC ;-)

I note that V11 refines integration with Adobe’s Lightroom software, but since I don’t use LR at all, its a limited benefit (I fundamentally dislike its catalogue based approach). As you’d expect, I’m glad that V11 of DxO Optics Pro makes no effort to force me along this approach to image management.

V11 lets me follow my familiar workflow of selecting images and then deciding on the adjustments I want to make in processing my RAW files.

This software has always been a little more effort to use than say the combination of Bridge/ACR/Photoshop that I’ll use for processing many of my commercial images – the processing is quicker than it used to be, but for 15 shots from a basic job (say photographing machinery in a well lit factory), I’ll go for quicker and ‘OK’.

Where the DxO software has been a firm favourite of mine for many years is with individual or smaller groups of images, taken in more difficult lighting conditions or where I wanted to add a bit more of my own ‘feel’ to a shot. DxO also nails it for noise reduction for many images (see my look at PRIME noise reduction in earlier reviews).

Typically I may be working for a while in Photoshop, after my RAW processing, so a change to the front-end of my workflow is no big issue.

I’ve a good range of view options and the browser picks up any star ratings I might have assigned in Adobe Bridge.

view options

Whilst the software offers a lot of easier workflows (and many training resources for the software), I tend to just dive in with all the adjustment options open, ready to experiment.

opening image file

There are a variety of preset image processing options and it’s easy to create new ones for more efficient bulk image processing.

With a large wide monitor, it’s no trouble to keep the exif/navigation/presets bit open at the side.

exif navigation

At the other side I have all the main tools I’ll make use of.

main dxo tools

One nice feature of DxO Optics Pro is that it integrates the very useful DxO ViewPoint software if you have it – I use this as a plugin for Photoshop, finding it a great way of getting  architectural shots perfectly square, if there is a bit of unintended lean anywhere.

Now, I can hear people saying that as an architectural photographer, I should get this spot on in camera…

Well that’s not always quite so easy with very wide lenses (11-12mm full frame) where you may have an element of distortion to contend with – or shots with a fisheye lens.

The internal levels of cameras are simply not accurate enough and bubble levels on your tripod head can be tricky at dusk, when you only have a few minutes of the ‘right light’.

So, yes I do try and get things right, but it’s nice to know I can fine tune things later…

This split view (click on image to see at full size) gives a nice feel for the sorts of adjustment I’ll make.

split view

The DxO smart lighting helps bring up shadows in a RAW file I’ve exposed so as not to unduly burn out areas around the lights.

Although the Clearview function is advertised for landscapes, it’s also useful as another control in images like this where the balance between light areas of the image and dark needs some adjustment.

Once I’m happy with adjustments I’ll export selected images as 16 bit TIFF files for further processing, such as when I’m making large prints.

This view outside of the stairway above took just over ten seconds to process on my Mac. (click to enlarge)

car park

Conclusions

Not quite such a long review as usual, and somewhat delayed from the 2016 release of V11, but to put it bluntly, V11 feels one of the smaller releases in improved functionality, in all eleven versions of the software that I’ve reviewed.

Don’t get me wrong, I find the refinements and improvements useful, but from an image quality point of view, I found V10 pretty good, and so is V11

My minor gripe -remains- that the largest colour space I can export images in is Adobe98 – I’m currently testing the Epson P5000 and with its HDX ink set, there are colours the printer can manage that are beyond A98.  I may not need larger spaces very often, but I’d like the option please?

I’ve no use for Lightroom integration or publishing images on Facebook, no, what I want DxO Optics for is the same as I did ten years ago – to make a real difference to the quality of my images, especially my larger ones for print.

I’m glad to see it still delivers…

Resources

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve tested every version of the software since it came out. All my reviews may be found via the Article Categories listing for DxO in the right column of any page. The reviews contain many more examples of just how it has helped my photography over the years.

Differences between DxO Optics Pro editions

I’m using the ‘Elite’ version of the software – you may find the ‘Essential’ version does all you need?

RAW conversion – Essential RAW conversion – Elite
High-quality denoising (RAW and JPEG) High-quality denoising (RAW and JPEG)
Optical corrections Optical corrections
DxO Smart Lighting DxO Smart Lighting
Spot Weighted mode (NEW) Spot Weighted mode (NEW)
Selective tone (IMPROVED) Selective tone (IMPROVED)
Image tools Image tools
Red eye correction (NEW) Red eye correction (NEW)
Protection of saturated colors Protection of saturated colors
Advanced light and color Advanced light and color
Auto mode for microcontrast (NEW) Auto mode for microcontrast (NEW)
Presets Presets
Batch processing Batch processing
Customizable workspace Customizable workspace
Full screen mode (NEW) Full screen mode (NEW)
Shortcuts for rating and filtering photos in full screen (NEW) Shortcuts for rating and filtering photos in full screen (NEW)
Integrated export feature Integrated export feature
Interaction with Adobe Lightroom Interaction with Adobe Lightroom
PRIME 2016 denoising (RAW) (NEW)
DxO ClearView
Anti-moiré tool
Managing camera-calibrated ICC profiles
Color rendering profiles
Multiple outputs
Presets editor
Creation of partial presets
Creation of customized palettes
Number of activations2 Number of activations3
Geometrical corrections
By adding the DxO ViewPoint plugin
Geometrical corrections
By adding the DxO ViewPoint plugin
Analog and creative renderings
By adding the DxO FilmPack plugin
Analog and creative renderings
By adding the DxO FilmPack plugin
Other areas of our site that may be of interest...

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  • I seem to recall an online discussion somewhere about DxO’s internal processing colorspace, and the speculative conclusion was that it was limited in some way or not easily transformed to any of the usual wide-gamut output spaces that professionals like you want (questions about linear vs some other gamma were also raised). But the reasons for the limitation is murky, and I didn’t bookmark the discussion unfortunately.

    • Keith Cooper

      Indeed – I have been asking this question after every review for many years…

      That said it is a relatively minor (but real) annoyance, and I’ve still produced some excellent images where using DxO has been a real benefit.