DxO Optics Pro 6 Review
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We rated Luminar as "Highly Recommended", and you can now visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.
New in version 6 is extended ISO processing. Essentially, DxO is claiming that their RAW conversion can give you up to two additional stops of ISO quality. So, if your image is shot at ISO 12800, the output quality in DxO Optics Pro 6 would be equivalent to an image shot at ISO 3200 and processed in Capture One or Lightroom. I found this to be slightly optimistic, although noise reduction is certainly among the best I've seen and can easily hold its own with third party applications like Noiseware and Noise Ninja. Figures 4 and 5 shows the before and after of a very noisy image captured in Yellowstone. The processing in DxO Optics Pro 6 did a better job of preserving details, particularly with luminance noise, than Adobe Camera RAW managed to do.
In the Advanced mode, you have access to a number of additional controls such as the Multi-point color balance tool. This control lets you set up to four different points to adjust the color balance of specific color ranges (Figure 6).
By default, DxO Optics Pro 6 places the tool panels along the right side of the window with tabs for Light, Color, Geometry, and Detail adjustments. You can move this around if you like, or you can have the palettes float. One nice touch is the ability to create a custom palette with only the tools you like (Figure 7). The main area can be set to view the corrected image only, or a split view to see both before and after. Some tools, like the color correction and dust removal require both views, with the tool being used on the before, and the results showing in the after panel. I found this to be a little confusing since I would need to go back and forth between the two images, but you get used to it soon enough.
Tools that I would expect to find, like levels and curves are nowhere to be found in DxO Optics Pro 6 though. While this certainly isn't a deal breaker, I'm used to having more control over specific ranges of tones with other applications and would like to see this in a future version.
DxO Optics Pro 6 lets you save adjustments as presets if you like, making it easier to replicate a specific look, like black and white or sepia processing, or a more saturated look for landscape images. You can also take advantage of a number of color rendering options such as camera or film settings like Velvia and KodaChrome 64.
DxO Optics Pro 6 also includes a number of presets, which can be applied as is, or on top of your current adjustments (Figure 8)
When you're finished with your adjustments, you move on to the Process module (figure 9). Here you can perform individual or batch conversions with options to save your images as JPG, TIFF, or DNG. DxO Optics Pro 6 also has full support for embedding ICC profiles into your exported images. The processing isn't particularly quick - it took about 1 minute per image with my Vista 64 machine to process Canon 1Ds Mark III images as TIFF files.
Once you've processed your images, you can look at a before and after in the View module (Figure 10). If you want to experiment, DxO Optics Pro 6 can create virtual copies of your images so you can apply different adjustment options. Like versions in Lightroom and variants in Capture One, these virtual copies take very little disk space and allow you to process the same image in a number of different ways.
DxO has an extremely strong offering with version 6 of Optics Pro. The noise handling is the best I've seen in any of the conversion programs, and the workflow is straight forward and intuitive. It isn't going to be a one stop application for everyone though. There are no keywording or other image organization features, but DxO recognizes this and makes it very easy to integrate with Adobe Lightroom with a single click to export images into the Lightroom catalog. You can also easily post images to a Flickr account. The quality of the converted images is as good as it gets. Particularly if you have the lens module for your camera/lens combination, you'll see extremely good results with a minimal amount of effort. The ability to correct for fringing and lens optical deficiencies is really stunning.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4|