Taking DxO PhotoLab 3 for a test run was – and still is – a lot of fun.
But first, here is a little bit of background.
The first image editing software I ever purchased was Photoshop Elements. That was, as they say, “back in the day” when my 5 megapixel Panasonic Lumix point and shoot digital camera produced only questionable quality jpeg images.
Fast forward a few years and suddenly all the photographic experts were talking about RAW and how it was essential to shoot in RAW because you could process images using Adobe Camera RAW- whatever that was – and achieve exceptional results.
It was about that time that I invested in a Nikon D5100 because I had been convinced RAW was the way to go. Back then Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom were virtually the only games in town, so I forked out quite a few hard-earned bucks and bought Adobe Lightroom.
I quite liked Lightroom but after time got tied up with the tedium of processing my RAW files into jpegs. As a result, it was not long before I went back to shooting only jpegs as it was much easier than the alternative.
Then I stumbled across a UK magazine on digital photography at Whitcoulls that had a free download and activation code for a package called DxO Optices Pro. Back then it was Version 7. I downloaded and installed it and loved it – much more than I loved Lightroom in fact. I loved the one-click presets that put everything that was wrong about a RAW file right! Overexposure, underexposure – it didn’t seem to matter.
I was back to shooting RAW again and eventually upgraded (after a few years) to DxO Optics Pro 10. But the procrastinator that I am took over once again and I started dabbling with other software including an upgraded version of Lightroom, Luminar, On1 Photo RAW, Affinity Photo, the NIK collection and others.
Well now, in late 2019, the wheel has almost turned full circle and I have reacquainted myself with my old friend DxO. Actually – not quite my old friend – but the latest iteration of the software – DxO PhotoLab 3.
It came about when I was having a cleanout of old stuff on a couple of old external hard drives. I found a copy of the (once free) NIK collection by Google. I installed it on my Mac and started to play – loved it way back when – love it now. A Google search showed me that DxO bought the Nik Collection from Google and have revamped it. Not only that but the NIK Collection now handles RAW files and works hand-in-hand with the new DxO PhotoLab 3.
Suffice to say I had to try them. So a few days ago I downloaded a trial version of DxO Photolab 3, installed it and – voila – it immediately recognised that I had the old free NIK Collection installed and works brilliantly with it. I haven’t even bothered trying the latest version of NIK yet.
Well – now it’s time to cut to the chase.
DxO PhotoLab 3 is, in my humble opinion, a real gem. On my aging Mac it opens quickly, runs smartly, still has all the one-click presets that I fell in love with in DxO Optics Pro Version 7, handles RAW files from my Nikon well, and now incorporates the U-point technology that I first discovered in the NIK Collection.
What better way to test it then than by revisiting some old non-keeper photographs to see what DxO PhotoLab 3 could do to revive them. In the process, I have developed a new image processing workflow that works better than any workflow I have had in the past. Essentially it revolves around using PhotoLab 3 for my catalogue/browser/image asset management needs, as well as using it as my RAW converter. After making basic adjustments in PhotoLab 3 I now export my images into Luminar Flex for final tweaks, resizing and file renaming, etcetera. It works for me!
Anyway, I delved into my archives and came up with a series of before and after comparisons to show what PhotoLab 3 and Luminar can do together.
Before and After Comparisons
The Before photographs are straight-out-of-camera jpegs merely resized in Luminar Flex for this story.
The After photographs were first processed in DxO PhotoLab 3. Various corrections including automatic lens distortion correction, noise reduction, horizon adjustment, highlight and shadow adjustment, and so on were made. Images were then exported to Luminar Flex for renaming and resizing.
I still have 18 days left on my trial of DxO PhotoLab 3 and it is more than likely I will hit the Buy Now – or in my case Upgrade Now – button in the very near future.
If you want to take DxO PhotoLab 3 for a test run free for 30 days, the trial version can be downloaded from the DxO website.
There is also a fully functional trial version of Luminar Flex available for download from the Skylum website.