A few weeks ago, DxO bought the Nik Collection from Google, already a great news for the future of this great plugin suite, but the most important for DxO is the release of this major application incorporating the U-ponit technology developed by Nik. One thing you must know about DxO is that they are a major Benchmarking company. They develop state of the art bechmarking machines and they are extensively testing all the optics and cameras on the market. PhotoLab can be considered as the ultimate Raw image processor today as it adapts to both the specific camera and lenses profiles and by offering options not available in any other Raw image procesor. Please note that the comparison with the other apps I mentioned only concerns the RAW processor Except for the Film Looks emulation with DxO Film Pack if you own it, there are no styling options available. It is not an All in 1 product. That will probably change in 2018 when the integration of the Nik Collection will be fully operational.

The interface

It is not much different than the other applications you can find such as Lightroom Classic, ON1 Photo Raw, Skylum Luminar 2018 or Topaz Studio. Only Capture One has a very different organisation, but this is for a future review. You have the Browse panel on the left, the number of controls you get is really huge. They are separated in 4 main sections. The Essential Tools, the Light section, the Color section, the Geometry section and theDxO plusins such as DxO Film Pack section.

When you choose DxO Photolab from Lightroom, you see a lot more controls than theLighroom Basic adjustments.. You get five main categories. Essential Tools, Light, Color,  Detail and Geometry.

The Essential Tools section is where you find what could be called “Quick edits. If you want a real fast way to enhance your images without real heavy processing, you have the DxO Smart Lighting slider and the DxO Clear view. They work like a radiance and a Micro Contrast / Structure sliders.. This is a one minute quick edit.

Even if the panels are huge and can be a little intimidating, the tools are very well organized and are making a very coherent workflow. Another great thing is that you can create your own workspaces with only the controls you really use. You can also save all your settings as presets.

I really enjoyed the DxO Film pack section that lets you add finishing touches such as frames, textures and even light leaks

Local Adjustments

When you click for the first time on the Local Adjustments button on top of the interface, you can select either the mouse or touch screen depending on what you use.

The first tool DxO brought from the Nik Collection to Photolab are the u-Points controls. The great addition they made to this tool is the controls block presentation. just click on the one you want to use and drag up or down. A very convenient way to use these controls much more effective than in the Nik Collection.. The same system is used for the gradient filter. It is nice when you want to place a gradient to have a selection of tools with a right button mouse click..This is a circular gadget with tool icons around the outside, offering a BrushGraduated FilterControl PointAuto MaskEraserNew Mask and Reset buttons.


Final Thoughts

This is the strongest Raw editor available today. The list of controls is gigantic, but lets you build-up a very efficient workflow. Due to the DxO experience on benchmarking, all the camera and lens profiles are very accurate and the image quality you can achieve is really fantastic. I don’t think it is a full photo processing software as the tools for stylisation are not present. They will for sure be available when the integration of the Nik collection will be complete.  It really becomes the extension of Lightroom very rapidly and the “Export to Lightroom” button when you finish your editing makes ithe whole process so easy.

With this excellent piece of software and the arrival of the DxO collection, DxO jumps straight into the top photo editors manufacturers group. No doubt we will follow what’s coming next..

Download a trial version at DxO.com