DxO Photolab Review

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


Loupedeck editing console for lightroom

For almost a month now, I have been trying the LOUPEDECK console for Lightroom. I was not too impressed at first, thinking that I knew Lightroom enough to go very fast with my editing workflow, but I really wanted to give it a try. So I contacted Loupedeck, a Finland based company and they kindly accepted to send me one to test and review.

What a surprise when I got the box! The console is quite big and very well built. All lightroom’s main editing functions are represented by knobs and sliders. The install process is very straightforward. The first thing you have to do is go to www.loupedeck.com to download the software and install it.  After the instalation, you are led to another screen that asks if you want to customize the console.. The console has three buttons called C1, C2 and C3 for wich you can assign a task. You first select the button and there is a dropdown list of Lightroom tools not directly accessible with the console set of buttons. For exemple, I selected going from the Develop module to the Library module.  For C2 I selected the sharpening, and the vignette for C3. Then and only after installing the software, you must plug the console with a USB cable and start Lightroom.

You get a nice “Loupedeck thinks you look great today” message and you’re good to go.

The Design

 All the basic functions of Lightroom are available on the console.. The left part is for the selection, ratings, crop/rotate, full screen display and selecting color or black and white..

The right part is for all the basic correction. They are not organized exactly as Lightoom. The knobs are divided in three sections, one for the exposure, contrast and clarity, the second is for the luminosity, and the third one is for the color.. It takes a little time to get used to this arrangement, but it is very logical.

The top center part i for the HSL correction. You have 3 main buttons to select Hue, saturation and luminosity and 8 knobs to make the adjustments. One thing I noticed the first time I used the console is thatyou can make precise adjustments. Much more than with the desktop interfce. Of course, you can select a slider in the desktop app and use the arrow keys to move the slider, but is it much easier and intuitive with the console.. The buttons are not locked and you never reach any end. You start where your cursor is and you turn it to satrt from this point. And all the buttons are clickable to reset them to the default value.. 

You also have buttons going from P1 to P7 to assign develop presets you often use. eally cool to use.

Button Speed settings

In the previous versions of the Loupedeck software, you had no option to setup the knobs reaction and they used to be quite slow. With the version 1.3.2, they added a speed and reaction controm and it is for sure a huge improvment.

Presets settings

One of the cool functions is that you can assign Lightroom presets to the F1 to F8 buttons and you get 8 more when you press the Fn button. A great thing when you want to apply quick settings to your images. I personnaly set up quite a lot of different Black and White presets and I can toggle through to find the right one and make the correct adjustments after with the buttons.

Custom buttons settings.

You have three different contros you can assign to specific keys.You can assign one action to the C2 and C3 buttons. For example toggling through the Library and the Develop module. The C1 is a button and it is great for settings such as vignette you can adjust with the button.

Who is it for?

Loupedeck is a fantastic time saver when you have lots of images to process. 

Wedding photographers will love it, but any photographer that makes a lot of images will love it. Picking and selective images is so fast and easy with the Pick, Stars and Color buttons. 

NOTE: 4 on 5

Price  €289 on Amazon or $299

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed using Loupedeck. I loved the precision you can get with the knobs even if they are kind of slow to move and you can  think you have to turn them a lot to get significant results. But you get used to it very fast. I found myself using the HSL section a lot more than what I use to do in the desktop app. Same for the white balance. The Fn key is an essential part ot the console as it evokes different settings. You must read the user manual very carefully to not be confused. I found very clever to have clickable buttons to reset the settings.  The brush button is nice to use and you can use different buttons to create  a base setting and then mdodify it. I didn’t understand why they placed 2 zoom buttons doing exactly the same thing. Another function such as the Previous button in lightroom would have been very useful. Just be aware that you still have to use the keyboard and a mouse/tablet.   But after a while the button position is becoming a second nature and you spend a lot more time looking at your image and a lot less searching for the keyboard.  A few times the loupdeck software didn’t load correctly but as they are releasing frequent updates, that should be fixed real quick

I had a small problem when I updated Lightroom as Loupedeck didn’t recognized the new Lightroom Classic. and the lastest update didn’t work with some languages. This is a know bug and Loupedeck is fixing it.

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