When DxO released the latest version of their PhotoLab software, there was much fanfare surrounding the DeepPRIME noise reduction software. It is now my go-to RAW converter when dealing with noisy images.
(DeepPRIME is PhotoLab 4's #1 new feature)
However, I still use, and greatly prefer Adobe Lightroom to manage my photo collection and I find that I can get better tone, colour and overall 'look' of my images with Lightroom when compared to PhotoLab. Probably because I'm much more experience with Lightroom.
With PhotoLab 4, DxO have introduced a new feature that allows me to get the best of both worlds.
Previously if I wanted to take advantage of PhotoLab's noise reduction algorithms I would need to send my image from Lightroom to DxO and fully process the image with DxO before sending a fully edited TIFF file back to Lightroom to finish. I would usually spend a lot of time in DxO trying to get a final result that I was happy with.
With the latest version of PhotoLab 4 I can send the RAW file to DxO, apply ONLY noise reduction and optical corrections before sending a .dng file back to Lightroom for tone and colour adjustments.
The .dng file that is send back to Lightroom is a 'demosaiced' RAW file with no colour, tone or other corrections baked into it. It is like a 'half-cooked' RAW file that has had noise reduction and optical corrections applied (the best bits of PhotoLab in my opinion) but leaves the rest up to Lightroom.
If you adjust any of the tone, colour or non 'optical' parts of the image in DxO, those adjustments will not be sent back to Lightroom. So what is included?
- PRIME or DeepPRIME noise reduction
- Lens distortion and vignetting corrections
- Lens sharpness corrections
- Chromatic aberration corrections
Everything in the above list is what PhotoLab 4 excels at. They are (in my opinion) industry leaders in both noise reduction and optical corrections and their demosaicing algorithm is also top-notch.
So, how do you take advantage of this? Easy.
Step 1. Send the photo from Lightroom to DxO via the standard method.
Step 2: Apply DeepPRIME, Lens Sharpness and any other optical corrections you would like to apply
Step 3: Send the photo back to Lightroom via the 'Export to Lightroom' feature - making sure to choose 'DNG (Optical Corrections Only).
Step 4: Wait for the export and finish the photo in Lightroom
Other RAW Converters Can Take Advantage Too!
If you use a different application to manage your RAW files (such as Capture One, ON1, Luminar, DarkTable, etc) you can also take advantage of this feature. Instead of choosing 'Export To Lightroom' you can 'Export to Disk' and choose the 'DNG (Denoise & Optical Corrections Only) option. You will then be able to open the DNG file in those applications and process the file as you normally would.
PhotoLab 4 is excellent at noise reduction and optical corrections, but is somewhat less good at managing your photo library and can be more difficult to get great colour corrections (especially if you're a seasoned Lightroom user).
Lightroom is excellent at managing your photo library and getting great colour.
Now you can have the best of both applications.
PhotoLab 4 makes it very easy to apply just noise reduction and/or optical corrections to a RAW file and leave Lightroom to deal with the rest of the RAW conversion.
You can buy DxO PhotoLab 4 here (doing so via this link will give Square Pixel Photography a small commission)
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