Price: 85 . 129 . 26
Company: DxO Labs
Pros: Extensive optical correction, optimized shadow and highlight detail, plus intelligent exposure compensation. Full auto option allows batch processing, but full and partial manual control is also available.
Cons: Pick and mix of lens modules is limited and potentially expensive for owners of large professional camera systems.
After uploading your images taken with your digital SLR, just imagine how useful it would be to be able to convert and process each RAW file automatically, in batches, while at the same time correcting for various optical deficiencies of the lens used. This is exactly what DxO Optics Pro 3.0 promises to do.
The software can automatically optimize corner shading, barrelling, and pincushion distortion, as well as softness from image blur. Advanced optical engines, mathematical modelling, and extensive hardware testing by the software’s developers have created a good package, and this latest release adds automatic optimization of exposure and dynamic range, as well as powerful noise reduction for both RAW files and JPGs.
DxO claims speckling caused by noise is reduced by up to two-stops (EV) in quality without losing detail. It’s a tempting option for those habitually pushing camera sensitivity to the limit, but it’s equally appealing for everyday use too.
Two versions are offered, both using the same technologies and features. The standard version is compatible with the majority of entry-level and mid-range digital SLRs, including the Nikon D70s and EOS 350D, whereas the Elite option adds support for all those top-flight pro-cameras, such as those from the Canon EOS 1D range and Nikon’s D series.
To gain the benefits of optical correction, just one lens module is supplied free, and it’s dedicated to a particular lens and camera body. Additional lens modules are required for different combinations, and can be downloaded for a fee.
If you have several different camera bodies and a selection of pro-lenses, this can work out to be quite expensive. Lenses and new camera bodies are being added all the time, and DxO has promised support for the new EOS 5D, but there are still numerous body and lens combinations that aren’t yet fully supported.
The workspace is bland, but intuitive. It offers three levels of control – fully automated batch correction, key controls only, or manual selection of all available features for individual images. Simple sliders operate most of the expert enhancement and correction features, so it doesn’t take too long to get the hang of it.
RAW files and JPGs from various supported camera bodies and lens combinations can be included in the same batch, and compensated for automatically. It’s all incredibly slick and fuss-free.
While a number of older plug-ins and even the latest version of Photoshop allow a similar level of control, most require time-consuming manual input. Optics Pro can generally be left alone to do all the hard-work, allowing for the processing of large quantities of files with minimal input from the user. Optics Pro’s greatest appeal lies in its simplicity of workflow for automated batch-processing. For this task, DxO Optics Pro 3.0 is the most comprehensive and accomplished software available.