DxO Optics Pro 9.5 Intelligent Integration with Lightroom
External image editors and plugins are terrific for expanding the capabilities of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. In the past, the downside has been the largish TIFF or PSD versions of the RAW files created by Lightroom to hand off to the external editor. These hand-off files added extra bulk to the library.
The engineers at DxO Image Science have streamlined this workflow with the latest edition of DxO Optics Pro 9.5. Instead of Lightroom having to prepare a hand-off file, DxO reads the original RAW file, allows you to apply its image editing magic to the photograph, then provides you with flexible export options such as a high quality JPG, TIFF, or DNG. This approach provides the advantages of a quality external editor without the penalty of adding hefty roundtrip hand-off files to your Lightroom library.
A Better Workflow
You can test this for yourself by downloading a trial version and installing on your Mac or Windows computer. Then open a RAW file in Lightroom, and go to File > Plug-in Extras > Transfer to DxO Optics Pro 9. Have fun experimenting with the tools and presets in DxO Optics Pro 9. When you’re ready to return the image to your master library, click on the “Export to Lightroom” button in the lower right corner. The edited image is sent to your Lightroom catalog with “DxO” added to its filename. In my testing, the roundtripped photo was placed next to its original in my Lightroom Collection.
This application uses modules with your specific camera and lens combination to get the most out of the RAW data. Here are the features that DxO Image Science highlight as advantages for their application. I found them to be accurate.
- Excellent optical corrections
- Master the light in one click (highlights and shadows)
- Color management (added punch to the image)
- Presets give a unique look to your photos
- Geometric corrections
- Retina display compatibility (looks great on a MacBook Pro with Retina Display)
- Output resampling (which you can use to send images directly to Flickr, for example)
- Flexible export options
My experience has been a noticeable improvement in image quality with DxO processing. Take a look at this “before and after photograph” of a cactus captured with an Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens on an OM-D E-M5. I thought the original photo was pretty good… that is until I processed the RAW file in DxO Pro Optics 9. Then it looked even better.
I had resisted DxO Optics in the past because I didn’t want another standalone app outside of my Lightroom or Aperture workflow. But thanks to this intelligent integration with Lightroom, and the excellent image improvement tools in DxO, version 9.5 is welcome addition to my MacBook Pro. I’m still learning the software, and I’m enjoying the results so far.
Until June 15, 2014, the Standard Edition is discounted to $99 and Elite is on sale for $199. The difference between the two are the number of cameras supported. They have a compatibility checker to help you make the right choice. In my case, the Standard Edition was sufficient.
I do recommend that you try before you buy. In my case, DxO Optics Pro 9 increased my ability to produce an excellent image in less time. Often, all I had to do was open the file, choose a preset, and send the image back to Lightroom. If I need to customize the settings a bit, I could do so quickly.
If you’re looking to spruce up your Lightroom workflow, DxO Pro Optics 9 is worth a try.
Photos and text by Derrick Story, Associate Editor