DxO PhotoLab is DxO‘s premium photo management and editing tool for PC and Mac. It uses the characteristics of your specific camera and lens combination to enhance your photo intelligently with excellent results.
In this DxO PhotoLab review, we’ll explore DxO PhotoLab 7’s latest features, strengths, and weaknesses and how it compares with rivals such as Lightroom and Luminar Neo. Jump to Conclusion
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Table of Contents
- What is DxO PhotoLab 7
- How much does DxO PhotoLab 7 Cost
- DxO PhotoLab 7 Free Trial
- DxO PhotoLab 7 Specifications
- DxO PhotoLab 7 Features
- Is DxO PhotoLab good for beginners
- DxO PhotoLab Compared
What is DxO PhotoLab 7
DxO PhotoLab 7 Elite is an enthusiast-grade photo editing application for PC and Mac. Specifically, you can use DxO PhotoLab to rate, rank, and file your photos before editing them to perfection. However, DxO DxO PhotoLab 7 has some notable features that elevate it beyond most photo editing applications.
The first is its Optics Modules, which correct the deficiencies of specific camera-lens combinations, resulting in highly optimized image corrections and enhancements. Then, there’s DxO’s stunning DeepPRIME noise reduction – one of the best AI-powered noise reduction applications I have ever tested. Read Best Noise Reduction Software for more information.
DxO PhotoLab 7 comes in two flavors. DxO Photolab 7 Essential Edition costs $139 and offers a more affordable route towards enthusiast-grade photo editing. Alternatively, you can pay an extra $90 and buy DxO PhotoLab 7 Elite for $229. Doing so will get you DeepPRIME noise reduction (worth $129), an additional license, compatibility with Fuji X-Trans Raw files, and more.
Fortunately, you can try either edition of DxO Photolab 7 for yourself – free of charge for 30 days. Try DxO PhotoLab 7 Now.
How much does DxO PhotoLab 7 Cost
US$229 for the Elite Edition or $139 for the Essential Edition.
DxO PhotoLab 7 Free Trial
Try DxO PhotoLab 7 free for 30 days. No credit card is required.
DxO PhotoLab 7 Specifications
|Recommended Specifications||Windows PC||Mac|
|CPU||8 Core AMD or Intel Processor||M1|
|Memory||16 GB||16 GB|
|Storage||4 GB||4 GB|
|Display Resolution||1920 x 1080||1920 X 1080|
|Operating System||Windows 10 and 11||MacOS 12.6.8|
|Graphics (For DeepPRIME)||Nvidia RTX 2060 or Radeon RX 6600||M1 or Radeon RX5700|
DxO PhotoLab 7 Features
DxO PhotoLab 7 features effective, no-frills photo management. This means you can rate your photos, tag them with keywords, and assign your images to Projects.
You can browse your library via the folder view. Alternatively, you can use the well-implemented search option to list any images with matching keywords or metadata. For example, you could search for all photos taken on a specific date or with a particular camera and lens.
Otherwise, photo management in DxO PhotoLab 7 is minimal. There’s no geotagging, face recognition, or AI-powered automatic keyword tagging. On the upside, DxO PhotoLab 7 leverages your existing file structure, which is to say it doesn’t import and hold your photo collection hostage behind a propriety file format.
But, if you like the look of PhotoLab 7 but also crave advanced photo management, you could augment PhotoLab with a dedicated photo management tool. One of my favorites is Mylio Photos. Not only is it very good, but it is also free. Read Mylio Photos Review
Photo Editing in PhotoLab 7
DxO PhotoLab 7’s photo management may be basic, but its photo editing is anything but. Yet, that’s not to say that editing photos with DxO PhotoLab 7 has to be complicated.
Optics Modules are, in effect, profiles for specific camera and lens combinations and are used to correct the image quality deficiencies inherent to each camera lens pairing. For instance, PhotoLab 7 will use one optics module to process photos taken with an OM-1 paired with an Olympus 17mm F1.8 and another for images captured with a Nikon D750 paired with a 50mm F1.8.
This means that DxO Photolab 7’s corrections are highly optimized and extremely specific, resulting in superior image quality the moment you open an image.
Moreover, downloading and applying optics modules is entirely automatic. But, if you prefer, you can turn off these automatic corrections and apply them yourself manually.
DxO PhotoLab 7 has more than 30 presets, enabling you to process your photo with just one click. You can also save the sum of your edit as a preset – meaning you’ll never have to repeat your best work.
By default, DxO PhotoLab 7 automatically applies the DxO Style – Natural Preset whenever you begin editing a photo, and, thanks to DxO’s Optics Modules, the results often look excellent. You can change the default preset or deactivate it entirely by visiting Edit > Preferences > General Tab.
If you crave more presets, I strongly recommend you look at DxO’s wonderfully nostalgic Film pack. Read DxO Filmpack Review.
DxO DeepPRIME Noise Reduction – Elite Edition only
DxO’s DeepPrime noise reduction is one of the best photo denoisers I have tested. Unlike traditional noise reduction, which removes noise and detail, DeepPRIME removes noise while enhancing detail.
Using DeepPRIME noise reduction can be a little jarring since applying it does not change the image in front of you. Instead, due to rendering time and compute requirements, DeepPRIME will only be applied to your exported image.
Fortunately, PhotoLab 7 does feature a small preview window enabling you to see the effects of DeepPrime in real-time.
DxO Smart Lighting
Smart Lighting automatically improves your photo’s Lighting by balancing your image’s under and over-exposed elements. Practically, it’s an automated alternative to manually pushing shadows and pulling highlights.
You can apply Smart Lighting evenly across your image or prioritize (spot meter) a specific tone or subject. To this end, Smart Lighting can also detect and prioritize faces.
Smart Lighting works well. If required, you can adjust its intensity, and if all else fails, you can still independently adjust highlights, midtones, and shadows.
DxO ClearView Plus – Elite Edition Only
ClearView is an automatic sharper, which can cut through haze-obscured details and boost clarity. It’s almost like wiping your lens – after taking the photo.
Local Adjustments (masking)
DxO PhotoLab 7 offers a novel approach to applying masks and local adjustments.
One way to apply a localized adjustment to your photo is to drop a control point on whatever part of your photo you wish to edit. Whatever lies beneath the point defines the color and tones you want to edit.
Next, you adjust the control point radius – thus containing your tone-sensitive adjustments within a specific area. Afterward, you can adjust the mask’s sensitivity to color and light variance by adjusting Chroma and Luma. You may add multiple control points to a single mask and even add control points that work to exclude elements from your adjustments.
It’s an unusual approach that takes some getting used to. Yet, once mastered, you may appreciate this method’s speed and precision.
Auto Mask lets you quickly brush a mask onto part of your photo, and DxO PhotoLab 7 tries to guess what your sloppy, ill-defined brush strokes intend to cover.
It works well, particularly if your masked subject is well-defined and separated from its background.
Other Masking options
You can brush on a mask or apply an ND-grad style linear mask – ideal for dimming bright skies.
Is DxO PhotoLab good for beginners
On first impression, DxO PhotoLab 7’s well-designed and attractive interface screams purpose rather than welcome and may appear intimidating.
Yet, DxO PhotoLab 7 is pretty straightforward. For instance, PhotoLab 7’s workflow is divided into just two separate tabs – Photo Library (management) and Customize (Editing). Navigating your Photo Library is just a case of browsing your file structure or using the Search tool.
You can also apply Presets to a single photo or batch within the PhotoLibray tab – meaning you don’t have to bother with the Customize tab unless you plan on bespoke adjustments.
The Customize tab was clearly designed with enthusiasts in mind. For instance, there’s no Foliage Enhancer, Golden Glow, or any of the other effects-orientated tools I’ve reviewed in other photo editing applications. Instead, you’ll use traditional adjustments such as Exposure, Tone Curves, Color Space, etc.
Yet with such tools comes precision, responsiveness, and speed, and once you get used to the terminology and what does what – editing photos becomes simple enough so long as you’re willing to ride the learning curve.
But, despite its serious facade, DxO PhotoLab 7 has some of the best labor saves there are. First, PhotoLab’s Optics Module-powered Presets are so well executed that your edit may be finished before you begin. DxO’s Smart Lighting offers an automated alternative to the evergreen tedium of boosting shadows and pulling highlights.
Once you’ve exploited PhotoLab 7’s automatizations, you may still have some editing to do. To that end, each DxO PhotoLabs tool is sensibly spread across six tabs – Light, Color, Detail, Geometry, Effects, and Local Adjustments. Better still, you can mark any adjustment as a favorite. Doing so lets you list only your favorite tools categorically or as a flat list. Bravo DxO.
Overall ease of use.
DxO PhotoLab 7 takes a little time getting used to. But once you’ve climbed its moderate learning curve, you’ll be rewarded with a semi-automated, highly customizable workflow and excellent image quality.
DxO PhotoLab Compared
DxO PhotoLab Elite vs Essential
There are two significant differences between PhotoLab Elite and Essential. First, Essential costs just US$139, whereas Elite costs $229. The second is that Elite includes DeepPRIME Noise Reduction – a feature that costs $129 when bought separately. Read DxO PureRaw Review for more information.
For that reason alone, I consider PhotoLab Elite the better buy. But, if you don’t care about noise reduction, the reasons to upgrade to PhotoLab 7 Elite are less obvious. For instance, Elite includes three user licenses instead of 2, and only Elite can process Fuji X-Trans Raw files. Check out this comparison for more information.
DxO PhotoLab 7 vs Luminar Neo
Luminar Neo is the best photo editor for beginners and experts in a rush and is packed with labor-saving tricks and tools. However, PhotoLab is faster, more responsive, and offers more precision, thus, more control over the result.
If you are looking for the fastest, easiest, and laziest route to a well-processed image, nothing beats Luminar Neo. But, if you want the speed and precision required to tune your image perfectly, choose PhotoLab 7.
DxO PhotoLab vs Lightroom
Perhaps the main differentiator between Lightroom and DxO PhotoLab is you can buy PhotoLab 7 outright, whereas Lightroom is subscription only.
In terms of features, Lightroom has better photo management, and its integration with the Cloud means you can untether your photo collection from your PC and view, edit, and share your images across the internet. Both Lightroom and DxO PhotoLab feature AI-powered noise reduction, but DxO’s DeepPRIME is better.
Overall, I love Lightroom, but it’s a compelling package you’ll never stop paying for. Whether that’s a good thing depends on you. Read Lightroom Review.
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DxO PhotoLab 7 is a highly responsive, well-presented photo editing tool that combines labor-saving ‘smart’ tools with high-precision manual adjustments.
Thanks to its bespoke Optics Modules, DxO PhotoLab can overcome the deficiencies of your specific camera and lens pairing and apply highly optimized corrections and enhancements. As a result, image quality is excellent by default, and your edit may already be finished before you’ve used a single adjustment. And, speaking of image quality, DeepPRIME is as good as photo noise reduction gets.
Regarding photo management, DxO PhotoLab 7 is functional but undernourished. For instance, some applications are now implementing AI-powered Keyword Tagging with features such as Face Recognition and Geotagging old hat. In contrast, DxO PhotoLab 7 has none of these almost-standard technologies.
While you might not consider DxO PhotoLab for photo management, its highly polished photo editing workflow and formidable but effortlessly accessible image quality are difficult to ignore. Thus, if you prefer precision and high fidelity over convenience, DxO PhotoLab 7 is well worth a look. Try PhotoLab 7 Now – for free.
Rating: 4 of 5
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