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Test Drive: DxO PhotoLab 4 Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

21 October 2020

Early this month we were briefed on PhotoLab 4, DxO's image editing software that taps into the company's extensive database of digital cameras and lenses to deliver uniquely optimized images.

The Overlook. Captured with a Nikon D300 and 18-200mm Nikkor at 95mm (142.5mm equivalent) and f11, 1/60 and ISO 200. Processed in PhotoLab 4. Click to enlarge but see below for 100 percent crops.

There are two stunning innovations in PhotoLab 4 in addition to a number of improvements and optimizations.


Highlights of the new release include:

  • DeepPRIME. Denoising and demosaicizing informed by machine learning subjected to "several billion samples" from DxO's comprehensive database of cameras and lenses.
  • Smart Workspace. A clever, more efficient user interface for the long row of panels any Raw image editor must provide.
  • Batch Renaming. A straight-forward but flexible approach to renaming batches of files.
  • Advanced History. A roster of edits that you can turn on and off to edit your edits.
  • Selective Copy & Paste. Faster and more flexible batch processing.
  • Instant Watermarking. Flexible raphic and text watermarking and image branding.
  • Support for New Cameras. Seven new cameras are now supported.

Each of these features deserves a review of its own, frankly. But we'll take them one at a time now and in the weeks ahead show off some of them in practice.


DeepPRIME starts with DxO's database of calibrated images before analyzing your image and tapping into any GPU to enhance performance.

This isn't just about noise. It is also about image quality. We noticed improved dynamic range and color both in the samples we were shown.

And this wasn't just about enhancing images from recent hardware. On the contrary, even 10 year old images were included in the sample.

We suddenly had the urge to run all 60,000 of our images through PhotoLab 4 but fortunately DeepPRIME only works with Raw data, not JPEGs.


Product manager Fabrizio dei Tos-Navalesi demoed the new smart workspace. One of the goals of the user interface redesign, he said, was to make it easy to transition from other software. Even if you've used that software in another language.

The new interface understands what you mean no matter which language you use but even if you speak Camera Raw and want to know where the Clarity slider is, it will accommodate you.

It's also better organized than other long-paneled interfaces that require infinite scrolling backwards and forwards to get to the tool you need. That's because it filters the panels into groups and can remember your favorites.

That sounds pretty simple (and we hope it's simple enough for other image editing software to emulate) but it's remarkably freeing in practice.

At the top of the panel column you'll find a Search box to look for corrections by name with a Star to favorite individual corrections and an Activated icon to toggle between everything and just the activated panels.

That's a big help right there but we're just getting started.

Under that is a row of six icons that display the panels by group:

  • Lights shows the Exposure & Compensation, Smart Lighting, Selective Tone, ClearView Plus, Contrasst, Tone Curve and Vignetting panels.
  • Color includes the White Balance, Color Accentuation, Color Rending, Style Toning, HSL and Channel Mixer panels.
  • Detail reveals the Denoising Technology, Lens Sharpness, Chromatic Aberration, Repair, Moire and Red Eye panels.
  • Geometry shows the Focal Length, Focusing Distance, Horizon, Crop, Distortion, Perspective and Volume Deformation panels.
  • Local Adjustments includes just the Local Adjustments panel
  • Creative includes Instant Watermarking, Miniature Effect, Filter, Grain, Creative Vignetting, Blur, Frame, Texture and Light Leak.

With none of the six buttons active, you see the Histogram, What's New, Basic Tools, Viewpoint and Filmpack panels.

What these groups provide is an escape from the incessant scrolling or hiding and unhiding other long-paneled interfaces subject you to. And that's a blessing you quickly take for granted.

There are some smaller but welcome touches as well, like the blue highlight showing how far you've moved a slider setting.


Under the Image menu, you'll find the new Rename Selected Images option when you select a few thumbnails in the PhotoLibrary module. This long-awaited feature has been a perennial request of PhotoLab users.

A popup menu provides three options:

  • Replace Text simply replaces whatever text you enter in the Find field with whatever you enter in the Replacement field.
  • Add Text prompts for text to add at the beginning or the end of the name.
  • Rename & Add Counter prompts for a custom name, a staring number, the number of digits to use and the position for the renaming (before, after).

A text field for the text to Find and another for the Replacement text is provided. Those are literals.

Underneath them there's a filename preview so you can confirm you are getting what you want.


The History panel lists every operation you've performed during your edit.

You can go back in time turning off later edits.

It not only shows the operation performed but the value that was set.

If you apply a preset, the Advanced History can unpack all those edits for a more detailed review of what was done to the image.


This function is available when you right click on an edited image in the filmstrip and select Copy Correction Settings.

Selective Copy & Paste. Organized like the panel categories.

You can then click on a target image or a selection of images and pick the Paste Selected Corrections option to check or uncheck the edits you want to copy to a new image.

This function will be familiar to Lightroom users who rely on the Sync option which similarly provides a palette of corrections to apply to selected images from an edited original.


We're no fans of watermarking images. We much prefer adding copyright image the Exif header of our images. For Photo Corners we do that for every image we publish whether it's ours or not. It's shocking how few images take advantage of that protection, which image editing software can make plain as day to anyone with the bright idea of repurposing your work.

But DxO suggested its new Instant Watermarking tool can be used to brand your images. And that idea appealed to us.

They've done a very nice job of it, too.

Both images and text are supported, so you can include your logo along with your name if you like.


You can browse for an image and it will load in the display area. You click on a nine-panel grid to indicate where you want the logo to appear. Sliders let your scale it and you can place it with margin sliders that let you move it off the edges.

Image Watermarking. It almost provides a mini-image editor for your graphic.

You can also select the Blending mode and the Opacity. And you can save the arrangement as a preset.


Text gets just a thorough a treatment.

Text Watermarking. A comprehensive array of options.

After you enter some text, you can pick a font and style and, as with Image, pick one of the nine panels to place it. You can also Scale it and set margins.

Both Blending mode and Opacity are also available so you can get an exact match to an Image watermark, if you wish.

And like Image, you can save the arrangement as a preset.

If you use both, they are both activate, of course.


As with any new release of any Raw image processor, new cameras are supported. In this case, support has been added for the Canon R5/R6/850D, Nikon D6/Z 5, Olympus M10 Mark IV and Panasonic S5.


While VP Marketing and Product Strategy Jean-Marc Alexia told us this version will run on anything that ran PhotoLab 3 (and even runs on his old beater, just a bit more slowly), that isn't quite the case on macOS where the minimum requirement has been raise to Mojave v10.14.6.

Otherwise, that rule seems to hold.

Our MacBook Pro (6,1) is a good deal older than Alexia's machine, we suspect. But with a patched copy of Mojave running on it, it managed to export the Nikon D300 image using DeepPRIME in 6:12. So he was right. It will work. And the wait was worth it.


Informed by an in-depth demo by PhotoJoseph during the briefing (who is featured on the DxO webinars), we used PhotoLab 4 on a number of images over the last few weeks.

The Nikon D300 banner image above compares to The Overlook processed in Adobe Camera Raw. This version enjoyed DeepPRIME processing after a routine edit.

But we also processed our Columbus Day image of kite with it. That was shot with an Olympus E-PL1.

The Kite. Shot with an Olympus E-PL1 and 14-42mm kit lens at 39mm (76mm equivalent) and f7.1, 1/80 second and ISO 1250 (rather noisy on this camera).

Both those cameras are antiques, roughly 10 year old technology. But PhotoLab 4 handled them nicely.

We were particularly impressed with the first image we processed of the kite. The E-PL1 gets noisy fast and tops out at ISO 1600. So ISO 1250 was pushing it. Even in the thumbnail we could see noise in the shadows.

But PhotoLab 4 knows all about that because the E-PL1 and its original 14-42mm zoom are in its database. It cleaned up the image so nicely we felt like we were processing it through Piccure+ first.

The thumbnail of the kite here doesn't demonstrate how well PhotLab 4 did processing its noise because it's much reduced in size.

But here's a 100 percent detail from The Overlook to show you how smoothly it rendered the scene:

100 Pct. Detail. PhotoLab 4 rendered the scene very smoothly without obscuring the cables on the bridge but wait, there's more.

But wait, as Russell Brown used to say in his youth, there's more.

Compare the two renderings above and you'll see a dramatic difference in color rendering and dynamic range. Admittedly, we manually edited each image but we were able to squeeze a good deal more image quality out of the PhotoLab 4 rendering than ACR.

100 Pct. Detail. You can almost read the small sign on the pedestal but what we loved was the color and dynamic range.

Now package that in a sleek interface that minimizing scrolling around to get to tools and you have a very rewarding experience right out of the box.


Available today directly from the company, DxO is offering a special launch price, as is its custom.

Through Nov. 19, the discounted prices for a new license (with regular prices in parentheses) are:

  • DxO PhotoLab 4 Elite Edition:
    $149.99 ($199), £129.99 (£169), €149.99 (€199)
  • DxO PhotoLab 4 Essential Edition:
    $99.99 ($129), £86.99 (£112), €99.99 (€129)

Upgrades are:

  • DxO PhotoLab 4 Elite Edition:
    $69.99 ($89), £54.99 (£69), €69.99 ($89)
  • DxO PhotoLab 4 Essential Edition:
    $49.99 ($69), £42.99 (£59), €49.99 ($69)


Even something as simple as the file renaming tool, which we thought was a little underpowered with no regular expression support, surprised us during the demo with how well implemented it is. Some of the things we'd use a regular expression for are implemented in the dialog.

We really liked the changes to the user interface and suspect we'll see them emulated in other software. They address real world issues in finding tools and making edits that reduce not just the frustration of a new tool but getting around the interface of a familiar one.

As for the AI enhanced image quality, we can just repeat we have about 60,000 images to run through it. What impresses us is that it isn't just for the latest and greatest gear but for even our old stuff, both cameras and computers. That's very exciting.

We've always argued that software is the real frontier in digital photography. And DxO is making us look smart.

PhotoLab 4 earns all four photo corners from us.

Artificial Intelligence has Revolutionized Denoising and Raw Conversion Technology

DxO's DeepPRIME AI technology outpaces all other solutions currently on the market

PARIS, France -- DxO, a software developer that has developed a reputation in the photography industry and one of the global leaders in image processing technology, is announcing the immediate release of DxO DeepPRIME, an artificial intelligence technology dedicated to editing photos in Raw format. Trained with deep learning technology using the millions of photos DxO's laboratories have analysed for more than 15 years, DxO DeepPRIME employs cutting-edge artificial intelligence and drastically improves digital noise reduction while also delivering more effective demosaicing. The resulting photo quality is nothing short of spectacular, especially for photos taken in low light conditions, with small pixels or with early-generation cameras.

"We've always thought that nothing could extract pertinent information from a noisy image better than the human brain," explained Wolf Hauser, Scientific Director at DxO. "It is fascinating to see that AI is now even better at the job!"

DxO DeepPRIME: State-of-the-art Neural Networks

DxO DeepPRIME AI belongs to a class of neural networks call convolutional neural networks, the structure of which is directly inspired by neuroscientific research on the human brain. The computer is allowed to determine the values of millions of parameters within the network, hence the term automatic learning, based on a vast database of carefully chosen input and output example images.

DxO DeepPRIME is Trained Using a One-of-a-kind Database of Calibration Images

Since its founding in 2003, DxO has earned an international reputation after measuring and calibrating hundreds of cameras and millions of lenses using a protocol that is more extensive than any other in the industry. Its laboratories have measured the amount of distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberrations, loss of sharpness and digital noise present in Raw images for each equipment combination and every situation with an extraordinary level of precision. Such in-depth knowledge of the performance and defects of each piece of photography equipment, which now totals to more than 60,000 different combinations, has resulted in a database of several million thoroughly calibrated images, each one containing several thousands of characteristic points. This database ultimately provided the DxO DeepPRIME network with several billion samples to learn from.

Revolutionary Denoising and Demosaicing Performance

Based on these billions of datasets, the DxO DeepPRIME artificial intelligence technology taught itself the two fundamental operations for editing any Raw image file -- demosaicing and denoising.

Demosaicing consists of recreating complete colours based on the pixels from a photo sensor that initially only receive one of three basic colours. Denoising involves correcting digital noise, which produces granulation and coloured dots that significantly degrade the quality of photos taken in low-light conditions. Using a traditional approach, these two operations are performed separately, with each one introducing artifacts that degrade the quality of the other. Through deep learning, DxO DeepPRIME uses a holistic approach that combines demosaicing and denoising in the same step, resulting in exceptional performance.

"There are a number of applications for DxO DeepPRIME," explains Je[!]ro[!]me Me[!]nie[!]re, CEO of DxO. "In the field of photography, DxO DeepPRIME creates new creative opportunities by helping expert photographers overcome digital noise or a lack of light. For amateur photographers, DxO DeepPRIME compensates the drawbacks of the smaller sensors on compact and bridge cameras, which can typically only take high-quality images in bright light. Lastly, it can also be used to breathe new life into photos taken by early-generation digital cameras."

In addition to photography for the general public, DxO is also exploring ways to apply DxO DeepPRIME in the medical, surveillance and automotive industry.


DxO DeepPRIME is immediately available to the general public through DxO PhotoLab 4, the latest version of DxO's advanced photo-editing software that was has announced. A fully functional, one-month trial version of DxO PhotoLab 4 is available on the DxO Web site:

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