DxO Takes On Adobe

Bengt Nyman

A case of megalomania or a proper challenge? I am definitely a fan of DxO as a source for scientific, photographic test and performance data for camera image sensors and lenses — as published on DxOMark. I much prefer to have this data under my belt when deciding on a new purchase. This is not to say that the nerdy science aspect of photography is of any more importance than the artistic aspects of the art itself. I mentioned in one of my earlier photographic fictions that I am anticipating a growing importance of systematic integration of lens design and lens correction software. I recently experienced a striking example of exactly that.

I purchased the inexpensive Samyang 14mm F2.8 just for fun, knowing that the image IQ would be far from what I would have preferred. Also knowing how hard it is to design a “perfect” ultra wide angle lens I settled for the fact that the Samyang 14 promised excellent center contrast and resolution.

Is DxO turning into a photography software game changer?
Is DxO turning into a photography software game changer?
Shooting 36MP cameras with primes, I have learned to appreciate the new freedom of cropping and throwing away ¾ of the frame to end up with a completely acceptable 9MP image, should it become necessary, and of course depending on the final use.

I have been delighted with the coverage of the Samyang 14mm, even though the distortions are pretty pronounced. Lightroom presently does not offer lens corrections for Samyang 14mm, though lens corrections for this lens is a must.

I have criticized DxO for their apparent shift of attention from timely delivery of sensor and lens performance data to marketing lens correction software. I can see a financial need to supplement their data collection with a marketable product and apparently DxO has chosen an all out challenge of Adobe Lightroom.

Not only does DxO Optics Pro offer outstanding sensor and lens correction software, but they have apparently also decided to try to match the entire functionality of the Adobe Lightroom software package, at the same price of $150.

I consequently downloaded the trail version of the DxO Optics Pro 10 Elite. What I wanted was the lens correction for the Samyang 14mm. I got it and it is outstanding. It makes the Samyang a keeper lens whereas without correction it was on my list of lenses to sell.

Is it worth $150, to make a $400 lens a keeper lens? I don’t know, but I do think that the concept is right; to take advantage of lens correction software to produce outstanding image quality at a reduced price.

I have also briefly explored the remaining functions of the DxO Pro 10 Elite software. This is in no way a review of the software. You find better sources for that on the Web here and here. However, I took the liberty to make some observations.

In summary, the software is clean and straight forward. The lens corrections are excellent and I wish DxO had stopped there and offered it for $50. I would welcome the lens correction portion of the DxO Optics as a stand-alone software package doubling as a plugin to Lightroom and Photoshop. I would buy it on the spot for $50, providing that DxO improved the timeliness of their lens testing and provided free updates for at least a couple years.

To pay $150 for a “Lightroom wannabe” and to wait for months for testing of new lenses is less tempting.

  • DxO Optics Pro is all I currently need, alongside Photoshop. The camera and lens modules download automatically, editing is easy and intuitive. I’m not into batch processing, that’s probably not the software’s strength which, in itself, offers all I might ever need.

  • Bengt Nyman

    DxO Optics Pro offers easy and intuitive editing including several features not available in Lightroom. On the other hand, I know many who rely heavily on the Lightroom Catalog. In my case the Lightroom Graduated Filter has become an important feature. So my workflow starts in DxO Optics, moves into Lightroom and occasionally dips into Photoshop.
    I still wish that DxO lens testing would not lag months and months behind the release of new lenses. It has forced me to settle for LenScore and their naked-lens test data which is far from the performance that you can expect on camera when it comes to long focal length lenses.

  • Bengt Nyman

    I just received an e-mail from DxO reminding me that DxO Viewpoint, which offers perspective control in a stand-alone/plug-in $49 package also features the same lens correction found in DxO Optics Pro.
    Excellent ! Thank You DxO.

  • The Zoom Creep

    “The lens corrections are excellent and I wish DxO had stopped there and offered it for $50. I would welcome the lens correction portion of the DxO Optics as a stand-alone software package doubling as a plugin to Lightroom and Photoshop.”

    I very well might be missing something, but it appears as though this passage is pretty much a verbatim description of DxO ViewPoint, which sells for $49.


  • Bengt Nyman

    Agreed, as described below. A minor problem is that DxO Viewpoint stand-alone does not read Raw.

  • Brad

    In my experience many of teh DXO results make no logical sense. I have seen scores for a lens on D3 at one level and teh same lens on a D700 scoring about half as much. Also for teh Optics application, too bad if you shoot with Fuji cameras.

  • Bengt Nyman

    In optics the IQ of the final image is limited by the (IQ of the) weakest link, be it the lens or the camera.
    A certain Sigma lens on a Nikon scores 43/33 while the same lens on a different camera scores 18/7.
    Considering that the weakest link dominates the end result it makes perfect sense.

  • Brad

    D3 and D700 have same sensor and same image processing pathway. The images are the same if you use the same lens. If the scores are to be believed, they should close to identical yet. In a number of places they are significantly different.

  • Bengt Nyman

    I don’t know what numbers you are referring to.
    The Nikon 85 f/1.4 DxO scores are identical on the two cameras: 28/12 on a D3 and 28/12 on a D700.

  • Bengt Nyman

    I talked to Adobe: The DxO Viewpoint does not show up in the Lightroom Plug-in manager, don’t ask me why, but it is still there and can be found under: “Photo…Edit in DxO Viewpoint”.
    It works very well and is a good way to combine Adobe Lightroom with DxO Lens Corrections+Viewpoint. That’s exactly what I was looking for.

  • Brad

    I would have to search again if I was to find examples. I gave up on trusting the reliability of DXO scores some time ago

  • Bengt Nyman

    The problem with DxO is that their method involves testing new lenses on a large number of cameras which often delays DxO results by many months.
    I do like the fact that LenScore test the lenses off camera for a quick comparison and appraisal of new lenses.
    Unfortunately, the LenScore method appears to unrealistically favor long focal length lenses.
    LenScore data suggests that you should shoot everything with a 200 to 800 mm telephoto lens for a 30% advantage in image IQ over a shorter lens, whereas DxO results show that instead you can expect a similar reduction in IQ.
    I recently purchased the Nikon 20mm f/1.8 based on a LenScore which is 6.7% lower than that of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4, which for me is a well known reference.

  • Bengt Nyman

    Hot from the horses mouth:
    LenScore, presently a faster and simpler alternative to DxO told me that they are working on a great new test data presentation tool which will give you all the answers that I have been hounding them for.
    Did LenScore give me permission to leak this information ?
    My guess is that they are hoping that I would.