Often people wonder if software really makes a difference. They may as well use Adobe CC or CaptureOne to process their images. Partly it’s herd mentality. People just follow what “others are doing”.
Sometimes software really is different. The original Final Cut Pro changed the post-production industry thanks to how much more usable, how much easier it was to learn and how much more affordable it was than Avid’s Symphony. Adobe Premiere was around then but then as now, Premiere as a poorly integrated cross-platform video editor was relatively unreliable. All kinds of driver conflicts and crashes.
In photo editing right now, there is one piece of software which has a clear edge in noise reduction and hence in processing high ISO images.
DxO PhotoLab performs miracles with noise reduction. Lightroom is a distant second. No one else comes close. No Canon shooter should be without DxO PhotoLab. Adds two usable stops to any of their cameras. A 5D Mark III image looks clean at ISO 12800 instead of topping out at ISO 3200.
I’ve been asked to show an example and I’ll pull one from a recent football match where I was trying out my “new” Canon EF 300mm f2.8L IS I. It turned out my copy was delivered with a circular polarizer and not a placeholder filter, hence I was shooting about 1.5 stops darker than the lens normally would be. ISO was cranked out at 12800 on my Canon 5DS R and the image was still a bit dark. This is about technically the worst image I shot all season, but due to the content – compact Mario Marko stiff arming a much bigger defender – I wanted to use it. I made my best effort with each software program.
Here’s how it looks out of PhaseOne’s CaptureOne (C1) which is considered the professional benchmark for photo processing these days.
Download full C1 processed JPEG
The above is a horrible image, barely publishable, somewhat embarrassing.
Here’s what the same image looks like after DxO PhotoLab with Prime Noise Reduction.
Download full DxO PhotoLab processed jpeg
Software does make a difference.
Here’s a link to the full RAW file if you’d like to try your own post-production software on this image.
CaptureOne is not without its merits. For low and normal ISO images, the colour manipulation tools are much more powerful and useful than what DxO offers. DxO has colour correction tools while C1 offers the ability to do advanced colour manipulation.
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“DxO PhotoLab performs miracles with noise reduction. Lightroom is a distant second. No one else comes close.“
Not even CLOSE to being true.
Hey Keith, thanks for sharing your insights. I own a copy of Photo Ninja (I’m not sure if it will open any more due to the publisher expiring licenses or perhaps the publisher auto-updates the app and then tells you your license is expired).
While the noise reduction in Photo Ninja was not bad (about the same level as current Lightroom if I remember correctly), it was not in the neighbourhood of DxO PhotoLab’s Prime Noise Reduction.
There’s a RAW file linked to my post. Could you do your best processing on that RAW and send a link to the finished image a comment? I’m genuinely interested.