When the DxO first introduce the Prime noise reduction in its DxO Optics Pro 9 it catch my attention immediately. Although I’m satisfied with the Lightroom 5 noise reduction but I’m still interested in how much better the Prime NR can be. However, the processing and loading time in DxO Optics Pro 9 was significantly slower compare to Lightroom 5.
Soon, DxO released the DxO Optics Pro 10 which claims that the Prime NR performance and loading time in DxO Optics Pro 10 had been boosted up to 4 times and 10 times faster respectively than it was in DxO Optics Pro 9. So I grabbed a copy and give it a try, wow! Impressive! The Prime NR only takes between 1 minute to 1 minute 20 seconds to render my photos on my MBP 13 late 2013, and the loading time for images is significantly improved!
I spent some time to search online but there is not much comparison between DxO Optics Pro 10 vs Lightroom 5. Therefore, I decided to do the comparison myself and share with you all because the DxO Optics Pro 10 is definitely worth the try.
1. Landscape Rendering and Adjustment
First of all, we will look at the comparison of rendering capability of both application. Besides the standard shadow and highlight recovery, DxO Optics Pro 10 also introduce the Smart Lighting optimisation which brings out the details from both underexposed and overexposed areas.
The default rendering for both application seems not much different.
When apply the auto adjustment, Lightroom 5 opens up more than the DxO Optics Pro 10 due to the different default settings. Lightroom 5 increase exposure and do the highlight and shadow recovery while the DxO Optics Pro 10 only do the lens correction and apply DxO’s Smart Lighting in slight intensity as default.
After applied some quick adjustment, both results looked pretty good and very similar to each other.
However, DxO Optics Pro 10 tends to be more vibrant and saturated than Lightroom even though I set the vibrancy and saturated of DxO to 0 while Lightroom 5 vibrancy is set to +65 and saturated 0.
The highlight and shadow recovery tools in DxO Optics Pro performs more subtle than the Lightroom 5, which means without the DxO’s Smart Lighting optimization, its highlight and shadow recovery tools does not perform as effective as the Lightroom 5’s recovery capability.
Well, both applications utilize their own technology to render the images and the results are decent and pretty close to each other.
2. Noise Reduction
DxO Optics Pro 10 provides two different NR technologies – high quality and the Prime. The Prime NR calculates 1000 surrounding pixels to perform NR, and it is only available in Elite version.
Both comparison shots below were shot at ISO 1600 with Sony NEX 6 and show in 100% cropped.
Comparison Set 1
Lightroom 5 NR does a decent job, DxO high quality NR has slightly better performance (look at the blue light surrounding), while the DxO Prime NR gives a cleaner and sharper image than other two NR.
Comparison Set 2
In the second comparison, it is more obvious to see the difference between DxO’s Prime NR and the other two NRs. DxO’s Prime NR gives cleaner results and retrieve more details in this comparison.
In general, both DxO’s high quality NR and Prime NR give cleaner results and more details in high ISO shots than Lightroom 5’s NR. The difference between DxO’s high quality NR and Lightroom 5’s NR is not that far but both of them are certainly outperformed by the DxO’s Prime NR.
Winner: DxO’s Prime NR (only available in Elite version)
3. Perspective Correction
Adobe had introduced the Upright tools in Lightroom 5 to perform perspective correction, while the DxO Optics Pro 10 has to install the DxO Viewpoint 2 plugin (sell at USD 79 as standalone with plugin) to do the same job.
Lightroom 5’s Upright tools has both auto and manual adjustment mode but the DxO’s perspective correction is available in semi-auto and manual adjustment. Semi-auto? Yes, we have to place the alignment tools ourselves instead of one-click button in Lightroom 5 to perform the correction. Although it is troublesome but it provides the flexibility to correct the perspective.
Both results are similar to each other but Lightroom 5 only requires one click.
I used the DxO’s 4 points tools to do the full correction while the Lightroom 5 only require one-click.
Auto Adjustment (Only Lightroom 5)
Lightroom 5 provides Auto adjustment, it does a decent job to correct the vertical perspective and horizon.
Second comparison compares the DxO’s 8 points correction and Lightroom 5 Auto correction.
Both applications give decent correction to the perspective but the Lightroom 5 only require one-click rather than self-selective adjustment.
Winner: Lightroom 5
4. Volume Deformation
Besides the perspective correction, the DxO Viewpoint plugin also provides the volume deformation correction which is used to correct the distortion caused by wide-angle shots. Finally, this action is an Auto adjustment in DxO Viewpoint plugin, so does the Lightroom 5 Auto adjustment manage to do the same job with one click?
Well, both applications do a good job to correct the wide-angle distortion but this time Lightroom 5 need to perform manual adjustment because none of the auto adjustment works in this case.
Winner: DxO Optics Pro 10
5. Distortion Correction
DxO is well known for its lens distortion correction, especially the wide-angle and fish eye lens. I use the sample shots from DxO that shot by Canon Fish-eye 15mm for the comparison below.
Neither Lightroom 5’s Upright tool Auto adjustment nor the combination of the Auto adjustment with the manual distortion correction (+100) gives acceptable correction.
Interestingly, the DxO Optics Pro 10 does not recognize this image’s camera and lens combination while the DxO Viewpoint 2 recognize it and prompt for the DxO module download. Although one-click in DxO Viewpoint 2 fix the distortion perfectly, but I still choose to manual correct it in DxO Optics Pro 10 for fair comparison.
Manually choose the correction type as fisheye and set the intensity to +77, bang! The correction is as perfect as the it does in the DxO Viewpoint 2.
Winner: DxO Optics Pro 10
6. Portrait Rendering
When processing portrait shots, I was frustrated by cooling down the skin tones in warm shot initially. Lightroom 5 provides red, orange, and yellow tones while DxO Optics Pro 10 provides only red and yellow tones. It takes me awhile to figure out the balance to cool down the skin tones without desaturate too much red color in the shots.
Let’s see what’s the results after some fine tune with both applications.
I applied DxO’s portrait preset but the lady’s skin tone still reddish than the Lightroom 5’s Auto adjustment.
After some trials and errors, I managed to cool down the skin tone and preserve the red color of the dress in both Lightroom 5 and DxO Optics Pro 10.
One thing I prefer the DxO when processing portrait shots is its micro contrast adjustment and the vignetting blur effect (has to install DxO Film Pack Elite 5). Lightroom 5’s clarity tool works similarly as DxO’s micro contrast adjustment and the radial filter may simulate the DxO’s vignetting blur effect but DxO manages to provide an unique soft and dreamy look, and it renders the skin more naturally than Lightroom 5.
However, Lightroom 5 provides local adjustment tools so I can enhance the iris, brighten the teeth, and etc. but I cannot do so in DxO Optics Pro 10 because DxO has not introduced these masking tools yet.
7. Dust Removal Tool
Lightroom 5 provides heal tool and clone tool while the DxO Optics Pro 10 only provides dust removal tool. Both Lightroom 5’s heal tool and DxO’s dust removal tool do a decent job to remove simple dust spot or branches by blending in the color. What if the object to be removed is a little bit more complicated, like a human being in the shot below?
Well, both applications manage to remove the people in the shot, but the Lightroom 5 outperforms DxO Optics Pro 10 here. Lightroom 5 let us choose the healing source, which means we can choose any part of the image to be blended in the place we want to remove.
Winner: Lightroom 5
8. Remove Haze
DxO Optics Pro 10 introduce the DxO Clear View which gives the image clearer and more vibrant view. Although Lightroom 5 does not have this specific function, but it is good to see whether the DxO Clear View has some outstanding performance that Lightroom 5 cannot match.
With a single click, DxO Clear View gives the image more vibrant view and preserve the white color nicely. Using Lightroom 5 auto tone, I have to increase the vibrancy to get the vibrant blue sky and do some HSL adjustment to keep the building as white color.
Let’s compare the night shots and see what’s the difference between both application outputs.
Again, Lightroom 5 needs few quick adjustment to achieve the similar result as DxO’s Clear View one-click adjustment.
Well, both applications mange to produce similar “clearer view”. DxO Clear View definitely provides an easier way to clear the “haze” while it is great that the Lightroom 5 also manage to give similar results with some adjustment.
Special in Lightroom 5
+ Digital Assest Management (with Keywords and Color Tagging)
+ Graduated Filter
+ Local Adjustment Brush
+ Healing and Cloning Tool
+ Radial Filter
+ Red Eyes Removal
+ Simpler User Interface
+ Flag Label for Accept/Reject
+ Watermark Output
+ Various Supported Plugin from Different Application (DxO Viewpoint, DxO Filmpack, Photomatix, Photoshop, Google Nik Collection, etc.)
+ Cheaper (USD 149 compare to DxO Optics Pro 10 Elite USD 199, DxO Viewpoint 2 USD 79 for perspective correction, if you need the split toning, vignetting effect, vignetting blur/soft focus effect and etc you will need to purchase DxO Film Pack 5 Elite at USD129)
+ Smaller File Size when Export at 99% and 100% Quality
Special in DxO Optics Pro 10
+ Local File Management
+ Great Micro-contrast Adjustment
+ Specific Contrast Adjustment for Fine-contrast, Highlight, Midtones, and Shadow (need the DxO Film Pack Elite 5, sell at USD 129 separately as standalone and plugin)
+ Excellent Prime Noise Reduction (only available in DxO Optics Pro Elite 10)
+ DxO Smart Lighting
+ DxO Clear View (only available in DxO Optics Pro Elite 10)
+ DxO Anti Moire (only available in DxO Optics Pro Elite 10)
+ DxO Lens Softness
+ Excellent Distortion and Perspective Correction
+ Specified Lens and Camera Professional Adjustment
+ Well Integration with DxO Viewpoint (sell separately in USD 79 as standalone application and plugin) for Perspective Correction and Volume Deformation Correction
+ Fully Integrated DxO Filmpack (sell separately in USD 79 for Essential and USD 129 for Elite, both are sell as standalone application and plugin) for Professional and Legendary Film Grain, Blur Effect, Advanced Contrast Adjustment (Fine, Highlight, Shadow, Midtown), Channel Mixer, etc.
+ Smaller File Size when Export at 98% Quality and Below
+ Expendable Function Description/Explanation at Top-right Corner
Honestly speaking, DxO Optics Pro 10 is slightly complicated than Lightroom 5 because it provides more controls for fine tune and adjustment. However, DxO provides the expandable function description/explanation within the application itself so it does make the learning easier.
Once I familiar with the DxO Optics Pro 10, I find out that it is pretty easy and capable to produce decent/great results without using the local adjustment brush (it does not have it yet). Its Prime noise reduction technology is the best in the market currently, and it offers supreme distortion and perspective correction especially for wide-angle and fisheye lenses. I love the way it renders the skin and capability of producing unique silky smooth and dreamy look and feel portraits.
Lightroom 5 is more refined and providing simpler user interface. Its graduated filter, healing/cloning tool, local adjustment brush, and radial filter are pretty solid and powerful. Lightroom 5 provides more complete function such as split toning, vignetting effect, out of focus effect (using the radial filter), auto and manual perspective correction. Its capability of using plugin such as Google Nik Collection, Photomatix, DxO Viewpoint, DxO Film Pack, and etc. provides greater flexibility in workflow and its digital asset management is very efficient to handle large amount of photo gallery using keywords and color tagging.
Both Lightroom 5 and DxO Optics Pro 10 are able to work together now, you may use the Lightroom 5’s DAM to manage the images, pass it to DxO for adjustment and raw converting, send the image embedded with DxO adjustment back to Lightroom 5 again (only in tiff format) for brush adjustment or fine tune. I don’t see the need to do so for myself but it might be great for some of you.
Lightroom 5 gives 30 days trial and all DxO applications give 31 days trial. It is good to try them out yourself before you buy them. If you prefer the DxO products, I would suggest you to purchase the DxO Optics Pro Elite (USD 199) with DxO Viewpoint 2 (USD 79) as minimum bundle to cover 95% of the need. If you prefer Lightroom 5, it is selling at USD 149 as standalone application which I prefer it over the Adobe cloud subscription package.
Any of them will give you decent/great results, it is only the matter of personal taste and choice. Once again, I share the comparison between DxO Optics Pro 10 and Lightroom 5 all on my personal interest and motivation, so please feel free to let me know what RAW processing software you are using currently and whether you get the help from this post 😉