How to use DxO Optics Pro with Lightroom

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DxO Optics Pro interface

One of the benefits of using Lightroom is that (provided your lens has been profiled by Adobe) you can use it to correct some common optical aberrations.

  • Vignetting caused by using wide apertures (although unfortunately not vignetting caused by stacking filters).
  • Chromatic aberrations and purple fringing. Modern software is so good that these are no longer an issue.
  • Barrel distortion with wide-angle lenses and pincushion distortion with telephotos. This is where straight lines near the edge of the frame appear to bend inwards or outwards.

In the days of film if any of these lens aberrations were visible in your photo there was very little you could do to correct them. Now, with digital cameras and Lightroom you can squeeze more image quality from your lenses than would otherwise be possible. It won’t make images taken with that inexpensive 18-300mm superzoom look like they were taken with expensive professional lenses, but it will be a huge improvement.

Mirrorless camera makers like Fujifilm take this idea even further and build lens profiles into the lens’s firmware. Lightroom recognises it automatically (as does the camera if you shoot JPEG) and applies the corrections automatically. If you shoot with a Fujifilm camera and process the photos in Lightroom you will never see the barrel distortion that is characteristic of their wide-angle lenses.

Massey Memorial, Wellington (Lightroom)

Above: This photo was taken with a Fujinon 18mm f2 lens on a Fujifilm X-Pro 1. Processed in Lightroom it shows no sign of barrel distortion.

Massey Memorial, Wellington (Accuraw)

Above: This is the same photo opened in Accuraw – a Raw processor for the Mac OS X that deliberately doesn’t use the lens profile embedded in Fujifilm’s Raw files. I haven’t processed the file in any way (and yes, as you can see I’m using the trial version), the important thing is that you can see the barrel distortion at the edges of the frame.

While Lightroom (and Adobe Camera Raw if you prefer to process your Raw files in Photoshop) is very good at lens corrections there are some things that it can’t correct.

The first is the poor edge sharpness typical of most lenses at wide apertures.

The second is softening caused by diffraction when using small apertures like f16 and f22.

However, there is a program that handles both of these very well. It is called DxO Optics Pro and has been recommended to me by several readers. It uses profiles created by DxO (who also provide the DxO Mark website that analyses lens performance) to correct softening caused by diffraction and poor edge sharpness at wide apertures.

The applications are obvious. For example, if you are forced to shoot a scene at f22 because it’s the only way you’ll have enough depth-of-field to get everything sharp, then having a program which is able to compensate for diffraction related softening will help you get the best out of the file in post-processing.

Wuzhen, China (Lightroom)

Above: This photo was taken at f22 using a Canon EF 17-40mm f4L lens with an EOS 5D Mark II. It is softer than it would have been had I used an aperture of f8 or f11.

Wuzhen, China (Lightroom & Accuraw comparison)

Above: This comparison showing enlargements from the top right of the frame shows how DxO Optics Pro creates a sharper image than Lightroom, thanks to its ability to correct softening caused by diffraction.

DxO Optics Pro works well, but is at a disadvantage to Lightroom in that it is not nearly as good at organising your photos.

Recognising this, DxO has worked hard to make the latest versions integrate with Lightroom. You can now export files from Lightroom to DxO Optics Pro, then export them back to Lightroom to continue working on them.

Unlike other plug-ins, you can export a Raw file (you may have to convert it to DNG first) from Lightroom to DxO Optics Pro where you can carry out the required corrections. When you are done, you can send the photo back to Lightroom, where it is saved and opened as a linear DNG file. This is basically a TIFF file in a DNG wrapper, but the benefit is that you can make further adjustments in Lightroom, including adjusting white balance, that would be very much restricted if you were using the TIFF format.

The only disadvantage to this method is that linear DNG files are very large, so sending photos on the round trip through DxO Optics Pro does end up using more hard drive space. If that doesn’t bother you, and you regularly feel the need to correct edge softness or diffraction, then you could find this workflow useful.

The best way to see if DxO Optics Pro would be useful to you is to download the trial.

There is more information about the program’s features and pricing here.

This DxO tutorial explains the process of integrating Lightroom and DxO Optics Pro in more detail.

Have you used DxO Optics Pro? How does it compare to Lightroom? I’d love to hear your opinion – let me know in the comments.

Further reading

You can learn more about processing photos in Lightroom with these articles.

HDR Merge in Lightroom: First Thoughts

Video Tutorial: Environmental Portrait in Lightroom

Video Tutorial: Black & White in Lightroom

A Short Guide to Using Smart Previews in Lightoom 5

Portrait Processing in Lightroom

How to Uncrop Square Format Images in Lightroom

Mastering Lightroom ebooks

Mastering Lightroom ebooks by Andrew S Gibson

My Mastering Lightroom ebooks show you how to get the most out of Lightroom. They are written for Lightroom 4, Lightroom 5, Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC and cover the entire workflow process, including post-processing in the Develop module. Click the link to learn more.



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9 Responses to “How to use DxO Optics Pro with Lightroom”

  1. Phil Olenick says:

    Thanks for the clarification about what the DNG that OpticsPro can send back to Lightroom (or Photoshop) is.

    I bought OpticsPro based on Ron Martinsen’s recent blog post comparing the color rendition of various RAW file interpreters to original camera JPEGs from a Canon DSLR – he argues that the camera manufacturer’s design decisions in creating in-camera JPEGs shouldn’t be lightly discarded.

    The color rendition of Canon’s DPP was of course the closest to the in-camera JPEG, but my experimentation showed me that DPP strips out all metadata – including lens info and other shooting data – unless you have it export TIFFs using 8 bit color, knocking it back to JPEG’s sRGB, instead of the higher color depth RAW files are capable of.

    Also very close in appearance to the in-camera JPEG was OpticsPro (Adobe’s color was very different), so I downloaded the OpticsPro trial. I found that I liked the rendition of its DNG output better than its TIFF output. The DNG had a much less contrasty – and more detailed – color rendition. That left the lurking suspicion that I was thus still using Adobe’s RAW file import. It’s a relief to know that OpticsPro’s DNG is really a TIFF in disguise!

    Once I had played with the trial of OpticsPro Elite, I tried out its own plugin, Viewpoint, which does even more in terms of lens correction, making the 10-18 EF-S wide angle lens I bought last summer much more useful. I bought them both – unfortunately right before they were put on sale for half price by DxO! (Since I had bought them through Amazon, DxO accommodated me by giving me a few more installs.)

    One thing to be aware of – 32bit Windows machines can’t run either of these DxO programs – you need 64 bit Windows or a Mac running 10.8 or later (which leaves out my fiancee’s 10.6.8 iMac).

    • Hi Phil, glad the article was useful although I was oversimplifying a little when I said that a linear DNG file is basically a TIFF file in a DNG wrapper. I think it would be more accurate to say that a linear DNG file is like a TIFF file. I don’t know enough about the architecture of DNG files to say exactly what a linear DNG file is on a technical level, but it seems to be best described as a partially processed Raw file with floating colour values. It is like a TIFF in that it is an enormous file that takes up a lot of hard drive space, but like a Raw file in that you can still adjust White Balance and change the colour space.

      This article has more information:

      • Phil Olenick says:

        A few updates and corrections.

        1) There’s no requirement to convert to DNG to get an image into OpticsPro – it works on original RAW files equally as well.

        2) I went to a holiday show recently and shot pix of friends in that show using ISO 6400 on my Canon 70D with the 18-135 STM lens. Comparing the results of the default processing in Lightroom and DxO of the same CR2 RAW files, DxO’s noise reduction (coupled with its Smart Lighting) put Lightroom’s to shame. I’m no longer afraid to use high ISOs.

        3) If you’re using OpticsPro for its ability to do better noise reduction than Lightroom, or for its more faithful color rendition to the camera maker’s intent than Adobe, you should *not* use DNG to send the DxO-processed image into Lightroom, as Adobe, when opening a DNG, will ignore anything DxO did other than lens correction.

        To keep the full benefits of DxO’s work you should set it to send a 16-bit TIFF into Lightroom. (This bit of advice is from DxO’s workflow notes on its website – and is the reverse of what I posted earlier. I turns out I was right about that in the first place!)

        4) Unlike Canon’s DPP, DxO includes the metadata when sending a 16 bit TIFF. Fortunately, your choice of output format choice is sticky, so once you set it to 16 bit TIFF, that selection will remain until you change it.

        • Hi Phil, it seems that DNG is the best format for exporting photos from DxO Optics Pro to Lightroom if you are using DxO Optics Pro for lens corrections only. If you do anything else in DxO Optics Pro then TIFF is the best format.

          I didn’t look at DxO Optics Pro for noise reduction, but it’s good to know that it’s so effective.

  2. Richard Brouillet says:

    What about the interest of using DXO OPTICS PRO with a Fuji camera (I have a XT1) as DXO didn’t make any profile yet for Fuji? Maybe the profil are not required for the lens as they are included in the firmware of the lens… I am interest in the noise removal capacity of DXO.



  3. Phil Olenick says:

    It occurs to me that in the case of a new camera that will be – but isn’t yet – supported by DxO, you could, in the meantime, use Adobe’s free DNG converter to make a DNG that DxO could then use. (Adobe – being a much larger company – gets support for new cameras up on the web more quickly.) I’d still use 16-bit TIFF for the trip into Lightroom.

    You’d be gambling that the lens/camera combination will behave similarly to the same lens on a different camera from the same company that has the same size sensor, but it would get you by during the transition!

  4. Phil Olenick says:

    Or you could use Lightroom’s “Convert to DNG” option during importation of the image – but I’d import the original RAW file as well.

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