The photography establishment diehards see the camera market as Canon and Nikon plus a rag-tag of also-rans, and the RAW converter market as Aperture, Lightroom/ACR plus a rag-tag of also-rans. Well, those brands/products do certainly dominate the market but it is all too easy to become dismissive of the alternatives and thus fail to spot the emerging gems.
One such gem is DxO Optics Pro from DxO Image Science in France. Having only recently come across it (in photoclubalpha.com) I have given it a whirl. No longer do I believe that RAW conversion is a mature, commoditised technology. DxO simply does a better job of the basic RAW conversion process than the market leaders. It doesn’t have the polished interface or breadth of features, but it produces tangibly better pictures, particularly at higher ISO ratings. Now isn’t that what really counts?
Using DxO for image processing is easier, quicker and produces better results. It’s a different way of working compared with say ACR or Lightroom. With LR you have a lot of decisions to make and a lot of sliders to fiddle with. As against that, DxO is rather more “intelligent” and does most of the work for you. It still has all the sliders but has dedicated modules for particular combinations of camera bodies and lenses with oodles of data about how they perform at various combinations of focal length, aperture, etc and uses that to set the sliders in the optimum default positions for you. Most of the time it is best just to leave the sliders alone. Job done better and with a fraction of the effort. Maybe less attractive to compulsive pixel peepers and settings fiddlers – but just dandy for people with lives to get on with.
Version 6 promises to be a significant improvement, taking the high ISO performance even further. From DxO, I will accept nothing less than miracles.