Earlier this year I posted a review of DxO PhotoLab 3 over on podfeet.com. In it, I said
The quality of images output from PhotoLab is the best I’ve ever seen. The noise reduction and sharpness are, I believe, industry-leading. The rest of the tools are as good as if not better than the competition.
I also said
I got such great results with new photos that I went back and revisited some old favourite images that I knew were some of my best and have been startled to find they can be made even better with PhotoLab.
That’s the reason behind this post. When I said I went back to some of my favourite images… I did not realise how deep I would go. I have since reprocessed all 100 images from my Wings Over Wairarapa 2015 Flickr album, and also added 16 more images to it.
Then I moved on to the 136 photos from my Singapore album, which I have just finished replacing on Flickr. It is some of these photos that I’d like to share with you the before and after results.
While I chose to process the same photos, I did not attempt to replicate the editorial choices, such as cropping, colour, and orientation. I went through them with fresh eyes, and so some have received a significantly different treatment than before. However, it is important to note that some of these decisions, such as choosing a closer crop, were strongly driven by the quality of results I was able to obtain. Even some photos which were largely unaltered in composition, such as the three examples here, have obvious differences due to PhotoLab 3’s specific treatment of lens distortion which Luminar 3 did not do.
Here is the first image. This is the Cloud Dome in Gardens by the Bay. The full images are shown first but as they are shrunken to fit the page format, what follows is a 750 pixel crop which should, on a large enough screen, be pixel accurate. I have gone for different lighting (the two applications approach light in significantly different ways) but you should be able to see, in the crop at least, the finer detail, such as in the waterfall inside.
This next photo is taken inside the Cloud Dome. It features the enormous waterfall that greets you as you first enter the dome. The difference to look for here is the detail in the foliage.
The third and final example is still in Gardens by the Bay, this time in the Supertree Grove during the Garden Rhapsody show (my favourite experience from our week-long trip).
In this image, the clarity of the metal structure of the trees is far crisper and you can also see the noise reduction at work on the sky, giving a smooth colour rather than the textured look of the original.
These are just three examples where I have been able to illustrate the difference. I did find myself over sharpening some images and later dialling that back, but on the whole I am very pleased with the crispness and clarity DxO PhotoLab 3 allows me to wring from my photos. That said, I did struggle to get the lighting as good as I had with Luminar in a handful of cases. That may just be down to operator education, but Luminar was very easy to operate when you just wanted to give a photo a bit of ‘punch’. If I could add the smart lighting and sky adjustment from Luminar into PhotoLab, I think it would be that much better.