DxO Optics Pro 9 Standard review

Price when reviewed

If there’s one application that could tempt us away from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5, it’s DxO Optics Pro. While other non-destructive image editors can’t compete with Lightroom’s sublime raw-processing engine, Optics Pro gives it a serious run for its money.

The two are evenly matched for output quality. Lightroom is more versatile, with the ability to apply adjustments to limited parts of the frame, but Optics Pro uses sophisticated analysis and a huge database of cameras and lenses to give superior instant results, especially when correcting geometric distortions from wide-angle zoom lenses.


Optics Pro can’t compete on breadth of features, with a bare minimum of library-management and export facilities. However, for photo optimisation, its automatic processing gives it a head start over Lightroom’s vanilla default settings. It’s handy if you have lots of photos but little time.

DxO has stuck to its guns with version 9, improving rather than adding tools. A new noise-reduction algorithm called Prime, which analyses each pixel with reference to more than a thousand neighbouring pixels to differentiate unwanted noise from desirable details, is a significant improvement on the already-decent noise-reduction algorithm.

Is it better than Lightroom’s noise reduction? Prime produced smoother expanses of block colour, and was marginally better at maintaining sharp details. It did a better job of maintaining subtle variations in hue, too. However, it wasn’t so good for out-of-focus areas, with blotches compared to Lightroom’s fine grain. It also produced colour banding rather than graduated tones on a couple of occasions. For very noisy images, Lightroom took a clear lead. So, despite some welcome improvements, there’s still no outright winner here.


However, the Prime algorithm is extremely processor-intensive. A 36-megapixel raw file from a Nikon D800 took more than ten minutes to process on our Core i7-870 PC, which means full-screen previews aren’t possible. The older algorithm is used by default, and it’s still used for previews when Prime is selected, save for a 150 x 150 preview window in the side panel. It’s a sensible compromise, considering the complexity of Prime.

The older algorithm has also been tweaked; it preserves more detail but lets through more grain. This may be desirable, but we’d spent time customising settings, so we’d rather they weren’t purged upon upgrading. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this issue in image editors, and while it isn’t a disaster, neither is it in keeping with a non-destructive workflow.


Software subcategoryGraphics/design software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Mac OS X supported?yes
Other operating system supportWindows 8

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