How To Use the DxO PhotoLab Color Rendering

by Aug 7, 2023Photo Editing Tutorials

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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How To Use the DxO PhotoLab Colour Rendering & Color Space

When DxO released PhotoLab 6, they included a new Wide Gamut Color Space. Since then, I’ve received a lot of questions about this, and PhotoLab colour handling in general. In this article, I’ll try to answer these and provide a framework you can use when editing colour photography.

DxO PhotoLab is a photo editor which aims to produce the optimum image from your RAW files. If you haven’t tried it, you can download a trial version of the software from the DxO website.

The New Wide Gamut Color Space

You will find the Wide Gamut Color Space in the Color group in DxO PhotoLab 6. It’s located in the Working Color Space section towards the top. You can see it indicated in the screenshot below.

Selecting the Wide Gamut Color Space in the Working Color Space section of DxO PhotoLab

The Color Space determines the range of colours that can be represented by an image. DxO PhotoLab has two of these which are “Wide Gamut” and “Classic (Legacy)”. You can switch between the two using the dropdown indicated in the screenshot.

To better understand a Color Space, it’s possible to plot it like a graph. The graph represents the three colour channels (Red, Green, and Blue) in an RGB image. We can then draw a line around the colours that are inside the Color Space. The following example illustrates this.

Example of different Color Spaces drawn on a graph

You can see from the illustration that the “ProPhoto RGB” Color Space triangle is larger than the “Adobe RGB” triangle. This tells us that the ProPhoto RGB colour space can represent a wider range of colours than Adobe RGB.

Whilst they aren’t shown on the graph, the Classic and Wide Gamut colour spaces in DxO PhotoLab follow the same principle. The Wide Gamut Color Space can represent a wider range of colours compared to the Classic Color Space.

Is the Wide Gamut Color Space Better?

Yes and no. It really depends on the image you are editing. If it includes colours that fall outside the Classic Color Space, then it will probably be beneficial to switch to the Wide Gamut Color Space. If not, there probably isn’t a material benefit. What doesn’t happen when you switch to the Wide Gamut Color Space, is that you see an immediate improvement in the image colours.

Interestingly, when I reviewed DxO PhotoLab 6, I did indeed demonstrate a colour improvement (I’ll explain why in a moment).

If you have PhotoLab 6, try this yourself and you might also see an improvement. The following example illustrates this well.

Comparing the DxO PhotoLab Wide Gamut Color Space with the Classic Colour Space

In this example, I switched the Working Color Space from Wide Gamut to Classic. The Wide Gamut image is on the left and Classic version is on the right. Notice how much better the Wide Gamut version looks.

So why the dramatic improvement in the image if the Color Space isn’t causing it?

It’s due to something called Color Rendering which we look at next.

DxO PhotoLab Color Rendering

For us to be able to see the image in a RAW file, we need something called Color Rendering. This is what translates the data in the RAW file into coloured pixels. You will find these renderings in the Color Rendering section of PhotoLab. It’s further down the right side of the interface, below the Working Color Space. You can see it in the following screenshot.

DxO PhotoLab COlor Rendering section

Here we can see the Category dropdown at the top and then below this the Rendering. DxO PhotoLab comes with quite a few renderings that you can select using these two dropdowns. And if you have DxO FilmPack installed, you will find that it adds even more renderings. It’s these Color Renderings that are responsible for the difference in the image appearance when we switch the Working Color Space.

Here’s what’s happening.

When I have the Classic Working Color Space selected, the default Rendering is “Neutral Color”. But when I select the Wide Gamut Color Space, the same Rendering produces a different result. If you check the histogram when you do this, you will see that the Rendering that comes with the Classic Working Color Space compresses the tonal range of the image. Compare this with the Wide Gamut Working Color Space and you will see that doesn’t happen.

Basically, the two versions of the Neutral Color Rendering appear to be different even though they have the same name. To prove it, here are two versions of the image using a different Rendering. The rendering is the “Panasonic G9 Camera Profile” which was the camera used to take the shot.

Comparing the image in different Working Color Spaces with the G9 Rendering

As you can see, there’s no difference between the two Color Spaces.

Using DxO PhotoLab Color Renderings To Control Colours

Now that we have established it’s the Color Rendering and not the Working Color Space that’s affecting image colour, we can explore some of the other Renderings. If you click the “Category” dropdown in the Color Rendering section, you will find that there are more categories than the “Generic Rendering”.

Different Categories of Color Rendering in DxO PhotoLab

After selecting a Category, click the Rendering dropdown to see the different renderings available. Using these renderings, you can simulate the colours produced by other cameras as well as different film types.

Now watch this short video to see these and other colour features of DxO PhotoLab explained. Also watch out doe the point about when in your workflow you should apply these settings.

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You can also watch this video on my YouTube channel. I publish a new video every week, often based on subscribers’ requests and feedback. Subscribe to my YouTube channel now and be sure not to miss future videos.

You should now understand how the Working Color Space and Color Renderings affect your image colours in DxO PhotoLab.

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