Integrating DxO PhotoLab and Lightroom

by Jul 2, 2021Photo Editing Tutorials

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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Integrating DxO PhotoLab and Lightroom

Recently I posted a video explaining how to replace DxO PureRAW with DxO Photolab. As part of this I looked briefly at integrating DxO PhotoLab and Lightroom. This generated quite a lot of interest, particular about the workflow I use. So, in this article I’m going to explain:

  • My workflow
  • How the integration between DxO PhotoLab and Lightroom works, and
  • Some of the problems you might encounter as well as how to fix them.

I’ve also added a video at the end where you can see this integration between DxO PhotoLab and Lightroom.

My Photolab and Lightroom Workflow

Although I use several RAW converters, I always use Lightroom to manage my images. I’ve been using it for this since 2008 and have a lot of historic metadata and image adjustments in my Lightroom Catalog. If I move to another library management tool, I will likely lose some or possibly all of this. The Lightroom Library module is also an excellent tool and does everything that I want it to. Unfortunately, what Lightroom doesn’t do all that well is process some of my RAW files.

Now before you disagree with that last point, I want to stress that I don’t have issues with the results when processing many of the Canon and Nikon RAW files. But when it comes to the likes of Fuji, Sony, and Micro 43 RAW files, I believe there are better options. One of these is DxO PhotoLab (affiliate link) which I like to use for Micro 43 RAW file processing as the lens correction is excellent.

The following illustrates how I use the two applications together.

DxO PhotoLab and Lightroom Workflow

I start by importing the RAW files from my memory card to Lightroom which adds them to my Lightroom Catalog. After that I sort and rate the images to find the best ones to process further. Once I know the images I want to process, I export them to DxO PhotoLab using a Lightroom plugin. I then apply my default RAW file adjustment in DxO PhotoLab before exporting the images back to Lightroom as DNG files. I can then process the DNG files in Lightroom and/or Photoshop to produce a finished image. This tends to produce a better-quality image than if I had only processed the RAW files using Lightroom.

DxO PhotoLab Lightroom Integration in Detail

The key to making this integration work between DxO PhotoLab and Lightroom is the DxO PhotoLab Lightroom Plugin. This Plugin handles passing the selected RAW file from Lightroom to DxO PhotoLab so that you process the RAW files. If instead you use the Lightroom “Edit in…” option from the menu (or by right clicking an image) Lightroom will process the RAW file and pass the processed image to PhotoLab.

You always know when Lightroom is processing the image because you see the “Edit Photo” dialog.

Lightroom Edit Photo dialog

When you see this dialog, Lightroom convert the RAW file and send the results to DxO PhotoLab. This isn’t what you want to happen and will negate the benefit of using DxO PhotoLab.

Instead, you should select the file or files you want to process in the Lightroom Library module and then use the PhotoLab Plugin. You can do this from the Lightroom menu by selecting “File | Plug-in Extras | Transfer to DxO PhotoLab”. This opens PhotoLab and passes the RAW file or files for processing.

After applying your adjustments in PhotoLab you can use the “Export to Lightroom” option to send the images back to Lightroom. To do this, DxO PhotoLab uses a second Lightroom Plugin which is calls to handle the import, adding the new images into the Lightroom Catalog.

Possible Problems

Whilst this process should be simple (and when it works it’s excellent) there are a few problems you might encounter. The first of these is that PhotoLab doesn’t load the RAW file correctly for editing.

RAW File Not Loaded by DxO PhotoLab

Whilst this can be a confusing problem when it first happens it’s also extremely easy to avoid.

What seems to happen is that when PhotoLab is first launched by the Lightroom Plugin, it loads the last image or images you were working on. If you then try to export the file again from Lightroom you will find that it loads for editing correctly.

The simple fix is to start PhotoLab first, leaving it open in the background. Then when you export the file from Lightroom it correctly loads first time. After you export the image back to Lightroom, just leave PhotoLab open in case you want to process more images.

Processed Image Not Importing to Lightroom

The next problem you might encounter is that the image you export from PhotoLab may not load in Lightroom. Again, this seems to happen the first time you export an image although that isn’t the entire story.

After exporting an image from PhotoLab, you are automatically switched to Lightroom. Sometimes you will find that the image is imported and displayed, but sometimes nothing happens. But if you wait for a few minutes, the import completes and suddenly the image appears.

If this doesn’t happen or you tire of waiting, go back to DxO PhotoLab, and export the image a second time. You will see a message appear that a file already exists and asking you to confirm what to do. Click the “Overwrite” button which overwrites the previous export and switches you back to Lightroom. It’s likely the import will then trigger immediately, and you will see a new Collection added to the Lightroom DxO PhotoLab Collection Set.

DxO PhotoLab Collections in Lightroom

Each time a new group of files is imported to Lightroom by PhotoLab, it appears in a Collection. The name of the Collection uses the date and time of the import to help with organisation.

Once the import completes, further exports from PhotoLab seem to trigger an import more quickly.

Missing DxO PhotoLab Plugin

The final problem you might encounter is a bigger one and a little trickier to fix. It involves the DxO PhotoLab Plugin not appearing in the Plug-in Extras menu. I’ve had this happen to me several times now, usually after a Lightroom upgrade. Here’s what I recommend.

First check the Lightroom Plug-in Manager which you will find as an option in the Lightroom File menu. When you select this, it opens the Manager dialog displaying the installed plugins.

Lightroom Plugin Manager

Here you should see the two DxO PhotoLab plugins and to the left of these should be two green circles. The green circles show the plugins are enabled but if they are disabled the circles are grey.

When you select one of these plugins you will see the details on the right of the dialog. This includes buttons to Disable and Enable the plugins. If you Disable the plugins, it prevents them from working and the “Transfer to DxO PhotoLab” option is removed from the Plug-in Extras menu.

Installing the Plugins

If the two plugins aren’t showing they will need to be installed which is done from PhotoLab. The installation from PhotoLab is automatic and triggered when you click the “Export to Lightroom” button. If PhotoLab doesn’t detect the required plugins are installed it will prompt you to confirm that it should install them. After that they should appear in Lightroom.

Sometimes though, the plugins appear in the Plugin Manager but don’t work. Or they don’t appear and PhotoLab doesn’t want to install them. When this happens, you need to open the Lightroom Plugin folder to find the problem plugins. If you can see the plugins in the Manager, you can click the “Show in Finder” button but if you can’t you need to open a Finder window (or file explorer in Windows) to navigate to the location.

On a Mac the location of the plugins from your user folder is “/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Modules/”. On a PC the location is (probably) something like the following, again from your user folder “/AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Lightroom/Modules/”.

After navigating to the folder with the plugins, delete or move both DxO PhotoLab files. You can then retry the PhotoLab export to trigger the installation. To see this in more detail, watch the following short video which also shows the integration between DxO PhotoLab and Lightroom .

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

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.

Summary of Integrating DxO PhotoLab with Lightroom

Although integrating DxO PhotoLab with Lightroom is a simple process, problems can occur. In this article we’ve looked at some of the common “hiccups” in the workflow and how to work around them. We’ve also looked at the more significant issue of the DxO PhotoLab Lightroom plugin not working and how you might be able to resolve this.

Unfortunately, I can’t provide one to one support for problems but if you are still having issues, please visit the DxO PhotoLab forum. There is a great community of users helping others and I also add my help when I can.

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