Why I See a Colour Shift Using DxO PhotoLab & PureRAW

by Robin WhalleyMar 14, 2022Photography Blog

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Why I See a Colour Shift Using DxO PhotoLab & PureRAW

I’ve recently been approached by several people, experiencing the same issue with two DxO products so I decided it’s time for an article. The problem is a colour shift they see after processing a RAW file using either DxO PhotoLab or DxO PureRAW with Lightroom.

Let me explain the problem in a little more detail and then I’ll share a possible cause and solution.

Integrating DxO PhotoLab with Lightroom

Whilst this colour shift can occur with DxO PureRAW, it’s probably most obvious to DxO PhotoLab users. It happens when integrating PhotoLab with Lightroom, using PhotoLab to process your RAW files into DNG files. You then import the DNG file to Lightroom to complete your processing there.

If you’re interested in understanding this approach further, it’s best to read my article “Integrating DxO PhotoLab and Lightroom”. This also mimics what happens when using DxO PureRAW to pre-process RAW files for editing in Lightroom.

After importing the processed DNG file(s) to Lightroom and you switch to the Lightroom Develop module you might notice a change in colour. Colours are often stronger, more saturated and may even appear warmer. You might also experience a change in contrast in the image. Here’s an example.

The image on the left is the original RAW file in Lightroom whilst the image on the right shows the DNG file processed in PhotoLab. You should be able to see a subtle change in colour between the two.

What Causes the Colour Shift?

When I first experienced this colour shift myself, I wondered what was causing it. Then I realised that it’s the camera colour profile in Lightroom.

In the example shown above, the original RAW file has the colour profile set to “Camera PROVIA/Standard 2”. But after processing in DxO PhotoLab and the DNG file that was imported back to Lightroom, it had the profile “Adobe Color” assigned to it.

If you’re not familiar with the camera colour profile, you can set it in the Basic panel of the Lightroom Develop module.

You will see the profile listed at the top in a dropdown list. There’s also a small icon to the right of this displaying four squares. When you click this, it opens the Profile Browser where you can see thumbnails for the different available profiles.

Why Does the Profile Change?

In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure what’s causing this. I did have a conversation about it with the team at DxO who said that it may they can set a flag in the DNG file to prevent a change in colour profile, but that would be a future change.

From my own testing, this seems to relate to a couple of things that you may be able to change:

  1. Do you have Lightroom set to respect the colour profile embedded by the camera. You’ll find this in the Lightroom preferences dialog at the top of the “Presets” tab. If this is set to “Adobe Default” (which most peoples’ is) then you will probably see the DNG file changed to use “Adobe Color”.
  2. Do you use/or activate the “Color Rendering” panel in DxO PhotoLab when processing the RAW file to DNG?

It seems to be a combination of these two settings that can change the colour profile. Whilst I’m aware of these two factors, I haven’t yet managed to fix the issue with any consistency.

My best advice is therefore to be aware of the issue and to always check the Camera Colour Profile setting in Lightroom before editing.

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