DxO PhotoLab 4 New Feature Review
On the 21st October 2020, DxO released PhotoLab 4, a major upgrade to the well-respected PhotoLab 3. If you’re wondering what’s new in DxO PhotoLab 4, this article and video will help. I also want to highlight that I’m a DxO affiliate. If you decide to buy the software using a link from this page, I earn a small commission. What this doesn’t mean is that I recommend something just to earn money. On the contrary, I only become an affiliate for products that I buy and use myself; in other words, those that I believe in. You will read my honest opinion in this review.
DxO PhotoLab 4 New Features
There are a few new features and changes in DxO PhotoLab 4 and not all of them seem significant. But you shouldn’t overlook what might at first appear a minor tweak. Take the changes to the reorganisation of the adjustment controls in the Customise panel (where we edit files). These “minor” improvements make a substantial improvement in PhotoLab’s usability.
We can group PhotoLab 4’s changes into four areas:
- Image Quality
Let’s run through a few of these before we see them in action in the video.
DxO PhotoLab 4 Interface Changes
In the previous versions of PhotoLab, the adjustment controls were organised into a series of panels on the right side of the interface. Each panel would hold one of more tools which you could collapse or expand. It was also possible to reorganise the panels as well as add or remove controls. You could even have the same controls appearing in multiple panels.
Flexible, yes. Confusing, yes. Nice to use, no.
Arranging panels and controls like this would often find you scrolling up and down the panels, trying to locate an adjustment. Now in DxO PhotoLab 4 the panels are gone (although you can still get to them) and replaced by something far more organised.
Now we have a series of 6 icons representing controls for Exposure, Colour, Detail, Geometry, Local Adjustments and Creative effects. Click one of these 6 icons and you will see the controls in that group.
In addition to the reorganisation controls into groups, you can now search for corrections using a search field. Also, if there’s an adjustment you use frequently you can mark it as a favourite. There’s then a filter option which when clicked only shows the favourited adjustments.
Another useful filter introduced in PhotoLab 4 is the active adjustments. Click this and you only see the controls where you’ve applied an adjustment.
These simple changes really do make DxO PhotoLab 4 easier to work with.
DxO PhotoLab 4 Workflow Feature Batch Renaming
DxO PhotoLab 4 sees the introduction of a couple of new workflow features that make working with images easier. In my opinion, both were serious omissions from earlier versions of PhotoLab. Adding these strengthens the “PhotoLibrary” module. The first of these is batch file renaming.
With multiple files selected, click the “Image” option in the PhotoLab menu. Now you will find the “Rename…” option is replaced by “Rename Selected Files…”. Click this to display the Rename dialog.
When PhotoLab displays the dialog, you can select the renaming option you want to use from a dropdown list (1). Three options are available:
- Replace Text – where you can search for and replace specific text within existing file names.
- Add Text – allows you to append text to the beginning or end of existing file names.
- Rename & Add Counter – which you can use to replace exiting file names with a new one. This option includes a counter you can add to the start or end of the file name to make it unique.
When you’re configuring your renaming option you see a preview showing the current and new file name at the bottom of the dialog (2).
DxO PhotoLab 4 Workflow Feature Paste Selected Corrections
The other new workflow improvement in DxO PhotoLab 4 is to copy and paste selected corrections. You can copy corrections that you’ve already applied to an image and then select which of these to apply to other images.
To copy the corrections, use the “PhotoLibrary” module. Right click on an image that you’ve already adjusted and select the “Copy Correction Settings” option. Then right click on the image you want to apply the adjustments to and use the “Paste Selected Corrections…” option.
When PhotoLab displays the Correction Settings dialog you can select or deselect the adjustments you want to paste.
DxO PhotoLab 4 Watermarking
Over in the Customize module where we apply corrections and adjustments, DxO PhotoLab 4 adds a new Watermarking module. This makes creating and positioning watermarks on an image extremely easy. And because this is just another adjustment you can save it as a preset to add automatically to batches of images.
You will find the new Watermarking module in the Creative group of controls. This allows you to create either a text or image-based watermark. You can also then save these watermarks as presets within the control.
When you create a watermark, you have control over the exact position of mark as well as the size and blending mode. Not only is this very flexible but it’s extremely easy and quick to use.
DxO PhotoLab 4 Image Quality
Possibly the biggest news if image quality is important to you is the new noise reduction mode in PhotoLab 4. If you’re an existing PhotoLab user, I’m sure you will be familiar with the excellent image quality you can achieve by applying lens correction modules, sharpening and PRIME noise reduction.
Something you often hear said by PhotoLab users is that PRIME noise reduction is the best available. I’ve not tested this claim but can confirm PhotoLab applies excellent noise reduction whilst retaining fine detail. Now in DxO PhotoLab 4 we have DeepPRIME which goes beyond the results from PRIME by applying AI.
Here’s an example using an image shot using a Panasonic G9 micro 43 camera at ISO3200. This shows a small section of the image magnified to 200%.
The first image (1) doesn’t have any noise reduction applied. The next image (2) has standard noise reduction which has removed the noise but destroyed a lot of the fine detail in the skin. The third image (3) uses DeepPRIME which has removed the noise whilst retaining the fine detail.
I’ve tested the new DeepPRIME feature on a lot of images with noise and I’m extremely impressed by the results. It’s difficult to show a meaningful direct comparisons in a website article so I would encourage you to download the DxO PhotoLab 4 trial (affiliate link). There’s nothing like seeing this for yourself.
DxO PhotoLab Versions
DxO PhotoLab 4 is available in two versions, Essential and Elite. As you would expect, there is a launch discount available for both, as well as the upgrade versions. But what I didn’t expect to find is that quite a few the new improvements in PhotoLab 4 are only available in the Elite version. This is such a shame given the nature of the changes and how good the new DeepPRIME noise reduction is.
If you are considering PhotoLab 4, be sure you check which features you want and which version they are in. This page from the DxO website includes a link to compare the features in the two versions.
DxO PhotoLab 4 Video Review
Now watch my video review of DxO PhotoLab 4 to see the new features in action.
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DxO PhotoLab 4 is a definite improvement over PhotoLab 3. It adds several significant improvements which we’ve looked at as well as a few changes we haven’t. If you don’t already have a RAW converter and are considering PhotoLab, this could be an excellent purchase. Just be sure you buy the correct version and do check that it supports your camera and lenses. Fuji XTrans users for example can’t process their RAF files using PhotoLab because it doesn’t support them.
As for me, I’ve upgraded to PhotoLab 4 for my micro 43 RAW files. I think the image quality I can achieve is nothing short of exceptional and the interface changes make it much easier to work with.
You can download a trial version of DxO PhotoLab 4 trial (affiliate link) from the DxO website.
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