DxO Releases PhotoLab 5 and FilmPack 6

by Oct 22, 2021Photography Blog

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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DxO Releases PhotoLab 5 & FilmPack 6

On the 20 October 2021, DxO released PhotoLab 5, an upgrade to their excellent PhotoLab 4 software. On the same day, they also released FilmPack 6. The previous popular FilmPack 5 package hadn’t been updated since 2015 leading some to speculate that it was dead.

In this article, I’ll take you through what’s new in PhotoLab 5, as well as demonstrate the features in an accompanying video.

DxO PhotoLab 5 has several new features:

  • Enhanced Control Point Selections
  • Local Selection Control Lines
  • Metadata Copy & Paste
  • Keyword Tree
  • IPTC Display and Editing
  • Metadata Export & Integration
  • Support for Fuji X-Trans Users
  • Speed enhancements (see the video for details)

Enhanced Control Point Selections

DxO PhotoLab uses Control Points (like the Nik Collection) to select areas of an image to edit. You can access and edit the Control Points in the “Local Adjustments” section of the software.

Control Points in DxO PhotoLab 5

You activate the Local Adjustments by clicking the “Local Adjustments” button (1) at the top of the interface. It’s then possible to set the type of local adjustment to add by right clicking the image using your mouse.

After adding a Control Point (3) you will see it appear to the list in the Local Adjustments panel (2). Here you will find two new controls which you can use with Control Points, to refine their selection. These new controls are the Luma and Chroma sliders.

When Control Points are added to an image, the image is sampled below the centre of the Control Point. This sample is used to determine the area of the image (within the Control Point) to select. It’s probably easiest to see this and the effect of the new sliders by turning on the mask view.

Control Points in DxO PhotoLab 5 showing the selection in the Mask View

After turning on the mask view, areas of the image selected by the Control Points are shown as white and other areas as black. You can then adjust this using the new Chroma and Luma sliders. You’ll find the same new sliders in Viveza 3 and Silver Efex Pro 3 which were released in the Nik Collection 4.

The new sliders adjust the Control Point accuracy for colour and luminance allowing you to control the selection. Move a slider to the left and you reduce the accuracy, so selecting more of the image. Move it to the right to increase the accuracy which selects less of the image.

Personally, I’ve found these tools very useful in the Nik Collection when working with Control Points and equally so in PhotoLab 5.

Local Selection Control Lines

The new release of PhotoLab 5 sees a new Local Selection tool added, called the Control Line.

Control Lines in DxO PhotoLab 5

Control Lines are selected from the PhotoLab tools palette displayed when you right-click on the image (in the Local Adjustments mode). These are very similar to the regular Gradient Filter found in PhotoLab and other RAW editors like Lightroom. After clicking to start the gradient (1) you drag down and then release the mouse (2) to end the gradient.

What sets the Control Line apart from the regular Graduated selection is the sample point (3).

You can click and drag the sample point with your mouse to position it. Like the sample point at the centre of the Control Point, this samples the image colour and luminance at that point to create a selection.

As with the Control Point selections, this is probably easiest to understand by displaying the mask.

Control Lines in DxO PhotoLab 5 with selection mask

Again, the lighter areas show what’s being selected by the sample point. You can then move this around to change the selection as well as adjust the Chroma and Luma sliders.

Also, like Control Points, there are negative Control Lines. You can use these to protect parts of the image from being affected by other Control Lines you add. I demonstrate how to do this in the video, later in this article.

Metadata Copy & Paste

Editing image metadata can be time consuming and boring ,but it can also be very important. Metadata is data held in the image that helps to describe that image. Examples of this are things like keywords or the copyright status of the image.

In earlier versions of PhotoLab, metadata editing was limited and slow. Keywords for example would be added to individual images which often required repeating the process for other images. Now you can use the Copy Metadata command found in the Image menu to copy all metadata from one image. You can then select one or more additional images before pasting the metadata.

You’ll find the new Paste Metadata command in the Image menu. There are then four different options for pasting metadata: All, Keywords, GPS Coordinates, Author & Copyright.

Keyword Tree

The new Keyword Tree also makes it much easier to keyword images.

You can find the new tree control in the “Customize” module where you edit individual images. But you’ll also find it in the “PhotoLibrary” module, which makes it easy to keyword multiple images at the same time.

New Keyword Tree in DxO PhotoLab 5

After selecting an image, you will see its keywords in the new “Keywords” panel on the right of the PhotoLibrary. The Keyword Tree then appears below this listing the possible keywords already in the PhotoLab 5 keyword database. You can manage this database by adding and deleting keywords in the tree.

Something else that’s important is that the tree is hierarchical. This makes it possible to nest keywords inside other keywords. For example, “Peak District” would be nested within “National Park”. This makes managing and applying keywords much easier.

IPTC Display and Editing

In addition to keywords, the IPTC data for images is now visible and can be edited.

IPTC Metadata in DxO PhotoLab 5

After selecting an image in the PhotoLibrary you will see the IPTC metadata displayed on the right of the interface. You can then edit this information as required.

This can be useful, but whilst the tools are easy to use, they are limited in comparison to software like Lightroom.

Metadata Export & Integration

Whilst it’s been possible to export changes to sidecar files for some time, the release of DxO PhotoLab 5 brings tighter integration with tools like Adobe Lightroom. You can manually export and import metadata to XMP sidecar files which Lightroom can then read. But it’s also possible to automate the import and export of metadata in PhotoLab 5.

You can turn this on (or off) in the Advanced Preferences in PhotoLab. It’s even possible to make the process (almost) seamless with Lightroom by changing the Lightroom preferences. I explain how to do this in the video later in this article.

Support for Fuji X-Trans Users

Possibly one of the biggest headlines in the new release of DxO PhotoLab 5 is the support for Fuji XTrans.

Whilst DxO PhotoLab has supported Fuji cameras with the traditional Bayer Sensor for years, those using the X-Trans sensor weren’t supported. In PhotoLab 5 that has changed, allowing many Fuji users to take advantage of the excellent PhotoLab image quality.

DxO PhotoLab 5 release includes Fuji XTrans support

DxO PhotoLab 5 now includes 18 Fuji X-Trans camera bodies as well as a host of Fuji X-Mount lenses.

As for the image quality, it’s excellent as you would expect. Whilst I haven’t had the time to make a meaningful comparison to Capture One (my default editor for Fuji), I can say I would be happy to use PhotoLab 5 from what I’m seeing.

As always, it’s best to test this out for yourself by downloading the trail version of PhotoLab 5 (affiliate link).

DxO PhotoLab 5 Video Review

To get a better understanding of these new features and see them in action watch the following video.


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Summary

Personally, I think there are some nice changes in the software, although I can still see areas I would like to improve. Overall, I think some people will love the improvements whilst others will think there isn’t enough change.

If you haven’t tried PhotoLab for some time or even at all, I would recommend downloading the trial version (affiliate link). If you don’t, you might not realise what you are missing with the image quality it can achieve.

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