From time to time I try out a new raw converter and compare it to my current results with Breezebrowser. For the second time I have just given DxO Optics Pro a run out. It appeals to me a lot because it describes itself as automated and that I have always liked. Autowind, autofocus, autoexposure etc. in cameras I have always welcomed and never tried to resist by insisting I can do better myself manually, which is common with photographers.
I have been forecasting for a while that raw converting would eventually be fully automated, with an override when necessary, but with my first trial of this software was not impressed. I am this time. The way I test software like this is to convert my files in the usual way during a session at the computer. When I have finished for the day I reconvert just 2-3 of the images with the new software and compare the results. I do this over several days tweaking the settings as I go through the usual learning curve with any new program.
My conclusion was that I usually preferred the result I got with the DxO software, but if I went back and redid the conversion by my normal method I could always match the DxO version. This is what I have always found with raw converters; at the end of the day they all can give me the same output. What is important here though is that at a first attempt the DxO was giving the better result quickly and easily. I was having to boost my normal process to match it.
My trial period is now up and I am going to have to fork out £269 for it. I can not say all is perfect with the software. I would not call it simple and intuitive as I had to put an hour aside to read the manual which I detest. The icons and layout of the menus does not make it easy to look at the screen and guess what you have to do.
In fact there is still one important thing I have not been able to work out. When I convert to a 16 bit Tif file they come out at 72 dpi. I can’t set it to 300 dpi without also resizing the file. There must be a setting there somewhere. You would think it would be logically placed under output settings, but no. The PDF manual mentions it only under Image resampling (why don’t they say Image resizing), but I don’t want to resize. At the moment I have to change the dpi in Photoshop afterwards.
There are many other tweaks in the settings that can be made, but I am guessing I will never have to use them. I sometimes dabble with the contrast and exposure, but usually it gets it just right automatically. Suits me. Means I can get outdoors again quicker.