Photos shot with a wide-angle lens will often appear distorted. DxO ViewPoint fixes perspective problems, lens distortion, tilted horizons and deformed elements at the edges of the frame. The most important reason to upgrade to the new version is the 8-point perspective repair option.
As with most other DxO Labs products, DxO ViewPoint 2 uses the company’s huge camera body and lens database to correct your image. ViewPoint 2 installs as a stand-alone app or a plug-in. Plug-in hosts include all Adobe Creative Suite Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom versions since version 3 and up to Creative Cloud. Apple Aperture is included as well.
The interface divides into two areas: the main window and a sidebar that holds all controls and tools. The main window does double duty. It is the working window and the area into which you can drag and drop files to be processed. The toolbar running along the top gives you access to file operations, zoom and rotation options, and display buttons (view only the processed version or view original and processed next to each other).
In a normal workflow you start working your way through the tools from top to bottom. Your first worry is lens distortion, which is the first palette in the sidebar. If you open an image from inside Photo Mechanic or Photoshop, chances are ViewPoint 2 will ask you to show it the original image. ViewPoint can’t open RAW files, but it does recognise the EXIF information buried in these images. When the image’s EXIF data has been read, ViewPoint will either tell you it needs to download a camera and/or lens profile (which it will do when you click on the OK button). The lens distortion will then be corrected automatically. With some lenses like my Sony A700 kit lens the correction was clearly noticeable. With others, like my Sony Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-70, it barely showed.
Next on the list is Volume Deformation. However, as Volume Deformation will also correct any deformations after perspective correction, I first went on to that section before coming back to the Volume Deformation panel. Volume Deformation is quite successful at correcting “organic” forms at the edge of the frame. With wide-angle shots, people, for example, can look unnaturally stretched or “blobby”.
The Perspective panel is the reason why architecture photographers will want ViewPoint 2 in their software tool chest. It corrects vertical only, horizontal only, 4-point and 8-point distortions. You can find the first three correction options in other apps as well — Capture One Pro 7, for example, has an identical perspective correction tool. However, ViewPoint 2’s 8-point correction feature is unique and caters for some dramatic improvements in perspective correction, but not all of the time. You need to select when to use it wisely.
With 4-point corrections, you’re forcing a rectangular look. If we take buildings as an example, 4-point is fine with a building shot from the front. However, the 8-point perspective correction goes a step further. It follows the same principle as forcing a rectangle, but with one important difference. The lines for the 4-point correction need to be placed on the same plane in order to achieve an optimal result. With the 8-point method, you can place the lines on different planes. This allows for greater flexibility and the ability to correct photos with complex vanishing points, or when the elements that need to be fixed are not all at the same distance from where the photo was shot.
The example images with this review show what you can accomplish with an 8-point correction. I’ve kept all settings in the automatically set state and the mode switched to “Natural”. There’s also a possibility to have “Full” correction, which sometimes means you’re introducing distortions in other areas of your photo. My advise is to experiment to find the best correction. Besides, you have full control over the settings for the x and y axis, the Horizontal/Vertical ratio and the Intensity, so you can try out as much as you like.
ViewPoint 2 also comes with a Horizon straightening tool, which works a bit more intuitive than the same tool in Capture One Pro 7. In the latter you draw a hardly visible dotted line across the horizon. In ViewPoint 2 you draw a more robust line, and just as in the other tools, you can change this line’s colour so it’s always clearly visible.
In order to work its magic, ViewPoint 2 obviously needs to crop your image. I found you best leave the Crop tool in Auto mode as it will do a good job of cropping only as much as really needed. However, if you want to change aspect ratio or you don’t mind some areas showing the black non-photo background, you can crop manually.
Do you need ViewPoint 2?
With ViewPoint 1, I would have answered this question negatively, especially if you work with Capture One Pro. With ViewPoint 2, my opinion has changed because of the better interface and above all the 8-point perspective capabilities. The fact that you also get lens distortion correction based on actual lens data is a plus, as is the price. ViewPoint 2 costs a mere 49 EUR (49 USD) through October 20. After this date, the price will be 79 EUR/USD. That’s still a good price for the feature set and the quality of results you can get out of it.
Architecture photographers who can’t afford the expensive tilt-shift lenses like the ones Hasselblad and Canon have in their product range will best rush out and buy the software as soon as they possibly can. ViewPoint 2 does make all the difference.