Get rid of haze with DxO Optics Pro 10

The developer who uses test data of your camera body and lens as well as scientifically based algorithms to create his applications, has just made his flagship image processing app better again. DxO Optics Pro 10 has a new ClearView feature to get rid of haze and an improved Probabilistic Image Enhancement (PRIME) denoising algorithm. DxO Optics Pro 10 also integrates with DxO ViewPoint’s geometrical correction tool.

Hot on the heels of Capture One Pro 8, DxO Labs released DxO Optics Pro 10, together with DxO ViewPoint 2.5, the version that integrates with DxO Optics Pro 10, and DxO FilmPack 5. The two most spectacular and interesting new features of DxO Optics Pro 10 are ClearView and PRIME. DxO ClearView is designed to automatically eliminate atmospheric haze that is visible in many landscapes and cityscapes. DxO ClearView works by analysing the colour components of each pixel and then locally improve contrast.

According to the Chief Scientist Officer of DxO Labs, the algorithm creates a sort of depth map of the image scene and removes the grey veil — only — when necessary. Advanced users can modify the intensity of the effect or turn it off completely. I tried it with a photo containing a horizon with some buildings half hidden in smog. The ClearView feature worked fine but also increased contrast in the clouds. It decreased brightness in the darker areas closer by. I tried to achieve the same effect by manipulating the Tone Curve but I didn’t succeed — there’s more going on than a simple increase in contrast in specific areas of the photo.

Still, by decreasing the effect from its default setting of 50 to 30 I could achieve a balanced look with less haze but still outspoken depth and less brightness loss in the darker areas that were closer by.

DxO ClearView leaves me with mixed feelings. The idea behind it is that you don’t need to create complex masked areas or graduated filters to achieve the same effect. My tests revealed it didn’t achieve the perfection that other DxO Optics Pro exclusive feature does, which is PRIME. In DxO Optics Pro 10, PRIME is faster — just like starting the app itself, by the way — and slightly better than the original. It’s not spectacularly better as the first iteration of this feature already had jaw dropping quality. Nice about the new PRIME is the bigger preview panel.

PRIME is based on an analysis of the image structure. By comparing close to 1000 neighbouring pixels for every pixel in the image and analysing those for similarity, texture, detail and saturation, PRIME succeeds in denoising photos shot at very high ISO without the loss of detail or the introduction of artefacts. The new version does this even better, but above all: much faster.

DxO Optics Pro 10

Less spectacular DxO Optics Pro 10 enhancements include improvements in DxO Smart Lighting, which optimises contrast across the entire image, as well as in the DxO Lens Softness tool that now performs with less risk of artefacts and better colour preservation.

Another nice improvement is the integration of DxO ViewPoint. If you have a licence for ViewPoint 2, you can directly use the ViewPoint features to correct for perspective, horizon and other geometrical problems. ViewPoint 2.5 has just been released and the version is a free update for licensees.

Finally, DxO FilmPack 5, which will be released in its stand-alone version mid-November, can be turned on inside DxO Optics Pro 10 if you have a licence for the app. The new DxO FilmPack (stand-alone) will have support for RAW images. Both the stand-alone and plugin version have 16 new film renderings, a new blur vignette/soft focus feature, a toning tool to age photos and micro-contrast.

It hasn’t become easier to choose between DxO Optics Pro and Capture One Pro with the two new versions of these high-end image processing applications. DxO PRIME is still superior to Capture One Pro’s denoising filter, but DxO ClearView is not as good as Capture One Pro’s Layer/masking capabilities to achieve the same result.

Perhaps it’s easier if you consider the Photo Suites DxO now sells. The Elite Suite includes DxO Optics Pro 10 Elite, DxO ViewPoint 2.5 and DxO FilmPack 5 Elite and sells for about €289.00. That’s excellent value for the money.

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