DxO Optics Pro 11 Elite takes lighting adjustments to the next level

DxO Optics Pro 11 incorporates three major improvements: Spot Weighted Smart Lighting, PRIME 2016 noise reduction and full-screen mode. There’s now also an automatic red-eye correction. However, DxO Optics Pro still lacks support for IPTC metadata and a full-scale management module.

In the Smart Lighting module, DxO Optics Pro 11 introduces a new feature called Spot Weighted mode. It’s said to deliver the same results as in-camera spot metering with the added benefit of post-capture fine-tuning capabilities. The default Spot Weighted setting detects faces in a photo in order to optimise the exposure without radically changing the rest of the image.

The new feature only works when faces take up enough space in the image. I found it to work well with portraits, but not at all with a landscape photo containing a subject that is clearly visible albeit in the distance. It is particularly useful with backlit faces and faces that are too bright or too dark against the background, whether dark or bright (e.g., bright on a dark background, bright on a bright background, etc.).

When you click on the Spot Weighted button, DxO Smart Lighting will apply a correction in Slight mode by default, taking into account the faces present in the image. The palette indicates the number of areas detected. Each detected face is surrounded by a rectangle. If you move the mouse over any of these, the sides will become dotted lines with handles in each corner, as well as a removal icon in the upper right corner.

dxo optics pro 11

Although it’s particularly good at spot lighting human faces, you can also create Spot Weighted focus areas in photos that contain regions you find too dark or too bright. DxO Optics Pro 11 will automatically adjust the photo based on these zones towards a more balanced lighting scheme — as if you’d be using speedlights to create more even lighting.

PRIME 2016

The original noise reduction algorithm PRIME was capable of reducing noise without affecting detail or creating blobs of even coloured areas. PRIME 2016 now succeeds in preserving bokeh and smooth transitions even better than before. The original PRIME could affect fine details and slightly change dark colours and textures — PRIME 2016 better conserves these.

It’s also much, much faster than before. DxO uses a new, optimised algorithm, resulting in PRIME 2016 processing your RAW files a lot faster than before, although it still won’t break the sound barrier.

A less exciting new feature is that Dxo Optics Pro 11 has a nifty full-screen mode for browsing through your photo library while offering a display of useful EXIF data in a sidebar at right. Basic data and rating fields are displayed at the bottom, but you can move them out of the way entirely.

Finally, DxO has incorporated a red-eye remover based on face and eye detection. Red eyes are now automatically identified and corrected. By automating the process, DxO Optics Pro 11 allows for batch processing of hundreds of photos without human intervention. In reality, difficult cases such as faces shot in profile still need semi-automatic and manual modes to specify the location of the eye within the image.

Conclusion

DxO Optics Pro 11 is an upgrade, not an update. On the surface, getting only three major improvements doesn’t seem to justify charging an upgrade price. However, under the hood at least two improvements just might. PRIME 2016 is faster and has improved albeit slightly and the Spot Weighted Smart Lighting mode is an addition worth paying for.

DxO Optics Pro 11 Elite costs around €149.

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