DxO Photolab 4 review

As is customary, every year DxO releases a new version of its flagship product, Photolab. And with every new version come new and improved features. Version 4 is no different and the new features include a new way to organise your workspace, batch renaming, Advanced History, selective copy-paste in batch processing and Instant Watermark. The noise reduction module gains a new setting that is inspired by an AI called DeepPRIME.

To start with DxO’s DeepPRIME AI: this belongs to a class of neural networks called convolutional neural networks, the structure of which is directly inspired by neurologic-scientific research on the human brain. The computer is allowed to determine the values of millions of parameters within the network, hence the term automatic learning, based on a vast database of carefully chosen input and output example images. DxO DeepPRIME is trained using a database of calibration images which provided the DxO DeepPRIME network with several billion samples to learn from.

That’s as good as PRIME, but you need to be more careful with its settings. I tried it with some very noisy photos which PRIME could handle well but not perfectly. DeepPRIME did a slightly better job but not at higher settings. In fact, when I set the new denoising at a fairly high level to try and get rid of all the noise, all kinds of ugly artefacts propped up in the form of what looked like lava lamp swirls and curls.

Version 4 has plenty of other new stuff to drool about too. For example, DxO Smart Workspace lets you organise your workspace to suit your needs with the presence of icons above the Inspectors. I have always found Photolab’s Inspector sidebar somewhat cluttered with little in terms of one-click customisation, but now it’s here. Click on an icon and only those editing panels — Lights, Color, Detail, Geometry, Local Adjustments and FX — that are associated with it appear.

Batch renaming is very simple. It opens a dialogue that allows you to replace text in image files, add text, and rename and add a counter. My take on this is that, for more complex renaming needs, you can do better by buying a licence to A Better Finder Rename.

The DxO Advanced History lets you go back in time. It’s a history that reminds me of Affinity Photo when it was first released. Since then, Affinity Photo has gained history branching, which essentially means you cannot only go back in time in a linear fashion, but you can also go back to a specific step keeping the edits that came after that step — thus creating a branch. If DxO would add that functionality to Photolab 5, it would really be advanced and I for one would be jumping up and down with joy.

Just as Capture One Pro 20’s Adjustment Clipboard enables you for individual photos and in batch operations via saved presets, DxO Photolab 4’s new Selective Copy/Paste allows you to turn on and off specific edits in batch processing. The commands are found under the Image menu, not the Edit menu. The window that opens lists all your turned-on corrections with an option to selectively turn some off. There is, by the way, an associated view-only-panels-with-edits button in the Inspector area that serves to show you all the corrections you’ve applied across the categories in your workspace (the ones that you can now access by clicking the Smart Workspace buttons).

I’ve saved the best for last. DxO Instant watermarking is a real, absolute boon for photographers who want to sell their photos and not have every Joe, Dick or Mary just copy them to their workstation without paying. It’s easy to use, flexible — you can use either an image as I have in the screenshot or plain text — and there are plenty of options to ensure the entire image has been covered with a watermark that renders it useless for digital thieves.

The watermarking feature on its own already justifies upgrading Photolab to its latest version. The Elite edition launch price is €149.99; normal price is €199; upgrade launch price is €69.99; normally it’s €89.

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