Every year DxO releases a new version of Photolab and this year was no exception. Photolab 5 comes with better IPTC metadata and keyword editing capabilities as well as synchronisation with Adobe Lightroom, a new U-Point control, improved DeepPRIME and support for Fujifilm X-Trans cameras and lenses.
Starting with the last, it’s obvious Fujifilm users will love it, especially as the support extends to the newer X-E4, X-S10, X-T4, and X100V through to the older X-E2 and X-70. Combined with lens support, some 605 new modules have been added to DxO’s database of calibrated equipment.
Trained by deep learning methods using millions of images analysed in DxO laboratories over the past 20 years, DxO DeepPRIME technology uses artificial intelligence to develop RAW files with the least possible noise and the highest possible detail. The technology is even better than PRIME, which is still available as an option (as is manual noise removal) and was and still is much better than any competitor’s noise removing algorithm. DeepPRIME is now faster and still better, although I think it was already at such a high level you can barely spot the difference.
U-Point local adjustments have gained a control line for linear adjustments. It works the same as the circular control point, which means you pick a colour to limit the region affected by the mask, but instead of a circle you now have a line along which the mask is created. This works well and gives you much more efficient control over areas that are nowhere near circular — no need for several U-Point discs carefully positioned in a row when you’re trying to fix a shoreline, for example.
And so we finally come to the metadata improvements, which, let’s be honest, are greatly overdue. It was announced metadata editing instantly synchronises with Adobe’s Lightroom metadata fields, which really isn’t a surprise given the metadata is generated in a sidecar file. More surprising is that the file isn’t standard XMP which could be read by other apps as well, including such high-end professional catalogue apps like Photo Mechanic 6. Instead, it’s written in a format only Lightroom seems to understand.
To me, that is a big disappointment. Also, does this imply DxO doesn’t know that, for example, fashion photographers and photo journalists often use other software besides or instead of Adobe’s Lightroom to manage their images? Even Photo Mechanic 6 can’t read the sidecar files Photolab 5 creates, so it’s really only Lightroom that can sync with them. To me this implementation made this update a touch less exciting than the previous ones.