DxO-PhotoLab 3 First Impressions

DxO PhotoLab 3 just hit the streets and it is a very advanced (yet relatively easy to use) piece of photo editing software.

The DxO principles were at PPE in New York and I got to meet them. My friend Laurie Rubin went to work for the company so this all has me intrigued.

I decided to install the new version and give it the once over.

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If you’ve seen previous versions of PhotoLab, forget about them. It’s time to take a new look at the product because version 3 brings a whole slew of enhancements that make it a serious contender in the photo editing space.


PhotoLab 3 is a buy-out product, meaning you don’t have to pay for it every month (like you do Photoshop or Lightroom.) It is a very sophisticated editor with the kind of controls that both pros and amateurs will enjoy.

If you’re an Apple Photos or Adobe Photoshop Elements user, then this is a big step up. If you’re a Photoshop/Lightroom user, then this is in that ball park. Capture One is probably a little MORE sophisticated (and much more difficult to use.) My beloved Luminar probably sits right near PhotoLab 3. The big differences between PhotoLab and Luminar can be boiled down to this. Luminar is moving toward more and more AI. It is largely an enthusiast level product that is super fun, powerful and easy to use. PhotoLab relies less on AI and its claim to fame is superior image processing from a purely optical point of view. With the addition of the newly revamped and revitalized Nik Plug-ins along side PhotoLab it can fit both a pro and a beginner’s workflow.


DxO completely redesigned its HSL color adjustment feature and it’s probably the best and most powerful HSL in the industry. They also optimized their Repair Tool and brought to market a much needed, brand-new Local Adjustments MasksManager. This takes the place of layers and they also of course retain their U-Point technology.

DxO PhotoLab 3 offers an exceptional level of colorimetry control, making the photographer’s job easier than ever before. Because the DxO PhotoLibrary now supports keyword searches, it offers an even more comprehensive workflow and improved compatibility with other photo editing software programs.

DxO PhotoLab 3 continues to improve its local adjustments options to offer users even more precision. One of these features, the Repair Tool, which acts as a brush that can erase unwanted elements from the image, has been updated. You can now manually reposition the area in the source image that you want to use to reconstruct an area in the image being edited. In addition to Repair Mode, DxO PhotoLab 3 also offers Clone Mode, which lets you directly replace the area you are editing. Feathering and opacity level can also be adjusted in both modes. New Local Adjustments MasksManagerDxO PhotoLab 3’s new Local Adjustments palette lets you manage local correction masks that have been layered within a single image. Make them visible, mask them, or adjust their opacity individually. The tool also lets you reverse the selected mask with a single click, adding additional flexibility and saving a significant amount of time.

A more complete workflow through keywords in addition to the search criteria that are already available in the DxO PhotoLibrary (metadata, shooting parameters, folders, etc.), DxO PhotoLab 3 now offers keyword management and optimizes image organization all the way up to export. The keywords associated with an image can now be displayed in the interface, including when they are imported from other software programs. You can now add, delete, or rename keywords for one or multiple images simultaneously and include them in multi-criteria searches (macOS version only; this feature will be available in the Windows version in the near future). DxO PhotoLab 3 also offers more complete information and metadata display options as well as additional Projects management options.

New camera supportDxO PhotoLab 3 continues to add new cameras to the list of equipment it supports. It recently added the Canon G5 X Mark II and G7 X Mark III, the Nikon P1000, the Panasonic Lumix DC-G90/G95/G99/G91, the Lumix DC FZ1000 II and Lumix TZ95/ZS80, the Ricoh GR III, and the Sony A7R IV and RX100 VII.

More than 3,000 optical modules have also been added to the database, which now includes more than 50,000 different camera/lens combinations. The software’s de-noising capabilities for RAW photos taken with certain Canon and Olympus cameras has been improved as well.


The ESSENTIAL and ELITE editions of DxOPhotoLab 3 (PC and Mac) are now available for download on DxO’s website.

You can install the program on two computers with the DxO PhotoLab 3 ESSENTIAL Edition or on three computers with the DxO PhotoLab 3 ELITE Edition. Photographers with a license for DxO OpticsPro or DxO PhotoLab 2 can purchase an upgrade license for DxO PhotoLab 3 by signing into their customer account on www.dxo.com. A fully-functional, one-month trial version of DxO PhotoLab 3 is available on the DxO website: http://www.dxo.com/dxo-photolab/download/.


In the end, picking a piece (or pieces) of software to edit your photos is a purely personal taste decision. Almost anything out there is good to very good. I happen to think that DxO Photolab 3 is bordering on great.

It’s catalog feature is a little slow. It’s approach to layers and masking a bit different than one might expect. But if you just want fantastic image quality, and you don’t want to rent your software, DxO PL3 is a rock solid choice. Unless…

I should mention that in discussions with the company they admit that they cannot hand X-Trans files from the Fuji system. If you are a Fuji shooter, buy Capture One. Anyone and everyone else should at least consider DxO PL3. I admit to having been skeptical about this program’s chances for success. But after some two weeks testing it, I am very impressed.