Cost of fine contrast slider in PL5E is ludicrous

Please see the above exchange.

Using Help in PL5E, I have activated FP5E within PL5E in trial mode. This activates many additional film and digital body renderings within PL5E – the only one that I need is the fine contrast slider. Comparing the results with the microcontrast slider and the fine contrast slider, both in the PL5E loupe and an exported JPEG, the fine contrast slider does a better job in many cases for my uses. However, it is LUDICROUS to have to license FP5E in order to get the activation code just to get this one additional slider. Morever, if this fact had been made known when I originally licensed PL-E (and upgraded to PL5E), at least I would have bundled and used the discount. (Aside: I assume that the camera body renderings, not just film renderings, emulate what the particular body would have produced as a JPEG file – thus my Nikon Z9 NEF could be rendered as though it were a JPEG from say a Canon 5. But – I do not need nor thus need to pay a license fee for this capability.)

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This has been noted before by others who wish Fine Contrast was part of PhotoLab instead of being part of FilmPack. Maybe one day it will be. In the mean time, I point out that along with the main Fine Contrast adjustment you also get three sliders which apply Fine Contrast differently to highlights, midtones, and shadows. This doesn’t exist for other contrast adjustments in PhotoLab.

I hope DxO can implement Fine Contrast as part of Local Adjustment pretty soon…

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See @rymac’s post here for a comprehensive list of the extra tools you get with FP Elite - it’s not just the one (or more correctly four) extra tools.

Oh, plus the colour filters, which come in very useful for B&W work.

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Short answer: Yes

This can be handy if, say;

  • You have multiple camera bodies and you want them all to be rendered in the same way.
  • You want all your renderings to be something different to the default from your camera body … For example, I have my rendering set to Camera Body = DxO One (just because I like the way it looks !)

John M

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In addition to extra feature added to the Contrast tool - Film Pack is also reflected in PL as follows;
image … Some of which are more useful than others !

John M

The fact that there is only one feature that interests you in FilmPack 6.2 is unfortunate. Other have said the same thing about the channel mixer, creative vignetting, the blur feature, and frames. Not everyone is that interested in the fine contrast sliders.

The only way to get everything that PhotoLab has to offer is to purchase the entire suite which is much cheaper then purchasing all three programs individually. The cost of the activation code, of course, is not just to get the contrast sliders. DxO modularizes PhotoLab into several programs, PhotoLab Essential and Elite, FilmPack Essential and Elite, and Viewpoint. It allows users to select the feature set that best meet their budgets, But that also means that anything less than the full Elite suite will require a compromise somewhere. For some this compromise is acceptable, for others, like yourself, it isn’t.

While I commiserate with your frustration, the only solution is for DxO to rid itself of the modular choices altogether, unlock all the hidden features in PhotoLab Elite, and then just raise the purchase and upgrades price of PhotoLab accordingly to take into account the features formally available in FilmPack and Viewpoint. Some users, like me, will be pleased by a simplification of their offerings. Other will be extremely unhappy with the significant increase in cost as a result


My understanding is that the other part of the three applications that in fact are in PL5E, namely, Viewpoint that is used, for example, to “defish” a fisheye image has the same functionality as the Nik collection geometry module. HOWEVER, when Viewpoint is activated within PL5E, there is no need to export to an intermediate format (eg, TIFF) but that the functionality will use the internal image “pipeline” within PL5. If this is the case, DxO should make it clear to license the entire bundle as the other two parts actually are integral with PL5E if the activation codes are licensed for fee. PL5E is delivered “crippled” with functionalities internally present that must be activated for fee. DxO should make this clear and save photographers the extra licensing fees – just the bundle fee.

I believe the problem is that many folks are used to having to use multiple apps to process their images, demosaïcing first and then “doing the rest” on a TIFF. Whereas PL allows you to do everything (apart from stacking and stitching) in the one app.

I bought the Elite Bundle from the get-go and I’ve only had to upgrade FilmPack Avery few years for a very reasonable fee.

Of course, if you want to have everything in one app, then the purchase price is going to have to be greater, even if you don’t want everything, but also update costs are going to be greater as well.

You might “only” want the fine contrast slider bu, obviously, you haven’t yet used the other three sliders (shadow/mid-tones/highlights) that come with it. They make a significant difference if you only want to adjust detail in one of those regions.

Have you discovered how to reveal them? They are normally hidden by a plus (+) button on the bottom right of the contrast palette…

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I do not believe that these specialised sliders were available until I did a trial within PL of FP, and I shall add Viewpoint also by trial. I assume that integrated within PL5E the additional corrections/features (the only lens filter simulation I would like is a polariser, but my understanding is that as the sensor, as with conventional films, has no polarisation information for the recorded photons, this cannot be done) then would be recorded into my presets. I currently keep only a few presets, all of which are DeepPRIME – general, floral, macro, scenic. I often crop to make visual the details of the subject of interest (say an animal head) when I do not have or am not using the most appropriate lens. (I do NOT carry multiple bodies as I do not have a porter and often must move with my subject.)

Another point: when I was offered to license FP and VP along with PL, my impression from the marketing documentation from DxO was that these were independent applications, similar to the Topaz suite that I currently also use for specific purposes, and did NOT integrate into the internal PL image pipeline. Let me be clear. Before Adobe workflow was only available for lease, not “own”, and thus became my permanent “silent partner” and always taking a portion of my revenue stream, additional functionality was obtained via plugins that worked on the internal Adobe image pipeline – NOT requiring an export to, say, TIFF and additional diskspace (often, much additional storage). My understanding of both the Nik collection and these other applications (FP, VP) was that these were the same – NOT internally integrated. Such non-integration (export to with the creation of a file, not the use of the internal image pipeline) using the Nik collection appears to be true; evidently, it is NOT true for FP and VP (unlike the VP functionality that is in Nik). This internal image pipeline should be made clear in DxO marketing so that any working photographer would realise that she/he/they must license for fee the bundle. From Topaz and others, licensing a bundle reduces costs, but DOES NOT PROVIDE AN INTEGRATED SUITE . PL, FP, and VP does provide an INTEGRATED single application. I am very much considering posting the above (assuming that someone on this thread verifies my understanding as being in fact correct) to a separate topic I shall create with a (STRONG) request the DxO makes this fact clear at the initial license fee to save money and time to working photographers.

Here’s how DxO software is constructed @wildlifephoto:

  • PhotoLab 5, ViewPoint 3, FilmPack 5/6 form a set where all the software works on the RAW original with no export requirement
  • Nik plugins v 3/4/5 all work on TIFF files, not RAW files. If there’s one of them which does seem to work with RAW, it’s because it’s converted to TIFF first. Nik plugins mostly replicate PhotoLab/VP/FP functionality, although SilverFX and ColorFX do a much better job imitating film emulsion.
  • PureRAW is a feature-limited version of PhotoLab which processes RAWs into LinearDNG with the PhotoLab noise reduction and debayering algorithms. PhotoLab can do everything PureRAW can do, with the improvement of being able to modify the settings. I suspect future versions of PureRAW will include some sliders to set noise reduction and sharpening to taste.

If you are going to work in PhotoLab, all you need is the PhotoLab Elite Bundle which currently retails for €288.


  • PhotoLab appears to be on an annual upgrade cycle. Upgrades are about €70 depending on which sale you upgrade on (the best sale is on Black Friday with some kind of repeat around New Year’s). These upgrades are usually worth it. The bad news is that DxO in the last couple of years has taken to only supporting the latest two OS (at least on macOS) so expect a hassle keeping your computer OS on a very recent version (usually creating compatibility issues with other software). Last time out upgrading PhotoLab (I wanted and use the new local adjustments selection sliders with every session, as well as the new Control Line which makes graduated exposure adjustments very easy) cost me €4000 to upgrade hardware that had at least another couple of years of life in it.
  • ViewPoint/FilmPack appear to be on a three to four year upgrade cycle, which is welcome as really there’s not much new there every year.
  • Nik is on a one year upgrade cycle and most of the upgrades have been two steps forward/two steps back with interface adjustments which received mediocre reviews, inconsistent Retina support and huge issues with cross-compatibility with other applications.

Nik has become so much trouble and so much headache for so little joy that unless you really need one of the modules and have tested that it works with your other bitmap software (Affinity Photo, Photoshop CS, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop CC specific year), I’d recommend just taking the PhotoLab Elite Bundle.

What would solve the Nik woes would be putting it on a two year upgrade cycle with real improvements and a lot more care taken to continue to support legacy hosts.

If you prefer to run a single version of your primary OS (macOS or Windows) for four or five years (much more productive), DxO PhotoLab may not be the best first for you as the current crowd of DxO engineers only wish to support the latest and greatest, customer convenience, productivity and expense be confounded.

All that said, PhotoLab 5 Elite Bundle is very powerful software which can lead to high level professional results in the hands of photographers rather than professional retouchers. The interface is excellent for almost everybody (except hardcore Lightroom lifers) and it’s possible to do more high quality work faster than with any other photo software with which I’ve worked (only Apple Aperture v2 was as good in its day). The high ISO results are by far the best in the world, retaining a natural look while killing chroma noise. Any Canon shooter who regularly shoots at high ISO (wildlife/sport/concert) should run not walk to switch to PhotoLab as it’s gets the photographer two extra stops of usable ISO. For Nikon and Sony photographers, where the built-in chroma noise reduction is much better than Canon, the stop gain is closer to one.

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Uncoy, you have confirmed what I have surmised. I have used Nik for years when it is a real plugin using the internal image pipeline including raw in the parent application. Nik is NOT a plugin to PL, despite being a plugin to PL competitor workflow applications. Thus, I agree with you concerning continuing with the Nik collection unless Nik is made a real plugin to PL (unlikely given DxO marketing management directions). As for the film effects, etc., in the Nik collection, having FP Elite activated within PL5E provides easier and evidently better functionality.

Except perhaps for the update cycle (update relicensing for fee), what you wrote should (MUST) be disclosed by DxO during the sales cycle. I thought that FP and Vp required the same export mechanism used with Nik from PL – in fact, FP and Vp are incorporated programs within PL5. Thus, I would have licensed the full bundle, call this what it should be named: PL5Elite COMPLETE. I always license software applications under discount, and I strongly object to the fact that now that the reality of the operation of PL5E has been revealed (NOT made clear during the discount purchase interval), my cost is MUCH GREATER than had I licensed PL5E Complete. Again, I would have done this had I know that the FP and Vp functionality operate within the internal PL image pipeline and also allow the FP and Vp settings to be incorporated into my personal “custom” PL presets (that I have for different subjects and imaging conditions). DxO MUST let possible (working photographer) licensees know that the bundle simply full activates all of the functionality actually incorporated in PL5.

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I do hope, that FilmPack will be part of DxO Elite
– also saving DxO the effort (cost) to maintain several FP versions instead.

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That is not likely to happen anytime soon, but I suppose it is always possible.


I recommend you wait for the Black Friday sale where you will be able to pick up FP and VP at 50% off which makes the individual item cost much closer to the bundle price. You may have some luck persuading DxO marketers to give you an upgrade coupon to the full bundle, explaining the above to them – that they misled you and you always wanted the complete PhotoLab.

Black Friday does me no good with workflow for clients NOW. I contacted both Marie and Svetlana about the issue, and got NOTHING to date (responses from each, but no movement, and no one else given to me to contact). The fundamental issue is very simple. In the Adobe suite (eg, PS), plug-ins provided the functionality without exporting to TIFF, etc, and with full functionality as from the raw (not TIFF, etc) image file. I had used what I was told was the equivalent of VP in DxO Nik (I have the Nik collection, but I probably shall not continue to re-license it as it only integrates as plug-ins to Adobe and Adobe plugin emulators, NOT PL, despite both Nik and PL being DxO “products”), comparing the Nik “VP” to another non-DxO application for defishing and for vertical correction (a software “tilt-and-shift lens”, as I rarely use my TS lens anymore). Both Nik and the other application required exporting, etc, and Nik actually did not do as satisfactory output as the other application. HOWEVER, now that I have activated both FP and Vp within PL5E (these were there the whole time but DxO marketing does NOT make that clear), I defished and cropped a circular fisheye (8 mm fisheye, 35 mm format), and then used the fine contrast slider (all this after applying my most general personal DeepPrime custom preset), and it worked (as such things used to work in the Adobe suite). (“Worked” with some issues about verticals, but that is a separate technical matter, not a matter of integrated functionality and cost.) DxO must make it clear that PL (including “elite” for working photographers) is an integrated complete package of PL base, FP, and Vp – these are not in fact separate applications although parts of PL complete are licensed separately as standalone workflow applications for those who want these (namely, PL base, FP, Vp, and now a very stripped PL marketed as PureRaw).

As we have come to find out, DxO is fairly rigid in their sales policy.

Getting the bundle can be considered a necessary investment…and your customers will pay parts of it with each order. If you have to have the feature, you’ll have to bite the bullet, no matter if you like it or not.

Don’t waste your energy being angry - use Lightroom’s structure slider - or any other tool you already paid for.


Aside from the occasional issue here and there, which affects,some but not all users, the biggest problem DxO has is in their marketing of their products.

PhotoLab itself is made up of five separate programs. PhotoLab Elite and Essential, FilmPack Elite and Essential, and Viewpoint. To confuse things even more Viewpoint and FilmPack have their own standalone versions.

The original goal was to give flexibility to DxO’s customers to be able to purchase their products at different price points dependent on their processing requirements and budget.

What is not made nearly clear enough is that if you plan on using PhotoLab as your primary raw processor and converter and want everything that it has to offer you need to purchase the Elite suite, currently consisting of PhotoLab 5 Elite, FilmPack 6 Elite, and Viewpoint 3. Anything less than that and you’re giving up some PhotoLab features.

In addition, as you’ve discovered, when all three are purchased together as a suite the overall cost for the three programs is much more reasonable than when purchased individually.

And on top of all this DxO has created more confusion by adding the Perspective module to the Nik Collection. The Perspective module is actually identical to Viewpoint 3 but does not give you the license to unhide those features from within PhotoLab like Viewpoint.

Many users seem to think that Viewpoint and FilmPack are add-ons to PhotoLab. As I think you know, they are not. All of the features of Viewpoint and FilmPack are already in PhotoLab. All a license for those products does in PhotoLab is to unhide the features that are already there. And finally, PhotoLab users who don’t need the standalone versions of Viewpoint and FilmPack often do not realize that the standalone versions can be uninstalled without affecting the embedded features in PhotoLab.

I get dizzy just explaining it all. There is no way an uninitiated new user could possibly figure this out without spending a lot of time reviewing the options in detail, And even then, they may not be purchasing what they really need.

DxO needs to provide users with a much clearer picture of all the various options and the way they work together, especially for those folks, like you, who want all the features PhotoLab has to offer.



I am a long time user of Photolab Elite going way back to the early days of OpticsPro, supporting them all the way through the dark days of administration. Over the years, I have bought every update. As far as I know, I have never had the opportunity to purchase the Elite bundle without ditching what I have already purchased (currently Photolab 5 Elite) and so faced with purchasing Filmpack Elite on its own. As my photographs are almost exclusively wildlife, I have no use whatsoever for film emulations, colour toning etc. The fact is that the only single feature of Filmpack that could be very useful to me is fine contrast. I do not really understand DXO’s rationale in keeping fine contrast within Filmpack where it doesn’t seem to really fit in with the rest of the features offered. Although of very limited interest to me, creative vignetting is another feature of Filmpack that most other post-processing software includes as part of their basic offerings. Whatever, as things stand I will not be spending any of my money on an extension to the software I already have to gain the one feature I need and very many I don’t want.


I understand exactly how you feel and I’m not going to argue that your logic is incorrect. I have long felt that the modularized approach to PhotoLab causes too much confusion and too many issues.

The fine contrast slider is only one small piece of this confusing puzzle.

My preference would be for all of the Viewpoint and FilmPack features embedded in PhotoLab to be visible and available in PhotoLab Elite, which would retail for more than the current cost of PhotoLab Elite, but less than the current cost for the bundle.

For those wanting the stand-alone only versions of Viewpoint and FilmPack for use with other software like Photoshop, those standalone versions could be purchased separately at a slightly lower price than they are currently.

I would eliminate PhotoLab Essential and FilmPack Essential all together. The essential versions of those programs are crippled by the absence of too many important features which I believe actually hurts the brand.

My approach would flatten the offerings from five to three programs and make selecting the right choice much more straightforward and far less confusing, and best of all PhotoLab Elite would have everything available by default. I believe in the long run this would increase, and not decrease, DxO’s profitability.

Unfortunately I doubt it’s going to happen, but you never know.