Features/improvments I'd like to see in PL

Coming from Lightroom (the dated 6.14) I’m currently evaluating my options to move on with a new RAW converter/DAM. After having dived into the demo version of PL5.1 for a couple of days I feel obligated to give some feedback here.

I’ll spare you all praises about what I find fantastic but focus on what I consider a shortcoming compared with other apps:

  • Shadows, midtones and highlights can’t be adressed individually in the HSL panel, let alone a luma channel.
  • Applying a curves adjustment is just a mediocre experience as there is no histogram in the background of the input field.
  • There are no color labels available in the PhotoLibrary (this has been mentioned by others here, I know)

And, most important for me: Handling of metadata doesn’t feel right. I like to manage and develop/edit my images in just one app. So using IMatch or any other external DAM is not an option. And I also don’t like to be locked in. Therefore I really appreciate to be able to save keywords, descriptions and other data in the image file itself instead of a database or a sidecar file. Lightroom offers the option to save all descriptive metadata in a DNG file (Raw DNG, not linear DNG) immediately, which is fantastic! This is currently not possible in PL5 (if I am missing something, I’d love to learn how it works). What can be done now is to export linear DNGs that include metadata - which I don’t want to do with every image that has some metadata (as it clutters my harddisk drives). Converting the original RAW to a DNG (as Adobe Camera Raw does) while including all metadata would do the trick for me.

Apart from that: I’m impressed by the straight forward UI, the lens profiles and the denoising (lifts older images taken ten years ago to a whole new level!).

Hi @VMB and welcome to the forum

DxO is advancing PhotoLab to be a better metadata manager.
PhotoLab 5 is setting the foundation, but the building has not been raised yet.

I use Lightroom Classic as my main application for asset management and basic development, while PhotoLab is the one delivering some best of breed functionality.

Due to the current state of what PL can do in the field of DAM, I’ll stay with LrC for the time being.


Welcome! These are all good points - but it’s best if a single feature request addresses a single need, otherwise it becomes a broad discussion with nothing in particular to vote for. I don’t believe there’s a votable topic for point #1 yet, so maybe that can be what we vote for here? Point #2 already has several votable topics open for it:

Search results for ‘curve histogram’ - DxO Forums

Point #3 (color labels/tags) is already in the works for PhotoLab:

[Poll] Color Tags usage in your workflow? - DxO PhotoLab / Which feature do you need? - DxO Forums

I hope this helps. :slight_smile:

I’m reading comments regarding using Lightroom Cl. as a DAM, and I don’t think I understand this reasoning. Lightroom Cl, in my humble opinion, should never be used as a DAM. I teach this in all my workshops, that when students tell me “…my images are in Lightroom”, I ask “What happens if Lightroom crashes? Where can you access and manage your images if you do not have Lightroom?” No one can answer that question. Because Lightroom puts images on your program disk, thereby sucking up storage space. Also, Lightroom deposits these images several layers deep in 5 and 6 layer subdirectories. The main advantage of PL is that it uses your EXISTING file manager, either Finder or Windows Explorer as the DAM. MUCH easier. And yes, although you can designate where the LR catalog goes, most amateurs and those just learning are not even aware of this, much less how to do it. They simply follow the path of least resistance and follow the easy-to-follow process for inserting (importing) images into LR.

My vote would be to leave things as they are, using native OS file and directory structures as the “DAM” in PL. This is the main reason I use PL, and stay away from Capture One, as I don’t have to wrestle with catalogs, sessions, importing, etc.

Additionally, I have never seen a case of losing my metadata after exporting to a TIF from PL. This one is a real head-scratcher for me… I never convert to a DNG file, so I cannot comment intelligently on this issue.


Hi PhilHawkings, thanks for sharing your thoughts on LR Classic. I agree with you never to rely on any database provided by your DAM. So we both share the same reservations regarding Capture One. However, LR is doing something right: It allows you not only to store the metadata (description, title, location, keywords) in its own database but also in the DNG file itself.

My workflow in this regard is pretty straight forward: I import my photo from the memory card using LR Classic. During import LR automatically copies all images to a new location on my PC and converts all photos in DNG. Once that is done I add keywords and other metadata as per my needs - which are automatically saved in the respective DNG file.This approach allows me to copy, move or delete my image files using Finder or Windows Explorer without losing or compromising the metdata.

And this is what I would love to see with PL: the option to store metadata in DNG file without the need to export (and reformat) them to linear DNG of TIFF files.

Sorry, that my first post wasn’t that clear in this regard.

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Thanks, VMB, never let it be said everyone should do the same thing in post-processing! To each his own.

My priorities in post are:

  1. quality of the conversion
  2. smoth, consistent workflow that serves the highest quality results
  3. simplicity and efficiency in the time it takes to achieve priorities 1 & 2.

Again, to each his own, but I avoid DNG files like the plague. This can be best explained in my video lesson on the subject here: 43 photolab-about DNG

Now that I have almost completely switched to PhotoLab, version 3, then 4, and now 5, it annoys me that I can’t use any of the features of PhotoLab with my Leica M8. I would be happy if PhotoLab could simply load the dng file from a raw image, but not allow any of the “special” tools in PhotoLab for working on raw image files. If I could do whatever editing was allowed, and finish up by exporting as a TIFF file, that would be enough.

@Joanna has shown me how I can use Apple’s “Finder” to export Leica’s DNG images as TIFF files, but over the past few years I have just been using a different editor, DarkTable, which allows me to do everything I need starting with the M8 dng image.

I understand there aren’t enough people shooting with a Leica M8 to make this a priority for DxO, and I don’t ever expect to see tools like DeepPRIME work on my M8 images, but this still remains on my “wish list”. I accept that if it were to take a huge amount of effort on DxOs part to make it possible, it’s probably not worth doing - but I don’t understand why I couldn’t use PhotoLab’s editing tools just as if I was working on a ‘tiff’ or ‘jpg’ image.

Just a thought. It’s probably good for me to be able to use DarkTable anyway, as if I travel overseas, In can install the Open Source program at no charge on any computer I have access to, so keeping up to date on a backup editor is actually good for me, but I wish I could do just basic editing on my M8 images in PhotoLab. :slight_smile:


I’ve used ExifTool to change the camera metadata in a DNG that DOP doesn’t support to one that it does. The image renders, and tools work fine. It’s a conscious decision by DxO to disallow generic processing—the guts needed to make it happen appear to be already there.

Downloaded a few M8 raw files and opened them in a hex editor.

Replacing all occurrences of “M8 Digital” by “M9 Digital” and saving the files
made DPL5 accept the files. DPL will not be able to apply corrections automatically though.

@mikemyers, if you’d like to share a few files, I can convert them for you
to try what DPL will do with/to these files.

Is it worth my trying the same with ExifTool? If it works, I could write a little Mac app to do a batch convert.

I’m sure that @mikemyers would love that.

Pop a file on our share will you?

Downloaded a few files, ran the test and trashed the files. I don’t keep such stuff.

So yes, it is possible - and no issue with nothing being done automatically. Exiftool is now downloaded and installed. I opened one image, and there is only one place where it says “M8 Digital Camera”. So, I changed “M8” to “M9”. PL5 opened the image perfectly. WOW!!!

This is the nicest New Year’s Present anyone could have given me!!! VERY happy, satisfied, and looking forward to using PL5 for my M8 images!!

Yes, it works, and the app would be a big time saver, but I am fine for right now. Using it as a standalone tool will help me learn & understand what is happening, and why.

Here is my file, opened in Exif Tool:

Here is what I now see in PL5:

To edit an image with the exclamation mark at the bottom right, I just use Exif Tool to change the camera to a M9. Beautiful. But if I’m doing a series of photos in one folder, yes, it would be helpful to do them all at once. No hurry, take your time, the big thing is that now I can do the editing! Your app would be a nice time saver.

Here is a sample file from M8.2 :slight_smile:
L1000262 | 2021-12-08.dng (10.1 MB)

Actually, you used Exif Editor, which leverages ExifTool underneath.

And, if you’ve worked out how to use that, all you have to do is drag a bunch of files into it, select them all, edit the appropriate tag and save.

Note that the camera model name exists twice.

As seen in a hex editor:

As seen with exiftool:

[EXIF] Camera Model Name : M8 Digital Camera
[EXIF] Unique Camera Model : M8 Digital Camera

Other than that: It works!

I didn’t realize there was a difference. So, Exif Editor is the interface, and ExifTool is what is actually doing the work?

So far, so good. It’s working. Next time I will drag two files into it, and see if that still works as you suggest.

I was not aware of that, but maybe the designers of PL5 weren’t aware of this either. If changing what I changed up above is enough to allow the image to open in PL5, that’s all I plan to do. Quick, and easy. I never dreamed it could be THIS easy!!!

Wonderful - I can now edit my M8 images in PL5. Just when I’ve learned how to do my work in DarkTable, now I no longer need to do so.

Something I didn’t expect - I just opened up a regular image I took with my M8, only selected DeepPRIME and even that worked!!!

I’ll post the image here - it’s obviously not as good for “image quality” as my D750 or M10. Using my $270 Chinese 7Artisans f/2 35mm lens probably limits the quality of the image more than using my M8 does. Is it good for “walkabouts”? I think so.

When I’m concentrating on seagulls, I lose track of keeping the camera level. I’m not very good at this. I focused on the building, paid the most attention to the location of the seagulls, and waited for some to be in front of the building.

I’ll post it anyway, but it’s not “finished”. I’m curious as to how DeepPRIME can work, when the image is from a camera DxO doesn’t “know about”. Unless one of you sees something I’m missing, this is a very pleasant surprise!

L1000358 | 2021-12-14.dng (10.1 MB)
L1000358 | 2021-12-14.dng.dop (11.6 KB)

Actually, there is yet another tag…

[XMP] Camera Model Name : M8 Digital Camera

… which is the tag that has to be written to get PL to read the file.

In practice, explicitly writing only the xmp:model tag does not change the exif:model tag, whereas writing…

exiftool -model='M9 Digital Camera'

…writes to both at the same time. But you would need…

exiftool -model='M9 Digital Camera' -uniquecameramodel='M9 Digital Camera'

… to maintain consistency of all tags that refer to the camera name.

I left LR quite some time ago, but I don’t understand your comments about LR putting images several layers deep in 5 and 6 layer subdirectories. When I used LR it didn’t touch my existing images / file structure. LR just held references to where the images were stored on my hard drive. Capture One works the same way with catalogues, although I use sessions.

DeepPRIME is not camera dependent, it works on the structure of the RAW image data, which is held separately from the metadata in the file.