Has DxO provided information on DxO Smart Lighting, and how to find it

Smart Lighting is a very important part of DxO PhotoLab. Has DxO ever posted specific information on the Smart Lighting tool, what it does, how it works, and how to get the most benefit from using it?

I’m not asking for user generated posts about Smart Lighting - I’m trying to find where (or if?) DxO has posted this information themselves. If so, I would assume it would help all users of PhotoLab as to how to use Smart Lighting most effectively.

I am ONLY asking for information provided by DxO, not threads, or videos, or posts, or opinions. The information can come from any version of PhotoLab.

If anyone knows such a link, please post it here.
Please do not post anything that doesn’t answer this question.

Thank you to @JoPoV who suggested a better way to ask in this forum.

Yes, DxO have provided information on Smart Lighting. You can find it by running a Google search on the key words ‘smart lighting’ and then restricting the search to just the dxo.com domain and excluding the term ‘forum’.

If you don’t understand my answer, search Google to learn how to run such a search.

What about the PL manual, pages 151-155?

It does not cover using Spot Mode for anything other than faces. And even then, it is sketchy… I have covered its use for wide dynamic range, somewhere in a couple of discussions here.

Or he could just experiment. He can start out by simply placing a single box on the brightest area of the image and another one in a shadow area. From there he can experiment with resizing boxes, their placement location, and the numbers of boxes. And, of course, in each step he should adjust the intensity slider to see its affect.

Mike could read all the primers in the world and watch all the videos, but until he experiments on a large variety of photos he will never understand the best use cases for any specific photo.

Primers and videos only provide general information on how a tools functions and hopefully how to apply it appropriately for the examples being used. The use of it on examples is just a general guideline. To understand how to get the best from Smart Lighting on a wide range of images requires a lot of experimentation and a significant amount of experience.

Unfortunately Mike does not believe in experimentation. He prefers to be told how to do something rather than experiment to determine what would work best in various situations.

I don’t expect him to take my rather simple advice about experimenting with Smart Lighting. I am afraid he will instead continue to search in vain for a video to that will give step by step instructions, anything to avoid having to experiment.


Please let it go, Mark. :roll_eyes: You don’t have to shoot down so many of the requests that other customers post to the forums. It’s becoming toxic.


Greg you are absolutely correct. I apologize and will try to do better.



I suppose I could experiment with my Nikon D780, or my Leica cameras, but my preference is to use the manuals that came for the camera, or were written for it. Some users here (such as @Joanna) explain their ways of doing things, which are even better than what I read in books or online. Experimenting, when one doesn’t understand, can be dangerous.

Anyway, the answers already posted are a good starting point.

I’m also going to write to my friend at DxO. I suspect they have a complete article which is ready to be posted, but it was forgotten about.

Mark, let’s shake keyboards, and make things friendly again.

Let’s both try to do better. :slight_smile:

Sorry if this has already been covered but in the online manual here
Edit pictures with the Customize tab – PhotoLab (dxo.com)

And this of Smart Lighting…does this perhaps address some of your concerns & needs?

DxO Smart Lighting

About DxO Smart Lighting

Backlit subjects are a typical case that calls for DxO Smart Lighting correction. Here, because of the very strong contrast, a high level of correction has been applied to open the shadows – as if a fill-in flash had been used.

Ordinarily, image corrections are applied to the whole photograph: when you modify the brightness or the contrast, you make the whole image brighter, darker, and more or less contrasted.

DxO Smart Lighting’s Uniform mode lets you automatically brighten or darken certain areas in your image without affecting other areas. You can also modify the contrast wherever necessary, such as in the following cases:

  • Images with areas that are backlit.
  • Images with a contrast range markedly higher than a camera can handle, especially images with very dark areas.
  • Images that were accidentally underexposed, generally short on contrast, or lacking a flash fill-in.

As for Spot Weighted processing, it uses face detection and works with Smart Lighting to give priority to correctly exposing faces. This is not precisely a local correction, but rather a way to weight the exposure in favor of faces while preserving the correct exposure of the rest of the image, for a balanced and natural result.

DxO Smart Lighting: Uniform mode

DxO Smart Lighting’s Uniform mode offers three levels of correction which take care of the vast majority of cases.

As with the majority of corrections, DxO Smart Lighting’s Uniform mode functions automatically. In this case, the software analyzes the image content and applies the correction in a homogenous way. You have two tools you can use either together or separately to adjust the correction:

  • The first is a drop-down menu that lets you modify the intensity of the correction by choosing among four different levels: Strong, Medium, Slight (default setting), and Custom adjustments.
  • The Intensity slider is set at the value assigned to the chosen automatic correction mode: 25 for Slight (default setting), 50 for Medium, and 75 for Strong. You can modify these slider settings, in which case the drop-down menu will display Custom mode.

DxO Smart Lighting: Spot Weighted mode

DxO Smart Lighting’s Spot Weighted mode is based on detection of faces in a photo in order to optimize the exposure — without radically modifying the rest of the image. This feature is particularly useful in the following cases:

  • Backlit faces.
  • Faces that are too bright or too dark against the background, whether dark or bright (e.g., bright on a dark background, bright on a bright background, etc.).

When you click on the Spot Weighted button, DxO Smart Lighting will apply a correction in Slight mode by default, taking into account the faces present in the image. The number of areas detected is indicated in the sub-palette, to the right of the Spot Weighted processing tool icon.

To see the detected areas, click on the tool icon. In the image, each detected face is surrounded by a rectangle. If you move the mouse over one of these rectangles, it will activate (that is, its sides will appear as dotted lines and there will be handles in each corner), thus letting you move it, resize it, or delete it (for this last, click on the cross in the upper right corner of the frame).

You can also use the mouse’s cross pointer to draw a new area. When you do this, the software will perform a new analysis and apply a new correction to the image.

If the system does not detect a face when you turn on Spot Weighted, a No faces detected message will appear in the DxO Smart Lighting subpalette. Generally speaking, non-detection occurs when a face is partially hidden. In these cases, you can manually draw a rectangle, and here, too, the software will perform a new analysis and apply a new correction to the image.

The toolbar located underneath the image lets you activate and deactivate the display of weighted areas (rectangles); to reset the correction; or to close the tool (which you can also do by clicking on the icon in the sub-palette).

You can change the intensity of correction by choosing from among three predefined modes (Slight, Medium, Strong), or by using the Intensity slider to make manual adjustments. In every case, the algorithms take faces into account.

Which settings to use with DxO Smart Lighting

DxO Smart Lighting is probably the most complex of our corrections. It has a global and a local effect on the image – affecting the whole picture and local details – and has a strong influence on contrast and brightness. Such a complex correction can only be mastered with practice. However, you will quickly see for yourself how effective DxO Smart Lighting is even for difficult images.

First, reserve it for photos where the shadows need to be brought back. It has little effect on highlights, unlike Exposure Compensation. Second, you should stick with the three automatic correction modes as much as possible, as they can cope with most situations, and then fine-tune with the Intensity slider afterwards. If you need to do further corrections, use the Selective tone palette or the Tone Curve.

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Don’t be sorry - THANK YOU! I think this is exactly what I’ve been trying to find. I will review this later tonight, and it probably update my current thoughts of how to use Smart Lighting. Tonight or tomorrow I’ll get this sorted out. Current project is dinner…

I wondered why they didn’t simply title it “DXO Smart Lighting” ? But after reading for a few minutes, I found so much more. Since it’s from DxO, @Joanna will likely approve.

How did you find this?

You get a dozen “Gold Stars”!

Mike, I do not see any mention of using the spot weighted features for anything other than for faces. If I am correct and it is only mentioned with regard to identifying faces then I can guarantee that @Joanna will absolutely not approve.

Both she and I do not generally capture images with faces, yet both of us use the spot weighted mode most of the time to increase the dynamic range by putting boxes on the darkest and lightest areas of the image. I mentioned this to you at length in an earlier post but I’m guessing you may not have read it or did not understand it.

Since Joanna has mentioned the same thing on more than one occasion I suspect you have not read what she said as well. What is written in the documentation that was recently posted above is not significantly different than what you saw in those videos to which Joanna reacted negatively. Please review our earlier posts on the subject.

Just because DXO does not mention a specific use of a tool for a specific purpose does not mean that it cannot be used very effectively for that purpose. DxO Smart Lighting is a great example of that. I can increase the overall dynamic range of images far more easily and effectively using the spot weighted option than with the uniform option which is far more limited in scope. PLEASE TRY IT!!! You have got nothing to lose and might learn something.

I keep asking you to experiment, so you will discover how to get the best out of PhotoLab. If you just stick to the very limited available documentation or videos and never experiment you will miss out on all the undocumented power of many PhotoLab features and would never have figured out what Joanna and I learned after our own individual experimentation with Smart Lighting.


Any more questions??

Well, in that case, not even DxO’s explanation for Smart Lighting is adequate.

Maybe DxO should pay @Joanna to write and illustrate the best use of this software.

Yes, that makes sense, but how about the zillions of other people who might be using, or want to use, Smart Lighting?

I guess I’m silly for expecting DxO to accurately describe how to use DxO tools?

Agreed, completely. Or, consider writing up a better explanation yourself?

I use Smart Lighting all the time. Whether or not I learn something is irrelevant to this discussion. Do you realize that apparently everyone so far has written up an explanation that you feel is either inaccurate or incomplete?

Maybe in YOUR next response, you can write up the information that is lacking, and maybe post that where others can find it.

Nope, you are correct, and I am wrong. Apparently they did title it correctly.
Oops. My mistake.

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That is absolutely correct. Many of us here have known that for a very long time. Those of us who have using been PhotoLab for many years, and who have taken the time to experiment with various techniques, know that it’s capabilities go beyond what is documented by DXO and what is demonstrated in many of the available videos. PhotoLab with its seemingly limited tool set compared to some of its competitors, is far more versatile then most casual users of it realize.


Beautiful. Instead of arguing here about it, can you, or someone, please write a short explanation (or summary) of whatever it is that you have discovered, and other people and their videos (me included) have not?

Maybe @Joanna could do this best. At least then, we would identify this secret power that the three videos (an I) have not been aware of?

I have already done that, possibly more than once and @Pieloe has written his own tutorial

Just use the forums search.


Assuming she had any interest in doing that, that would be an extremely wise move. If @Joanna and @Pieloe worked together they could set things straight.


Maybe it could be included here: