How I feel after about a year of using PL4 as my go-to image editor

I haven’t posted here in a very long time. Instead of questions, I’ve just been using PhotoLab as my default image editor, trying to use if for all my photo projects. The advice I got here in this forum was priceless, and I’ve been using PL4 ever since. Take photos. Use PhotoMechanic to move my images into a folder in an appropriate location, and filter out the useless images. Edit in PL4. Export. I keep forgetting things, but almost always I find a way to get things to work.

A summary of my experience with PL4 needs to cover two issues I never really resolved. I suspect they never will be resolved, and I eigher do the best I can with PL4, or improvise using the Open Source editor, DarkTable.

Issue #1 - PL4 works with all my cameras but won’t accept ‘dng’ images from my Leica M8.2 - my work-around is to convert the images to TIFF which PL4 seems to accept.

Issue #2 - PL4 won’t accept raw images from my Fuji X100f, which has the X-TransSensor. I’ve gotten into the habit of editing those images in DarkTable. I’m about ready to give up on the raw images completely, and just shoot in JPG.

With those two exceptions, and trying to remember all the things I’ve been taught by some wonderful people in this forum, I’ve been very happy with PL4. I used to watch ever Webinar DxO hosted, but I haven’t done that for a while. Instead, I’ve been trying to get the most out of the four cameras that are most important to me - Leica M10, Nikon Df, Fuji X100f, and Leica M8.2. My other camera gear is sitting around gathering dust, and to be honest, for the past half-year I’ve mostly been using only the M10 and recently, the Fuji.

I’ll post one image below that I spent a lot of time on in PL3 (on my laptop) and then in PL4 (on my Mac Mini). As always, you’re all free to comment, re-edit, complain, or tell me how many mistakes I made, and maybe someone will simply write “it’s about time!”.

L1002943 | 2021-07-25-Walkabout.dng (29.8 MB)

L1002943 | 2021-07-25-Walkabout.dng.dop (12.4 KB)

And here’s the finished image:

Speaking of the Leica M10, I took a ten day visit to my brother’s property, and only brought my M10. I was using it every day, correcting mistakes, and getting it to do everything I wanted. I came home with a smile on my face, as it even worked for “action shots”, adjusting the camera by feel. Every day I would mail out several images to family and friends, and by the end of the week I was usually smiling.



Taking the time to practice using PhotoLab has served you very well. Your adjustments to the above image are excellent. and are very significantly better than your earlier efforts. Great work. There really isn’t anything I would do differently. As you found out, you can accomplice much more by significant practice and experimentation on your own than from just asking questions or watching training videos.


Thanks - reading that put a big smile on my face. One more person I especially need to hear from. :slight_smile:


Practice is most of what it takes to progress - and committing to one camera plus one lens is an excellent way to advance your photography - and it shows in the way you write and in your image. Thumbs up for what you have achieved and will achieve!

As for camera/lens support by PhotoLab: The M8-2 is not supported and I suppose that it will remain unsupported. I’d keep shooting RAW with the Fuji cameras, maybe set them to store raw plus jpeg images in order to keep options open for future re-interpretations in whatever software supports the format. Drive space is relatively cheap, so why not keep the door open?


Well said.


Seconded! And I speak from experience on this.

I have just completed reprocessing of another 75 photos, dating from 2019 and 2012 on this occasion. I’ve recently revisited photos from as far back as 2008 and my total is well past 1,000 now. Why? Because PL4 and, when necessary, DeepPRIME can breathe new life into photos that had previously been processed in Lightroom, Aperture, or Luminar, not to mention modern screens and ‘norms’ led me to produce the final exports much larger (my 2012 shots were 1200 pixels wide, now over 3000). While doing these revisits, I’ve also grabbed more than a few photos that I previously did not think fit to publish at the time and given them the PL4 treatment, too. Some of those have turned out to be new favourites.

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I’ve mostly been concentrating on one camera (Leica M10) and one lens (Summilux 35mm), and one image processor (PL4). The Fuji is good for a “carry camera” when I’m just walking around. My Nikon gear is getting dusty - the Nikon stuff was mainly for Sports Photography, which I rarely do nowadays, and which the Leica and Fuji are not suited for. So life has gotten simpler.

I’ve still got my Leica M3 film camera, and decided to recover the good times I had with it 50 and 60 years ago. If for some reason there was an extended electrical blackout, the M3 could once again become my go-to camera. It also makes me feel young once again.

I plan to become a contributing member of Zoo Miami, meaning I can visit them as often as I want. Once the virus quiets down again in Miami, I’m planning on visiting. I also plan to go to the Florida Everglades this coming winter, and hopefully I can capture some good photos of alligators, without them capturing me.

As for PL4, the Leica M8 was never very popular, and there aren’t that many of them out there. When they designed the camera, they forgot to add an anti-infrared lens, meaning colors of clothing come out with strange purple tones, if you don’t put on one of the anti-IR filters Leica distributed. On the other hand, the lack of an IR internal filter means it’s a wonderful camera for infrared photography. I’ve tried that a few times, but this was long before I learned about PL4. As long as I convert my M8 images to ‘tiff’, I can edit them in PL4. As for the Fuji, the technicians at DxO haven’t been able to develop settings to work with the strange and unusual sensor Fuji uses. You guys are right - I should shoot in RAW+JPG mode. I guess I’ll start doing that. Still, the more I learn about PL4, and the more I shoot the Leica, the happier I am with that combination. It’s no replacement for a large-format camera, but it’s closer. I have one of the Nikon 50mm Perspective Control lenses, and I have an adapter to let me use that lens on my Leica, so I’ll have a few more movements that a LF camera has. I can move the lens in one direction, but I don’t have the version that allows me to tilt the lens as well as the linear movement.

It’s all good!

Regarding the Everglades. Go in January-February. Enter the park from the Homestead side. Drive the Anhinga Trail to the parking lot at the end. Walk the boardwalk over the water. You will see alligators stacked up like cordwood. While in the area, drive to Flamingo to see the American crocodile. They are often seen in the marina.

Thank you ‘jamen2’. I’ll print this out and save it for January. I have no experience at this at all, so your advice will be most helpful! I’m guessing it will take one trip to figure out what it’s like, what gear I need, etc., and then another trip with the right equipment. I’m in Miami Beach, so it isn’t that long a trip. Any advice on what time of the day might be best? I’m guessing early in the day, to beat the (potential) crowds.

January - March is the nesting period for many birds. My experience is they are foraging during the day so the best time to see birds on the nest is early in the day, before 10 am, and late afternoon, after 3:30 or 4. You might confirm this with a call to the park.

The gators and crocs are around all day.

The Cornell University Ornithology lab is also a good website for bird info. By the way, the birds at the Anhinga Trail site are very habituated, - you’ll get within 10 feet of them.

Hi Mike

Well done on your latest shot but, yes, I am going to suggest a few things :nerd_face:

You have certainly taken a “minimalist” approach, which is always a good idea, with only a grad filter over the sky and the addition of ClearView Plus overall.

Let me start by suggesting that global ClearView Plus wasn’t really necessary and, IMHO, has added too much contrast in places where it wasn’t really needed, like the reflections on the water.

The problem with the grad filter is that it has affected, not only the sky but, also, the trees that “intrude” into the filtered area.

I summary, what I have done instead is to remove both those adjustments and, for the sky, use Control Points to select the sky, with negative control points to stop it affecting the rest of the image, especially the reflections.

For the settings for the sky control points, I have reduced the exposure (like you did), added a tad of micro-contrast and boosted the vibrance

In terms of global adjustments, this is all I did

So, here is a jpeg export of my version and the DOP file, including my version

L1002943 | 2021-07-25-Walkabout.dng.dop (25,2 Ko)

Of course, it may not be what you wanted to achieve but it’s intended more to give you ideas of other ways of working.

Oh, and i installed the lens module and applied the four essential lens corrections of vignetting, lens sharpness, chromatic aberration and distortion - all at their “automatic” levels

I wish I knew enough to know what I wanted - I am much better at recognizing what I do NOT want. It’s obvious to me once again that I could have achieved the effect I was after using control points, which would only work on those parts of the image that needed it (sky) and not mess with other parts of the image (tree) that were fine to begin with. The biggest thing on my mind was not over-doing things. As a test, I tried out some of what you wrote, and yes, I prefer the results your way.

I am confused about you installing the lens module and applied the four essential lens corrections. When I first use this camera and lens, I thought all of that was installed after the first time I got a notification. So, if I go into my settings, I should be able to see where they are NOT applied, and check on something so from now on, all photos with this lens would be applied…

But there is a catch. These are all ancient Leica lenses, without the newer markings that tell the camera which lens is in use. I may very well have had a lens on the camera, and not manually set the camera so it knew which lens I was using. I never thought of that. I guess from now on, I need to verify that my camera “knows” which lens I am using, so the EXIF data is correct, and so PL4 will know, and use the appropriate settings for the lens I was really using.

I think you suggested these things long ago, but it’s so easy to just make a global adjustment - but I agree with you, using control points lets me make changes in the areas I am interested in, and not with the whole image.

Since them, I have bought a Plustek OpticFilm 8200i Ai scanner, and started shooting B&W film again in my old Leica M3 (now off to DAG Camera for making it like new) and my equally old Leica M2 (will also go off to DAG when I get my M3 back). I’ve been posting my images in this forum:

First I scanned new b&w images I’ve been taking with my old Leica film cameras, just like I did in the 1960’s. Then I started going through my old negative collection. Some of my negatives are in very poor condition, but most are fine. I set the scanner to the same resolution mentioned in the scanner specifications, 7200 dpi.

My original question was that when I switch back and forth between the “hand” tool, and the “correction” tool, the image jumps around right or left, rather than staying put like it did at first. Is there a number of corrections one can make on a single negative, before PL4 gets “overloaded”?

I tried to upload the original TIF image here, but got this error message:

Screen Shot 2021-09-03 at 13.11.49

The difference between this image, and the others I’ve been editing recently, is that I’ve made what. feels like several hundred “dust corrections”.

Maybe the file size is the reason why the image seems to jump around between using the hand tool, and making a dust correction?

I tried another image from the same roll, which needed far fewer corrections. I scanned all these at a resolution setting of 7200 dpi. Maybe I should switch to 3600 dpi? That should make a huge difference in the file size.

Does PL4 have a maximum file size? Am I just creating the problem by using 7200 dpi on a 35mm negative?

I found dust removal in PL4 to be… challenging. Which is why I clean up my negatives in Affinity Photo now. It, too, can sometimes lag a little, but it always catches up and does a fine job 99% of the time with the Inpainting brush.

BTW, 7200dpi seems rather high. When I was researching prior to scanning my father’s negatives I found a general consensus that 35mm negatives should be scanned at ~4000dpi for “archival scans”. I therefore scan negatives at the nearest figure my scanner can do, 4800dpi.

Thanks for the advice. I went from 7200dpi to 3600, and can’t see any difference. The file sizes are now much more reasonable. I think I’ll stick with 3600.

About PL4 and Affinity, I have both, but I’ve been trying to do everything in PL4. Dust removal is …challenging, as you wrote, but PL4 does an excellent job of correcting the issue and not messing other things up. It all just comes down to the time it takes, doing every speck of dust individually. The Silverfast software is supposed to do dust removal very well with the Plustek, but only with color negatives, not B&W.

Here’s an example, with my corrections:
2021-09-03-0003.tif (32.5 MB)

2021-09-03-0003.tif.dop (65.8 KB)

…and a reduced size result:


Looks good! Might I suggest you give your watermark a small offset from the right and bottom edges? The final ‘y’ gets a bit lost in the corner. Great font for this sort of imagery.

What resolution you scan at depends on what use you are going to make of the scanned file.

For printing and viewing at arm’s length, the output file should be 240ppi.

When I scan my 5" x 4" film, I scan at 2400ppi, which then gives me a 10x enlargement to 50" x 40" - adequate for most exhibition spaces.

So, if you were to scan at that resolution, a 35mm film image is (approx) 1" x 1½", which would enlarge to a 10" x 15" print.

Taking into account the grain size of the film, 2400ppi tends to be a sweet spot where you don’t get too much grain, which can look as ugly as digital noise, or too little detail and lose the grain structure completely.

As @zkarj says, dust removal is not PL’s forte. Because, as you noticed, things start to get graunchy, the more you repair, I tend to do so much, then export the file to the same format and resolution (in your case TIFF) and start again.

Your image

I noticed a couple of problems with what you have done in this example:

  1. you are not always moving the source of the repair to somewhere that doesn’t contain “rogue” information…

Notice the bits of wire in mid-air.

It looks like you may have made geometric corrections before de-spotting, otherwise, I wouldn’t expect to see so many dust corrections outside of the finished frame size…

It is well known that geometric corrections can displace repairs; and it also saves you a lot of time and effort not having to de-spot unnecessary areas.

This next screenshot shows your horizon correction…

You have had to make a guesstimate for a horizontal line, whereas you could have made a vertical line on the telegraph pole much easier.

Apart from the de-spotting, I reworked your image, removing some adjustments and adding others. Most usefully, I used the Fuji Acros 100 film rendering and the fine contrast sliders for midtones and shadows, to bring out detail.

Here’s a quick export…

And here’s the combined DOP file…

2021-09-03-0003.tif.dop (127,4 Ko)

As someone who is notoriously prone to ‘off-kilter’ shooting I use the horizon tool a lot and while some poles can make a good vertical reference, I find many are not vertical at all! Sometimes it’s obvious. Other times the whole picture doesn’t look right after using one as a reference. In general, wooden poles are less straight than concrete which are less straight than steel. I often judge suitability by context. A steel light pole at an airport is far more likely to be vertical than a wooden signpost, or indeed a wooden telephone pole.

This is why I’ve asked/voted for a drag-rotate ability in the horizon tool. Sometimes, ‘what looks right’ is the best answer and being able to drag to achieve that is ideal.

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Indeed. Then you’ve got the receding verticals syndrome where you straighten them out and now the building looks like it has diverging verticals. In that case, the advice is to always leave some convergence because it “looks right”. The same applies to “horizontality” you do it until it looks right, regardless of what you see when you place horizon line.

In this case, Mike seems to have got it as he wanted it using a horizontal and, in my rework, I used the pole - it looks like we were both right :nerd_face:

Dear Joanna,
would you suggest scanning old slides with lower resolution if it’s not so good material.
So if the company offer 3 settings waht to choose. I need them only for small prints in booklets, and the slides where made with Fuiji material and sometimes with 1660 Iso films

  • Eco-Qualität 2.400 dpi (ca. 7 Mega-Pixel) ab 0,08 €

  • Standard-Qualität 3.900 dpi (ca. 19 Mega-Pixel) ab 0,12 €

  • Top-Qualität 5.000 dpi (ca. 32 Mega-Pixel) ab 0,18 €

Thanks in advance