I just discovered DXO PhotoLab

I was reading a book in which the author wrote that he used PhotoLab. I had been using LightRoom Classic, and hated the subscription model; I even canceled it twice, but could not find anything better, until now. I have the trial version, and I have been very pleased. I chiefly photograph large ships, LNG Tankers for the most part. I have been away from photography for many years, long enough to be shocked to discover that I could not find film in any of the local stores, when I wanted to get back into it a while back and I was in a somewhat “emergency” situation. That is when I found out that the world had gone to DSLRs. I did not have time to ‘study’ on the situation and just grabbed what was at hand. It worked, but when I had the time I discovered that there were Dx and Fx formats etc. and of course a learning curve to attend to.
This appears to be a nice, helpful forum and I hope to learn a lot here. I was reading the Sharpnes and Focus topic and found it interesting. A couple of weeks ago, it finally sunk into my head that I needed to pay attention to my f stops to try to get the entire tanker into focus. For some reason, I kept shooting near wide open or somewhere near 5.6. I just could not get it in my head that these things are really long. I finally think that I am getting closer. Suggestions and advice would be welcome.


Hello OldSubsailor, welcome here. You will see we are a nice bunch of people.

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PhotoLab (often abbreviated as PL or DPL) offers many of the usual tools, misses some and has a few that are unique.

In order to best learn DPL, I propose that you try all the tools and see what they do, check out the user guide or this site and ask questions about how to achieve specific effects or use of specific tools here, in the forum.

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Welcome Old Sub Sailor. DXO does have a bit of a learning curve, but once you get a routine and begin understanding it a bit better. It is very powerful and easier to use.

If you have a digital camera, it is likely it has a setting to allow for focus stacking. You can use focus stacking to take several images using different points of the ship as focus points, and then subsequently, you merge those into one image which should be completely in focus. That’s the quick and dirty of focus stacking. I suggest you try some you tube videos on using focus stacking. It may be helpful to you in finding a solution to your focusing questions.

I personally have tried it a few times and it renders good result. Lots of photographers use the techniques in Macro Photography, but it can easily be used for your purposes as well.

Best Wishes.

I used an analog EOS 5 when transformation to the digital photo world started and after a few years of IXUS (and simple JPGs) , I bought an DSLR in 2017. I feel with you :smiley:
I think, using a digital DSRL doesn’t mean to click mindless as many with their smartphones but by shooting (and possible deleting afterwards) you have a good tool to learn.
Let us suggest, you own a f4 - f5.6 lens: Why don’t make a few photos with different values? I did it with my old analog camera and wrote the values for each photo in a small notice book to compare the results. Today you have the EXIF’s on each photo to compare.
If I were you, I took photos of the tanker with i.e. f5.6, an f8 and f11. Compare it in an 1:1 view and find a balance between exposure time and f stop. Accu can be recharged, Cards can be deleted.
Whatever you shoot and try: It seems, it’s a hobby to you and shall make you happy. So try out the combinations of values, get ideas and hints in Internet, i.e. Pinterest, YT.
By comparing different Developer Programs, DxO PL is very helpful and easy to use.
Unfortunately you can’t compare two photos side by side :frowning:


I would not consider it “likely” that digital cameras all can do focus stacking. And although the tankers are big ships, the distance to take a photo of them also is large, so no problem with apertures between f/8 and f/11

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You really don’t need focus stacking at those kind of distances. I suggest you work at using smaller apertures. For most full frame DSLRs, f/10 is the optimum and, with a 28mm lens, for example, when focused at hyperfocal distance (5.2m), will give you everything from 2.6m to infinity acceptably sharp.

One last question for today, are all posts moderator approved?

I may be getting my photos too dark in a misguided effort to bring out the clouds in the sky on these overcast days. Then on these really bright Texas days I find myself doing the same thing on days that have just a few clouds.

The same ship, different view

again, I would appreciate your observations. I still have 28 days left on my trail of PL, which at this time I do plan on getting after I pay my taxes ;(

I processed this ship photo with PL. I liked the results much better than what I was seeing with Lightroom Classic. I finally stopped down to f16. This ship is nearly 1000 feet long, and I think that I finally got one that is somewhat completely in focus on a overcast day in port.

  • Nope, only several first posts until you reach the trust level :wink:

Svetlana G.

You don’t need to stop down that far. Doing so will introduce diffraction, which will soften your picture overall.

Looking at the pixel dimensions of the image you have posted, I would guess you are using a Nikon D850. This is what I use and can assure you that, for subjects at this kind of distance, f/10 is an ideal optimum aperture.

With a 100mm focal length, at f/10, focusing at 250ft, everything from 123ft to infinity will be perfectly acceptably sharp.

Anyway, here’s a version of your image using only a few basic and local adjustments…

“perfectly acceptably” is like “incompletely drunk”, sort of :grin: cheerio.

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From a composition point of view, I’d cut some of the empty space at the right side of the image…and give it a tad of ccw rotation.

Interesting, @platypus, to me the waterline is perfect (not horizontal but I think the opposite waterline is not parallel to the sensor) as I think the masts, crane pillars and everything what should be vertical, is vertical. I like the cloud structures (Joanna’s I find a tad too dramatic) but I’d lighten up the shadows or give it a bit more fill light (can’t remember the parameter’s name above highlight and shawdows area).

Techncially the picture is good, rather neutral and more on the documentary side. For my taste it needs a different lighting.

If you look at the background structures, you’ll see that they lean to the right…As an alternative to ccw rotation, perspective correction (force parallels) could be used.

Just for fun that’s my interpretation and I hope the blue is not to blueish :smiley:

Image unchanged except for a -0.85 rotation (automatically set by DPL) and a crop


Punched the red and blue and widened the right side for a less threatening appearance.

I like the punch on the ship’s hull colour, but the vents in the background are now suffering a bit of a fake look.