My requests for PhotoLab 7 and beyond

Indeed. Mid-brown text on a slightly darker background? I won’t dignify that by calling it a design choice.

It would be really nice if it looked as though it was designed by someone with a slight knowledge of the elementary principles of UI design, rather than an unpaid code monkey who blagged his way into the job to get some work experience for his CV. You know: like a professional product.

And DxO Labs: if you think that’s insulting, I assure you it’s actually very mild compared to what I really think of you. Stop rolling out updates to milk your customers for more money, and take a hard look at the mediocre quality of the user experience you continue to provide, and which you have made no effort to address.

It just isn’t good enough.

Well I’ve used most of those applications on your list and find most of them have a substantially more confusing and less ergonomic interface than PhotoLab. Simple as that.

Also the interface has barely progressed in the last 3-4 releases, also indicating that the design language and UI frameworks are stale.

Moving the cheese is just silly in a pro application. OpticsPro and PhotoLab were decades ahead of their time when they came out in terms of user interface and workflow.

What is disturbing about PhotoLab is that the changes in the interface have mostly made it worse (removing more contrast from the already low contrast interface).

Of the 30+ apps I am using, PhotoLab just feels like one of the older ones

Somebody needs new toys. Fortunately lots of new toys are made every day for those who would like to play. Those of us who would like to work and create great photos are not disturbed that PhotoLab is not constantly changing the interface.

Change for change’s sake is a major reason why IT has contributed to a fall in productivity in the last ten years rather than rising every year up until 2012.


Completely agree Alec.


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Modernizing doesn’t equal changing it completely. It means deeply understanding the photographers’ workflow and improving it one step at a time with meaningful changes.

Again look at DaVinci Resolve. It just doesn’t get more professional than that, and it is continuously evolving. And I hear no pro’s complaining, not the Hollywood ones or the amateur ones, they’re all happy. And no dirty business tricks from Black Magic Design either.

Photographers sometimes sound like an old grumpy bunch that have been traumatized by a decade of Adobe abuse.

I very much agree on this. PL’s interface may not be “slick” looking, but it IS efficient, clear and it drives the user towards a very intuitive workflow.

On comparison, Capture One (of which I love many features) looks great but it’s very chaotic and counterintuitive.


Agreed. Not only counterintuitive but can also lead to big mistakes.


I don’t agree with that at all. Especially the editing part. The processing part is quite natural, although again there is a serious lack of keyboard controls to be efficient. The shortcuts are a mess, and many crucial features don’t even have a shortcut assigned. The application greatly prioritizes mouse click-based control (which is a no-go in most professional workflows where speed is critical).

What the application excels in, in my humble opinion, is getting a very good default (think “Camera JPEG”) if you set it up right or use the default setup. Once you start actually editing (instead of just processing) the application is far from intuitive. Hence, this is how I like to use the application at the moment, as a RAW processor an nothing else. I could use PureRaw but prefer PhotoLab since it gives more control.

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Sorry @Lucabeer I see that the other side around: CaptureOne is for my workflow a better UI, better readable and better structured than PL’s and I cannot recognize waht you see as

Of course I’m not sure what’s habit and how a “completely new to both systems” user sees that. I see the UI of Phtolab as rather dense and crammed and not very intuitive. It’s not clean and easy to read/recognize for me.

I’m just curious: Can you give an example? When I switched from Aperture to Capture One, I also faced various “weird things” to learn, but some stuff in PhotoLab is not of much logic to me.

And I guess you didn’t try C1’s new “speed edit” functions (I admit also didn’t try as I’m afraid to make a big mess by just turning the mosuewheel at the worng place).

When it comes to software user interfaces many of us have different expectations and experiences and may find one interface superior to another for aesthetic and usability reasons,. The first thing I noticed when I purchased PhotoLab 1 Elite n 2017 was its simple, logical, straightforward and intuitive interface.

I own licenses for several other software titles from Topaz, On1, Affinity Photo and others. I have also trialed almost every piece of post-processing software available, opten multiple versions. For me, PhotoLab is by far the easiest interface to use and gets me faster results than I can get with any other software.

To be sure, PhotoLab has a learning curve and some aspects of the interface could use some updating, but I would not want the overall interface to be significantly redesigned. By comparison, I found Capture 1’s interface particularly difficult to navigate and not nearly as straightforward or intuitive. The reaction to an interface can be a very personal thing, and as I said we all have different expectations and experiences.



I think it can play a big role what you learnt first and how. Naturally, I was looking for features the “first learnt” app had and the second one was either better, equal or worse to learn. I also know people who mastered a rather complex and complicate app like Photoshop and hesitate to even bother learning a simpler one.


I don’t want to start a detailed discussion about C1 which would be off topic and also because I have given up using C1. Anyway, I always find the C1 UI very confusing especially about color profiles and soft proofing. Various commands spread over different menus can lead to big mistakes and affect the printing result. Not the only problem, though. I know people who could get accustomed to the C1 UI but this was not my case. I used it because it was handling Fuji’s XTrans raw files much better than Adobe (even more so better than DPL) but now that this problem is solved, I have o reason to continue using it.

I’m not aware of any image handling application having a really user-friendly UI. For me, Lightroom is the best one in this area. DPL could be better with not much work. I have already made suggestions about this during the past years (I’m using their products since DOP 1.0 and I have been a beta tester) but I had no success with my proposals. As a developer, I would have designed some features differently. They made their own choices, I can live with that. I have no longer enough time to write reports and to document suggestions.

I fully agree with uncoy on the fact that the general interface and efficiency the basic interface in Photolab gives has been there for long. That efficiency was the main reason leaving both Capture One and Lightroom once plus the superior image quality especially on high ISO in bad light conditions.

The main problem with Photolab isn’t that at all as I have seen it and still does. The real problem is that the the hard focus DXO have had on the PhotoLibrary the last versions has forced them to neglect the AI-development of the masking- and layer tools where the development of the competition just have exploded. Examples of the poor non-existing integration is two of the most important Photolab tools like the Color Wheel and the U-Point-package. In Capture One you can use any adjustment tool on any layer and the background layer and they are just so much better than the ones in Photolab. The ones in C1 are both a lot more precise and even very much more effective and powerful. Especielly the new Style Brushes lifts C1 to a whole new level where Photolab just isn’t today.

It is true that C1 has had a far higher learning curve than both Photolab and not the least Lightroom but that is just to expect because Capture One is a tool much more for specialists than generalists. It is not really for most hobbyists and more unambitious users with an indifferent view on details.

The same goes for a tool like Photo Mechanic that really needs to be carefully configured to really shine when integrated to for example Photolab but the real upside doing so is a far superiour productivity in the whole workflow. DXO has neglected this I think because they have a pretty unique gem here since Photolab is the only of the three converters named here that work right on the file system folders without ingestion/import-systems that effectively stops other software work like Photo Mechanic and Photolab integrated.

The huge anvantage with Photolab 6 now as I see it is THE SCALING POSSIBILITIES that both Lightroom and C1 lacks. With integrating with Photo Mechanic you can take Photolab 6 to the next level of efficiency without having to leave Photolab for something entirely new. You can use PM with both Lightroom and C1 but you will not get the really first class automized integration you can get with Photolab.

Since Photolab both can open a selection of images from PM and go back to it’s unique “Edit history” where you with a single click can open both old and newer edit sessions you also avoid the performance problems all these three have and have had opening folders with large amounts of files when scaling high resolution previews.

Photolab scales pretty easily but DXO just have to make it possible to export a flat keyword-file in order to make that possible. Still a Photolab user who wants to migrate can always download a 30 days testcopy of C1 - link all the images to a C1 database and export the keywords from there for a later import into Photo Mechanic. After that it’s just to point to the ImageLibrary’s top folder and start indexing it as a new catalog in Photo Mechanic. It’s not more difficult than that really.

After an import like that you can easily see which fields/elements to inactivate in PM’s batch templates and info forms. That also will increase effectivity.

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I think, own habits and invested learning time make a big impact on what each of us sees as a “great” UI. LR I only know from windows and find it not very intuitive. Switching from Aperture (with it’s own learning curve) made me think C1 has a way to go to improve but with time I learnt to work wit what I had. Currently I think about getting a Loupedeck CT to speed up some workflows. As PL doesn’t have enough shortcuts it will unfortunately be excluded from this improvement (? not entirely sure about the outcome).

As a more advanced and professional tool C1 even let the user configure their own short cuts. They have also shown since version 21 (it is 23 now) that they take these learning curve and effectivity problems serious by for example speeding up the creating of layers by creating an automated hidden process in the background now when picking one of the around 20 style brush tools. C1 also have the most advanced color tools today of all but even these can be seen as pretty hard to understand really so they came up with a more simplified user interface some version ago.

Another new thing like the “Smart Adjustments” in version 23 is maybe interesting for many too. It can be used in many situations but seems optimal when processing many images with people as motifs typically from weddings and events. You then start with creating one master with the white balance and brightness you want and then let the function with som AI in a more smart way than copy/paste adjust the rest of the images automatically, which might be a huge time saver.

So I can see a quite a few indicators that shows that they are listening to the complaints about the high learning curve. Even the Capture One company want to reach a wider user base and creating a more accessible interface is one important way of doing so.

There was a more direct to the function video on Youtube before but that isn´t working now so here you have C1:s tutorial instead (start at 1:36) otherwise you might fall asleep.

Smart Adjustments - Capture One

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I’d say from 15m to 20m19 is the more interesting bit. The hot keys to enable adjustment of a single slider (exposure, contrast, brightness, white balance, clarity, etc) at 16m32 is a nice touch. Overall though the smart adjustments aren’t a huge improvement over what’s in PhotoLab with presets. At scale, as a commercial portraitist smart adjustments might help, but even in a wedding, I think you’d want to adjust the images individually. Event photographers as you mention might find smart adjustments useful as well, as the bar is set pretty low for quality and the issue is turning out a lot of pictures in good but not excellent quality very fast. Heck, you’re right, as a sports photographer I might like smart adjustments (although so many shots need heavy individual work to shine).

I’m not sure PhotoLab’s Smart Lighting and ClearView don’t group many of these smart adjustments into AI almost as well as CaptureOne’s Smart Adjustments. I’m not a huge fan of letting the program choose my adjustments so I tend not to use the AI functions much in PhotoLab. Lately I’ll admit Smart Lighting fixes a problematic exposure (too dark subject, too bright background or vice versa) so quickly and so reasonably well, that I’ll start with Smart Lighting and then add tonal adjustments.

The presenter made some basic mistakes with the adjustments (confusing Edit Selected on and off) and he set the bar very low for the calibre of his edit so I’m not terribly impressed with the quality of the training. Training quality appears to be an issue for Phase One as well as for DxO.

Thanks though for directing us to a particular video and highlighting a particular issue (smart adjustments).

Capture One’s keyboard shortcut editor and speed editor (holding certain keys and then adjusting with either mouse or up/down arrows) is exactly what PhotoLab is missing. There is nothing hyped about it, it’s extremely useful functionality that speed up your workflow and make using the application more enjoyable.

Furthermore, I agree with almost anyone here that AI should be an input to your editing. In other words, it should inform your options and guide your editing decisions, but the creative control should always lie with the user.


Yesterday I watched a webinar of the new C1 grouping function and faster culling at import. Impressive. Need to try it a bit more, but the grouping based on AI works nicely and gives a good overview of similar shots, making it easier to find the good ones in a burst.

Re: AI

Having worked some years in this area, I’m still surprised by the use of this term, AI. AI doesn’t exist, it’s just another kind of algorithm (not very environment friendly because it’s based on a “big data” approach : the more data you store, the more “intelligent” is your algorithm). No intelligence there. Just, marketing people like it very much.


Well, we are definitely off-topic and this should stop, I think.