Separation of Selective tone sliders

I’m a long time Photoshop with ACR user and now a few years (4 or 5) Lightroom and Capture One Pro user.

I’m trying DxO Photolab 2 for 2 weeks and must say in general I like the software but there are a few annoying things I don’t like.

The most annoying thing is separation of Selective tone sliders. I don’t know if separation is the right term but why Shadows slider needs to affect midtones and why Highlights slider also needs to affect midtones? Is this intentionally?

I’m playing with a photo at the moment I write this and if I move Shadows slider in ACR only the shadows are affected. I can adjust only shadows without affecting the whole image.

If I do the same thing in DxO Photolab 2 all the image goes bright if I move Shadows slider to the right and dark if I move it to the left like I’m adjusting exposure and not shadows.

The same goes for Highlights. I can beautifully rescue only highlights in ACR but if I move the Highlights slider in DxO whole image goes dark.

Any chance you can fix this?

Selective tone (and HSL) sliders work differently in Adobe and DxO products indeed. Selectivity is higher in Lightroom than in PhotoLab. Requests have been posted for better selectivity and display of the range covered by the slider(s). We are still waiting for an implementation…


I have noticed that too and was finding it difficult to work with to the point that I was considering giving up. In the end the decision was made for me as I switched to Fuji a format that is and will not be supported by DxO.

Yes indeed platypus;

HSL is the second thing on my list I need to mention. I think those programmers at DxO should just copy Lightroom HSL tool.

Hmmm; you know, I always wondered why there are practically no serious professionals using DxO. They all use Lightroom or Capture One Pro. That’s why I wanted to try DxO Photolab and now I know. I could find a few photographers on Youtube but nothing major.

DxO is not a bad RAW converter; far from that but it would need some improvements to compete with C1P and LR.

One thing also worth mention… I can’t rescue highlights with DxO as much as I can with Lightroom or ACR or C1P. I wondered why and then I found the answer on some forum – Lightroom has an aglorithm to not just rescue but also to recreate some highlights.

I’m not here to bash DxO but those programmers need to know what they could improve.

Another thing is Defringe tool. Lightroom has this dropping tool to remove purple and green hue- you can choose colors with sliders what hue to remove. I can’t remove some green hue in DxO from some of my photos and I can in LR.

What else?

Smart Lighting works nice but it’s not a magic ‘’all in one’’ tool. I would still need a better Selective tone tool with less interaction between sliders. They should fix that.

Here is one thing more – Local adjustments. I can’t move those sliders out of the way in the corner for example.

Other then that I like DxO.

If someone would be nice enough to give me DxO for free I would use it to develop less demanding RAW files with low dynamic range and to remove noise. Prime noise tool is very good.

Well; each to its own I guess. If some day DxO repairs all those things I mentioned I might buy it. But for now it’s too expensive with those flaws.

It is certainly not an alternative to Lr or C1. Not sure that is the ambition either. There are those who want it to move on and those who just see it as a raw editor. Horses for courses I guess. Personally I share your view.

Well; if I’m honest DxO Photolab is not a bad RAW converter; not at all. Skin tones looks very good and Prime noise is the best out there. It is also simple to use. I also like Contrast tool – to adjust global contrast and separate contrast for shadows, mids and highlights. Microcontrast also works very good. I also like ClearView.
When converting average images I only need to adjust Smart lighting and Contrast and most of the image is done.
But if I have an image with high dynamic range (rescue highlights and pushing shadows) DxO doesn’t work as good as other software I have. Yes; you can do some work with Smart lighting-Spot Weighted and draw squares on the image and also use Clear View to some extent but you can’t do all the work like that. I would really like better Selective tone sliders. You know – I push Shadows slider to the right and all the image goes bright and flat and it gets some sort of orange tint.

I could get and use DxO Photolab but not as the only RAW converter. I would still need and use LR or ACR so for me DxO Photolab is not LR or ACR replacement; at least not yet.
Perhaps a small nagging – I don’t like how some sliders work. For example White balance slider. When I move White balance slider in Lightroom I can slowly and gradually change photo to more warm or cold. But when I’m trying to do the same thing in DxO I just touch the slider with my mouse and image jumps to yellow or blue – very small movement of the slider makes a big change. I do fine tuning with those small up and down arrows at the righ side or just type in the WB value but this is annoying.

I wonder if someone at DxO is listening to users suggestions.

If there some experieced users I would really like to see a tutorial on Youtube how they use Selective tone tool.

For a smooth and controlled progression of the correction, RIGHT click on the rail to the left or right of the cursor.

I hate video tuto on youtube :frowning:
Try this



While the range of both the highlights and shadows sliders is too great I find that I can mostly mitigate the problems that causes with a little judicious use of the mid-tones slider in the opposite direction. I haven’t used LIghtroom in over a year but, If I recall correctly, Lightroom does not have a mid-tones slider. And of course I can also use the Tone Curve. As a result I have little difficultly adjusting highlights and shadows to my satisfaction without too much overlap. I found that using the tone sliders in conjunction with Smart Lighting, Clearview Plus, the Tone Curve, and Exposure Compensation always gets me the results I’m after. Its a balancing act that took quite a while and many hours practicing on a large variety of images to develop. At this point I can get an image looking exactly as I want in just a few minutes.



For a smooth and controlled progression of the correction, RIGHT click on the rail to the left or right of the cursor.

Thanks for the tip, Pascal, that’s very helpful.

Absolutely Mark. If the sliders do have some overlap then they can be used as you do together, like a chord in music rather than a single note. I see longtime PhotoLab hater ColinG has brought company back this time of people to run down PhotoLab. The more talented disparager m9k writes that he comes here to praise Caesar not to bury him:

If someone would be nice enough to give me DxO for free I would use it to develop less demanding RAW files with low dynamic range and to remove noise. Prime noise tool is very good. Well; each to its own I guess. If some day DxO repairs all those things I mentioned I might buy it. But for now it’s too expensive with those flaws.

Well I did buy PhotoLab and Nik plugins and it’s the best money I’ve spent on photo software (Iridient Developer four or five years ago for $99 with a $60 update last year is close). PhotoLab does a better job with my photos faster and in a more pleasant workflow than Lightroom or CaptureOne (I’ve owned both, the latter in a recent version for Sony: at the time I still thought DxO still had rootkit copy protection embedded and didn’t consider it).

Normally I shoot pretty decent originals – within a stop or stop and a half of ideal exposure. So I don’t find myself trying to “recreate highlights” very often. Adding that feature would be a tiny win for PhotoLab but it’s not a core inadequacy. On the other side of the balance sheet, there’s simply nothing like SmartLighting, Fine Contrast (part of FilmPack Elite unfortunately), the auto Horizon and Crop tools, auto Perspective from ViewPoint (Photoshop does have adequate perspective tools but they are not as easily automated as fast and easy to use as Perspective) and HQ or Prime Noise Reduction (they are both better than any other RAW development tool).

A key component of PhotoLab is the Preset Editor which allows a photographer to create and refine a preset for every project, allowing him or her to quickly process dozens or even hundreds of images to a high level.

This nonsense that PhotoLab is somehow inferior as it doesn’t have all the file management claptrap of another overreaching Adobe program (Lightroom) is just a kind of blackmail from pseudo-would-be users. If a photographer does not see the value of PhotoLab as it stands, it won’t be useful to him or her with a half-baked DAM pasted on the front end. The inadequacies DAM will just furnish him another set of excuses not to use, like or buy PhotoLab.

I’ll agree that PhotoLab does have some areas for improvement which would contribute to its mission of being the world’s most powerful and easy to use RAW developer.

  1. the colour tools are clearly weaker than C1. Advanced colour manipulation would need to be done within a pixel editor from an already developed RAW. That’s not too difficult a workflow but it would be nice to see a substantial upgrade (there were better colour tools in OpticsPro 9 apparently).
  2. performance is an issue with very large files and/or 4K monitors. DxO has to catch up with current technology. There’s no excuse for sliders that are not nearly real time at this point, even if it requires adding a faster proxy layer of manipulation in front of the final processing (which is apparently be what Lightroom and C1 do with their images). This is an area which matters to pros who often choose the highest resolution cameras and the latest high resolution monitors. Speed matters.
  3. keeping up with new cameras and lenses. What use is a RAW converter which won’t let you use the latest gear. If m9k is looking for a reason why some pros might not use PhotoLab this would be a good place to look. Successful pros renew their gear often and don’t like waiting on software compatibility.
  4. steadily improving local adjustments, including masking options. No need to run too far ahead at once. Careful improvement of existing features is what’s needed here not trying to integrate a pixel editor/Photoshop within PhotoLab. Horses for courses.

There’s smaller issues like handling of XMP files/date, making the database optional, integration with Nik plugins (it should be easy to send a file out and get it back in one piece for final processing without additional layers to delete or possibly lost layers) but those are just application housekeeping and maintenance, rounding the edges so to speak.

But really this balderdash that PhotoLab is not fit for purpose sounds is just so much sour grapes from serial complainers and non-users. DxO would do well to ignore it and focus on those of us who use PhotoLab, appreciate the monumental achievement involved in creating easy to use and powerful software which yields the better results on mid-to-high ISO files of any RAW processor I’ve seen.

Any good RAW processor created adequate results on low ISO pictures from a good camera and that includes Lightroom, C1, Iridient Developer, DarkTable, RawTherapee as a short list. PhotoLab would do an equally good job as the above (except for very complex colour manipulation) and faster thanks to the Preset editor and the intelligent features like SmartLighting. Actually PhotoLab does do better with sharpness in many cases on these low ISO images thanks to its excellent lens sharpness tools.

The two achievements of PhotoLab which allow to tower above the competition are the pleasant, efficient workflow in a beautiful design and the incredible results it produces on any image with mid to high ISO images.


Thanks for the answers.
I’ll play some more with DxO and see, how it goes.
Best regards;

I generally agree with all your comments but I understand that for some people certain features of PhotoLab don’t meet their requirements, and along with some missing features renders the software unusable for their purposes. For them, there are plenty of other software choices.

There are a number of feature updates and desirable new features I’d like to see in Photolab, and the slowness of implementing enhancements is frustrating and troubling. However, despite that, Photolab is still my favorite post processing solution for a number of fundamental reasons. Overall, the compactness, ease and speed of use, and output quality are first rate. Yes there are things in Lightroom, Capture One Pro and even ON1 that I would like to see in PhotoLab. But then PhotoLab has many features I would like to see in each of those programs. In the end is comes down to what works best for each of us.


I agree with you Mark. If for someone deeply integrated photo management and cataloguing is the priority, then the clear choice of what’s left standing is Lightroom (C1 is really a second rate photo manager). If for someone, advanced colour manipulation is essential C1 is an obvious choice (perhaps RawTherapee for the geeky). If Fuji X Trans first rate support, Iridient Developer is a clear best choice.

If aesthetic design is important to a photographer, none of those tools are particularly pleasant to work with on Mac OS X, with the possible exception of Iridient Developer (which simply looks utilitarian rather than ugly). Aperture v2.x was the best looking RAW developer and DAM on OS X until Apple first made it more primitive looking (v3) and then killed it.

If absolutely outstanding RAW development tools in a first rate design are important with naturally sharp looking output, then PhotoLab is the obvious and best choice. None of Lightroom, C1, Iridient Developer come close in terms of design, workflow or quality of output (particularly at any ISO above 800).

Returning to those selective sliders which initiated m9k’s originally fairly innocent post, there’s an argument to be made for offering two versions of the sliders (chosen one time in preferences, not on a per image basis). Existing PhotoLab behaviour (some overlap) or Lightroom behaviour (completely separate). Unnecessary preferences are a fault in software but this might be an area where there’s room to cater to newcomers used to an alternate system.

Example: Davinci Resolve and Adobe Premiere both offered soft landings to Apple Final Cut Pro 7 users with complete keyboard shortcut schemes much closer to FCP mappings than default Resolve or Premiere.

Based on the history of your frustrations, your general disappointment with PhotoLab and DXO, and your recent unsupported Fuji acquisition, I wonder why you still take the time to post comments here. I’m not challenging your right to do so or suggesting you shouldn’t, but If I shared your feelings about PhotoLab, I wouldn’t want to waste more of my time .



As you say I have a right to do so. I also do so in the hope that management will take note. This software is a little archaic in its outlook and will be left behind if it does not progress. The " it is a good raw editor club" is ok but will eventually consign this software to to the realms of the geek and there is no future for DxO in that. I also recommend that they do more with Nik - it too is looking very tired. Anyway I have deleted PL from my system but will be taking a keen in interest in Nik which also appears to be going nowhere.

Boat missed comes to mind.

I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. But I think it’s ease of use and quality of the things it does well will sustain it if DXO can get their upgrade act together in a reasonable time frame. Anyway, best of luck to you finding the right software that meets all your requirements.

My own backup solution, just in case Photolab doesn’t succeed, is ON1. While it is not as good as Photolab in several significant ways, it has a number of features that Photolab lacks and is improving in quality significantly with each new release. Besides its poorer image quality, ON1’s interface and tool implementation is quirky compared to Photolab’s. It was cheap enough though, and I just bought it in case the worst should happen.


Software that works for some people may not be the best choice for everyone. I’ve been using PhotoLab since November of 2017.

Seven or eight months ago I spent a significant amount of time comparing it and seven other post processing programs. I was most concerned with the quality of output, the feature set and it’s implementation, the design and usability of the interface, and the ease of use and time to generate results. All the packages had various pluses and minuses, and significant differences in the feature set, but in the end Photolab gave me feature set that met my needs, superior results in the least amount of time and required a minimal learning curve to get started with all it’s features. To get the very best from it, as with any high end post processing software, requires a time commitment to understand and take advantage of the sometimes subtle interrelationships between the various features.



Each RAW developing software I have tried has it’s good and not so good points and each RAW converter renders my files somehow differently.

Well; at the moment I’m playing with DxO to see, how it works and what (and how) can I get out of my RAW files.
In general I like the software and the results I get but those Selective tone sliders drives me crazy so I needed to ask because I couldn’t get the answer enywhere else. I don’t understand why they made them this way and I newer will. While asking about this I also mentioned what else I personaly don’t like and could be improved.
I just can’t find a way to push shadows and adjust highlights the same way I can in my other software. I’m sorry if I offended fanboys but thet’s how it is.
On the other hand the more I use DxO the more I like it. I could use it and perhaps I will buy it because of all those tools I like but I think DxO is not a replacement for my other RAW converters, at least not right now.
I don’t want to spend my time studying those Selective tone sliders – how they interact and what else do I need to move if I move Shadows slider to the right.

So for now I will say …I have got all the answers and I’ll be back in a year or two and try it again.

Just because you are used to different sliders doesn’t make the choices DxO made wrong in this case. Calling the people here fanboys is both misguided – we’re not fanboys here, we’re mostly veteran photographers with a large experience of other software before using PhotoLab – and quite rude. If you were to have more than a superficial look at the posts of the people on this thread, we all have lists of serious and well thought out improvements we’d like made to PhotoLab and/or Nik plugins.

We do have an issue with Colin who hates PhotoLab and denigrates it at every chance, again poisoning this thread and a potential new user. That’s his goal. Why can’t ColinG just move on?

By dismissing PhotoLab so casually, you’re missing out on a lot. It takes a bit of time to fully appreciate a complex new application. I don’t like C1 at all but I’m would not judge it too easily as a casual and not expert user, since other photographers create some astonishing images in C1. C1 is almost completely useless though with high ISO Canon 5DS R and 5D III images, which is important to my photography as I regularly shoot night sports on Canon.

I’m prepared to be harsher with Lightroom as I have used it as my main development engine for a period of over a year. I know it’s weaknesses and its strengths. For years, Lightroom was an absolutely horrible tool for Fuji X Trans and damaged the Fujifilm brand and sales with its poor support. For years, Lightroom was terribly slow on the best hardware of the period (Lightroom probably hasn’t got much faster, new hardware has just hidden its speed issues). Lightroom does not play well with other applications, particularly non-Adobe applications (Adobe has long embraced the Microsoft originated tactics of embrace, extend and extinguish). Aesthetic design is also primitive and depressing to look at in comparison to either Aperture v2.x or DxO Lightroom. But Lightroom’s design issues go more than skin deep. Lightroom workflow is awful with four clumsy modules which require loading and unloading separating evaluation from modification or to even export images. That said, Lightroom has competent noise reduction – much better than C1 – and almost all its sliders do work in real time. Moreover, Adobe had compatibility with a huge range of hardware which can be useful.

Those who really like Lightroom should probably stick to it. It’s fortunate that it exists – McDonalds’ has its dedicated clientele as well.


Sorry to see you move on. Just a couple of points before you go.

I just looked at how the shadows slider is implemented in ON1 and found that the range adjustments when using that slider is similar to Photolab. So apparently the DXO developers are not the only ones who find that range appropriate. That said, like you, I wish the range of that slider was a little more selective. The on1 highlight slider may be a little bit more to your liking, but I felt it covers too small a range. I guess we’re all looking for different things.

The second point is most of us who use PhotoLab regularly enjoy using it very much, while some of us may be more passionate than others. But we all understand both it’s benefits and deficits very well and are much more frustrated than you regarding it’s limitations and the long timeframe for their resolution though new features as well as updates to existing features. Despite that, with continued use we find Photolab to be extremely useful, and for many of us our main editor of choice. If you had hung around here long enough you would have seen that and perhaps not be as willing to jump to conclusions about us.



I’m sorry if I offended someone on this forum. It was not my intention; not at all. I just had a feeling that some of the forum members are taking my writings as personal attack. That’s why the word ‘‘fanboy’’ in my writing. Obviously I misinterpret some of the answers. My english is not as good as yours. My bad.
Like I said I like DxO Photolab and most of the tools it offers. It works most of the time. I’m not trashing or bashing DxO but some of those tools in DxO does not work as I would like. I will say again – they does not work as I personaly would like or I’m used to or I think they should.
I just don’t understand how this would help me if for example Shadows slider also affects midtones or Highlights slider also affects midtones. Just forget for a second Smart lighting and ClearView.
If I want to adjust the highlights (no matter what reason I have to do that) and I wan’t to use Selective tone sliders because they are there to use them; well, I move the Highlight slider to the left and all image goes darker and dull. If I push Shadows slider to the right all the image goes bright and dull with no contrast and it gets this weird orange tint.
I also can’t do much with HSL tool as it is right now. I also miss this dropper tool as in Lightroom to remove purple and green fringe.

I can see most of you are trying to improve some things in DxO and asking here the developers for improvements. I don’t know if they will improve all those things you think they should but they must if they are smart. They need to listen to the users. Right?

Would I use DxO if you could give me a lifetime trial version of the premium package?
Yes I would.
Will I buy it?
No, not at the moment.