Sharpening in DxO PL. New user question:

Hi. I’m a fairly new user (1 week). Can i ask if i’m doing the sharpening to Raw files correctly.

I understand through reading the online help file that the 1st steps to sharpening a Raw image is to use the Lens Sharpness tool which uses the info in the downloaded module to sharpen the image. It sharpens the areas more where the lens is softest and less where it’s sharpest. The result should be a uniformly sharpened image across the image.

Now, I’ve been using Lightroom for many years and the results the DxO Lens Sharpness tool gives is incredible, much better than the Lightroom sharpening tool which introduces artefacts and hugely antagonises the results from the noise reduction tool. If i understand correctly i can just leave the DxO Lens Sharpness slider at its default position of zero which lets DxO decide how much sharpening is needed & where.

So if all that being true can i just click to turn on the Lens Sharpness tool, leave it at default and the sharpening is just done? That seems too easy but the results look very good every time. Do i actually have to bother touching the unsharp mask tool at all (which if i understand correctly is for use if there’s not a module available for that camera/lens combo)?



Yes, amazingly(!) that’s all you need to do, Paul. Via the Optics Module for your {body+lens} combo, PhotoLab understands how much sharpening is required.

Even better, you don’t even need to “click to turn on the Lens Sharpness tool” - if you’re using the “DxO Standard” auto-preset then this will be turned-ON for you, automatically … Or, if you’re using your own auto-Preset then you can include this as a standard setting.

No, you don’t need to apply the Unsharp Mask tool - - Your understanding is correct; it’s just there as a fall-back tool (- - or if you wish to apply some global-sharpening for some image-specific reason).

Regards, John M


Blimey. I’m loving DxO PL more and more each time i find out these things. Even the noise reduction is automatic. What a time & hassle saver :slight_smile:

I actually enjoy using PL and i think i’m getting addicted to zooming in and turning on the Lens Sharpness tool and feeling amazed at the correction, lol.

Thanks for the reply, it’s appreciated.


Of course, the automatic settings are what DXO believes are optimum. However, they may not always be the best settings for every image, depending on your expectations and preferences. Keep in mind that you are the final judge of how much sharpening or noise reduction an image may need, not DXO. Be prepared to tweak those settings to get exactly what you are looking for. That is true for any of the auto settings. Think of them as an excellent starting point which may or may not need any further adjustment.

In my experience DXO is much better at suppressing artifacts resulting from too much noise reduction or sharpening than its competition. The Lens Sharpness slider, even at its extreme, results in relatively minor over sharpening issues. The Unsharp Mask can be bit more problematic if overused, but in my opinion is still superior to the implementation of similar tools in other software.

The Lens Sharpening slider is only available for raw images. DXO suggests using it by itself and not in combination with the Unsharp Mask for raw files. However, again depending on the image and what I’m trying top accomplish I have had great success using both together in moderation.



For noise reduction, I find that about 12 for Prime Noise Reduction leads to much more natural looking results than the default 40. In extreme cases, I might push the slider up to 18 or 20. At 40, the image looks digitally altered and there’s no more detail or colour present than at 12 or 15. With Fast Noise Reduction, 20 is a good starting point. FNR offers a kind of grain, which looks a lot like film grain. If I like a grainy look for a shot, I usually pass on adding extra grain filter and just use FNR.

What will really save you time is creating presets with the default palettes active and set at your preferred settings. Mine include auto cropping without aspect ratio constraints, auto horizon, color profile (body, Leica M9, M10 for most of my cameras: more colour, more contrast) and lens sharpening. I usually add noise reduction later and not on all images: you don’t want noise reduction on while editing as it slows preview down enormously. The only time to edit with noise reduction on is when first learning about how the noise reduction affects image quality.


Strictly speaking, that’s not so, Ziggy - - but you will be able to better see the results of your adjustments at a higher zoom state.

  • Tools for which the effect can only be reviewed when previewed at zoom levels > 75% are marked with a special icon …
  • DxO_USM … and Unsharp Mask is not one of them.
    Also note: Unsharp Mask is provided as a fallback/work-around only for cases where an Optics Module is not available for your [body+lens] combo - - Otherwise, sharpening is more accurately handled via Lens Sharpness.

John M

Hmm Hmm John
Unsharp Mask is also one of them !

Apologies, then @Ziggy99, I stand corrected.
I was going on the message on the “crossed-out eye” icon - which doesn’t appear for USM.

John M

1 Like

I personally would love it if they could make the sharpening visible at 50%. Not being able to see the results of added sharpening at less than 75% is not very helpful. Most other software does not seem to have that limitation.



I, too, find the sharpening to be incredible. I used to think my camera couldn’t produce sharp images. Then I got a Mac with retina (high dpi) screen and they looked sharp. Then I got PhotoLab 3 and now they look pin sharp.

A lot of my pictures are of aeroplanes, which have big, bold shapes and colours and lots of panel joins and rivets and a mix of putting the sharpness slider up to +1 and micro contrast to about 10 makes all of that detail really pop. You can see how they’re built.

I’m going back to old photos and reprocessing them, and even picking out ones I didn’t previously pick and doing them, too.

The only downside is some photos I used to think were really good may not shine quite so much when PL shows they’re not as sharp as they could be.

1 Like
  • Exactly!

Svetlana G.