Very impressed with DxO PhotoLab - a few pain points here

Hi Fred,

Open Capture One and create a new session. Then in the in the Library tool expand “System Folders” (macOS) and you have a file browser identical to the one in PhotoLab. Click on any folder to see its contents and edit the file. Just like PhotoLab.

The other sections above “System Folders” are essentially like having ‘favorites’. I would actually like PhotoLab to add a feature similar to this, so that you do not have to have a load of irrelevant file system paths displayed when navigating.

Under the hood, PhotLab works almost identically to a Capture One session, except that the session database is hidden and there Can Only Be One DataBase. The .dop files that you see are backups of the database edits, rather than the actual editing data.

Photographs are implicitly imported to the database simply by opening them in PhotoLab or by indexing a folder. It breaks in exactly the same way as Lightroom or Capture One if you move or rename files outside of the application. ie rename a photo in the finder and any projects using it will loose track of it. Index and folder, rename it and re-index again and your search results will show each image twice, once valid and once with an image-not-found-question mark (as far as I know, the only remedy for this is to delete the hidden database in its entirety!).

Personally I wish that PhotoLab would either drop the fiction that there is no database and make it explicit, or drop the database entirely and concentrate on being the best possible single photo editor.

Super. I won’t be seeing your posts from now on.

I am confused by your statement. regarding the database in PhotoLab. I have been an almost daily user of PhotoLab for over six years. I don’t recall DxO ever suggesting that there is no database used by PhotoLab. It is an important feature although some users here attempt to delete it on startup. Perhaps what you meant might have been clearer If I had read every post in this thread, but I have not. I am only responding to what you recently posted.


There is no disadvantage in there being a database.

I’m one of those who don’t depend on the database between sessions (I run PL via a “wrapper” that deletes the database before invoking PL) - but I still value the existence of the database;

  • it provides internal efficiencies within each session - as a rapidly accessed repository of correction details for each image
  • it provides the basis from which sidecar/.dop files are created by each session (for each image).

I think this is a point that depends on how you work and how your photos are stored.

DxO do not claim that there is no database - indeed there are menu functions to backup/restore and synchronise .dop data.

A frequent suggestion is that you can move/rename RAW files outside of PhotoLab providing that you also similarly move/rename the .dop file - and this is true if all you need is for your image edits not to be lost. But do this, andyou progressively break search and projects.

If the catalogue was more explicit - ie an actual file the user could open rather than hidden, it would make it clearer that a database is being used and that PhotoLab should be the sole way to move or rename an image. I do not think that many users understand that simply viewing/editing an image for the first time implicitly imports it to a database.

As an aside, PhotoLab on a Mac could store file references rather than file paths in its database. This would allow it to automatically track file move/rename operations made outside of the application, making everything much more robust…

There is no disadvantage in there being a database.

So long as users clearly understand that it exists and what it does. If you do not understand that viewing an image for the first time is equivalent to importing it in to a catalogue, the following confusion can result:

  • you subsequently move rename the file and realize only later that search results are broken
  • ditto any projects referencing the file
  • you naively restore an older .dop file from backup to revert image edits (eg to fix a key-wording mistake), only to find that the restored .dop file is ignored unless you also manually re-import the sidecar file(s) or completely delete the database (which is in a hidden folder on the Mac…)

I have also had problems with search. Searching for a lens by model name found ~6 entries. Re-indexing did not resolve this. Deleting the database and re-indexing, and suddenly the correct number of expected files was found. Trying to reproduce the failure so as to submit a support case has proven fruitless, and now I just do not feel confident about the search being reliable.

The point here is that it is not DxO but Apple that “hides” certain directory structures
And you can place the database where you want it to be

And finally - DxO PhotoLab is not a DAM system. The user would do well to understand this. The database structure that DxO uses is absolutely no substitute for a DAM.

The point here is that it is not DxO but Apple that “hides” certain directory structures
And you can place the database where you want it to be

On a Mac there is no UI based preference setting that allows you to change the database location, and DxO actively chose to put the database in a hidden folder (they could have just as easily put it in the user’s documents folder…).

And finally - DxO PhotoLab is not a DAM system. The user would do well to understand this. The database structure that DxO uses is absolutely no substitute for a DAM.

Then what are the search tool, key-word editing and projects? The DAM functionality is obviously more limited than say Lightroom, but these are still DAM functions that the software is sold with.

These functions feel oddly grafted on (the fact that there is no undo, for example) and not quite complete. It feels a bit like there was a push to add a DAM capability that got abandoned just short of making these functions robust and useful.

On the Mac there are also limitations with the Folders tool. You can not add or delete a folder, and you can not move folders to a new location. I think that the Windows tool is more capable, although I have not used it.

I’m Windows user .
Do you not have this settings on Mac?

Now they are very poor basics not more.
You don’t have the possibility to search with more than one condition. You don’t have a dynamic “projects” and much more. Some basics from DAM functionality makes not a DAM System.
DxO saved in the database some but not all information.

possible - I don’t know.

There are some/ many differences between OSX and Windows. DxO support told ~1 year ago, they are working on this point. I think in 1-2 years it can be done.

You absolutly need white balance interpretation to see a raw file.
Or you can read numbers maybe with some analitic softwares but no colors.

Dartable let you access nearly every step of the process of … processing. And can help you to understand what happens. But yes it is free and efforts are focused on the engine but not the interface, that’s obvious.

Coming from video (premiere, after effect and your “complicated” softwares - just try nuke, you’ll see), you should have some understanding of some processes. But yes, there is video and video …

But if you need a software with few settings fast to learn but not a software giving you full control and understanding on what you do, of what happens, photolab is probably a good choice for you.

It is indeed a good demosaicer. And is very good for hi iso shoot. And helps a lot with poor lenses. It does a good but not user-manageable base sharpening out of the box. Colors are a bit less easy to get right if you don’t want to stick to the style of this software.

DPL on Mac works with a fixed location of the database…but if one really wants to have it in a different location, one can edit the respective preferences file. This will work for a while, but the next update will rewire the database to the default location again.


That’s bad. DxO promises to eliminate the differences between the Windows and Mac versions in the foreseeable future. Maybe something will come soon

I doubt very much we will see anything close to parity between the Windows and Mac versions anytime in the near future.


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