What does the Adobe announcement on LR mean for DXO and PL

What does today’s Adobe announcement of sophisticated masking tools in the next version of LR mean for Photolab?

Will PL ‘follow suit’? My speculation here is that they won’t and, although I would like them to try to improve on the Adobe offer (that’s what competition is about) I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense for them to do so.

One way of looking at it is that as of now both LR and CaputureOne have local adustment masks that are more advanced than those of PL. (I’m less sure about Luminar or On1 because I don’t use them.) As of the end of October, LR will take an even longer lead.

What the Adobe engineers seem to have done looks impressive. Among other advances, they have added pixel masking routines (they say for the sake of AI aids) into a parametric development tool, which seems pretty difficult. But it may bring the ‘best of both worlds’ to LR. (I imagine the XMP data output by LR will now contains big blobs of pixel data in addition to the record of the parametric adjustments. Maybe that’s the trade-off.)

PL already has adjustment masks, of course. The most innovative – ‘control points’ – offer a mix of luminosity and hue (and texture?) masking; although it’s sort of crude because the user can’t directly choose which of these parameters under the control point should determine the region to be masked and the masking (within a radial gradient) is akward, requiring multiple small-diameter masks (and ‘negative masks’) to achieve reasonably accurate mask-boundaries. LR masking routines are already more accurate (e.g. in locating relevant edges) and the so-called ‘AI’ controls will apparently take that to a new level.

PL masks are also individually controllable for duplication, opacity and inversion. But they cannot be blended like ‘true’ masks in e.g. a pixel-editor (I’m not sure if the new LR masks can be, either: I think not for the present, anyway).

My guess is that it would take a lot of research and development by DXO to equal or better the sort of things Adobe is promising (yes, I know… the devil will be in the details).

Then, C1 and LR (and On1?) have a strong lead, too, on other aspects of their tools: ingesting, cataloguing, image-renaming, exporting ‘recipes’, printing, and – by year’s end in C1 – merging for HDR and Panorama. None of these is trivial to implement in a parametric editor.

Will DXO forge ahead trying to keep up? After the apparent success of “Pure Raw” as a stand-alone and plug-in, I would be surprised if DXO is not already considering another future.

The ‘crown jewel’ of PL, in my view, is it’s demosaicing/sharpening/color-management/noise-reduction at the input stage. I do not think either LR/ACR or C1 can match this. Combined with DXO’s camera-body and lens modules (which must really be considered variable elements in these same routines), DXO/PL offers unbeaten image quality at the input stage of Raw development. The chief ‘non-linear’ adjustments it provides in the PL interface for creative adjustments — “Smart Lighting”, “ClearView” and “MicroContrast control” — are as useful as they are, I believe, because they can build on the results of the input/demosaicing routines. All of these creative adjustments in PL can be emulated, albeit with a little more effort, in other parametric editors and even more readily in pixel editors. But without the quality of the DXO input stage, the results will probably not be as good.

Given its singular advantage in ‘input processing’, DXO must be asking itself why it would continue to devote expensive resources to the competitive race to keep PL’s interface-based file-management and creative tools (the mostly ‘non-linear’ user-adjustments) up to the competitive ‘bar’ (and probably remain in an also-ran position). The success of Pure Raw demonstrates that it can leverage it’s greatest assets with less interface-overhead as plug-ins for other parametric development environments (LR, C1 etc) and steal the first place in that market. After all, it’s best-known product – the NIK suite – is already such a product.

Much as I would like them to continue to innovate and compete with the parametric editors and to steadily and solidly improve the PL suite/interface, I speculate that business logic points in the ‘plug-in’ direction and, consequently, ‘benign neglect’ for PL.

I hope I’m wrong. Am I?

It took Adobe many years to come up with this masking tools. I don’t think DxO will come up with something like this anytime soon.

Talking about masking , On1 has by far the most advanced masking tools in the whole industry ( take a look at some videos by Jim Nix ). Adobe has just equal , or surpassed it ?
I use ? because their masking are different.

What I hope for , or expect , is that DxO is coming up with Color and Luminosity masking.
All major RAW editors have it. LR - C1- On1 - ACDSee - Exposure. Even Open Source darkable and ART ( a fork of Raw Therapee ) have it.

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It mostly means that people who have LR can use a new tool.
If you can have the same result or an other workaround for the same outcome in your jpeg in an other program wil be the question.
Every application evolves, sometimes in the wrong direction, sometimes with a leap forward.
We need to wait for the release of photolab v5 in order to see if LR leaps ahead or just get a small nose infront with this new feature.
Getting knowledge of how to work with a application is often the bridge between different applications. Naming of things arn’t often the same.
Think of clarity and dehaze for instand, those are in dxo to use but are named different.

The most significant part of the LR announcement is that they have moved to a layer based local editing system, although they are very carefully not saying the L (layers) word :slight_smile: . As when DXO introduced Clearview LR copied and produced Dehaze :slight_smile:

This is a major improvement for LR and puts them up against C1 for local editing capability. We will have to see the detail to know exactly what the new masking in LR gives.

Luckily for DXO they had already stated the move to layer based editing and are in a good position to advance their capabilities. The same for the colour editor which needs to allow masks to be produced from colour selections and the colour editor should be able to work on masks.

The fundamentals seem to be in place for this to happen relatively quickly. In the same vein the colour and luminosity selection technology already available via control points needs to become available in the layer mask. The ability to add Filled layers to allow global adjustments on a layer (and clear mask), editable inverted layers etc is also required to meet expectations.

So DXO are well placed to compete with C1 and LR but the only worry is if they focus too much on the DAM capabilities of DXO. As others have found DAM functionality can soak up huge R&D resources in both development and support, ON1 don’t mention DAM very much these days. Certainly V4 DAM functionality can be improved but realistic limits on what can be done should be set.

The 2 leaders in DAM with raw converter are LR and ACDSee. Both of these were developed as a DAM and raw conversion added. Going the other way is far more difficult. As a reference it took LR till V5 before it fully resolved issues with Exif that contained time zone changes.

C1 purchased a DAM company and incorporated it into C1. Even this was difficult and basically C1’s DAM does not match LR or ACDSee for serious DAM users. C1’s DAM development has been frozen for many years as they focused on their image editing capabilities which represents their core competency and is why people pay a lot of money (relatively) to use. This should ring alarm bells for any raw converter software company. Hopefully and DXO DAM improvements will be proportionate and merely enhance V4’s capability.

LR created 2 market segments in the photo editing/raw conversion software space. Those happy with subscription and those who don’t like it. If you are happy with subscription you are probably never going to purchase DXO.

DXO need to do is continue at full speed with the development of their layer based local adjustment capabilities to remain competitive in the raw converter/photo editor space. Of course they need to do other things like improve the UI, improve the highlight/shadows control etc but that is all doable from their current position as long as DXO realise what their core competencies are. We will see where V5 takes us.


Not necessarily true. Any high ISO photographer owes it to him/herself and his/her clients to process only in Photolab. Night time sports, indoor sports and most weddings all fall into this category. The difference is spectacular and yes, this is what Photolab should be pushing – the area where it’s far, far superior to the competition. The faffing around with DAM is damning DxO.

Busy sports and wedding photographers use Photo Mechanic. Photolab should be working hard on a partnerships with companies like this whose customers overlap and whose primary functionality lies in areas where Photolab are weak.


Layers – what’s great about the Photolab local adjustment layers is how easy it is to apply them. A full-time digital artist retoucher would prefer to have more sophisticated tools but for photographic touchup work these layers work great.

Just adding colour and luminance layers like C1 would be a huge step forward and is well within reach. No need to particularly worry about Adobe hype around another “AI” feature.

Much as I would like them to continue to innovate and compete with the parametric editors and to steadily and solidly improve the PL suite/interface, I speculate that business logic points in the ‘plug-in’ direction and, consequently, ‘benign neglect’ for PL.

No, DxO should not throw in the towel on a full RAW development tool to be a component provider (PureRAW). PureRAW is a great way to get their foot in the door with Lightroom and C1 users. It’s a step in the right direction. Not sure I agree with the pricing policy. I’d be tempted to make it a bit more affordable and try to convert those who try it to full-on Photolab over time.

On the other hand, the photographers who really care about image quality and would consider upgrading to Photolab have $100/€100 to improve it while continuing to use their existing tools. PureRAW needs some parameter settings though. Apparently the baked-in Photolab AI tools are set far too high resulting in oversharpened (ClearView), overbrightened (SmartLighting) and over-processed (DeepPrime) images in many cases. I’m not a PureRAW owner though as I have nothing to use PureRAW with – I’m a Photolab die-hard.

So no I don’t think you are on the right track here. Photolab is the crown jewel. All the rest of the DxO suite revolves around Photolab and should do so.


I don’t recall anything about layer.

The old masking in LR is vector based. Implementing AI based masking turned up to be impossible. So the team had to implement bitmap masking ( from Photoshop).

From their Blog

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Layer UI similar to DXO and C1.

It seems that some updates to PhotoLab’s LA Auto Mask and a few other changes and additions to current local masking would yield similar results. It can be accomplished now but, of course it is not automated and would require more effort, bit I do similar things all the time…

Mark .

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I do not believe ON1 has the most advanced masking. It cannot of course be compared to Lr as ON1 is Lr/Ps combined, or supposed to be. I have ON1 2022, it would certainly not drag me away from Adobe or PL. There again PhotoLab would not drag me away from Lr in its current form. Whether V5 will change that remains an open question - the DAM is not even close imo.

I recorded this from one of Jim Nix’s videos

If you are waiting for a class leading DAM to use Photolab, you are barking up the wrong tree. Photolab is not even pretending to manage all one’s images. Photolab’s idea of improving the DAM is improving the triage/culling tools. And there’s much faster and more effective software for rating photos than Photolab. Two of the best create XMP sidecars which Photolab has no trouble reading on import.

There’s FastRawViewer at a low budget at $25. There’s Photo Mechanic and Photo Mechanic Plus at a high budget, the latter offering proper cataloguing of huge groups of images and flexible DAM. $130/$230. There’s other software which has its advocates here like iMatch and Photo Supreme which others swear by (not for me).

I thought that by adding Photo Mechanic I would no longer want to use FastRawViewer. It turns out that my custom configured FastRawViewer with just a line of info at the bottom and full screen is the best way to rate and cull photos on a computer with a powerful GPU. Very elegant. Just the kind of interface most Photolab users like.

At $25 for a perpetual cross-platform license, FRV is basically free.1

On a computer without a powerful GPU, Photo Mechanic is significantly faster as it presents pre-rendered jpegs.

For managing a portfolio of jpegs and TIFFs, one can use Lightroom 4 to 6 with perpetual license. Others use Apple Photos to manage their portfolio. I’m using the named folders and files for now as I no longer trust any DAM having been through iView Media Pro and Aperture (paid for them for years only to see them abandoned).

It’s unlikely that DxO will provide DAM tools better than the ones above so if DAM is what you are interested in, you should use one of the best of breed tools mentioned above. Carping for years that Photolab is not Lightroom or a DAM by design seems extremely counterproductive.

  1. Heck I’ll pay for your license myself if it would stop your whinging about an imaginary Photolab DAM forever.

But then I do not really care what you think. You always have been a bit strange in your views and opinions. My point is DxO are putting a lot of effort into this so called dam that is not a dam. They should not bother. For that reason alone my Lr subscription will remain in tact. Simples really. I’ll leave you with your workarounds as clearly they make you happy. PL’s future for me is as a plugin to Lr, that is on the basis that Lr (or indeed C1) do not get the upper hand.

That’s always been Photolab’s future with you Colin. Second-fiddle to Lightroom. If Adobe were attempting to sabotage the DxO community forums, they couldn’t invent a better mole.

Any DAM (there’s nothing even close to DAM in Photolab 4 – it’s an underfeatured and slow image browser), even if it’s released in Photolab 5 will not be production ready for another three to five years. DAM is hard. Cross-platform DAM is even harder. Photo Mechanic has been working on DAM for twenty years and there are still issues. Same applies to iMatch, Photo Supreme and CaptureOne. C1 is on the third version of their DAM now and none of them work well. Skylum entirely failed with their DAM in Luminar and ended up not releasing it at all (promising a DAM as a feature but instead offered a poor quality image browser).

Photolab’s selling points are two-fold:

  • the quality of the lens database and optical corrections
  • best in class noise reduction (by a long way)

Bonus points are:

  • fast workflow with U-point quick masking
  • very attractive design and workflow

What should be a selling point but DxO are self-sabotaging this point is cross-compatibility with other professional photo software. The problem areas are incomplete XMP support for metadata (storing some in the database or in .dop files, not passing it all through perfectly) and with failure of Nik 4 to play well with Photoshop CS6, Affinity Photo and C1 and other hosts.

Nobody is buying Photolab as a DAM. Improve the image browser, sure, so that it’s possible to do triage quickly and efficiently in Photolab at least for small sets. It’s a long way from there (and we’re not there yet) to a reliable, fast, powerful and capable DAM. The other companies in the space are delighted to watch DxO release an underfeatured DAM which can be pilloried in DP Review and elsewhere (and by Colin) as “far inferior to the DAM tools in Lightroom”.

In terms of marketing, DxO should be as quiet as possible about DAM as a talking or selling point and focus on ideal lens correction, invisible noise reduction and fastest full workflow with lens correction, local adjustments and noise reduction. Plays extremely well with all other pro photo software (DAM, HDR merge tools, bitmap editors, panorama programs).

That’s a profile which would lure in existing pro users of other software. Where the pros go, high end amateur photographers eventually follow.

Mass market is at a different price point (Skylum, OnOne1, Photoshop Elements serve this market) with a different depth of tool (I’ve just been improving my own gradient work this past six months with Photolab local adjustments and I’ve been using Photolab for three years).


[quote=“uncoy, post:11, topic:21379”]
I thought that by adding Photo Mechanic I would no longer want to use

Not to mention that FRV v2 offers 2 to 4 images compared at once.

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I just noticed that new feature today. Haven’t tried it yet. Should be very useful for sets (near identical shots, choose one).

  • fashion photographers
  • portrait photographers
  • landscape photographers
  • sports photographers

I remember Aperture had this four-up feature and it worked very well. Looking forward to trying it.

FastStone is a viewer that can compare two, three, or four different images together on one screen. It’s very fast on my computer and also can view most of the common image formats and most common raw formats including some of the newer ones like .CR3 (for those of us with late model Canon mirrorless cameras). All of the compared images can be zoomed and panned as a group or individually one at a time with individual image zoom, pan, rotate, or delete. While still in the compare screen any individual image can be chosen for full screen view. It also has pretty good basic image correction and printing functionalities but, of course, it’s not meant to be a do-all image editor.

I don’t know how well FastStone compares to other program for culling photos but it’s plenty good for me. And it’s free for home use with full capabilities.

FastStone runs fast when set to view embedded jpegs. When the settings are changed to use actual size raw files, it is slower.


Yes, sure, just as every viewer program is. However, on my system, a Win10 i7-7700K that is fast but nowhere the state of the art, the 49 meg .cr3 canon files load almost instantaneously, slower than jpg but still very quickly.

Actually, that is not entirely accurate. Fast Raw Viewer display’s raw files about as fast as FastStone displays imbedded jpegs, and much much faster than FastStone displays raws.

Mark .


It probably means that DxO will have to do something…at least that is what the laws of the market will want.