Why I won't purchase PhotoLab 5 as a Lightroom alternative

Hi DxO team,

I’ve been trying PhotoLab 5 during the last couple of days in order to finally find an alternative for Lightroom, and I would like to share my opinion in short.

First of all, I do appreciate many, many things in DxO, and I really enjoyed the workflow when developing Raw files. Anyway, in total I am not quite convinced.

  1. Do I really need to purchase an extra piece of software just to make horizontal and vertical perspective corrections which are needed an almost every photo? You must be kidding, sorry.

  2. Black and white conversion: PhotoLab does not seem to offer anything here, which is quite a bummer when seeing things from the Lightroom point of view. I fully understand the separate purchase of a specialized application like Nik Silver Efex Pro, but I’m having trouble to understand why PhotoLab doesn’t even offer the most essential b&w tools like a channel mixer to simulate red or blue color filters.

  3. The Raw development palettes on the right appear a bit too tiny in part. At least on my high-res 28 inch display, set to 150 % scaling on MacOS and perfectly fine for all other applications, some controls tend to be almost hard to use. And it does not help the overall clarity. The GUI in that area, which is probably the one people spend most time with, could be much clearer and easier to use in terms of graphic elements.

As I said I’m really excited about many aspects in PhotoLab, but at the end of the day I’m afraid I will not be purchasing PhotoLab due to the problems mentioned above.

1 Like


this is discussed during a long time, and lot of us hope that it will be fixed with minor version or with PL6.

The other points certainly everyone sees a little differently.

best regards

1 Like

We are where we are with Photolab due to the way the various products were developed. Certain tools are now regarded as implicit within a raw converter. DXO perhaps needs to review their product development policy. Certainly Photolab becomes a far stronger product when combined with FilmPack, (which provides excellent black&white conversions as well as legacy colour film simulations) and ViewPoint.


1- viewpoint, yep another spending for straightening pictures and I agree it should be incorporated not as add-on with the “elite”

2- filmpack, yep another spending to have more controls and abilities to work on black and white images, yep those controls shouldn’t be add-on for “elite” other than the presets.

3- it’s been asked multiple time to have sliders bigger for fine controls.


For 1, perspective corrections, you can use as an external program. Picture Window Pro 8, which does an excellent job for perspective correction, is free.

For 2, Black and white conversion, you can use the HSL wheel to perform your conversion to grayscale.

Not sure, i have the suite version, but i believe you can manual correct prespective.
Elite version?

Yes, rather skinny, dryedout B&W i agree. But dxo NIK original is stil free and working.
I use it often. Filmpack has more general processing tools who i need then the creative part of it.


You can only update perspective in Photolab Elite if you have a license for Viewpoint 3. Viewpoint 3 includes, Perspective, Volume Deformation, and the Miniature feature.


You don’t have twopoint alighment?
Nor sliders for view hight?
Too long used to have viewpoint to remember.

Every rawdeveloper has optical prespective corrections. Even the cheapest one’s.
Maybe only manual angle by angle but none? That’s indeed odd.

Believe it or not, Peter, not everyone who owns PhotoLab Elite is even interested in the features of Viewpoint and FilmPack.

For instance, a number of landscape photographers have indicated on this site and on other sites that they have no need for perspective control. Others have indicated no need for the features in Filmpack.

By selling those products as separate add-ins, they are able to offer Photolab for a smaller cost to those users who don’t need those features. If both Viewpoint 3 and FilmPack 6 Elite were available in PhotoLab Elite with a single license, the initial cost would undoubtedly be much higher and people would then complain about that, instead of the cost of additional add-ons.

Remember there is, or was?, non-Elite versions of PhotoLab and FilmPack intended to provide additional cost flexibility depending on user requirements.


1 Like

Not all raw developers have perspective control. And few of those who do have it provide the same functionality and quality as Viewpoint 3.


I think for those people pureraw is developed.

When i was searching for a replacement of my old silkypix 5pro i was rather impressed by the prespective correction capability’s of silkypix.
All manual and angle by angle. Horizontal shift, vertikal shift, pincushion, you name it , it was there… Hidden. The quest to find it and get skilled to use it properly costed a few months. Any way i tested Lightroom’s prespective tool chamber and was rather confused , the automodes was very difficult to got “natural looking”. And the sliders by hand not intuitive. Yes i know try Silkypix!
So i found the free version of last dxo optical thingy v9 esential only HQ no prime.
Got blown away by the optical module, i believe it had manual prespectivetools.
Then i tested elite plv1 and added viewpoint and Filmpack elite in testing trail. (at that time you could test for ever even when 30 day’s where gone, only export was watermarked) getting to know the plusses and con’s of the different packages and attached price tags.
Decided suite elite was THE only way to swap , to jump trains properly.
Expensive? Yes. Not on par in all aspects of my old sp5pro? Geesh do you remember the “repairtool” it was all or nothing. No cloning no control of sourceplace just aim and fail until it was on target.
Stil i was convinced of the fact that DxO got it right. V2? Not so much. V3? Big jump.
V4? Deepprime and HCL fase 2 saved the bell.
V5 seems to lost the momentum but under the hood there is many improvement hidden.

So commercial line up of dxo?
Fighting lightroom for customers means going full feathers spread out like a peacock.
Pureraw is for those who use dxopl as batch application

Peter (sorry for the kind of rant.)

1 Like

Thanks for the feedback, and I hope this conversation is not only being read by customers but by DxO staff as well.

As said before, there is nothing wrong about offering specialised software for e. g. black and white conversion or sophisticated perspective manipulation, and to charge for this of course. There is no point in asking for all features to be included for free. On the other hand, the most essential features needed for raw photo development should just be integrated in a serious raw converter. Buying the “Elite” version of PhotoLab and finding out that there is no way to correct even the most typical perspective problems and no way to do a very basic kind of b&w conversion (and no, simple desaturation is certainly not the way to go) is a huge disappointment at least from the perspective of a long-term Lightroom user. (It might be more understandable seen from DxO’s history, as IanS stated above.)

The DxO Premium Bundle offers what I’m used from Lightroom, at a regular price of 437 euros. I don’t know if that is the best way to go to convince people.


Daniel, I agree to 100% that an “Elite”-version should have it all. The talk above that DXO by placing some vital tools in another application can offer Photolab cheaper, is just confusing and irritating.

For example I think some of the contrast tool versions only is available through one of the plugins. Even that very odd. Photolab has Contrast, Microcontrast och Fine Contrast when the whole bundle is installed. The last one is extremely important for me when polishing old positive film dias after repro. Microcontrast is poisonous when treating that kind of material and on the contrary Fine Contrast is indispensible

To DXO sell ViewPoint to disappointed Lightroom users like you already do with PureRaw and include these tools you add with the bundles in a true “Elite”-version. Also include the conversion from Silver Efex Pro from NIK-collection. NIK is so clearly aimed at Adobe-users since you haven’t even bothered to integrate it properly with Photolab. A Photolab user should not need to walk over an oldfashion TIF to get a result. Why do we need to create a TIF from our RAW in Photolab before we can get access to the tools in NIK?


You can do very sophisticated conversion to black and white using the HSL tool. It is not a simple desaturation. You can mix the luminosity from many channels, and perform luminosity adjustments on specific colors, and control points can adjust the luminosity locally. Try it you will be surprised by the capabilities.

I think the most clear point is that the essential version is so much cleaned out that it has been crippled.
You should call the current “bare” elite version essential and the elite with perspective tools and advanged contrast and a few other vital tools Elite.
Filmpack might be just for well: film emulations.
Viewpoint can be a stacking and stitching app. And transfer/copy all present features inside dxopl v6 elite.

This way you have a full package in one application with nice addons to get a wider and specialized feature package.

But who am i? A long time user and EA out of enthousiastic feelings to get a better product. No decicionmaker nor influencer. It’s my opinion for years to complete the package in one and keep the additions as options.


I agree! I cannot even add a basic vignette in the Elite version! (Yeah, you can with fiddling around with local adjustments. But why is that adjustment in FilmPack?).

As others have said, sell the film presets separately, okay. But Photolab Elite should contain all the adjustment possibilities for the price they are asking.


The following is for DPL4 - I have no Essential license for DPL5.
Nevertheless, the screenshot might help to illustrate the gripes:


  • The palette contains all tools that can be added to a palette in the “Essential” edition of DPL4.
  • Not all tools, that can be added, can be used (dimmed in the screenshot)
  • Not all tools, that can be used, can be used with the same functionality as in a DPL Elite edition.

DxO teases users of the Essential edition with functions that are unavailable without additional spending. This, together with the fact that the trial comes as an Elite edition, feels indecent to me. DxO should be more transparent about these things imo.


As a novice user of DXO PL5 I can truely say that I find it very understandable.
I have used Capture One Pro (COP) for many years and before the Adobe move to Subscription only I used Lightroom up to its last version 6.14. I find the whole subscription issue abhorrent and will purchase only software that offers a purchase option.
I find DXO PL5 to be perfect for my needs and apart from one or two small issues that I have I am seriously considering it as a real alternative to COP.
All I need is a Channel Mixer feature for doing my IR colour work I can understand how the B&W conversions can be obtained I think. I will continue to look for a YouTube video that can help me identify a solution in PL5.
The other aspect is I need support for all my Fuji cameras e.g. the current ones supported by DXO plus the XPro1 and XE1. I have raised a request and had a very positive response from the support team.
I just hope that these features can be added and I will then definitely purchase the product in the PL5 Elite version.

PhotoLab Elite is a fairly usable software, but a few things are still missing, unless you get the “Premium Bundle” that includes FilmPack (for better contrast features) and ViewPoint for perspective correction functions.

Getting the bundle is more expensive, but it will save you some money if you find that you want these functions later.

1 Like

Thanks, I will need to look at the cost of buying into this whole environment as it would seem I need to think about getting the FilmPack 6 as well as ViewPoint.

I find the purchasing options to be quite fine grained which is both good and for me confusing as a new person. I would rather just have a toolbox with all the tools. I guess the Premium Bundle is that thing. I need to look in more detail. Unfortunately some things dont become obvious until you are on the slippery slope!!