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Camera: check

Good glass: well, not all the lenses that I’d like to have, but at least I have a good one, so let’s check this one too

Computer: check

Post Processing: Photomatix and Paintshop Pro X6, check

Looks like I’m not missing anything…turns out that I do, and it makes a huge difference.

So far my workflow is the following:

HDR -> process in Photomatix Pro to combine 5 exposures, remove ghosting/chromatic aberration etc, adjust colors/saturation and get a general idea of how the final result should look like -> complete the picture in Paintshop

Regular picture: process in Paintshop or Raw Therapee to adjust the RAW (NEF, since I shoot with a Nikon) -> complete the picture in Paintshop

Well, it kinda works! But it looks like things can be done a lot better. What I’m missing is a powerful, dedicated program to handle RAW files. Raw Therapee is a nice starting point (free!) but it lacks a lot of features. I started using it 2 years ago when I decided to try shooting RAW with my Sony Nex, and it served me well.

Today I decided to give a try do DxO Optics Pro 9 (takes forever to write, so from now on I’ll call it Dxo). I was happy to find that it’s possible to try the full version for a month, so I’ll have a lot of time to spend with it in order to see if it’s a good fit for my photography.

What I did today was to take a couple of the pictures that I processed over the last week, and start everything all over trying to keep a similar style. This is what I got:

Original Pic (Raw Therapee + Paintshop)

Train of Bikes

New Pic (Dxo + Paintshop)

Train of Bikes

Dxo managed to create a brighter picture with more contrast and a lot more detail. The most shocking part for me is the top left part of the picture: looks like a black hole in my first take, but it actually shows detail with Dxo. The picture as a whole looks much more better, so I decided to try it again with another B&W.

Original Pic (Paintshop for conversion and editing)

Opposite Focus

Second take (Dxo for conversion, Paintshop for some minor editing)

Opposite Focus

They don’t even look like the same picture. Dxo did such a better job at raising contrast while preserving the detail of the picture that I decided to use the bottom part of the trees as well.  I don’t like the building showing up, but what’s amazing is that in the first take the building was not there AT ALL, Paintshop lost it completely and the whole area was left white.

Let’s look at some color now:

Original Pic (Paintshop both for conversion and some adjustments)

No One Home

Second Take (DxO alone)

DSC_2781_DxO

The “feel” is a bit different because of the difference in the color of the sky. It was a cloudy day, so the second one represents much better the actual look of the scene. I kinda like the general color of the original take, but what strikes me the most is the extra amount of detail in the second picture. The difference in the sky and at the bottom of the leaves is huge.

I’m very satisfied with the results I managed to achieve with Dxo, so I’m looking forward some proper landscape picture to see how it will handle that. According to many reviews Dxo is especially good at dealing with pictures in low light, something I don’t usually do but I’ll try to get some samples.

Moreover, in the next few days I’ll try to make a comparison between Dxo and Lightroom using the same pictures, but before that I want to gather a few samples for low light, landscape and maybe a portrait too.

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