Now that I actually understand Lightroom (that it does lens correction by default for point and shoots it knows about and for all micro-4/3 lenses), I’m off to compare them. Sadly, the reviews between the various products aren’t super helpful. They mainly focus on features rather than on image quality. And most importantly don’t tell you how to tun the various raw converters to give the highest fidelity (color, noise, etc results). Since I’m not a pro who has to process thousands of photos a day, I’d rather have a relatively slower, but more accurate digital workflow for RAW production as the out-of-the-camera JPEGs in modern cameras are plenty good for “chuck it on Facebook” use.
I’m just surprised someone hasn’t taken an Imatest test plot of color and sharpness and run it through to figure out what gives the best noise reduction, color fidelity and the best distortion correction which to me are the key things that a raw converter needs to do. It’s not so much about asset management etc,
But in trying Lightroom 5 and DxO 8.3, here is what I’ve learned:
For my own purposes on DxO I always turn off Exposure compensation and DxO Smart Lighting which are on by default. The modern cameras I’m using seem to do a pretty good job and when I see lots or highlights being blown, I turn on Smart Exposure compensation. I also turn off Keep Aspect Ratio in Optical Corrections because I want to keep the whole image and I’m not too hung up on keeping everything exactly 3:2. I try to crop “unconstrained” to what seems to be the best composition. I also rarely get moire so leave that off as the default suggests. Some folks have thought the DxO images were soft so I sometimes turn up Lens Softness from its typical -0.50 (what ever that means) to 0.50 although I rarely see issues. Also some folks think it smears too much, so I turn down noise from 20 to 10 although most of my images have very little noise (because well, the cameras are pretty amazing). And DxO has these architectural corrections like volume anamorphosis and perspective correction that I really do miss in LR (or at least have not found them yet!)
Dpreview. There was an informational review between LR4, DxO 8 and Capture One Pro 7.0.2. They say that they are just using the default settings for DxO but that this seems to give the best color from default. The confusing thing is what default means. In DxO the default is to just use camera rendering for color, but there is another setting called neutral color, neutral tonality that seems flatter, it is too bad you can’t look at color plots to tell what is going on here. For highlight recovery, it isn’t super clear how the author got to the various settings he used to figure out about higligh recovery since all of the parameters seem different (dXO -0.9 exposure, and I’m not even sure what highlights -24 means. They do like its default sharpening (unlike others who thought it was too soft. Go figure. In theory DxO sharpening should work like Roger says at Lensrentals.com, that is you apply more sharpening in the doughnut around the edges because lenses are sharper in the middle.
Corros. This is for the older LR4 and DxO 7 and is also not analytic, but confirms some results from Dpreview. That is with full automatic which shows highlight recovery is better and that noise reduction is quite high for DxO (suggesting you should lower the noise reduction). Apparently, LR4 does only chorma reduction and not luminance, so that explains why turning down luminance noise gets DxO closer.
Tutsplus.com. He points out that perhaps the best thing to do is to use LR and DxO together since DxO can read LR database files and LR can real DxO files. So you first use DxO for Raw conversion and then put it into the Lightroom (just put the .RAW files and the .DXO side car and import them into your library).’