By BENGT NYMAN
A case of megalomania or a proper challenge? I am definitely a fan of DxO as a source for scientific, photographic test and performance data for camera image sensors and lenses — as published on DxOMark. I much prefer to have this data under my belt when deciding on a new purchase. This is not to say that the nerdy science aspect of photography is of any more importance than the artistic aspects of the art itself. I mentioned in one of my earlier photographic fictions that I am anticipating a growing importance of systematic integration of lens design and lens correction software. I recently experienced a striking example of exactly that.
I purchased the inexpensive Samyang 14mm F2.8 just for fun, knowing that the image IQ would be far from what I would have preferred. Also knowing how hard it is to design a “perfect” ultra wide angle lens I settled for the fact that the Samyang 14 promised excellent center contrast and resolution.
Shooting 36MP cameras with primes, I have learned to appreciate the new freedom of cropping and throwing away ¾ of the frame to end up with a completely acceptable 9MP image, should it become necessary, and of course depending on the final use.
I have been delighted with the coverage of the Samyang 14mm, even though the distortions are pretty pronounced. Lightroom presently does not offer lens corrections for Samyang 14mm, though lens corrections for this lens is a must.
I have criticized DxO for their apparent shift of attention from timely delivery of sensor and lens performance data to marketing lens correction software. I can see a financial need to supplement their data collection with a marketable product and apparently DxO has chosen an all out challenge of Adobe Lightroom.
Not only does DxO Optics Pro offer outstanding sensor and lens correction software, but they have apparently also decided to try to match the entire functionality of the Adobe Lightroom software package, at the same price of $150.
I consequently downloaded the trail version of the DxO Optics Pro 10 Elite. What I wanted was the lens correction for the Samyang 14mm. I got it and it is outstanding. It makes the Samyang a keeper lens whereas without correction it was on my list of lenses to sell.
Is it worth $150, to make a $400 lens a keeper lens? I don’t know, but I do think that the concept is right; to take advantage of lens correction software to produce outstanding image quality at a reduced price.
I have also briefly explored the remaining functions of the DxO Pro 10 Elite software. This is in no way a review of the software. You find better sources for that on the Web here and here. However, I took the liberty to make some observations.
In summary, the software is clean and straight forward. The lens corrections are excellent and I wish DxO had stopped there and offered it for $50. I would welcome the lens correction portion of the DxO Optics as a stand-alone software package doubling as a plugin to Lightroom and Photoshop. I would buy it on the spot for $50, providing that DxO improved the timeliness of their lens testing and provided free updates for at least a couple years.
To pay $150 for a “Lightroom wannabe” and to wait for months for testing of new lenses is less tempting.