Real-world Review: DXO PhotoLab 1.2 with Nikon NEF


In my original comparison of raw converters for Nikon NEF files, I mentioned DXO Optics Pro briefly. While it appeared to be a decent RAW processor software, a major shortcoming was that it did not have any local adjustment capabilities. Hence it was a difficult option to recommend, especially since it was not significantly cheaper than competitors which do have local adjustment capabilities and which were selling at similar (or lower!) prices.

Fortunately, things have changed now. DXO Optics Pro has evolved to become DXO PhotoLab and now includes the very highly regarded U Point technology from Nik Collection Plugins for making local adjustments. With this change, the value proposition of DXO PhotoLab has improved dramatically and is now a serious challenger to the other tier 1 RAW processor giants including Adobe Camera Raw (from Adobe CC/Lightroom/Photoshop) and Phase One’s Capture One Pro. In this review, we will make comparisons with Adobe Lightroom and Nikon NX-D. My observations come from working with Nikon NEF files. Of course you can make the usual inferences if you are work with RAW files from another camera maker. However, please note that there may be differences in results among different RAW formats. If you want to be sure you will be satisfied with the results from DXO PhotoLab and your camera’s RAW files, download a trial of the software and try it yourself.

Continue reading “Real-world Review: DXO PhotoLab 1.2 with Nikon NEF”

On Adobe’s Lightroom Classic, Practical Thoughts And Alternatives

It has been a week since Adobe’s announcement regarding Lightroom Classic. If you do not already know, you can perform an internet search and learn about all the details and ramifications for users of the standalone version of Lightroom. Initial announcements indicated that the standalone version of Lightroom, now renamed “Lightroom Classic”, will receive no more updates in the future after a last-hurrah update in October. After this, updates will only be for Lightroom CC only. This caused an uproar of displeasure from the photography community. Adobe then changed their stance slightly and announced that they will continue to support Lightroom Classic, though they made no specific statements about exactly what type of updates should users expect. One thing is certain. As Adobe is no longer selling and making money from new versions of standalone LR beyond the current version 6 (Which will be re-branded LR Classic), users should not expect any new features that get introduced in LR CC in the future to find their way into LR Classic. It makes zero sense to continue improving software from which you are not receiving any new revenue. In fact, CC subscription currently (at this time of writing) already has obvious exclusivity in the form of the “dehaze” tool. Indeed, we will be fortunate if LR Classic just continues to be updated to support new cameras, but we really did not receive explicit guarantee of this from Adobe either.

The latest events cause users to ask one pertinent question. How long will it be before Adobe eventually pull the plug on standalone LR? And what are the steps we can take? This article offers some recommendations and alternatives. Continue reading “On Adobe’s Lightroom Classic, Practical Thoughts And Alternatives”

Do You Need Photoshop/Affinity Photo If You Have Lightroom?

As I mentioned last week, the lack of recent updates is attributed to the fact that I just purchased a copy of Affinity Photo and is playing around with it. Oh, and there is my real-life day job of course. 😛

The topic of today’s blog post is to answer a frequently-asked-question: Do you need a full-featured photo editor such as Photoshop (PS) or Affinity Photo (AP) if you already have a copy of Lightroom (LR)? Continue reading “Do You Need Photoshop/Affinity Photo If You Have Lightroom?”

Affinity Photo Limited Time Offer


Serif’s Affinity Photo is finally available for both Apple Mac and Windows users! As people become wary of Adobe’s monopoly and subscription pricing model for the ubiquitous Photoshop, a capable challenger is welcome news for everyone!

At the moment only the Mac has a trial version, but you get a money-back 14-days guarantee anyway. In addition, you are receiving a limited time discount if you make a purchase now.

The reason why the number of updates on this blog have slowed down is because I am currently busy experimenting with Affinity Photo. Oh, and there is my career work of course. 😛

If you are interested, you can grab Affinity Photo here. In my limited time with it, it is easily a superior experience to both the Gimp and Paintshop Pro. A lot of people will still be satisfied with using Lightroom alone. However, it does not hurt to give it a whirl and see for yourself if you would like to expand your post-processing options. Even if you bought it and didn’t have time to evaluate it in 14 days, it is probably just the cost of a (relatively inexpensive) nice meal for two persons in a fancy restaurant. So you really don’t have much to lose. – WY

Really Nice Images All Films 4.0 Review


Really Nice Images released version 4.0 of their RNI All Films Pack in the beginning of July. I actually wrote a preview of it earlier, and didn’t come around to doing a review until now. In summary, if you liked what you read in my preview article, you can go ahead and prepare to make a purchase. My impressions have not changed much between then and now. In fact this review will have a lot of cut-and-paste content from the preview article in July.

To recap, the RNI 4.0 All Films pack is priced at 122 USD and existing subscribers get an email with a half-price offer to upgrade. (If you didn’t get your upgrade offer, check out this page.) RNI now offers the All Films pack in Pro and Lite versions. The Pro version gets you everything, while the Lite version gives a smaller selection of presets at a much lower price of 59USD. Continue reading “Really Nice Images All Films 4.0 Review”

Really Nice Images 4.0 Preview


Really Nice Images has just released version 4.0 of their RNI All Films Pack. It’s priced at 122 USD and existing subscribers get an email with a half-price offer to upgrade! (If you didn’t get your upgrade offer, check out this page.) RNI now offers the All Films pack in Pro and Lite versions. The Pro version gets you everything, while the Lite version gives a smaller selection of presets at a much lower price of 59USD. Continue reading “Really Nice Images 4.0 Preview”

User Review: Really Nice Images All Films V.3.0

I like film presets and use them frequently. After all, lab technicians spent hundreds of thousands of man hours figuring out how to make an image look good with different film. So it seems a terrible waste to discard all that expertise away with our move to digital cameras. Besides, most of my favourite pictures were shot by photographers using film, so they definitely have a valuable aesthetic to them.

In previous articles, I shared that I used Alien Skin Exposure in my post-processing for tuning colours and aesthetic. However in the past six months I have been using something else – the All Films V.3.0 pack by Really Nice Images. Continue reading “User Review: Really Nice Images All Films V.3.0”

Google Nik Collection Now Totally 100% Free

In case you did not get the news yet, the Google Nik Collection is now absolutely free for download and use, no strings attached.

Yes the “totally 100%” in the title is unnecessary and grammatically repetitive – but I’m using that just to emphasize how real this is.

I’m still in the process of moving and bringing up my new PC online, so it will be quite a while before I start posting regularly.

Get the download here.

Nikon’s Capture NX suffered greatly feature-wise when Google bought over Nik Software and Nikon was no longer able to license the Nik plugins. Hence we have the current horribly feature-reduced Capture NX-D today. The only reason why anyone still uses Capture NX now is when the RAW converters from Adobe and Phase One can’t interpret a Nikon NEF optimally. Or if getting the best image quality from a NEF is most important to you and you have time for a somewhat more troublesome workflow. Now that Google is allowing free downloads of the Nik Collection, the whole situation just feels ironic and surreal. Note that Google is only giving the software away for free, not giving away the licensing rights or technology know-hows. So no, Nikon still can’t put Nik technology back into Capture NX. So now you can appreciate how ironic this is, and how bitter Nikon might feel about this whole situation. 😛

Granted, the Nik Collection has not undergone a lot of updates in recent years, and it will not be surprising if further development has ceased. However it is still very good software that deserves a look by everyone. So hit the link and give the software a try.