Last year I tried DxO Optics Pro 7.5, and tested it head-to-head with Adobe Camera RAW 6.7 and Nikon Capture NX2. I posted my review on Amazon’s Optics Pro 7 page, but in a nutshell, I liked NX2 the best. One of the DxO reps suggested I try version 8, and I’m glad he did. Version 8 has a lot of upgrades that vastly changes and improves the way your RAW files are processed. Make sure your white balance is set right, and then you can adjust your exposure and “smart lighting” either using their defaults, or manually. Then you can tweak your colors, tone, noise, sharpening, and select or deselect the corrections that DxO has for your equipment. With very little time or effort, I found I could produce images that were consistently better than NX2. I do landscape photography and upload my finished images to stock photography sites, who are very picky about what they’ll accept. I believe Optics Pro has increased my acceptance rates due to cleaner, sharper, more vivid images.
There is one “gotcha” to be aware of. After you install the program – and again after downloading any updates – you *MUST* set the program to run as “Administrator”, or it will eventually hang and not process your changes.
Why only 4 stars? Because this package is missing two important tools that prevent it from being a stand-alone image processing system. It has no red-eye correction tool, and no clone tool. So, if you’re using a flash with people, or want to eliminate small flaws or distracting objects from your shot, you have to save your work and then finish up with another package, like Photoshop Elements. These are simple tools found on even the cheapest editing packages, and really should be included here.
If you’re interested, you can – and should – go to the DxO website and download their free trial version. Make sure you get the right one: there is a “Standard” for most cameras (like Nikon’s DX bodies) and “Elite” for pro-level cameras (Nikon FX bodies).