DxO Optics Pro Software - Ken Rockwell Age-related Macular Degeneration. Eye Condition; lost vision Patient
This shot of a kitchen covers 45 feet (15m) horizontally, and I was only 9 feet (3m) away from the far wall! That calculates to 135 degrees horizontally, which is the same as a rotating panoramic camera like my Noblex. The sobering difference is that the fisheye/software combo does this without the curvature.
Each of these images has the same pixel height as the original file, and is even wider horizontally in this Max mode.
Of course the sides get softer than the center because they must be stretched further. Try for yourself and see if you like the results. I love them!
DxO also delicately lifted the shadows just a little. Perfect!
Fisheye Conversion Quality
DxO does a great job working with the image detail in the file.
Fisheye lenses squish the sides together to create the fisheye look, and DxO very accurately pulls those sides back out to look straight again.
Detail is lost when the image is squished by the lens, since the camera's sensor can't magically increase its resolution at the sides to match the squishing.
When DxO stretches the image back into a rectangle it has to interpolate, so the farthest edges will look softer than the center, if you stick your eye too close to a big print or look at it at 100% on your monitor. This isn't an issue with software, it's an issue with reality.
I find that my ,000 Canon 14mm f/2.8L rectilinear lens (no distortion) isn't very sharp on the sides in the first place, so I see very little difference between an image from my 0 15mm fisheye and 0 DxO software compared to my ,000 14mm lens. The sides look about the same, and the converted fisheye has less distortion than the unconverted 14mm. (Of course I use DxO to help with my 14mm, but that's not saving you any money.) If you look closely at the very far corners, the converted fisheye is a little worse, but you'll have to ask yourself if it's ,000 worse.
The biggest reason I usually use my 14mm lens instead of my fisheye is artistic visualization: with my 14mm I see the rectangular image as I compose through my viewfinder, and with the fisheye I have to extrapolate in my mind to imagine the final result and framing after conversion
Canon vs. Nikon Fisheyes
In the default mode both systems give similar results. They give results the same pixel size as the original file with the same angle of view, equivalent to a 12mm lens on a full-frame camera.
The Max mode works differently between Canon and Nikon. These extra-wide images are from my Canon fisheye and full-frame camera.
My Nikon 10.5mm Fisheye and Nikon digital cameras aren't as sharp at the sides as the Canon combination, and therefore DxO won't dare correct an image to be as wide in this crazy Max mode.
DxO Optics Pro works with JPGs (my favorite) and raw.
It doesn't do anything to your original files, JPG or raw. It always saves a new, corrected file wherever you prefer. I save the corrected files back into the same folder, which makes it trivial to keep track of it all.
With my Canon 5D, the results were better from JPG originals! The results starting from .CR2 files had duller color and were less sharp than the same images converted from JPG. I pump up the color settings in-camera, so I suspect DxO isn't reading those settings when converting the CR2 files. Beats me why the CR2 results are softer, but just as well, since I hate the hassle of raw. In raw's favor, the lateral chromatic aberration correction was better.
I don't bother with raw. I shoot ordinary JPGs.
When I compared results from Raw+JPG on my Canon 5D, I preferred the conversion from JPG.
Only the camera maker's raw conversion software will match the colors and tones of the JPG perfectly. When I shoot, I ensure that my JPG looks perfect, so I want my raw conversions to match my JPGs. Every other brand of software will make the tones and colors look slightly different.
If you shoot raw and prefer different raw conversion software than DxO, use the raw converter of your choice to open the raw files, save them, and open the saved tiffs or jpgs in DxO.
It saves outputs in as many different simultaneous JPG, raw and TIF options as you like.
Ease of Use
I figured most of it out before I found the user's manual. This is excellent! It all makes sense, which I wish all software did.
It runs only as a stand-alone program.
Even though a PhotoShop plug-in is offered, all this does is open up Optics Pro via FILE > IMPORT. You still need to make your file selections and settings inside of Optics Pro. It does not come up in the Filter menu. This isn't as much of a pain as I expected.
I first missed the ability to process an image in Photoshop as a filter. A day later I realized that DxO does such great stuff that I usually batch-process entire folders from inside DxO Optics Pro, catalog the results in iView, and then select what I want to use in Photoshop from within iView.
DxO converts from camera original files. Do your DxO corrections first and do any Photoshop work next.
I shoot hundreds of shots at a time, and then use iView to sort and dump. I put each shoot in a folder.
If I'm going to use DxO, I batch-convert everything that folder. God Bless DxO: it doesn't matter which lenses I used; it cranks through everything, automatically identifying how it was shot and processing accordingly. I set it up, and let it process while I work on something else. I have DxO drop the new converted files into the same folder.
When it's complete, I re-import the new files into my catalog. It's trivial to flip through the before and after files in iView.
Ease of Tweaks
A clever feature I wish I had in Photoshop is the ability to click on the plus or minus on each side of a slider to increment or decrement each by one unit. I can click while I'm watching the preview image. I need this for keystoning correction.
Click on either side of the slider itself to slam the slider to the end.
A secret in recent versions of Photoshop is the ability to click over a wide area around a slider or its name and drag to change the slider. In Photoshop you don't have to hit the slider itself.
First make the up/down and left/right corrections in the GEOMETRY pane. Then go to the top, click the cube icon and select LEVEL HORIZON.
Unfortunately one cannot use level horizon first; if you do, you can't use the geometry controls.
Either do your corrective rotations in Photoshop, or you have to be cagey about the order in which you do them in DxO. I found myself saving a DxO project (a file with all the instructions of what and how you plan to process), and reopening it again to let me retry the horizon fixes if I needed to go back and reset the perspective issues.
DxO uses many files called modules. These modules are the data specific to a camera and lens combination. This data allows the software to correct the image perfectly, as far as I can see.
If you don't have the appropriate module loaded, you'll see a red camera icon above the image on the bottom pane showing the images you've selected for processing.
The software will cheerfully process the images as best it can, but won't warn if you (or I) forgot to download the correct module. The way I figured out I was missing a module was when my fisheye images shot on a borrowed Canon 1D Mk II still looked like fisheye images after conversion.
I found it easy to get a new module when I needed it. Go to the DxO OPTICS PRO menu and select DxO Modules. You'll see what you have. Click the lower left box to get more. It was easy. (I'm on Mac; menu locations may vary on Windows.)
If you prefer to tweak things, you can save, recall and modify your selections of what and how you intend to process as presets.
Leaving no stone unturned, you may apply partial or excessive levels of correction for creative purposes.
You may leave a fisheye as a fisheye (0% correction), fix it back to completely straight lines (100% correction, the default) or move the slider anyplace in between!
Ditto for Chromatic Aberration correction: you may select how much correction is applied.
Look for the slider for vignetting correction. I often prefer vignetting, which darkens the sides and corners. This is a useful artistic effect which focuses the viewer's attention on the subject and keeps his eyes from wandering off the frame. Laboratory perfection in vignetting correction can make images sterile and boring.
DxO allows you to dial-in any amount of correction, from none to full or more. Crazier still, DxO allows you to tweak the maximum lift applied to shadows in case you don't want it to bring up any noise in high ISO shots. Details are in the excellent user's manual.
There is a big preview (at least on my 30" monitor) as I play with the variations before processing the final results.
Lenses have very slightly different distortion levels at different focus distances. That's why I try to give figures in my reviews at different distances. No one else does, and I thought I was the only one other than lens designers who worried about this.
DxO is so insanely thorough that the software corrects distortion differently depending on the focused distance!
Canon DSLR EXIF data omits focus distance, Nikon includes it. For all I know this could be a key reason Nikon's flash exposure system is so much more consistent than Canon's.
I see a little yellow triangle on each image in the lower selection pane from my Canon DSLRs, meaning they are missing focus distance data. If so, DxO presumes infinity focus, or you can select the images and tell DxO the focused distance.
I kid you not, but this software is so good that at one foot this focus input made the difference between a good fisheye conversion (99% straight lines) and a perfect conversion (completely straight lines). These DxO folks impress me - I don't know of anyone else with correction software loaded with all the real-world data that these folks do.
My Nikon shots embed the focus data, so I don't have to do this.
Very Clever Sharpening
DxO is smart enough to apply sharpening as needed by your exact lens and its settings at different points in the image. In other words, wide lenses that get soft in the corners wide open will have more sharpening applied in those corners as needed. DxO is applying an inverse of the MTF measured at each aperture, zoom setting and focus distance.
I find that it tends to over-sharpen at the center of some images. No big deal, I can turn this off, or apply only a percentage of sharpening.
DxO also can be used for old-fashioned (pre-2005) unsharp masking. Today most of us use the Smart Sharpen tool in Photoshop CS2 (select LENS BLUR and radius = 0.2).
Hacking to use the Nikon D40
News - as of 25 January 2007, DxO has just added the D40.
Warning: this is a hack. If you're not a hacker, please skip ahead before you get yourself into trouble with law enforcement.
DxO doesn't yet support my new Nikon D40.
I discovered that I can trick DxO into interpreting the files as if they were shot on a D70, for which DxO has a module and which I presume has the similar imaging characteristics, by changing my D40 files' EXIF data to say it was shot on a D70.
I did this by opening the D40's JPG in my Mac's TextEdit program and changing the phrase "D40" to "D70," which I see in the first few lines when editing the JPG file as text. Save the file with a new name (I used DSC_0123-D70.jpg) and you're set.
Don't try this at home, because you may screw up your file, and you also have now corrupted the EXIF data. Ten years in the future, unless you document this, you'll think you made the shots on a D70 and not the D40.
I haven't looked at the accuracy of these tricked conversions.
Power drain for software? Think I'm kidding? Computationally-intensive businesses like Hollywood animation studios and Google run budgets based on both power consumption and, more importantly, the cooling to deal with the power dissipated by their computers. Google's secret new data center is being built in The Dalles, Oregon, to capitalize on Oregon's cheap and plentiful hydropower, and has two giant cooling stacks to get rid of the waste energy.
Running all these mathematical calculations draws a lot of power, and my computer has to draw more power from the wall while running these conversions.
My Mac Quad G5 draws 160 watts more power when it's running these transforms than when it's only doing other things. I measured this with a real wattmeter.
While processing multiple images from my 5D and 17-40mm L lens, it takes 22 seconds each. That's 3.5 kJ (kWs), or one Watt-hour each. Process 1,000 files, and that cost you a kWh from the electric company, and more if you're air-conditioning your facility! If you heat with electricity; it's free, since the computer's heat reduces the need for other electric heat.
Extra Credit Reading: Europe Strikes Back!
This software comes from the same people who invented art, painting, the X-Y coordinate system, photography, the wide-angle SLR lens and the zoom lens.
Ever since the Japanese took over the photography world in the 1970s, we haven't seen much main-stream photographic equipment from Europe, short of medium-format film cameras and view camera lenses.
This program is amazing, and comes from France. Just to reiterate some other French innovations:
25,000 BC: World's first art (paintings): The Caves of Lascaux, France.
1637: Invention of the Cartesian (X-Y) coordinate system, which is the two-dimensional space we fill with pixels, and the mathematical space in which all this image processing takes place: René Descartes, France. (He also invented philosophy - he thought, therefore he was.)
1822: Invention of the Fresnel lens, used in every DSLR viewfinder, many projectors and in Canon's newest DO lenses: Augustin-Jean Fresnel, France.
1822: Fourier Series, the basis of Fourier transforms, FFTs, Modulation Transfer Functions (MTFs) used to measure and describe optics, and the basis of the Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT) which is the basis of all JPG and MPEG images today: Joseph Fourier, Paris.
Fourier used this math in his research, published in 1822, which is still the core around which most of modern digital image processing and image and audio compression systems operate, including all the images you see on my website.
1826: World's First Photograph: Joseph Nicéphore Niepce, France.
1903: Le Tour de France
1931: Henri Cartier-Bresson
1950: World's First Wide-Angle SLR Lens (retrofocus): Pierre Angénieux, France.
1956: World's First Zoom Lens: Pierre Angénieux, France.
This software comes from just outside of Paris. France's experience in art, optics and math all show in the elegance and thoroughness of this software.
RECOMMENDATIONS back to top
Introduction Specifications Performance Recommendations
I love DxO. It does exactly what I need it to do, and does it extremely well. If you have different needs, for instance, if you're using a lens or camera for which DxO has no module, you're out of luck. See 16-9.net's article covering some of these limitations. I also have an extremely hot professional computer to handle the mathematical load of DxO; if you're on a lesser machine DxO may take too long to run for you.
DxO Optics Pro does a lot more than I've been able to show. Other software companies charge you for a separate program to fix distortion, another to correct colors, another to reduce noise and another to lighten shadows and so on. Seeing how DxO does all this and more, and does it so well, it makes DxO a bargain, at least if your time is as valuable as I bill mine.
I'm surprised you've read this far. If you have, you obviously need to get this software in whatever version is needed to support your camera and lenses.
Most people don't need this. It's especially interesting for people like me, and you people know who you are.
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DxO Optics Pro Software - Ken Rockwell
Age-related Macular Degeneration. Eye Condition; lost vision Patient