Rethinking Photo Organization

No problem. I do mention it a lot but I forget where. :smiley:

In late 2019 I discovered DxO PhotoLab 3 and currently run version 5. Its special sauce is how they profile cameras and lenses — they actually test and measure the real things in a lab and the result is downloadable modules for the camera/sensor/lens combos. The result is, in my view, nothing short of astonishing. I’ve been so impressed by the edge-to-edge sharpness that in the last couple of years with not getting out much, I’ve taken to digging out old RAW files and reprocessing them. I’ve done over 2,000 images so far, going back as far as 2008. Couple this with some of the best noise reduction in the business (Topaz Denoise AI is arguably better in some cases, worse in others, but they are both very good) and it will remain my tool of choice for a long while yet.

I should caution that some people do not like the processing tools, but that is very much a subjective area. I’ve got pretty used to them now and now after many years away from Lightroom, I find its tools confusing. If you are tied to, or just enjoy, the processing flow of one of the other tools (there are many) then DxO also produce a product called PureRAW which just does the excellent RAW conversion and denoising and produces a fully demosaicked “Linear DNG” RAW file you can use in other tools. The only gotchas being less control over those aspects, and some stunningly large RAW files (typically 3x what you start with as they are fully RGB for every pixel).


I too have been extremely impressed with DxO PhotoLab after recently switching from Adobe Lightroom. I’ve gone back through my photos as far back as 2012. It feels as if I have retroactively upgraded my cameras. It’s amazing too my now how good my cameras were back then.

Another, benefit to using DxO PhotoLab is that it uses far less memory resources than does Lightroom. My MacBook Pro 16 inch with only 16 GB unified memory doesn’t bog down when running multiple apps the way it does with Lightroom.

Finally, I like DxO PhotoLab for organizing my photos. It has a clean and easy-to-use interface.


Yes. The difference is notable.


I’ve been really pleased with the results I’m getting reprocessing photos taken with my old Fuji XT-20 with DXO.

For me the big draw is DXO DeepPrime’s insanely good noise reduction.

If you like to keep dSLR photos in Apple Photos, you can also shoot a few photos with your smartphone at the same location. Since Photos can be sorted by date and time, the dSLR photos will fall within the same range and you can easily find relevant photos later. Then if you want, you can batch add location data within Photos. It’s not exact latitude/longitude but for most people, this would be more than enough.


Kind of the same here.

  • I do most of my edits in LR. I like the workflow.
  • PhotoLab beats Lightroom. Especially high ISO
  • I do some preprocessing with PureRaw2 to keep my LR workflow. Good results, better than “plain” LR.
  • Capture One…I am conflicted. It seems to be the golden standard, but I haven’t found enough of a difference (to PhotoLab) to switch.
  • Which tool I used depends on the result I am going for. And where the images come from (digital, scan).

How does Capture One compare on sharpness? I think C1 is the only major tool I have not trialed (because I can’t stomach the price) and none of the others can hold a candle to DxO’s RAW conversion. It’s not just the high ISO. If you value tack sharp images, DxO is a magician there, too.

A thorough test of C1 ist on my to-do-list. I know several photographers that do outstanding studio work, and whose opinion I value, and they swear by it. I am very happy using LR and PhotoLab. Since the thread is about organization: PhotoMechanic is also in my toolbox. Since all of them support EXIF/IPTC, no issues with catalogs, etc.

Maybe I’l try C1 in the winter.

You could definitely use DXO PhotoLab to manage your Photo library without having to resort to Lightroom or some other catalogue management application. I prefer managing my catalogue with Lightroom, but would be able to do so with DXO PhotoLab if I had to.

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Folder-based. No catalogs, smart collections, etc. Basic keywording. Not even close to LR. You could combine Adobe Bridge with PL. Or just PL, if folder-based is good enough. Or LR+PL. Or PM+PL…

Since the management/organizations features of LR are stellar, I do all my management there.

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This is something I think a lot of reviewers miss. A photo of a model sitting on a chair does not fairly represent what it will do for a photo of a metal sculpture. The former thrives on smooth and soft, while the latter demands gritty and sharp. I’m way more to the sharp end of the spectrum. A lot of my photos are of “things that fly” (as my wife calls them)… birds and aircraft. For birds, I want to see feather detail. For aircraft, I want to see panel lines and rivets. In these areas, PhotoLab wipes the floor with Lightroom. Whereas, I know landscape photographers who make amazing stuff with Lightroom, because you don’t want to see every blade of grass.

Seconded! I have a madly complex keyword structure that nothing else can handle. I’ve had suggestions to simplify it, but it works because I started in Lightroom and Adobe get that there are many, many different workflow approaches and they handle them all. It may be madly complex but it saves me a ton of time.

Thanks for pointing it out. Most reviews are, too superficial. Often enough, they compare a single set of photos, with one approach. Does not help much if, let’s stick with the aircraft example, highlights on the edges were not a thing for the reviewer.

Same here. PhotoMechanic is the other metadata powerhouse I use. If you are serious about “photo organization”, it’s very difficult not not use LR, if your library gets to a certain size/complexity.

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If for some reason I had to limit myself to just PhotoLab, and I’d outgrown its folder + projects based system, I’d probably opt for PL+Bridge since Bridge is both a powerful digital asset manager and absolutely free to download and use.

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Horses for courses for sure! Often enough I find myself using Lightroom, DXO Photolab, and one of the Topaz products in various combinations on the same image just to get the results I want.

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Yeah, I agree on that score. It wasn’t hard to do things. It was hard to figure out how to do things. It felt like it was back to front. Like if you had to drag a folder onto a file to put the file in the folder.

I will certainly check it out, but I don’t expect it to eclipse Lightroom for photo organisation for me. I live in hope that something some day will, though!

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There are a few DXO apps. Which do you use? I just looked in the App Store and at least one app is 50% off

You can get trials, so give them a go. Personally, I really didn’t get on with the PhotoLab 6 way of doing things, which I just got muddled up with tags and stuff.
I use PureRaw to get the sensational RAW processing, and handle photo filing manually, and in Photos for easy access.

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This is marketed as a companion app to Apple’s Photo’s app so not stand-alone.

Yes you did! Sorry! I should actually read other people’s posts before I post.

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