DxO Labs announced its new Optics Pro 9 software Wednesday, an update the company believes does a better job stripping out noise than rivals such as Adobe Photoshop and Apple Aperture.
The software's Probabilistic Raw Image Enhancement, or Prime, takes more time than other noise-reduction algorithms, but it can detect finer details and accurate color amidst the noise speckles that afflict digital photos taken at high ISO sensitivity settings. DxO said the technology goes a full stop beyond the competition, meaning that it could cut noise from a photo taken at ISO 12,800 as well as a rival software can handle a shot at ISO 6,400. Check below to see one example of the noise reduction in action.
Here's how Frederic Guichard, DxO Labs' chief scientific officer, describes Prime:
In contrast to the usual approach of finding a better compromise between image quality and execution speed, we have created a tool whose sole purpose is to obtain the best image quality possible. For each pixel, more than a thousand neighboring pixels are analyzed. This vast exploration allows DxO Optics Pro to identify similar data that can serve to reconstruct image information. Several minutes may be required to do this, but this process takes place in the background, so users can work on other images and projects while they wait for the results.
How much extra time? The ordinary 10-second processing time for a raw photo takes about 5 minutes with Prime, DxO said.
For those with less patience or spare time, DxO Optics Pro 9 also improved its faster algorithm, which can be used instead of Prime.
DxO Optics Pro 9 is designed in particular for use with raw-format images -- photos taken from a camera's image sensor with no in-camera processing. That affords more flexibility and image quality, though the requirement for manual processing means more work for photographers.
Version 9 of DxO's software also improves highlight recovery for overexposed areas of a photo, the company said.
Image-editing software has changed significantly in recent years with an emphasis on managing collections of photos, not just on making an image look as good as possible. DxO has adapted to this era, but it remains a smaller player compared to the higher-end products like Adobe Lightroom and more mainstream tools like Apple's iPhoto.
The new software also adds a portrait mode designed to better match skin tones; a variety of new filter presets; a revamped user interface designed to match workflow better; and a Flickr export tool.
DxO Optics Pro 9 will ship this month. The Standard Edition costs $169, and the Elite edition, which supports some higher-end cameras, costs $299. Through November 20, though, the new versions are available for $99 and $199, respectively.