DxO Labs and Phase One updated their image-editing programs this week, aiming to improve image quality and editing controls in an attempt to fend off market heavyweights Adobe Systems and Apple.
DxO Optics Pro 8 and Phase One Capture One Pro 7, like Adobe's Lightroom and Apple's Aperture, are designed in particular to handle raw photos from higher-end cameras, photos taken directly from the image sensor for higher quality, greater flexibility, but more hassle.
Among DxO Optics Pro's new features announced during the PhotoPlus Expo show in New York:
A "Smart Lighting" control designed to automate exposure adjustment while improving details in highlight and shadow areas.
Selective tone controls for applying changes only to shadows, highlights, or midtones.
Technology to protect details in areas where color is highly saturated.
Support for Apple's Retina displays, a user interface revamped to be more efficient, and faster display of thumbnail and full-size images.
France-based DxO Labs carefully tests combinations of lenses and cameras for precise correction of optical problems including distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration, and lens softness. The latter property means DxO's software can selectively sharpen an image where it needs sharpening most. The new software can handle nearly 10,000 combinations of cameras and lenses, and with a new lab opened in Seattle, it plans to increase that number to 20,000 by the end of 2013.
Phase One, meanwhile, has updated Capture One Pro significantly. Version 7 comes with a new engine for processing raw image data that produces "vastly more accurate rendition of details and colors," the company said.
Capture One Pro 7 also improves noise reduction for high-ISO photos and has new tools to adjust exposure that are sensitive to details in highlight and shadow areas. In addition, controls can adjust local contrast and saturation so particular areas of a photo can be modified.
Another notable change is a shift toward the cataloging approach of Aperture and Lightroom, in which photos can be organized, tagged with titles and keywords, and sorted by metadata.
Performance is always a challenge with raw photo processing. The software uses the OpenCL interface that lets computers' graphics chips give a processing boost to the CPU.
Capture One Pro 7 is available now for $299 or an upgrade price of $99.
DxO Optics Pro 8 will be available Monday with introductory pricing that will last through November 15. The Standard Edition costs $99 but will jump to $169, while the Elite Edition, which supports high-end cameras, costs $199 but will jump to $299. The pricier Elite Edition is required for higher-end cameras such as Canon's 5D Mark II and III, Nikon's D700 and D800, and medium-format cameras from Phase One and Hasselblad.