Version 5 of DxO Optics Pro is due to start shipping this month, bringing a new engine for processing raw images, better noise reduction, faster performance and new camera support, according to maker DxO Labs.
The Windows version will ship in October, with the Mac OS X equivalent to follow in November, the company said. The software costs $169 for the Standard version and $299 for Elite, which supports several high-end cameras. Upgrades cost $95 for Standard and $125 for Elite, but are free for those who bought the earlier software version on or after August 1.
DxO Optics can be used for a variety of tasks, including correcting optical problems such as lens distortion, reducing colored speckles of image noise, and converting raw images taken directly from camera sensors into more convenient formats such as JPEG. Raw conversion is a tricky and computationally difficult process with a lot of manual labor involving exposure, colors and other properties, but it can produce superior output compared with JPEGs from the camera.
One major change is to the raw conversion engine. One job of that engine is to deal with the "Bayer" pattern that most image sensors use to capture red, green and blue light into a conventional digital image. The Bayer pattern is a quasi-checkerboard distribution of red, green and blue sensors, but a process called de-mosaicing fills in color gaps so each pixel has all three colors instead of just one.
DxO asserts its new de-mosaicing produces better results than competitors' software, such as Apple Aperture and Adobe Lightroom, by comparing pixels not just to their nearest neighbors but also to more distant ones.
For noise reduction fans, DxO Optics Pro 5 has two new general features. First, it performs noise reduction at an early stage in the raw conversion, before the de-mosaicing process, which DxO says produces better results. Second, users can correct dust spots and other blemishes with the software, the company said; a batch mode is available that could be handy for fixing multiple frames afflicted with the same flecks of sensor dust.
Version 5 also has a new and customizable user interface. The software overall organizes tasks into four major areas.
The software can create preview versions four times faster by taking advantage of multicore processors and graphics processors, DxO said.
Existing versions of DxO Optics also can correct many lens problems, including chromatic aberration and barrel or pincushion distortion. It's calibrated in advance to handle many specific lens and camera combinations.
The software will be updated with support for new cameras including the Nikon D3 and D300 and the Canon 40D and 1Ds Mark III when those models ship, DxO said.