First Look, DxO ViewPoint 3

DxO, maker of image editing software DxO OpticsPro, DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint, has released the latest version of their optical distortion and perspective correction standalone and plug-in program, DxO ViewPoint 3, and I am currently putting it through its paces for probable use in a photoessay on local modernist and current domestic architecture. 

Until I bought my first Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera, DxO OpticsPro Elite was my number one go-to raw processing application, not least due to its integration of DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint. All three products are available separately or bundled as DxO Photo Suite for a sizeable discount.

DxO OpticsPro Elite is now a little lower on my raw processor list as it does not support Fujifilm’s non-Bayer X-Sensor raw files and likely never will. The DxO folks informed me that their products’ code bases are built on Bayer sensors and including X-Sensor raw files would involve a complete code rebuild. No small task.

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DxO ViewPoint 3 standalone version’s browser view showing its supplied image files for instruction in how to use the software.

I live in hope that one day there will be a raw processor and image editor that handles every type of raw file out there, includes the same functionality as DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint, and plenty more besides, all for a reasonable price, but I may be in for a long wait.

DxO OpticsPro Elite is reserved for projects only involving non-Fujifilm cameras – it has some amazing features like DxO Prime, DxO Smart Lighting and DxO ClearView, and DxO Labs is celebrated for the integrated sensor and lens profiles and ratings shared under the DxOMark label.

Meanwhile, I play a game of software musical chairs to get the best combination of processing functionality and, especially when using Fujifilm X-Sensor cameras, I may rely on one particular raw processor then export or open TIFF files in one or more other applications for further work.

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Cropped JPEG exported from Aurora HDR 2017, which does not currently include optical correction or perspective correction functionality. The perspective and optical distortion has not been corrected but for most purposes this result is acceptable.

DxO ViewPoint has long been one of those other applications. When DxO ViewPoint 3 was announced, I headed straight off to the DxO website to purchase my upgrade.

I have been trying out the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R super wide-angle lens on an X-T2 for photographing houses in our local cluster of suburbs, for a potential photoessay and even short documentary movie. I have been really impressed with the lens, its optical correction and its focal length’s outstanding ability to capture a home of any size within its surroundings.

That focal length is equivalent to 21mm in 35mm format terms and 10.5mm in Micro Four Thirds format. I don’t have either focal length for either of those sensor formats and am not likely to in the foreseeable future.

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JPEG of uncropped TIFF file exported from Aurora HDR 2017 to be opened in DxO ViewPoint 3 standalone.

I have been shooting 3-bracket exposures for HDR processing, handholding a Fujifilm X-T2 equipped with a Vertical Power Boost Grip VPB-XT2 for better grip and balance. Occasionally, I have made the same sort of photographs with the XF 14mm f/2.8 R on my X-Pro2.

I have been happy with the results but I do wish Fujifilm would add vertical tilt indicators to its cameras, like Panasonic does with its Lumix GH4 and GX8 cameras, as these are invaluable when shooting architecture handheld. I am glad that there is a horizontal tilt indicator function.

As these house-and-surroundings photographs are multipurpose, for a photo essay and a short documentary, I shot for cropping to 3:2 and 16:9. So although the set-by-step images below are 3:2 ratio, I chose to finally output as 16:9.

I am seriously impressed by DxO ViewPoint 3’s automatic perspective correction. Less so by its automatic optical distortion correction which did not like any raw or TIFF file to which I pointed it. As the ApolloOne application indicated, each such file seems to contain full EFIX data including, one assumes, optical distortion data.

Perhaps the DxO folks can correct me if I am wrong. I can understand why they may not want to profile Fujinon lenses given they do not support Fujifilm X-Sensors, but surely they can support Fujifilm’s EXIF data.

TIFFs and JPEGs derived from Fujifilm X-Sensor raw files can be processed in DxO OpticsPro, DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint using a subset of features. I have done that since the X-T1 was new.

I happily process my pre-X-Sensor Fujifilm X100 raw files in all three using the full feature set. I hope DxO will fully support Fujifilm GFX 50S raw files in due course. More knowledgeable minds than mine believe that Phase One will not be supporting that camera due to perceived conflict of interest with Phase One’s own medium format cameras.

At any rate, I am impressed with the terrific new automatic features in DxO ViewPoint 3. A little experimentation will teach me just how much wider I need to shoot these photographs to avoid losing useful surrounding detail, how much further back I need to step with the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R or any other wide-angle lens.

I really like HDR for these sorts of photographs, and love processing my HDR brackets in Macphun’s Aurora HDR 2017. Like the newly-released Luminar image editor, both Macphun products will continue to improve and hopefully both will gain optical, perspective and horizon correction functions soon.

But, I suspect that DxO ViewPoint will continue to be sophisticated enough to warrant including it in my software collection for some time to come, just as I do with its stablemates.

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Uncropped TIFF opened in DxO ViewPoint 3, without settings applied.
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In order to apply Auto correction for optical distortion, DxO ViewPoint 3 wants to access the original raw file.
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I directed DxO ViewPoint 3 to one of the three original Fujifilm X-Sensor .RAF raw files that I merged into an HDR image in Aurora HDR 2017.
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DxO ViewPoint 3 claims that the Fujifilm X-Sensor .RAF raw file I pointed it to does not contain valid EXIF data.
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The ApolloOne application begs to differ and detects all the Fujifilm X-Sensor .RAF raw file’s EXIF data. In fact, every iteration of every file derived from the original three HDR brackets has retained its full set of EXIF data according to ApolloOne.
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Perhaps there is minimal optical distortion anyway, given the XF 14mm f/2.8 R lens’ excellent optical correction. I click on the Auto Perspective button and am amazed at how well DxO ViewPoint 3 fully corrects perspective, imitating how I would have shot this scene with a 4″x5″ sheet film camera using its swing, shift and tilt controls, but far more accurately than analog allows.
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I click the Auto Horizon and Auto Crop buttons and DxO ViewPoint 3 does a very minimal horizon correction, possibly none at all as none may be needed, and crops the image to the original proportions.
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I want to export as a 16-bit PhotoRGB TIFF file – my standard format for quality photography – but can only choose compressed or uncompressed 8-bit TIFF, colour space unspecified. Other times I have been able to choose 16-bit.
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I went back and chose to crop the image to another ratio instead of the original. Final 16:9 ratio version for use as featured image for this page, and in a possible short documentary movie about domestic housing design from pre-modernism, through modernism, historicist nostalgia then down to the present-day modernist revival. Processed in Aurora HDR 2017, DxO ViewPoint 3 then Affinity Photo to resize and export.