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DxO releases Photolabs 3 with unique colour manipulation wheel

DxO released its third upgrade of Photolabs, the former Optics Pro. The new version has a new repair and clone tool, a new local adjustments mask manager and a new colour wheel. And finally, after so many years, the metadata module has been updated as well, albeit with a very modest support for a keywords, author name and copyright field.

The local adjustment tool that lets you remove unwanted elements from an image has been improved in the new version by adding the ability to reposition the area that is used as the source for the reconstruction. It becomes visible only when you opt to see the selection. Two masks then become visible; one is where you brushed in the correction, the other is the source. Each of these have a manipulation dot that you can move around. The tool now also offers a Clone Mode, which lets you directly replace the area you are editing. On my system and in both modes, manipulating the dots slowed down the image rendering considerably. The results are what you would expect from such a tool, nothing too spectacular but useful.

DxO PhotoLab 3 also improves on the Local Adjustments palette. You can now manage local correction masks that have been layered within a single image. The tool also lets you reverse the selected mask with a single click. That saves time, but again, nothing spectacular.

That it does not look spectacular is not what you can say from the one tool that really sets PhotoLab 3 apart: the HSL Tool. It features a new colour adjustment mode based on a chromatic circle called the DxO ColorWheel.

The DxO ColorWheel allows you to select a colour range from eight different channels, fine-tune the value, select a replacement colour and adjust the transitions. The DxO ColorWheel is loosely based on Capture One’s colour wheels, but it’s more intuitive to use, nicer designed, more modern and it invites to experiment. So, a very big thumbs up for this one.

The tool is no toy, though. It’s very useful and efficient at manipulating the exact colours you want to change. Uniformity settings also let you adjust colour variations within a specific range, for example. The Saturation and Luminance sliders operate more or less independently, which offers more flexibility, especially when converting from colour to black and white and creating partially desaturated images.

Finally, DxO PhotoLab 3 at long last offers keyword management. Keywords associated with an image can now be displayed in the interface, including when they are imported from other apps. You can now add, delete, or rename keywords for one or multiple images simultaneously and include them in multi-criteria searches (macOS version only; this feature will be available in the Windows version in the near future). DxO PhotoLab 3 also offers more complete information and metadata display options as well as additional Projects management options.

That metadata thing is a big step forward, but I still think DxO should add the ability to view and edit all the IPTC metadata that’s available. That would make the app a complete solution for editing as well as cataloguing.

Wrapping it up, DxO Photolab 3 is a magnificent image editor with a decent management module. Its PRIME noise reduction algorithm is still unparalleled, its local adjustment functionality is one of the very best and now it also has a HSL tool that is turning heads. It’s definitely on my recommended list.

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