DxO Optics Pro’s speciality is optical corrections. It does this using a combination of automatic lens corrections and manual perspective adjustment options, including the DxO Force Parallel tool.
DxO Optics Pro can identify the lens and camera used to take a picture from the shooting (EXIF) information embedded in the image by the camera, and it then uses custom made correction profiles to fix distortion, edge softness, corner shading (vignetting) and chromatic aberration – all of which are common lens defects. You don’t know how bad your lens is until you see the original image and the DxO correction side by side!
But while DxO Optics Pro can correct optical distortions like barrel distortion and pincushion distortion automatically, it’s down to you to fix perpective distortion, such as converging verticals. There are two reasons for that: first, image-editing software can’t yet reliably identify lines which should be vertical or horizontal (though Lightroom 5 has a good stab at it with its new Upright tool); second, perspective distortion may be an important or even a deliberate part of the picture, so you don’t want your software trying to ‘fix’ things you did on purpose.
Perspective distortion happens when your camera is not perfectly perpendicular to your subject. You get this when you tilt the camera upwards to photograph a tall building, though you can get the opposite effect – this shot inside the British Museum in London was taken from a high viewpoint with the camera tilted downwards slightly. This has made the base of the building in the centre look narrower than the top.
This is what the DxO Force Parallel tool was designed for. It lets you pick two lines which should be parallel, then corrects the picture’s perspective so that they are. Here’s how it works (it’s really straightforward) and a quick look at the DxO Interface too.
01 Interface tips
First of all, I’m using the ‘DxO First Steps’ workspace here. You can choose the workspace using the button at the top right of the window. This workspace is the simplest, displaying a smaller number of palettes – but still the ones you’re likely to use most often.
Underneath that, in the tools panel on the right, I’ve circled the ‘Light and color’ panel. When you first open an image in the Customize module, DxO Optics Pro has already applied a default correction profile which consists of optical lens corrections and lighting corrections. It will automatically reduce or increase the exposure as necessary, and apply a small quantity of DxO Smart Lighting to help bring out the shadows.
At the bottom of the window is a filmstrip showing all the images in the current folder or project. You can hide this by dragging the small button gadget on the top edge (circled) downwards to the bottom of the screen.
02 Panel display tools
And here’s a quick guide to the tools panels themselves and how to hide or show the information you want to see.
(1) The ‘x’ box at the left of the title bar closes the panel completely. You probably don’t want to do this unless you’re customising your interface.
(2) You can click on the title bar to expand the panel and see the individual tools, then click again to hide it if you want to keep the interface clutter-free.
(3) This ‘arrow’ button is not to expand or collapse the panel. You use this to choose which panels you want to display – it’s for customising the interface to suit the way you work.