Get the best out of your RAW files with DxO FilmPack 5
In collaboration with Gilles Théophile
In this tutorial, we will show you how to get the best out of your RAW files with DxO FilmPack 5 by using both its automated corrections and the many image development tools it provides.
To follow this tutorial, you will need:
- DxO FilmPack 5 (standalone application), Elite edition*
- An image in RAW format.
*Compatibility with RAW files requires the Elite edition of DxO FilmPack 5.
1- Opening RAW files with DxO FilmPack 5
The Elite edition of DxO FilmPack 5 supports RAW files, making new processing possibilities available to you as well as greatly simplifying your workflow. The compatibility is exactly the same as that of DxO OpticsPro 10, including for DNG files generated in Lightroom or Camera RAW (on condition that these are generated from RAW files issued by DxO OpticsPro-compatible cameras).
The DxO FilmPack 5 interface
Step 1 – Open a RAW file
Opening RAW files is extremely simple and automatic:
- In the Image List (DxO FilmPack 5’s file browser), click on the button with the folder icon in in the upper command bar
- A system dialog box will appear in which you can find your RAW folders on your hard drive.
- When you select a folder, its contents will appear in the Image List.
- Click on a thumbnail to select the image; the selected thumbnail is indicated by an orange frame and checkmark.
- Press Enter or double-click on the image, which will then open in the processing section of the application.
The DxO FilmPack 5 Image List
Step 2 – Apply the automated corrections
When you open a RAW file in DxO FilmPack 5, the application will automatically apply a series of corrections – optical correction, noise removal, and color protection.
The automated corrections require downloading the parameters from DxO, so you will need to be connected to the internet. If there is any ambiguity with respect to the camera/lens combination that you used, a dialog box will open proposing the possible combinations associated with the photo; choose the one that corresponds to your shot.
- A progress bar at the top of the window shows that the parameters are in the process of downloading.
- When the download is finished, DxO FilmPack confirms that it is ready to apply the automatic corrections.
- Click on OK to validate: the corrections are applied, and you can continue onward with your photos to the development phase.
Downloading the automated corrections for any given camera/lens combination happens only once. The next time you open a photo shot with the same equipment, the associated automated corrections will be immediately applied.
Download/validation of automated corrections dialog box
Step 3 – Verify the automated corrections
You can verify the status of the automated corrections as follows:
- In the upper toolbar, in the Modify button group, click on Modify image settings (3rd button).
- In the Control panel, which corresponds to the right-hand part of the interface, open the Development section.
- Click on the Automated corrections label.
- The orange buttons on the right labeled Noise reduction, Optical corrections, and Color protection, confirm that the automated corrections have been applied.
The Automated corrections palette with the corrections activated
You can disable any of the automated corrections by clicking on the corresponding orange button.
Once you open an image in DxO FilmPack 5 you can apply any of many color and black & white analog film renderings, and then adjust any of the associated settings in the Development section according to your own tastes.
However, if you have already made manual corrections in the Development section, be aware that these will be overridden by the corrections in the rendering that you subsequently apply.
2- Processing color images
Once your image is open in DxO FilmPack 5 and the automated corrections have been applied, you can make use of a certain number of development tools. To work in color, be sure that the selector at the top of the Control panel on the right, is set to Color.
Of course, these steps are optional, and if your RAW file is correctly exposed and requires no further intervention, you can go directly to the creative phase by applying or creating a rendering.
Step 1 – Light & Color
In color mode, the Light & Color palette will let you make the following corrections:
- Exposure: This slider acts on the overall exposure of the image. Moving to the left makes the image darker; moving to the right makes the image lighter.
- Saturation: Lets you make the colors more vivid by moving the slider to the right, and to make them grayer by moving to the left (up to and including removing all color).
- Vibrancy: Acts on colors in a selective way, preserving those that are already saturated.
Example of an exposure and vibrancy correction
To reset a correction, double-click on the relevant slider.
Step 2 – Contrast
The sliders in the Contrast palette lets you correct the overall contrast as well as the microcontrast — that is, the presence of details and textures:
- Contrast: Increases or diminishes the distance between the dark and light elements in the image.
- Microcontrast: Moved to the right, reinforces the presence of microdetails and textures; moved to the left, smooths out or diffuses the details and textures.
- Fine contrast: Reinforces or diminishes the presence of medium-sized details, which make it a better tool for portraits than Microcontrast.
- Highlights, Midtones, Shadows: These three sliders are tied to Fine contrast, and allow you to make selective corrections.
Example of microcontrast correction
Example of Fine contrast correction
Step 3 – Hue – Saturation – Luminance
The HSL palette is designed to let you correct colors in a selective way, by letting you adjust one or several of the six available color channels:
- All channels: The menu allows you to select individual color channels to modify, and of course allows you to modify all of the channels at once if you wish.
- Hue: Lets you modify the color for the selected channel.
- Saturation: Increases or decreases the depth of the color for the selected channel.
- Luminance: Lets you adjust the luminosity level for the chosen color channel — denser to the left, less dense toward the right.
For example, to reinforce the blue of the sky, do as follows:
- Choose the blue channel in the menu.
- Use the Hue slider to adjust the color. Be careful not to go too far: the blue moves towards cyan on the left, and towards magenta on the right.
- Slightly deepen the blue by moving the Saturation slider to the right (going toward the left gradually reduces the color until it becomes gray).
- Finally, to give the sky a deeper and denser blue, reduce the luminosity by moving the Luminance slider to the left.
Accentuate the blue color of the sky with the HSL palette
Step 4 – Tone curve
The Tone curve lets you adjust the overall contrast. To give your images more intensity:
- Make sure that the Tone curve is in RGB mode (1st button on the left).
- Grab the Tone curve in the level of the last intersection (top right).
- Move this part of the Tone curve slightly toward the top: the light tones become more brilliant.
- Grab the Tone curse at the level of the first intersection (bottom left).
- Move this part slightly toward the bottom: the dark tones become more dense.
- Grab the Tone curve in the center and move it slightly either toward the top or the bottom in order to adjust the luminosity of the midtones.
To cancel the corrections, click on the Reset button on the bottom right under the Tone curve.
Creating an “S”-shaped Tone curve is a well-known technique for strengthening the overall contrast of an image.
Once you are finished processing, you can save the final rendering in .jpg ou .tif format by clicking on the Save As button. Changes to RAW files cannot be saved directly.
Reinforcement of overall contrast using the Tone curve
Note that you can also use the Tone curve to make other corrections:
- Recovering details in highlights by darkening them (move the head of the curve downwards).
- Boost the presence of details in shadows by brightening them slightly (move the foot of the currve slightly upwards).
The Tone curve also lets you correct a colored dominant by selecting the appropriate RGB channel. For example, if your image is too cold, select the B (blue) channel, and subtly adjust the curve to achieve a hue that is warmer or more neutral.
3- Converting to and processing black & white images
The principle of correcting black & white images is identical to that for color images, with the following exceptions:
- The Light & Color palette offers only the Exposure slider.
- The HSL palette is available only for color images and so is replaced here by the Channel mixer palette.
To work in black & white, be sure that the selector at the top of the Control panel is on B&W.
The Channel mixer will let you create a custom black & white rendering. You can, of course, combine it with the Tone curveand/or the Contrast palette:
- Switch to black & white mode by placing the selector on B&W, at the top of the Control panel.
- To refer to the original image – the color image – activate the side-by-side or split display (3rd button in the Compare group in the upper toolbar).
- Referring to your original color image, develop your black & white rendering channel by channel (denser toward the left, lighter to the right).
When you have finished your black & white rendering, you can either click on Save settings as preset (2nd button in the Savegroup) or directly save your image by clicking on Save image as (1st button in the Save group).
Basic black & white conversion
Creating a black & white rendering with the Channel mixer and Tone curve
Photo credit: Olivier Revon, Denis Lacharme, Cath Schneider