Alright! So, I’ve recently switched from Mac to Windows 10 and with that came a need to revise what apps I would use going forward. My primary DAM and RAW developer was Luminar, which I really enjoyed using. Lo and behold, they have a Windows version too! After a quick install, I thought I was back in business and boy was I wrong. Not only was the app way slower on my new PC (8th gen Core i7 with 16GB RAM and M.2 SSD) than it was on a 7 year old Mac, it also failed to see some of my pictures! The app literally only added about 300 pics from 3000+, even though the Mac version of Luminar never had a problem seeing them all. After multiple tries and re-installs and reaching out to Skylum I finally caved and started looking at other options.
I’m not interested in Lightroom (too pricey and Classic doesn’t work well with OneDrive + their CC option does not support plugins, which was a non-starter). I did use ON1 before, which is an awesome software and full package with DAM, but too slow and a resource hog. I looked at other free or freemium options and none of them impressed me in terms of GUI. So, as my options were dwindling, I sat back and had to write down what my “must have” needs were and reduced it down to:
1/ must have DAM
2/ must support local drives without importing
3/ must have a channel mixer
4/ must support plugins
The options stared me right in my face and I’ve been using them for past few days and really really like them, partially because this mix plays so nicely with IR photography, which is half of my work, if not more:
- Affinity – to make corrections and some heavy post-production work
- DxO PhotoLab 2 – main DAM and RAW developer. It can do 2000k WB!
- DxO FilmPack 5 – preset plugin with over 120 film simulations!
- Canon Digital Photo Pro 4 – to fix white balance, not all soft does 2000K
I have not given up on Luminar by any stretch. That app is still superb and I may use it from time to time as an external editor. Especially for its plugin pack. I bought Laurie Klein’s Infrared Mastery pack, which is amazing and most of my previous IR work on this site used these. Laurie Klein is a renowned IR photographer who studied under Ansel Adams
The pic in this post is nothing special, mediocre composition, but I used it just to try how some of the FilmPack presets would turn out and it delivered! This pic was taken in IR and then processed with Fuji Neopan Acros film simulator. It came out wonderfully and sooo smooth, just as Acros is famous for. What sold me on DxO PhotoLab was that it is the only software outside of Lightroom’s custom camera profile tool, which is able to properly white balance my IR photos. No other software was able to do that other than Canon’s ancient DPP4, which is the only reason why I still use it, because it can do eyedropper WB way below 2000K. I use a converted camera with 590nm filter, by the way, so proper WB is key for me, in order to get that famous blue sky with yellow foliage.