The purpose of this article is to share my initial impressions of the DxO ClearView anti-haze function which is contained in the Elite Version of DxO OpticsPro 10 software. As many Photography Life readers know, I’ve been using DxO OpticsPro as my main RAW processor for some time. I started out using DxO OpticsPro 8, then upgraded to 9 in order to get the PRIME noise reduction function, then upgraded again to OpticsPro 10 in order to get speed improvements with PRIME, some enhanced Smart Lighting presets, and the new ClearView anti-haze function. With each upgrade I felt my money was well spent.
To address haze issues the DxO ClearView function is designed to recover and reconstitute the black point within the elements of an image. It then uses that to help improve contrast, details and hues in the image. The results can be quite dramatic as you can see in the following before and after comparison of an image I took at Bryce Canyon National Park.
First, here is an out-of-camera jpeg.
Next is the final image processed from the RAW file using DxO OpticsPro 10 with its new DxO ClearView anti-haze function.
I’ve been using the new DxO ClearView function for a couple of months now and I’ve found it to be a very useful feature, primarily for landscape and cityscape images where haze is present. This powerful function is controlled by one slider in DxO OpticsPro 10 and when used it makes a number of coordinated adjustments. As a result it needs to be applied with some care, and in my view should not be considered to be ‘standard’ adjustment that a photographer would apply to all images.
I’ve found it can be a very helpful tool when processing more than just landscape images. Almost any image that is suffering from a haze-like appearance in terms of weak blacks, low contrast, poorly defined details and weak colour saturation can benefit from the use of this function. For example, I’ve had some good results with bird and animal images. The two rhinoceros in this out-of-camera jpeg is a typical image to which I would apply the DxO ClearView adjustment when processing a RAW file.
The results below were achieved after running the corresponding RAW file through my standard process of OpticsPro 10 (this time using the DxO ClearView function), then exporting a DNG file into CS6 and Nik Suite for some final tweaks.
A closer examination and comparison of 100% crops helps to demonstrate the effects of DxO ClearView. Here is a crop of the original OOC jpeg.
And, here is a 100% crop of the finished image produced using the RAW file and using the DxO ClearView function.
What I like about DxO ClearView is that it allows me to make dramatic improvements to images suffering from haze-like problems with one simple slider adjustment. That also helps reduce my time in making adjustments to try to rid an image of haze.
When a RAW file is opened up in DxO OpticsPro 10 the program makes some automatic adjustments including tone (DxO Smart Lighting), noise reduction, and the protection of saturated colours. If the lens used to produce the image is covered by the DxO Lens Softness function then some automatic adjustments will also be made in that area.
Since DxO ClearView can apply some very dramatic enhancements to an image it is important that the adjustments noted above are made before applying DxO ClearView. This can be done either manually or by using the Auto function. My preference is to always run my RAW files through Auto mode as I find it quick and easy.
The DxO ClearView slider is found in the right hand control column. This bank of adjustment options opens up in DxO OpticsPro 10 when the ‘Customize’ tab is clicked. As noted in the following screenshot above the default setting for DxO ClearView is ‘50’. When using this adjustment I always move the slider over to the far left and drop it, then start making some incremental adjustments by moving the slider to the right. Since a number of images attributes are being adjusted on a simultaneous basis I find it helpful to zoom in and out and inspect various areas of my image before finalizing my DxO ClearView adjustment value.
After setting DxO ClearView I usually set the value of the DxO Smart Lighting function as well, often by using one of the presets. I’ve found that this pair of functions can be very helpful to create my ‘foundation’ look.
Algorithms for the DxO Smart Lighting adjustment have changed from one version of OpticsPro software to the next. When using OpticsPro 10 you can choose from 3 presets (Slight, Medium and Strong) of the current algorithms. There are also options to choose the versions used in OpticsPro 7 or 9. Custom adjustment of DxO Smart Lighting is also possible.
After setting DxO ClearView and Smart Lighting I usually make some additional adjustments to Tone and Lens Softness to fine tune my image in DxO OpticsPro 10. Adjustments to other aspects like Contrast, Lens Softness, Sharpening, Saturation, Vibrance etc. should only be done after you have set DxO ClearView. I then export a DNG file into CS6, and into Nik for final tweaks.
The following three images help to demonstrate the effects of the DxO ClearView and Smart Lighting functions. First, let’s look at an out-of-camera jpeg of the entire image.
Now, let’s look at a 100% crop of the OCC jpeg…
The following image is the same 100% cop of a partially processed RAW file. I’ve set DxO ClearView to ‘70’ and DxO Smart Lighting to the ‘Strong’ preset.
You can see in the image above that just these two slider adjustments have made a significant impact on the image.
Below is a 100% crop the finished image after all DxO OpticsPro 10 adjustments were made and final tweaks were done to the DNG file in CS6 and Nik.
Here is a full frame view of the finished image. (Note: based on reader feedback I made one additional adjustment to the final image and have inserted a revised image in its place. I made a quick hue adjustment in CS6 and removed most of the green hue. I should have done this with the original image.)
Using the DxO ClearView function does come with some additional processing considerations. The digital noise in your image can increase quite a bit when using DxO ClearView and any dust specs on your camera’s sensor can become much more noticeable. As a result I always use the DxO PRIME noise reduction function for any images on which I’ve used DxO ClearView, regardless of the ISO at which they were originally shot. It is also a good idea to give your images a once over looking for dust specs that may not have been visible previously.
I’ve also noticed that if the DxO ClearView adjustment is done too aggressively some unusual circular banding can occur.
I certainly do not consider myself an expert in the use of DxO OpticsPro 10 and interested readers can find additional information and a number of tutorials on the DxO website. At the time of writing this article a free trial download was available on the DxO website.
Readers can also use the links provided to view more of my Images of Bryce Canyon National Park that were processed using the DxO ClearView function, or to get some additional details on using DxO ClearView when processing images of animals.
Technical Note: All images were shot hand-held. Images of rhinoceros and hippopotamus were shot with a Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600 f/5-6.3 VC at the Metro Toronto Zoo. Images of Bryce Canyon National Park were shot with a Nikon D7000 and Nikkor 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR.
Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication, copying or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent.