I’ve been trying out the new PhotoLab channel mixer and black and white mode in DxO PhotoLab 7 and I have to say I’m somewhat underwhelmed. First, it’s a feature that really it should have had before. Second, it’s not very strong in its effect.
I suppose I didn’t notice it before, but it is pretty poor that PhotoLab didn’t have a channel mixer for black and white already. Its inbuilt presets offer a good selection of black and white looks and, if you have DxO FilmPack installed, there’s no shortage of black and white film renderings to try out, each with its own spectral sensitivity. I guess with all that I never went looking for a channel mixer.
PhotoLab channel mixer results
Second, after trying out the new channel mixer on a number of images, I just don’t think it’s strong enough. If I pick images with strong blue skies and then push the blue and cyan sliders down to zero, those skies should practically turn black. But in PhotoLab 7, while there is a darkening effect, it’s just not what I’m used to from other programs.
To be sure, there are issues with pushing channel mixing too far. The red channel in color images is typically noisy and blotchy, often with edge effects around hard outlines, and if you suppress the other channels this noise starts to become obvious. There’s an argument for preventing excessive adjustment for this reason alone.
But I like to push black and white tonal renderings pretty far, and even if I have to wind back some of my channel adjustments, I still like to have the choice. PhotoLab 7’s channel mixer just doesn’t go far enough for my liking.
I’m used to being able to turn blue skies almost black in Capture One or Silver Efex Pro, and I can’t get anywhere near that in PhotoLab 7.
It’s possible that DxO has deliberately reined in the channel manipulation to preserve an authentic spectral response and prevent excessive noise, but if that’s the case then I think it’s just been too cautious.
DxO store and trial versions*
DxO PhotoLab 7 Elite: $229/£209
DxO ViewPoint 4: $99/£89
DxO FilmPack 7: $139/£129
DxO PureRAW 3: $129/£115
DxO Nik Collection 6: $149/£135
• 30 day trials are available for each product