DxO and their completely ridiculous licensing

I’m using Previously I used DxO Optics pro to adjust and correct some of my images. But because of their stupid licensing system I’ve been forced to use other solutions lately.

And my conclusion is that you probably don’t need DxO.

The licensing

I’m using several professional software packages. Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, iStopMotion Pro. Elgato Turbo HD, Apple Keynote etc. Pretty expensive and professional software.

I’m working on several different computers. But my main workstations are:
1. My MacBook Pro (on the road)
2. My 24″ iMac (at home)
3. My MacMini (for time consuming batch jobs)

I would guess that laptop + desktop machine is pretty usual. But because I’m working on huge amounts of large files I also use my MacMini from time to time. Simply because that’s the computer that is running 24/7.

And all my professional software is installed on all these computers. I use the same license key on all of them because I never use the computers at the same time.

But this won’t work for DxO. When you buy their 299 Euro Elite license you’re only allowed to install the software on two computers.

I’ve run into trouble several times because of this.

Here is one scenario: installed on iMac and MacBook pro. Then my MacBook pro died. I get a new machine and get a message that I’m not allowed to install on an extra computer. My two installs are already used.

The result is that I have to send an email to DxO and wait for an answer and then after explaining the problem I’m granted access to another install.

Currently I’m running DxO on my laptop and my iMac. A couple of days ago I returned from a holliday and wanted to start a huge batch job of DxO processing on my MacMini. When I tried to install it I got the usual message: not allowed.

I email DxO and explain the problem. I’ve paid for the license. I don’t want to run it on several computers at the same time, but I want to be able to run it on the computer in my house that is running 24/7 so it can do the processing while I’m sleeping. Yes, I could set my iMac to run all night, but that wouldn’t be very environmentally friendly, and it is the MacMini that is placed in our home in a way where it can run all night without disturbing us with noise etc.

In total I had to wait for more than a week for this answer from DxO.:

“Hello Eirik,
Thank you. The license agreement limits installation and activation to two systems at the same time. If you do need a third activation, that will require the purchase of an additional license.

DxO Support Team
DxO Labs”

Well, I don’t have to buy several licenses of Lightroom, Photoshop, Keynote, iStopMotion and all the other packages I use just because I want to install them on the three computers I use.

Fortunately the latest version of Lightroom have included lens correction. And my quick tests show that for me, I really don’t need DxO anymore. This is not a scientific test and I really, really hope that the DxO correction is way better than the Lightroom correction. Or, at least 299 Euro worth of pure quality… But for me, the benefits of using Lightroom exceeds the extra hassle and probably slightly better quality of DxO:

– Lightroom doesn’t have that stupid licensing system
– Lightroom is much faster
– Keeping all my work inside of Lightroom gives a much simpler workflow
– For me, the quality is good enough

Here is my quick test. Using a fisheye image shot with my Canon 5D Mark II and my Canon 15mm f2.8 fisheye:

Original image:

Defished with Lightroom:

Defished with DxO:

Comparison from a corner of the image. No defish but all lens corrections (click the image for full size):

DxO and their completely ridiculous licensing

My current image workflow

I posted my current backup strategy a while ago. And after a quick chat with Rodrigo on Twitter I decided to post my image workflow as well.

The basic flow is simple:

1. Out there
Snap images in RAW using my trusted Canon ESO 400D. I’m still very impressed with this camera. It has survived more than I could expect. Now snapping away at its image number 26 654.

It has survived drops from 1,5 meter. Heat and sand in Marrakesh and freezing snow in the mountains of Norway. I’m not changing before Canon cranks out that 21 mpix, 8 fps, weather sealed, HD-video shooting full frame 5D mark II. Yeah. I know. Rumors.

Anyway, I am using two 4 GB SanDisk Ultra II CF cards while out shooting. Then:

2. At home
Transfer the images to my 24″ iMac (a fast, beautiful, silent and in general amazing machine). I’m using the import function in Lightroom and organize the images in folders according to the date: “Main Archive”/Year/Month/Day/image files

The images are not stored on the iMac. They go to a shared drive that’s connected to the main server at home. The main server is a MacBook Pro that had an accident and ended up with a destroyed screen. It’s now permanently connected to the TV in our living room. Serving as a media hub, PVR and file storage for the family. It’s placed in a well ventilated cabinet together with a bunch of disks.

And that’s where my image files go. On to two of the disks. Set up in a mirrored RAID for redundancy.

3. The boring stuff
Tag my images as much as I have time for. Usually that boils down to a few tags describing the session, happening, place and whatever suits all images. I’m not good enough at individual tagging of my images. Too much of my archive relies on the fact that I remember when the image I am looking for was taken. Lately I’ve also started to do automatic geotagging of my images.

(This image: the ultimate cliche. Shot at Solastranden at the western coast of Norway)

4. The fun stuff
Process and edit my images. Lightroom 2 is really powerful for this. With the adjustment brush I can do wonders with an image very fast. And everything is non destructive, leaving the original RAW file untouched. The RAW files contain more information than a JPG and I’m still amazed what I can get out of even a bad shot with wrong white balance and wrong exposure.

I used Aperture for this in the beginning. But Aperture ended up useless on my 60 000+ image archive. I’ve checked, and the latest version of Aperture is way better at this. But when switching I also ended up liking the tagging work flow, editing, RAW conversion and general handling in Lightroom better.

(This image: the beautiful Steinsdalsfossen in Hardanger, Norway)

The kitschy stuff goes into Photomatix and the tricky stuff goes into Photoshop.

5. Publishing
I’m using my images in my presentations, on this blog, over at NRKbeta, on our family site, on print and even for sale. I have a lot of images on Smugmug and Flickr, but the ones I’ve sold have been directly because someone found them on my blog or through my experiment with Shutterpoint.

In general I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to people using my images. As long as it’s not stupid shops using them in commercials without asking.

The alternate workflow
When travelling I bring my MacBook Pro. I’m running Lightroom on that one as well. So, when I’m on the road my images go from the camera, into the MacBook and on to an external disk for backup as well. When back home I transfer the images from the MacBook. Keeping all the editing and metadata from Lightroom on the laptop.

Feel free to fire away questions in the comments.

My current image workflow