Upgrade costs for previous users are very reasonable.
The LR integration looks a lot better too. It can open a LR catalogue and export files straight back into the catalogue as DNG. You then end up with a RAF file and DNG side by side.
If I didn’t have LR at all, it might be that DXO would be a good enough way of organising and ranking files. It doesn’t have the keywording and collection abilities, it doesn’t have local corrections. It doesn’t have LR’s great print engine. But apart from that… you can create projects which can work as proxy for collections, you can just browse the file system. So it’s missing a lot of the cool stuff that LR has. But DXO + Photoshop… maybe.
So for me at this point DXO is not really a replacement for LR. But what about just as a plain old RAW converter alongside LR, doing a LR RAF plus DXO DNG side-by-side in LR? Well that looks pretty good. Only downside is storage and processing time, but storage is cheap.
But it would all be pointless unless DXO showed a significant advantage when it comes to RAW conversion. And I think it does, in most cases.
A couple of examples:
Example 1 @ ISO 200
LR processing is Auto exposure correction, Auto lens correction with the X100 corrections applied, sharpening at 75, Clarity 25, Vibrance 25, Saturation 5. Blue saturation on DXO boosted slightly in LR to give a similar look.
What I see – definitely an edge to DXO, sharper, more detail, better colour, more pop.
Example 2 @ ISO 3200
More less the same treatment as above, but with RAF file sharpening up to 80 and Luminance NR at 40.
What I see – unclear. DXO sharper with more detail, less noise, but more artifacts. LR noise retains more of a film-like grain. It would probably depend on the image, and of course treatment can be adjusted in DXO and LR to improve matters. I’d call this one even.
I am not an expert in digital image manipulation, but not a complete novice either.
What I’m generally looking to do is get the best IQ possible with the least effort possible. I won’t be getting rid of LR and using DXO instead. But I certainly will be dual-processing some or all of my images from now on in both LR and DXO. At my level of competence with these tools DXO definitely has an edge in the processing of RAW files from the X100, and I see pretty much the same thing with my 5D2 as well.
I would say though that with some images from both the 5D2 and the X100 the LR ACR conversion is just more pleasing. DXO is always a little bit “crunchy”, and that doesn’t suit every image. I wouldn’t completely drop ACR for DXO. DXO = oils, ACR = watercolor if you like.
I found DXO v5 & v6 unconvincing. But my recommendation is that there’s enough in DXO v7 that you might be interested. Certainly worth downloading a trial version and giving it a go. And I do think LR and DXO sit nicely alongside each other.