DxO PureRAW 2

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DxO has final­ly ful­filled my wish and includ­ed DxO Pur­eRAW 2, a plu­g­in for Adobe Light­room Clas­sic. The basic func­tion­al­i­ty of Pur­eRAW has­n’t changed with the new ver­sion. Pur­eRAW still sup­ports the arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence-based denois­ing method Deep­PRIME. I’ve already writ­ten more about this in my detailed review of DxO Pho­to­lab, which also includes the Deep­PRIME module.

My workflow

For all those who, like me, pre­fer to edit and man­age their images with Adobe Light­room Clas­sic, how­ev­er, DxO Pho­to­lab is actu­al­ly overkill. DxO Pho­to­lab is a full-fea­tured RAW edit­ing pro­gram with sim­i­lar edit­ing fea­tures as offered by Lightroom.

How­ev­er, since I have archived and key­word­ed all my images in Light­room for years, I don’t need these func­tions. In fact, I use DxO Pho­to­Lab exclu­sive­ly for denois­ing crit­i­cal images - the Deep­PRIME algo­rithm does this so much bet­ter than Light­room. In my own tests, the results are a good 2 stops bet­ter than what I can achieve with Light­room alone. For some exam­ples, see my review of DxO Pho­to­lab linked above.

PureRAW v1

DxO had also real­ized this prob­lem and released Pur­eRAW, a stand-alone denois­ing tool that could process RAW files and save the results in DNG RAW files for fur­ther pro­cess­ing in Light­room or oth­er RAW devel­op­ers. In my test of Pur­eRAW, the results were quite good.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I could­n’t get along with the work­flow pro­vid­ed by DxO. Pur­eRAW is an inde­pen­dent­ly run­ning pro­gram that you had to process all the images through BEFORE you could import them into Lightr­rom. With the com­plex Deep­PRIME process, this is extreme­ly time and mem­o­ry con­sum­ing, even on fast computers.

I only use denois­ing on the few high-ISO images that real­ly ben­e­fit from it, though. To select them, how­ev­er, I need to have them pre­vi­ous­ly import­ed and reviewed in Light­room. In my review I had already described this prob­lem and asked for a Light­room plugin.

Final­ly, DxO pro­vides this in Pur­eRAW 2!

PureRAW v2

To see how the new plu­g­in per­forms, I down­loaded and installed the tri­al ver­sion of Pur­eRAW 2* from DxO. DxO is very gen­er­ous: the tri­al ver­sion can be used with­out restric­tions for 31 days. The Light­room plu­g­in can be installed dur­ing the installation.

To test the pro­gram , I have cho­sen an absolute extreme exam­ple. On our last trip to Africa we spot­ted a ser­val cat half an hour after sun­set. It was already very dark, the ser­val was only bare­ly visible.

I took the fol­low­ing pic­ture at ISO 12800 with my Canon EOS R5 and the 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM. The expo­sure data: f/2.8, 1/125 sec. With this set­ting the image was still clear­ly under­ex­posed, so I had to light­en it up by 2 f-stops in Light­room so that the expo­sure is equiv­a­lent to a val­ue of

ISO 51200!

I ini­tial­ly processed the image in Light­room, light­ened it by 2 stops, and got the fol­low­ing result:

Ser­val cat, Masai Mara, Kenya, 400mm, f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 12800 + 2 f-stops

In the overview it still looks quite usable, but the 100% view shows the severe noise:

Ser­val cat, Masai Mara, Kenya, 400mm, f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 12800 + 2 f-stops, 100% crop

At this point I have passed the image to the PureRAW2 plu­g­in that I have just installed:

Pur­eRAW 2 Light­room Plugin

The PureRAW2 plug-in still does not offer many options for adjust­ment. Nei­ther the strength of the noise reduc­tion nor the post-sharp­en­ing can be changed. The method of noise reduc­tion can be select­ed, but I exclu­sive­ly choose the Deep­PRIME algo­rithm. Lens cor­rec­tions can also be applied, but I pre­fer to do this in Light­room in post-pro­cess­ing. I always choose DNG as the out­put for­mat for this, so that I can use Light­room for the com­plete post-processing.

You can select either any des­ti­na­tion fold­er or a DxO sub­fold­er in the cur­rent direc­to­ry for the out­put. This is unfor­tu­nate­ly incom­pat­i­ble with my usu­al work­flow. I save all my processed images in the same fold­er, so I either have to select the fold­er man­u­al­ly or move the image after­wards. After press­ing the “Devel­op” but­ton, the devel­op­ment starts, which takes a bit longer than I was used to with the DxO Pho­to­lab plugin.

The result is ini­tial­ly a bit dark­er than the Light­room image and shows a slight magen­ta col­or cast, but both can be eas­i­ly cor­rect­ed in Light­room. The final result looks like this in the full screen view:

Ser­val cat, Masai Mara, Kenya, 400mm, f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 12800, processed in DxO Pur­eRAW 2

You can see how well the Deep­PRIME algo­rithm works when view­ing the 100% view:

Ser­val cat, Masai Mara, Kenya, 400mm, f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 12800. process­es in DxO Pur­eRAW 2, 100% crop

Of course, this is not a per­fect pho­to, but when the pic­ture was tak­en, it was so dark that we could hard­ly see the ser­val with naked eyes. I show it here as an absolute extreme example.

The 100% view shown above rough­ly cor­re­sponds to what you see when you stand with your nose direct­ly in front of a large-for­mat print­out. Since the image looks so very flat, here’s anoth­er direct and prob­a­bly more prac­ti­cal com­par­i­son at 33% mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. On the left you see the DxO Pur­eRAW 2 ver­sion; on the right is the result with Lightroom.

Ser­val cat, Masai Mara, Kenia, 400mm, f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 12800. processed in DxO Pur­eRAW and Light­room Clas­sic CC, 33% crop

I think this gives you a bet­ter idea of the qual­i­ty of DxO PureRAW’s noise reduc­tion. Such a shot would have been absolute­ly impos­si­ble just a short time ago. I real­ly think the result is sensational!

More “nor­mal” exam­ples can be found in my oth­er reports on the Deep­PRIME algo­rithm.

I think Pur­eRAW 2 with the Light­room plu­g­in is now high­ly rec­om­mend­able even for those who are hard­core Light­room (or even Phase One) users. Since I already bought Pho­to­Lab 5 Elite*, which also sup­ports denois­ing with Deep­PRIME, I don’t see the need to buy Pur­eRAW 2 as well. How­ev­er, if you don’t have Pho­to­Lab 4 or 5 with Deep­PRIME, I think the pro­gram is absolute­ly worth recommending.

But every­one can make up their own mind. The 31-day unlim­it­ed tri­al ver­sion of DxO Pur­eRAW 2 can be down­loaded here*. If you want to try the above exam­ple image of the ser­val with oth­er denois­ing tools, you can down­load it as an EOS R5 CR3-Raw file here:

Down­load of the EOS R5 CR3-Raw file “Serval-ISO12800.CR3”

I am hap­py to receive comments.

*= Affil­i­ate Link

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