Although DxO’s PhotoLab software is very good, DxO has taken a realistic approach by introducing DxO PureRAW and now dXO PureRAW 2. Adobe has a huge share of the image editing software market and Capture One is a powerful alternative with excellent colour science. The real strength of PhotoLab is DxO’s extensive analysis of camera and lens combinations that its resulting correction modules – along with DeepPRIME. DeepPRIME is one oof the best image noise reduction options available at the moment, making it easier than any other software to get clean images.
DxO PureRAW 2 allows photographers to use their existing workflow yet get the benefit of DxO’s impressive optical corrections and noise reduction. It’s a no-brainer addition to the workflow of anyone who regularly uses high ISO settings.
Excellent optical corrections
Excellent noise reduction
Works with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Capture One and mode
What is DxO PureRAW?
DxO PureRAW 2 is software that can be used in conjunction with raw image-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom and Capture One to apply DxO’s optical correction and DeepPRIME noise reduction algorithms to raw files.
It uses the same optical and image-defect correction modules as DxO PhotoLab, but it can be integrated into a workflow that uses other editing software.
How to use DxO PureRAW 2
DxO PureRAW 2 is designed to be easy to use and not add a long series of complicated steps to your usual workflow.
The simplest approach, after opening DxO PureRAW 2 is to import a folder of images from wherever they’re stored on your computer or drive. Helpfully, if you select all the images in a folder, DxO PureRAW 2 only selects the raw files as it’s these that you need to work with. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the images into the DxO PureRAW 2 screen.
Even when the images are on a fairly slow external drive, the thumbnail view of DxO PureRAW populates quickly after the images are imported.
With that done. you’ll be prompted to download any optics modules if they’re not already on your computer. DxO PureRAW uses the image EXIF data to identify the camera and lens used to capture the images and automatically finds the required modules for download.
The next step is to ensure that the images you want to process are selected and click on ‘Process photos’. This brings up a simple dialogue box that gives you a few options for how the images will be processed.
The first option allows you to select the type of noise reduction that you want to apply, HQ, Prime or DeepPRIME. DeepPRIME gives the best results, but it also takes the longest to apply. Fortunately, it doesn’t take quite as long as the software indicates. A batch of 217 raw files from the Canon EOS R56, for example, was estimated to take ‘Less than 4 hours’, but it only took around 20 minutes. Technically, that is less than 4 hours, but…
The next decision is what format you want the image to be output in, JPG or DNG raw. For most photographers, the default setting of DNG will never change.
Version 1.5 of PureRAW introduces the option to turn the ‘Global lens sharpening’ and/or ‘Lens distortion correction’ off under the DxO Optical Correction header if you’d like to. In most cases, this can be ignored but when a lenses has been used for its distortion characteristics, for example and ultra-wide lens, you might want to keep the effect.
Lastly, you need to decide where you want to save the new files, in a ‘DxO’ subfolder in the folder with the original images or in a folder that you select or create yourself.
With those simple decisions made, you just need to hit ‘Process’ to set things rolling. As the images are processed, they appear one-by-one in the selected output folder. From here, you can process them in your preferred editing software as you would normally.
An alternative approach is to select the images that you want to edit, but rather than selecting ‘Process’, click on ‘Export to’ in the top right corner. This gives you the option to select the software that you want to use and opens the DNG file(s) in it. If you like, you can select to export the original file at the same time, which means you can compare the results as you make the same adjustments.
Unlike the original version of PureRAW, PureRAW 2 can be used as a plugin for Lightroom Classic. Consequently, users just need to right-click on one or more raw file and select ‘Export’ followed by ‘Process with DxO PureRAW 2’. The software creates DNG files in the same folder.
Alternatively, DxO PureRAW 2 can be used directly within Windows File Explorer and macOS Finder. It’s just a case of right-clicking on the files and choosing the option that you want to use to get processing.
DxO PureRaw 2 is so easy to use that it would easy to assume that its simplistic approach is going to produce underwhelming results, but it’s remarkably good.
Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom have six sliding controls for noise reduction and you need to tweak backwards and forwards until you get a combination and result that you’re happy with. It can be a frustrating business whereas with DxO PureRAW 2, it’s just a case of picking which of the three noise reduction methods you want to use, HQ, Prime or DeepPRIME. DeepPRIME is the clear winner, not just of the options within PureRAW 2, but in comparison with the results from Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and Lightroom too.
PureRAW 2 does an impressively good job of reducing the chroma and luminance noise without obliterating detail.
No noise reduction
Adobe Camera Raw noise reduction
Using PureRAw 2 (plus white balance correction)
Capture One has a slightly simpler noise reduction system than Lightroom and ACR, with just four sliding controls instead of six, and it can work well but it’s still a juggling act. It also tends to be too heavy-handed in the default settings.
In contrast, when set to DeepPRIME, PureRAW 2 just gets it right.
The good news for Capture One users is that when that when the DNG files output from PureRAW 2 are opened in the editor, it’s still possible to apply the ProStandard Profiles when there is support for them (they are only available for a limited number of cameras). However, you’ll need to reduce every setting of the default noise reduction treatment to zero to avoid getting an undersaturated and soft image.
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