Moonlit Landscape - DXO Pure Raw Test

I know this is not optimal to see at the size of the posted images, but thought it might be useful.

I’m sure many of you have seen all the buzz about DXO Pure Raw in the past couple of weeks. I decided to download the trial and see what all the buzz was about. I won’t go into all the workflow as you can easily find that on the web, but suffice it to say as a LightRoom user, it could not be easier.

This is an image from 2017 taken at ISO 12800 on a Canon 5D Mark IV. Moon was at about 1/4 full so the entire scene is lit by the moon. Had to push the ISO that high to try to keep the shutter speed fast enough to avoid star trails and I had to stop down to f/5.6 to get enough DOF to keep the foreground rocks sharp and the distant mountains. The scene was quite dark even with the moon as it was pretty low in the sky.

Minimal processing after using DXO Pure RAW. I applied minor adjustments in LR. I then copied those adjustments from the DXO file and applied them to original RAW. I open both of them in Photoshop, then applied Topaz Denoise AI to the original RAW file with the default settings. The comparison image shows the top part of the image with the two images side by side at 100%. The difference in the luminance is solely from the demosaicing process between DXO and LR. Yes, I could brighten the image to get them closer, but wanted to show the result without any further processing.

This is just one example. I have no affiliation with DXO, just wanted to share my early experiences seeing what all the buzz was about.


Very interesting, @Keith_Bauer but I want to be sure I understand the two side-by-side comparison images. Is the one on the left Topaz Denoise AI and the one on the right the DxO processed image?

Yes, that is correct. Guess I should have been more explicit in my description.

Oh boy. Now you’re gonna make me go check it out. Thanks. I think. :grinning:

Seems like it’s a one-time pay rather than a yearly subscription like Topaz is. Or am I just not seeing the fine print?

Thanks, Keith. It seemed logical, but that doesn’t always work.

I believe that is correct. They use the term “Lifetime License” with this description. Doesn’t say it is a one time purchase forever, but these are the words:

“A lifetime license means that the license that you own is not automatically charged to be upgraded. This license will continue to work only on the listed, supported OS versions and with the listed, supported third party program versions as well.”

When I purchased Topaz Denoise it was called Denoise 6. In the End User Agreement it clearly stated that ALL upgrades were free of charge for life. Denoise AI came along and sure enough I got an upgrade for free. Then a few more minor upgrades, then Topaz decided to change their policy despite their promise in their End User License Agreement and charge for upgrades. I’ve been looking for a good solution ever since.

NOTHING more aggravating than that. Customer in good faith and they decide to screw you. Bah.

I’m already on the hook for whatever Adobe decides to charge for Ps/Lr combo in future and I hesitate to add to that since I’m not making money from my photography. As a hobbyist these kinds of subscription fees can add up and up and then we have to make some choices. At this point pay once appeals.

I have been a DxO photo lab user for at least three years. I have always found their de-noise engine to be superior to Topaz although there are times when I will use both DxO and Topaz Denoise on the same image.

If you own DxO photo lab, it is exactly the same Denoising engine that is used in DxO Pure Raw. As such, there is no need to own or install DxO Pure Raw if you already have photo lab on your machine.

With respect to the lifetime license with DxO. I started out with their original product when it was version 2. I had to pay a partial amount to upgrade to version 3 and to version 4. At the time when I purchased DxO photo lab, the cost was $200 but it could be found for $150. Upgrades have been in the neighborhood of $80 from version 2 to version 3 and from version 3 to version 4. They do reward loyalty from the standpoint of not charging full price.

My main issue with DxO has been how slow they are to include new cameras. As an example, my new Sony will not be supported until early June. It took them about three months from the introduction of the Sony A7r4 until it was supported.

There are some workarounds. They are just time consuming. If you have a new Sony or other camera camera that is not supported, contact me and I will tell you how to possibly find a workaround.

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Thanks David. I really appreciate the info. I’m not an early adopter, nor do I change cameras often (my current rig is only my 7th camera since 1985), so their slowness probably won’t affect me. Am thinking about getting the trial depending on how big the file is and how much bandwidth I have left on this month’s internet allowance. As a Micro Four Thirds shooter, noise is an issue with high ISO and if my photo hide ever gets here, I’m sure my wildlife work will be at substantially higher ISOs than I typically use.

I also got the trial (for which I think I’m very grateful) and tried it on a difficult image. These Bluebirds were shot out an open window – not much temp or humidity variation and the window had been open for a while – but I apparently had some very surprising softening, maybe from thermal mixing. Sturdy well-braced tripod and camera. R5, 1000mm, 1.6 crop dialed in, ISO 800, 1/250 sec (thin ice). Screen shots from LR at 100%.

Raw file:

Quick global processing with Topaz DeNoise then Sharpen:

DxO Pure Raw:

This one is completely unacceptable. If I tried it on a better image, at best I’m not sure I could see any difference from my normal processing. And I missed finding it if there is an easy way to integrate it into my LR-PS workflow.

Thanks for the heads up Keith, I hadn’t heard of this app. This is one of those rare moments where I wish I wasn’t using Fujfilm :frowning: But I tried it on an old Nikon D300 file and the results are stunning:

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@Kris_Smith I too shoot Micro 4/3 and I hear all the time how micro 4/3 just can’t handle noise. Here is an image I took just sitting around one evening when my daughter was playing with our little dog.

Olympus EM-1 Mark II
1/40, f/5.6, ISO 16000 (no that is not a typo, it is not 1600, it is 16000). All I’ve done is export the image to a jpeg. Much depends on how the image is exposed (just like any camera system). So much for all the youtubers, etc. who have never picked up a micro 4/3 camera who will tell you you can’t shoot at high iso values.

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Yeah, I don’t understand why DXO doesn’t support the Xtrans files from Fuji. Seems like a huge mistake to me.

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Exposure is key, you’re right. I’ve come across an idea about using a lower ISO, underexposing a little and pulling detail from the shadows rather than correctly exposing at a higher ISO, but I haven’t tried to test it. Most of the time I try to stay low & expose correctly. I see no need to give up my system and buy lenses the size of horses legs! :crazy_face:

That sounds like the idea of ISO invariance. Worth reading up on its limits.

Thanks for this.
Very interesting.
Topaz seems to work for me except on very rare occasions, but would be nice to have a tool in the box for when it doesn’t. OR maybe try both to see which did better. Seems quick enough.
I’ll have to give the trial a go.

Yes. Looks totally over sharpened. Just out of curiosity, could you open this DNG in LR Develop and see if the sharpening sliders in Detail are at something other than zero?

The DNG shows:
Exposure +0.8
Shadows +46
Texture +52
Clarity +20
All other settings in Detail and all the other panels are at defaults.

But now I see I did do those corrections on the raw file I showed. My developed raw file that went to PS had those same settings shown above. In PS I used only Topaz DeNoise (current ver.) and Sharpen (subtle settings).

The original raw had been cropped to about 60% of original pixels. It was intentionally underexposed a bit in order to get a slightly higher ss. The DxO adjustment gave it a slightly lower exposure, and looking at the histograms I see it placed the darkest tones at the edge of the histogram, where in my adjustment the darkest tones aren’t quite at the edge, and should be.

I repeated the DxO thing on the unadjusted file and got the same horrid result for sharpening. Also tried on the preceding frame which had never had any adjustments. Same result.

I also shoot µ4/3 and found Photolab’s deep prime has bred new life into all my Olympus cameras. I no longer worry about noise regardless of ISO. I like DeNoise also, especially that I can access it from PS and without creating those huge files that DXO generates.

Great Photos. I might try DXO and see what it does. I did not now it even existed. I have been using Nosieware because it has some nice advance features. I tried Topaz. One thing that is important for me using any noise reduction is to use it as a smart filter in Photoshop. When the noise software is done, I can use the smart filter to fine tune areas I do not like what the noise reduction did. So since there is a try version I will see what it does. Thanks for posting