Dxo PureRAW 3 - is the upgrade worth it?
For several years now, I've been using DxO PureRAW when I need to photograph with high ISO. The program makes noise disappear in an almost magical way and, in retrospect, has changed my photography a lot. The 'fear' of high ISO values has disappeared, and I have been able to capture some special moments that took place in anything but ideal lighting conditions.
Now DxO is out with version 3, featuring a new algorithm, more settings options, and a new user interface. The update isn't free, though - 79 euros as an upgrade from previous versions and 129 euros as a new license. I was able to pre-test version 3 in a beta version to find out if the upgrade is worth it.
Thanks to DxO PureRAW, even crepuscular animals can be photographed without problems. Image noise due to high ISO values is history.
DeepPRIME XD - an even stronger algorithm
Probably the biggest feature is the addition of a new algorithm. DeepPRIME was already part of previous versions and the algorithm remains in the program. DeepPRIME XD is a further development of it. XD stands for "extreme detail". The new algorithm is supposed to recognize image structures even better and not only removes image noise, but also sharpens the image. The sharpening of images was already built into the previous versions, but the new algorithm works even better.
So far, sharpening has been my only criticism of the software. In version 1, the effect was too strong and sometimes led to very unpleasant looking edges. In version 2 you could at least adjust the amount of sharpening or turn it off completely. With version 3 the sharpening now works quite well and practically without unattractive 'side effects' like over-sharpened edges or 'AI artifacts'.
In tests with other noise reduction or sharpening programs, I often had the problem that the algorithm misinterpreted image noise as image structures. These artifacts then showed up as noticeable, unsightly patterns/grids in the middle of the images. With DxO PureRAW in general, I have almost never had such a problem. Even now with the new, even stronger algorithm, I never really had any major problems. Only once had I found a very small 'AI artifact' while testing the beta version.
More adjustment options
But this is where the 2nd major new feature comes into play. With DxO PureRAW, you can adjust the amount of sharpening. So now there is a choice between "Soft", "Standard" and "Strong" and "Hard". In my experience so far, "Weak" is sufficient for photos where the focus is correct. If the focus is slightly off or if there is a general slight blur, "Standard" works very well. "Strong" is then a bit too aggressive for me personally, but can also work quite well for pictures that are only going to the internet, for example. With "Strong", however, the edges of the image tend to become a bit over-sharpened. "Hard" is then again completely exaggerated and results in completely oversharpened images.
However, "weak" leads to really very good results in combination with the new DeepPRIME XD. Certain photos that deserve a little more sharpness due to the lighting conditions or the shooting situation get exactly that with the program. And with only a few clicks and a few seconds of waiting!
1/5 | f/ 4 | ISO 6400 | 500mm (RAW)
1/5 | f/ 4 | ISO 6400 | 500mm (DxO PureRAW)
The comparison of the sharpness strengths (upper row DeepPRIME & lower row DeepPRIME XD). In direct comparison, the differences are only marginal. But the difference makes just enough of a difference that the top row appears to me to be a re-sharpened slightly out-of-focus image, and the bottom row (with DeepPRIME XD) gives an 'inherently' sharp impression. However, compared to the original, unprocessed RAW, both DeepPRIME and DeepPRIME XD are significantly sharper.
By the way, the new adjustment options are not only related to sharpening. Vignetting correction and chromatic aberration correction can also be switched on and off. In addition, lens distortion correction can now be applied using various methods.
With "Image cropped to original format" the processed photo keeps the original page format. However, image area is lost on the sides. "Maximum Rectangle" crops the image so that as much of the original image as possible remains in the image. However, the aspect ratio is changed. If you want to crop the image later anyway, this is the better option. Last but not least, lens distortion can also be corrected so that all image information is preserved. However, this also means that image information is missing in certain places. Here, a later cropping or a bit of Photoshop magic is definitely necessary.
Other minor changes
In addition to the 2 major new features, the program has also been redesigned in terms of the user interface. I liked the old design a bit better, but in the end I don't really care about the design as long as the results are good. Furthermore, the integration in Lightroom was worked on and the program can now also be integrated in the file explorer. By the way, the High Efficiency RAW's of the Z 9 can now also finally be processed without the DNG trick.
For me DxOPureRAW 1.0 was a gamechanger in terms of noise reduction. Version 2 and now version 3 are not further gamechangers per se, but they are both really useful updates that make the program even better. The new algorithm worked very well in my tests, adding another touch of sharpness to the images without negatively affecting them. Together with the possibility to have more influence on the algorithm, this is more than enough reason for me to switch to the new version.
Would I recommend the program/update to you? If you already own the program and use it often, I definitely recommend upgrading to the new version. If you haven't purchased the program yet and are not sure if you will really use it often or if you want to get an idea of it yourself first - you can do exactly that with the 30-day free trial version.
If you are convinced by the software or if you are already a user of the software and want to upgrade to the new version you can support me by purchasing the version via this link.
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