DxO PureRAW 3 verdict
PureRAW 3 only does one job, but it does it extremely well. It takes your RAW files and applies DxO’s own lens corrections and, optionally, its DeepPRIME noise reduction process to produce images which are sharper, smoother and straighter. It can make average cameras and lenses look twice as good and extends your camera’s usable ISO range by up to 2.5 stops. These aren’t empty claims – this is what it does.
+ Excellent lens corrections, including edge softness
+ Superb DeepPRIME XD noise reduction
+ Simple batch-processing interface
+ Lightroom integration
– Processing takes time
– Exported DNGs 2-3x the size of RAW files
– Not cheap
PureRAW 3 takes your original RAW files and applies DxO’s own lens correction profiles and DeepPRIME noise reduction processing to produce images which are sharper, clearer and so noise free that you will probably re-think what you imagine your camera gear to be capable of.
It’s basically a batch processing tool. You feed it RAW images and it outputs fully-corrected image files ready for sharing or further editing. It has no editing tools of its own. Instead, it’s like a kind of pre-processing tool for your RAW files.
The clever part is, as well as outputting JPEG images and, in this version, TIFF files, it can also produce DNG RAW files – and this is where it’s likely to be of most interest to photographers.
PureRAW 3 produces ‘Linear DNG’ RAW files. They behave just like regular RAW files in Lightroom, Capture One or other RAW processing tools, with all the extended tonal range and color information you’d expect, but they’ve already been corrected and processed by DxO.
Normally, you are at the mercy of your software’s own RAW demosaicing and processing, and the quality can vary considerably from one program to another. With PureRAW’s DNG files, though, you’re getting DxO’s corrections and processing ‘baked in’.
This is a big bonus if you use Lightroom, for example. Lightroom’s RAW processing is definitely not the best. Its fine detail is somewhat hazy and noisy, and the noise rapidly gets worse at higher ISOs. There are probably lots of photographers who have formed poor opinions of their cameras’ noise at high ISOs because of Lightroom’s rendering, when actually the camera itself might be quite good.
You can open PureRAW’s DNG files in Lightroom, and the comparison is eye-opening. DxO’s processing is so far ahead of Adobe’s that it can make average cameras look great, and high-ISO shots not just usable but actually quite excellent.
Best of all, PureRAW 3 integrates with Lightroom as a plug-in, so that you can send a regular RAW file to PureRAW from within Lightroom and have it returned to your catalog as a processed DNG.
There are some downsides. It can take a couple of minutes to process each image with DxO’s latest DeepPRIME XD enabled, and DxO’s DNG files are 2-3 times larger than the original RAW files because they’ve been part-processed and include full RGB color for each pixel. The increased file size is unavoidable, sadly.
Also, while the vast majority of camera and lens correction profiles are covered, there are a few which won’t have corresponding correction profiles – but the software will check and download extra profiles as required.
What’s new in DxO PureRAW 3
The improvements in this version do add up, and if you already own PureRAW 2 or the original version, and use it all the time, it’s probably worth the upgrade.
• DeepPRIME XD: With the inclusion of DeepPRIME XD (eXtra Detail) processing, PureRAW 3 is now in line with DxO PhotoLab. DeepPRIME XD produces stunning noise reduction and detail recovery in noisy or high ISO images.
• Batch process queuing: It’s now possible to queue images for processing in batches, each one with its own processing options. You can also move images up and down the queue even while it’s processing.
• More correction controls: You may not want to use all of PureRAW’s correction options. For example, DxO’s vignette correction sometimes takes it a step too far and overcorrects. You might even like a little lens vignetting.
• TIFF export: Hardly a major change, true, but a useful additional option for users who want a finished RGB image rather than another RAW file, and a step up in quality from a regular JPEG.
DxO PureRAW 3 verdict
PureRAW 3 is not exactly cheap, but it’s ideal for those who want the quality of DxO’s lens corrections and DeepPRIME processing, but also want to stick with their regular photo editing workflow. It works especially well with Lightroom, where it can replace your original RAW files and Lightroom’s very average RAW processing with a much better RAW starting point that sidesteps Lightroom’s weaknesses.
The quality is outstanding, even transformational. Detail and texture in high ISO shots is restored magically, just as noise is effectively eliminated. And even at low ISOs, DxO’s lens correction profiles can make your lenses look better than you imagined, especially those which are a little soft at the edges.
You do have to decide whether the processing time and the larger DNG files are worth it for you, but there is a 30-day free trial which lets you work that out for yourself. I don’t personally use PureRAW on every batch of RAW files I shoot, but there are some cameras or shooting conditions where I find it makes images not just usable but very good, when previously they would have been headed for the trash.
- RAW vs JPEG
- Lightroom Classic review
- Lens corrections explained
- Noise and noise reduction explained
- DxO PhotoLab review
DxO software downloads and pricing*
DxO PhotoLab 6 Elite: regular price $219/£199
DxO ViewPoint 4: regular price $99/£89
DxO FilmPack 6 Elite: regular price $139/£129
DxO PureRAW 3: regular price $129/£115
DxO Nik Collection 5: regular price $149/£135
• 30 day trials are available for each product and bundle deals are available.
*Check for the latest offers at the DxO store