Lightroom’s new AI Denoise feature was the biggest news in Adobe’s April 2023 Lightroom update. Like so many other tools now appearing, it uses AI based denoising techniques directly on RAW image data to produce an enhanced RAW DNG file far superior to an image processed in the regular way.
You won’t notice a lot of difference at low-medium ISOs. This is for images for serious noise issues, and I have the perfect example from a bike meeting I went to a couple of weeks back. This photo was not actually shot at a high ISO, but I did do some very heavy shadow recovery which has generated a lot of noise. The photo was taken on a Canon EOS RP, which uses an older sensor that has a definite weakness in this area.
My regular Lightroom image is pretty well unusable. Lightroom tends to introduce a good deal of noise on its own, and when you combine that with this camera’s somewhat noisy deep shadow detail, it’s not going to go well. Worse, the Canon’s sensor is also introducing some blotchy magenta artefacts in this heavily recovered dark detail, and that’s not going be easy to fix, if it’s possible at all.
I did spend some time with Lightroom’s detail masking and luminance noise reduction sliders to get a much better result you can see here, though I’m still not very happy with it, and there’s some nasty mushiness in the foliage in the background.
But what can Lightroom’s AI Denoise tool do? For this image I didn’t use the default setting of 50, as this was starting to take away some fine detail. I’ve tried for a compromise between detail and noise reduction.
There is still some noise, but I don’t mind that, and a lot of the magenta blotchiness on this bike’s tank is gone too.
So how does this look using DeepPRIME XD? This is built into DxO PureRAW, which can work both as a standalone batch processing tool and as a plug-in for Lightroom. The workflow is the same, as with both tools you can send a RAW file for processing and get an enhanced DNG file added to your library. This will included any edits you’ve done so far, so apart from waiting for the processing, it’s really convenient.
Well, the DeepPRIME XD version is a mile ahead. The Adobe AI Denoise result is all right, and a colossal improvement on Lightroom’s regular noise reduction tools, but I’d say it’s only half way to the quality of the DxO version.
Here are the two versions side by side in Lightroom’s Compare view.
Whether you think it’s worth buying DxO PureRAW just for this is up to you, but if you want the best quality from high-ISO shots or heavily manipulated shadow detail, I’d say it’s clearly superior to anything Lighroom AI Denoise can do, and by some margin. In fact the result it’s achieved on this difficult image file is little short of spectacular.
- Is noise as bad as you think it is?
- Noise and noise reduction explained
- Lightroom noise reduction and why you need it
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