With this post I am doing some experimenting. As some of you may know I currently work for DxO as their UK Product Liaison and part of my role is in promoting DxO software. When DxO’s PureRaw3 came out I used around a bit with it then deleted it, as I no longer use Adobe Lightroom. As I use PhotoLab7 for processing my raw files, I don’t need to have Lightroom or DxO PureRAW3 installed to get the results of DeepPrime, DeepPrimeXD on my raw images, as I get to achieve these results from PhotoLab.
Recently, I decided that I wanted to revisit this and reinstalled Lightroom Classic and DxO PureRAW3. After not using Lightroom for so long I know why I use PhotoLab7. When I made the change I did a lot of testing numerous different raw converters before deciding that I liked the feel of the images that I can produce by using PhotoLab. I was already using PhotoLab when I started working for DxO. I have to say though, that I can get good results for my images using Lightroom and the DxO PureRAW3 combination.
I decided to process a range of images at both low iso and higher ISO’s to just keep up to date with what Adobe is doing and I have to say that while much is the same, quite a few things have moved in the past 5 years. Menu’s have changed and somethings that I used to just know where they were, I can’t find now.
Explaining a Colour shift issue
In Lightroom, I was getting a slight colour shift that I did not understand, I needed to learn why. Then I thought, I would try a comparison to Photoshop and Camera Raw, to see if this colour shift was happening there. It finally occurred to me why, I might be getting this colour shift, as I realised that I had not copied over the XMP files with the raw files to the folder, so when I did a comparison, I was not comparing the same thing. DxO PureRaw, saves the images as a DNG file, that means the .XMP file is already contained inside the ‘raw’ DNG file. Whereas Nikon’s Nef files have a separate XMP file that needs to stay with the raw file, for the raw conversion program to know how to read the file. Once I added the .XMP file back to the folder that all the images are in, I get the same colours happening across all images, when using Camera Raw inside Photoshop after the images have been processed as I get from the image processed via PureRAW3.
Back to the weird way lightroom displays colours. It appears that the library module and the Develop module, display colour differently. When I look at an unprocessed Raw image in the library module of Lightroom, it has a different colour than the image that has been processed in PureRAW3. However, when I switch over to the develop module and look at all the images they have the same colour rendering, with no discernible difference between them. I suspect that explains why some people say that DxO PureRAW shifts the colours when the image is processed, when in fact, I suspect it is how Adobe has Lightroom accessing the raw file data, that is probably shifting the colours.
Optical rendering in DxO PureRAW3
In my opinion, if you are a Lightroom and Photoshop Camera Raw user, you will get improved results using DxO PureRAW3, for more than just Noise reduction. PureRAW3 fixes how your lens draws the image. All lens create optical renderings that are not always accurate and/or could even be considered flaws, these if they have been analysed and tested for can be corrected, this is one of the strengths of the DxO Optical Modules that are created by DxO to fix these lens effects found in all lens. For example, a lot of Leica lens have different colour rendering across the frame, this can also vary depending on which digital camera that the lens is attached to. DxO does a lot of lens and camera testing to establish how this is rendered and then creates its Optical Modules that enable this issues to be ‘fixed’ in your images when processed in PureRAW and PhotoLab. I am not picking on Leica here, as every camera company has issues with this, as all lens and cameras to varying extent do have these issues.
Image examples processed in DxO PureRAW3
These two images made inside the Saint-Sulpice Cathedral in Paris, with my Leica M11 and the very challenging Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH lens, I find that this lens tends to be darker towards the edges (vignetting) and using PureRAW3 it opens up these areas, in my images.
In this image, I can see a shift to the edges of the frame where PureRAW3 lightens the edge a bit, making the edges of the images more consistent with what is happening in the centre. I can also see the noise reduction done in the shadows when I compare the processed images at 100% pixels,
Above is the Adobe Lightroom only processed tiff file at 100% pixels and below is the PureRAW DeepPrime XD version at 100% pixels from Adobe Lightroom.
And here is the complete image, processed using PureRaw DeepPrimeXD and Adobe Lightroom.
In this image you can see the noise reduction considering this image is made at 1600ISO, f4 and 1/60th of a second I am very happy how the lens draws the image. I have used highlight recovery in Camera Raw and adjusted this image using my usual Camera Raw/Lightroom workflow. The windows are overexposed but not to badly and considering how much I lift the shadows to get this image now I like it,‘ the noise is well controlled and using DeepPrimeXD in PureRAW3 has sorted out in my opinion any issues that I would have for this image.
And the Complete image
Image Sharpening with DxO PureRAW3
This image of Madhuri my cat is even better with PureRAW3 as it is just sharpening up the cats fur nicely. Depending on where I would want to have this image seen I would choose either DeepPrime or DeepPrimeXD over the original DNG file. The image below is without PureRAW processing.
Adobe Lightroom, only processed image
And above is the 100% crop of an image of my cat, where I compare the different versions side by side.
These days I have a different workflow to when I was teaching photography. I now use Photo Mechanic for my ingesting and initial sorting and keywording my images. I then use PhotoLab for raw file processing and if I don’t need to do anything else to the image.jI use the Nik Sharpener as output sharpener, resize the images and send it out. If I do need to do more I now open either Photoshop which I still have or Affinity Photo which I am getting more familiar with and do any “Photoshopping” and then use Nik Sharpener and send the images out. I like that I have access to the features of PureRaw inside PhotoLab. However, this exercise of demonstrating more about DXO PureRaw forced me to reinstall Lightroom and use Camera Raw inside Photoshop again. As a result I can see an advantage to using DxO PureRAW3 as part of your workflow especially if you are an Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom user.
And the final image with DxO PureRAW3 with DeepPrimeXD applied (I suspect that the size of monitor you see this on will affect whether you see the difference in the image), this would look great printed large on a wall, after I have applied the appropriate sharpening via the Nik Collection.
And the final image above while it is smaller for the web, is processed in Adobe Lightroom and using DxO’s DeepPRIME XD plugin.
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