Every now and then something comes along that is truly revolutionary, and instantly creates a step up in the quality of your work. DXO Pure RAW is a plugin that has got me very excited, and I’m continually reminded, every time I use it, just how good it really is.

I should probably mention at this point that I am in no way sponsored by DXO to promote any of their products (chance would be a fine thing!). With that said, I wanted to say just how game changing their product is. An often used phrase, but in this instance it’s with some justification. I have quite simply been blown away.

It changes the way you photograph too. As a wildlife photographer in particular, noise has always been an issue. I always favour a crop sensor camera due to the extra reach it affords, but this does of course come at a price, namely increased levels of noise at higher ISOs. There is always the compromise when shooting between keeping noise levels to a mininum and selecting a high enough ISO to allow for a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action and keep everything sharp. With the 7D Mark II in particular anything beyond 2000 ISO is getting seriously noisy. Now though, knowing that I have PureRAW to fall back on, I can go for a higher ISO, knowing that I can eliminate the noise in post.

My post-processing workflow until now has been to create a mask for the subject in Photoshop by duplicating the image, converting to black & white using the Channel Mixer, and then using Levels / Curves to solarise the image. Further manual brush work is then often required to properly mask tricky areas. I would then import a second version of the image from Lightroom with heavy noise reduction applied, and use the mask on this layer. This process could often be quite time consuming, and was far from ideal, as there would still be noise in the main subject.

PureRAW puts an end to all this. One click and the noise is removed not only from the background, but the main subject as well. On top of that, detail and sharpness in the main subject is considerably improved too. I’ve become addicted to running images through it and seeing them magically transform in front of my very eyes!

I’ve now been going through my back catalogue and re-processing them, breathing new life into old images and seeing them in a whole new light. It’s akin to the art world when old paintings are beautifully restored and re-evaluated, only PureRAW is a lot quicker! It’s natural to get excited about your newer images, but recently I’ve gained a greater appreciation for some of my older images, now the quality of them is that much more improved.

Buying PureRAW is like upgrading your camera equipment, only a lot cheaper, with improved detail and lower noise levels. I for one, can’t afford a 1DX, but this really is the next best thing.

Here’s a few examples to show the difference:

Chaffinch Chaffinch

I think this was the first image I ever ran through PureRAW and it was enough to convince me that I needed this plugin, like, NOW!

Barn Owl Barn Owl

Look in particular at the detail on the far wing, vastly improved.

Knots Knots

The example above was taken with a 500mm L Series lens, but as it was early morning in low light I was on 6400 ISO, resulting in a lot of noise and loss of detail. You can see in the ‘after’ shot just how much detail is recovered.

Great Crested Grebe Great Crested Grebe

A vast improvement in sharpness and shadow detail.

I appreciate that there are others on the market, most notably Topaz Labs, but I can only speak for what I know. Having finally recently upgraded to the latest Lightroom, I’m also mightily impressed by DeNoise, but having run side by side comparisons, PureRAW still shades it as far as I can see.

For more information, please visit the website here.

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