DXO Optics Pro 9 Noise Removal (a quick test)

If you shoot with a wide variety of camera bodies and lenses but want to shoot in RAW, there are a few options available to smooth out the work needed to process your shots.

_MG_0115_DxO_s

The original scene. The enlargement is from the centre left.

Converting to DNG format, then opening in Photoshop is an option, but correcting 3rd party lens distortion on each individual shot is laborious. Alternatively you could switch between the RAW converters provided by the camera manufacturer, but they won’t correct 3rd party lenses either. This is where DXO Optics excels. It can load and process most camera/lens formats without any fuss – a real time saver.

In addition to lots of advanced image processing options (including integration with Filmpack 4), it offers a new noise reduction called PRIME (Probabilistic Raw IMage Enhancement), which takes a few minutes to process an image. As it looked like it was doing a lot of work it seemed worth a quick test.

_MG_0115_DxO_nonoise_s

An enlargement from the centre left. No noise reduction – and pretty grainy. Good enough for a small print but quite ugly.

I don’t often shoot above ISO 800, but with a slow wide-angle (a Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6), no IS and no tripod in a dark interior, higher ISOs are needed. This was taken on a Canon 60D at 6400 ISO – an insane sensitivity for an old film shooter – the nearest film I can remember which would come close was Kodak’s Professional T-Max P3200, but the results would only be useable if you really wanted a very grainy look.

_MG_0115_DxO_standard_s

Standard noise reduction setting. This is very good but there’s still a fair degree of visible noise (look at the pillar on the left).

The standard noise reduction offered by DXO is better than most, but it can’t work miracles as the image above demonstrates. It’s fairly quick to process an 18Mp image however.

_MG_0115_DxO_prime_s

Processed using DXO’s PRIME noise reduction. This takes a few minutes to complete processing on a basic spec quad core I5 PC.

Personally I’d say this is excellent – better than anything else I’ve tried. There’s inevitably a tiny loss of detail (check the detail in those gold finials), but it’s more than worth it for the improvement in noise over the standard processing. It would be better to keep a tripod in the car of course, but in an emergency it’s good to know it’s possible to shoot at high ISOs in an emergency and still get useable results.

Hope you find this useful – thanks for looking.

p.s. I’m not connected with DXO in any way – just using their software.

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5 thoughts on “DXO Optics Pro 9 Noise Removal (a quick test)

  1. Excellent post and very useful information. I’ll certainly be checking out DxO. I do have the software but haven’t really used it. I must dig it out and see if I can fit it into my workflow. I generally convert from RAW in Lightroom which makes the necessary profile corrections but then I only use my D800 and with standard Nikkor 14-24, 24-70 and 50mm lenses, all of which are catered for. I use Neat Image for noise reduction but rarely shoot at high ISO’s as I hate the noise. In the hype that goes with the D800 and the Canon 5D there is a lot of talk about excellent high ISO performance but I really don’t like the noise above about ISO 200 but of course, there are times when it’s necessary to push it up to get the shot and your example is a situation I have found myself in very recently. Thanks for the information!

    • Thanks for the comment Chillbrook.

      DXO is pretty good – I only really use photoshop for layering now, and occasional quick resizing/cropping.

      It’s worth a mention that they’re quite generous with their upgrades – I bought Optics 8 in September, and was offered a free upgrade to 9 a month or so later as I’d only just missed the upgrade. Excellent service and in stark contrast to some other companies (which will remain nameless).

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