I’d never heard of DxO PureRaw before last month. My workflow for editing my Fuji raw files is pretty straightforward and I don’t tend to use anything other than Lightroom to import, edit, and export to JPG.

But let’s face it: while Lightroom is certainly ‘good enough’, Adobe’s devs don’t seem to have a clue how to handle Fuji files, or just don’t care. It doesn’t de-mosaic the X-Trans sensor data very well at all, and the noise reduction is pretty crappy too, compared to just about anything else – especially Capture One.

I’ve dabbled with Topaz Labs tools like DeNoise and Sharpen, but found the DeNoise tool produced plasticky smooth images even with every slider turned all the way down. And they’re a lot of effort to use on a more than a couple of shots.

My entire workflow is built around Lightroom so I learned to make Lightroom work for me. At the sizes most clients print images, the output is absolutely fine.

With PureRaw 2, DxO have added Fuji raw file support. It promised vastly a superior de-mosaic process to Lightroom, plus leading distortion control, and noise reduction, streets ahead of Lightroom’s own efforts.

DxO also claimed their Lightroom plugin meant you could edit your Fuji raw files, put the finished raws through PureRaw 2’s DeepPrime tool and have the resulting dng files imported seamlessly back into your LR catalog with the existing raw edits copied over too.

It sounds perfect for Fuji shooters, especially us wedding and event photographrs! Sadly it’s far from it. Aside from the de-mosaicing and de-noising (which really are very good indeed) nearly every other major claim with respect to the Lightroom plugin is not currently fit for purpose.

Importing is completely broken

One of the major draws, if not THE major draw, of the DxO PureRaw 2 Lightroom plugin is that from inside LR you can edit your Fuji raw files, then select them all and push them through the DxO plugin, and when it’s done they’ll all be automatically re-imported back into LR, in whatever folder you set up, plus they’ll appear in their own dated collection set.

All without leaving LR – no need to fire up a separate app for this. That’s a big deal for LR workflow fans.

On import they’re supposed be matched to the original edited raws so all your Develop settings are copied over, ultimately leaving you with edited dngs that look identical to the edited raws, but with all the lovely DxO detail, noise, distortion, and vignette improvements applied.

The first problem is that the images do not import reliably at all.

If you’re very lucky the very first image in a batch will import, but that’s it. And even then, sometimes you don’t even get that. Up to half an hour after using the plugin I’m still waiting for anything to import, or be added to a collection.

The next problem is that eventually LR throws an import error dialog box at you, for each and every image, which needs clearing by clicking Okay. So if you’ve run the batch on hundreds of wedding images, expect to be clicking Okay a few hundred times before you can use LR again.

The user workaround to this problem is simple: wherever you told DxO to create the folder to place the dng files, just go to the parent folder and use the ‘Synchronise folder’ command in LR.

LR will find the dng files, import them, and with any luck magically apply your existing raw edits to all those files, in just a few seconds. And most of the time this seems to stop the ‘import error’ issue – but not every time. It’s just not consistent.

Why the DxO plugin isn’t able to import correctly like it’s supposed to I don’t know, but this workaround sidesteps the problem for now – unless you get a ton of error dialogs to clear too!

Your existing raw edits are almost always applied to the dngs, except when they aren’t

Now that you’ve got the DxO dng files in your LR catalog, you need to make sure everything’s been applied. DxO should have copied every adjusted Develop module setting from each source raw file (except detail and lens corrections, obviously), right down to the star ratings. And most of the time it works.

However, I’ve had a few occasions where only some of the dng files were brought up to date, and the others, while imported (by the Synchronise folder tool), were left untouched.

Here’s the workaround: manually copy all settings from their matching raw file, one, at, a, time. That’s do-able for a few, but if you’re working with dozens or more then it’s an absolute nightmare. So fingers crossed I just got really unlucky on those couple of occasions it didn’t work as intended.

The camera profile isn’t copied over at all

Assuming everything worked and the relevant Develop settings have been applied – it turns out they haven’t all been applied.

For some reason in my imports the profile is always left on Adobe Color. Even if I was using an official Lightroom camera profile (such as the Fuji Astia film simulation profile Adobe includes in LR), all the imported images are set to Adobe Color.

Here’s the workaround: once you’ve synchronised the folder and all the other settings have been copied over automatically, just select everything and apply the correct profile.

Not a big deal, unless you had some images using a different profile, such as maybe the Acros camera profile. Now you need to manually find those images that should use a different profile before you can batch-apply the profile to them.

What a ball-ache, to put it mildly.

DxO PureRaw 2 dng files have a very different visual white balance

Now you’ve got all your dng files using the exact same Develop settings as your original Fuji raw files, and you’ve got the correct profile applied to everything, we’re still not done.

I’ve found that all the imported dng files are noticeably warmer in colour than the raw files, and a little greener. Even if I ‘reset’ both the raw and the dng to be absolutely sure all settings are equalised (which they were already, but just to be sure), there’s a noticeable difference.

Why? No idea. All sliders relating to colour are exactly the same between the raw and dng – white balance, HSL, Color Grading, Curves, everything.

Here’s a sort-of workaround that seems to work for most images: a single click on the ‘Make Cooler’ button, and the ‘Make More Magenta’ button, in Quick Develop. This seems to bring most of the dng files closer to the visual temperature of the original raw file. It seems like some lenses vary a little, but in general it works.

This does mean that the original Fuji raw and the DxO dng file now have very different colour temperature settings, but at least the colours are closer.

And fortunately, because we’re using the ‘relative’ controls in Quick Develop rather than the ‘absolute’ controls in Develop, we can batch adjust all the dng files like this.

DxO PureRaw 2 lens correction doesn’t work at all for some lenses

DxO PureRaw 2 plugin for Lightroom only has a couple of settings you can turn on or off: one for distortion controls, one for detail. Whatever settings the plugin is set to improve it obviously needs to disable those settings in LR so they don’t double up. Makes sense.

I don’t have any distortion or other lens correction settings turned on in Lightroom. Usually, what I see in the EVF and on the LCD matches what I see when I import to LR. That is to say, if I line up a shot with perfect verticals and horizontals in-camera, it’ll look like that in Lightroom with all sliders and settings zeroed out or turned off.

Still, I figure DxO is impressive enough with detail, so I let it handle lens corrections too.

Normally, the first time you run DxO PureRaw 2 it’ll download a profile for the lenses it’s not been used on before.

The problem is that judging by the hideous results for one lens in particular, that lens isn’t yet supported properly, or at all: the new Fuji 23mm f/1.4 Mark 2.

That’s because all images produced with this lens look HORRIBLE after DxO PureRaw 2. Compared to the original raw file in LR (with all LR’s settings zeroed out), the dng files show noticeable cushion distortion, and any chromatic aberration introduced by the shooting conditions is off the charts, where there’s no issues at all in the original raw in LR.

For example, wipe between two versions of this image shot on the 23mm Mk2. It’s not the greatest shot in the world by any means, but it shows the problems perfectly.

It compares my own raw file pre-DxO (with my own detail settings turned on, and default Lightroom lens correction settings) and the file that DxO PureRaw 2 produced (with distortion/lens corrections and detail corrections both activated).

In the DxO file, as well as the obvious barrel distortion look closely at the subject’s eyes, the edge of her hairline, her necklace, her watch, and the edges of her dress, where you’ll find the worst chromatic aberration I’ve EVER seen.

The workaround to this should be that until the 23mm Mk2 is supported I could just run those images separately, and turn off DxO’s distortion controls, right?

Wrong.

If you turn off DxO’s lens correction controls, it seems to wipe out ALL lens corrections, even Fuji’s own corrections

Normally, with DxO Distortion Control turned on, it disables existing corrections from LR (or even Fuji’s in-camera corrections) and applies its own – the same as it does with LR’s Detail controls in order to run its own detail improvements.

But, if you turn PureRaw 2 Distortion control OFF, then instead of allowing existing corrections to work, it strips out ALL lens corrections.

This typically produces a distorted image, especially on wide angle lenses.

For example, using the Fuji 8-16 with PureRaw 2 Distortion Control turned on the image is great, similar to what Lightroom presents. But with the Distortion setting turned off, I get a massively distorted dng, even where no distortion at all was visible in the EVF when I framed the shot.

So, I guess that Fuji is applying distortion control in-camera even before pressing the shutter. That control is then written into the raw I see on the LCD, and Lightroom either reads that, or applies its own similar correction on import. Verticals and horizontals that were correct in-camera are correct on import to LR.

But with the DxO PureRaw 2 plugin, if you turn off their distortion control it chucks out all corrections. In the case of the 8-16 at 8mm I can see parts of the scene at the edges of the distorted frame that weren’t actually visible when I shot it.

Long story short

DxO PureRaw 2 just isn’t fit for purpose for certain Fuji users right now.

It seems to need to be updated for the new 23mm f/1.4 Mark 2 lens, as right now those images have all distortion and lens corrections stripped out even if the setting is turned on.

It’s doing something weird to the white balance when it produces the dng files.

The Lightroom plugin import feature doesn’t work at all.

And it doesn’t have the sense to allow existing lens corrections through when you turn that setting off in the plugin.