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, and the noise reduction is pretty crappy too, especially compared to Capture One.

I’ve dabbled with Topaz Labs tools like DeNoise and Sharpen, but found the DeNoise tool was prone to producing plasticky smooth images even with every slider turned 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.

Enter, the DxO PureRaw 2 plugin for Lightroom

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

With a LR plugin the idea is you 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!

And I’m happy to say that after a few months of updates to the app, it’s almost as good as they promised. I now run just about every event, wedding and PR shoot image over ISO 3200 through DxO PureRaw 2 before I export to JPG and the results are excellent.

It sharpens Fuji X-Trans images far beyond what LR can manage, and it handles noise in high ISO images more smoothly than LR, and more realistically than Topaz.

It does add quite a bit of time to your workflow if you’ve got more than a few images to process (my 2017 iMac can do 250 in about an hour) but for weddings and events it’s now an essential part of my workflow

But… there remain some awkward bugs.

Importing is broken

One of the major draws of the DxO PureRaw 2 Lightroom plugin is that you can do everything without really leaving Lightroom.

The idea is you edit your Fuji raw files in LR, then push them all 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.

So, 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 main problem is that the images simply do not import automatically. 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, eventually you’ll need to hold down the Return button until hundreds of error warnings are cleared.

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 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.

The camera profile isn’t copied over at all

Once the DNGs are imported and you’ve given LR time to re-apply your edits to them, you’ll need to do a few final tweaks – mainly to correct the profile.

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.

That’s a pain in the arse, and I wish this was something they could fix.

DxO PureRaw 2 dng files may seem to have a slightly different visual white balance (update: seemingly fixed)

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.

When I started using DxO PureRaw 2 I found that all the imported dng files were noticeably warmer in colour than the raw files, and sometimes a little greener in tint. 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 was a noticeable difference.

Lately, I’ve found the difference isn’t as profound, so it’s possible my many (many!) emails to their support team resulted in a fix.

If you’re seeing the issue, 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.

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.

But, like I say this issue seems to be much reduced lately.

DxO PureRaw 2 lens correction doesn’t work at all for some lenses (update: fixed)

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.

But when I first started using DxO PureRaw 2 with my Fuji files I noticed it didn’t have a profile for the new Fuji 23mm f/1.4 Mark 2.

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).

However, that’s now been fixed, and it should download the new profile the first time it encounters an image shot with that lens.

But presumably this issue will arise each time Fuji releases new lenses. It took DxO about a month and a half to issue the new profile, so it’s something to bear in mind.

The workaround to this should be that until any new lens 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 works miracles with Fujifilm X-Series raw files, sharpening them far better than LR can, and applying excellent noise reduction that’s cleaner than LR and more realistic than Topaz.

But, the much touted auto-import feature doesn’t really work, and it doesn’t have the sense to allow existing lens corrections through when you turn that setting off in the plugin.

But I’ve seen big improvements in other problems that I brought to DxO’s attention, and now it’s a big part of my workflow when exporting high ISO raw files for my event and wedding photography.

Highly recommended, especially for Fujifilm X-Series photographers.