Differences between each noise reduction choice

Hi Pat

I wrote something about PhotoLab noise reduction.

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DeepPrime XD is aggressive and creates artificial detail. It’s also slow. DeepPrime was quite enough and is very fast on modern hardware. Some people enable DeepPrime on everything. It’s not a terrible idea as DeepPrime seems to have the good sense not to add much noise reduction when there isn’t much noise. HQ is not like that, HQ will create pointillism even on low ISO image. The pointillism is not a bad effect, it’s very similar to what Nikon did to lead all the camera manufacturers in good looking high ISO images for about twelve years from the release of the D700, until the R5/R6 came out a couple of years ago and Canon finally caught up. Sony high ISO images were similar to Nikon but without as much pointillism and more smeared noise reduction. HQ can be very useful to create realistic looking grain.

Prime was excellent in its time but has little use now except on hardware which won’t process DeepPrime. DeepPrime is basically a better and faster (on the right hardware) version of Prime. Prime was a game changer for Canon cameras like the 5D Mark III which suffers from very high chroma noise at ISO from 6400 on. Every Canon user who even occasionally shoots high ISO should own PhotoLab as PhotoLab offers a two-stop improvement at high ISO. Nikon and Sony owners only enjoy a 1 stop improvement.


The aggressive part is simply not true. I don’t know what settings you used, but its not aggressive, its as you set it to be. As for artificial details argument, that is part of the Demosaicing so you end up with every Demosaicing program doing that. It just so happens that DeepPrime XD does it better than others.

If you are getting some kind of strange results, either than temporary bug situation, it could be related to your expectations, or settings that you use. DeepPrimeXD has several sliders one can use to tweak the effect for each image, at least in PhotoLab interface.

I certianly use DeepPrime XD on every photo, Its just that that it removes noise, but does better demoseing as well. With third party plug ins or PhotoLab Elite version that include film simulation, one can always add film grain on top if that is the creative choice.


"DxO says
All our noise reduction algorithms (HQ, PRIME, DeepPRIME and DeepPRIME XD) are calibrated for each body. This implies for us the knowledge of the amount of noise to expect at a given ISO speed. Thus, the amount of denoising applied is really adapted to each image.

This calibration is accurate enough to use DeepPRIME, but for the XD version this is not quite the case. That’s why we prefer to let the user intervene with the “Details” slider.

Ideally, the “default” denoising value should be automatically estimated on the fly based on the image to avoid refining each image independently."

I read that to, but it seems to me that every time I set it to auto settings it defaults to value of 40, whatever that means. So I don’t know how calibrated it for each body, I didn’t see much difference, now I just set it to 70-100 with DeppPrimeXD for each image and I’ve had great results. If I don’t in same rare case, I would manually tweak it.

I mostly use “High Quality” denoising. If I want less noise, I use DeepPRIME and sometimes, DeepPRIME XD. I then often shift the Luminance slider away from its default value of 40 in order to get back some luminance noise. :person_shrugging:


I don’t have PL6, I’m still on PL5, so DeepPRIME XD is not available to me. I use DeepPRIME as my default and the only time I find myself not using it is when I use the ‘engraved’ preset shared by @RexBlock in this topic:
and for such images, where a less than smooth end result is part of the charm, I use HQ.

My advice would be to not to be too swayed by what other people do or think but to experiment and pick the NR option that gives you the end result you want.


True…and your NR requirement depends on what you mostly shoot: plasic bottles vs. limesone cliffs.
I suppose that you get my meaning.

Wow, you guys like your images a lot more smoothed out than I do. I rarely set the Luminance slider higher than 8. The right amount of Luminance slider does depend on which NR one is using. DeepPrime can handle a higher amount of NR before smearing than Prime, which I mostly kept at 2 or 4. With HQ, I set NR to 12 or higher.

Tinkering with a detail slider for DeepPrime XD seems mostly unnecessary to me. If one uses DeepPrime XD as artificial sharpening it might be worth it. The detail enhancement in DeepPrime XD is not really the kind of look I’m after, if in some parts of the image it will make the image look more artificial or digitally enhanced. I prefer my images to look like photographs and not like “digital art”.

DeepPrime XD is more a marketing trick than a significant improvement over DeepPrime. There are important qualitative differences between HQ, Prime and DeepPrime. Not so much between DeepPrime and DeepPrime XD, apart from a dodgy detail enhancement slider.

The best thing with the improvements in denoise technology we have seen during many years is that it will be possible to improve image quality a lot if one condition is met - we have to save in RAW and keep them in a safe place.

The first time I realized that was when Lightroom went from the terrible version 1.x and 2.x to the ground breaking version 3. It was truly a game changer that made me realize that from that moment I will have to redevelope some images from one time to another. Another such moment was when Deep Prime got released.

Sadly I also regret one period when I exclusively shot in JPEG. These pictures will never see a new "“prima vera” as they screemed in Fellinis Amarcorde- movie. In these days I didn’t trust RAW-formats as long time storage safe file format - and still that problem is unsolved really but in best case I converted my old RAW to DNG. In these cases I still have the option. For me that is the main argument for RAW that it will keep my options open when it comes to which denoise method to use. Sure I can always use other denoise tools like Topaz and even the ancient Neat Image that works even on JPEG but would be a negative choise based on limitations I imposed on myself once by ignorance and choses made based on uncertanties.

I have made some testing myself since XD came and I can see it gives some better detail still in default than the other Photolab methods do. With my computer the speed is not an issue either which one I choose of Deep Prime or XD. I also always have it on because I see some noise even in low ISO images in fairly good light even with a low light champion as Sony A7III.

The talk about “too clean looking images” I don’t understand at all. My eye sight have never been rasterized or “noised by grain littering the clear view” not even before I operated both my eyes for cataract. My old eyes was more charcterised by a yellowish filter decreasing their sensitivity so after that operation I see like an eagle but I have to wear shades in sunlight which I never did could before because then it got go dark…

Now, this I really can’t understand. What is it about a RAW file that you think is going to “degrade” any more than other formats? Or do you think that by purely leaving the file on disk and occasionally reading it will somehow damage it?

Software like PL is non-destructive to both the image data and the metadata. But, even when I write metadata to RAW files, for several years now, I have never, ever had a RAW file corrupt.


2005-2006 (in those days there was a debate about the trust worthiness of RAW as a long time storage format. As you might know Adobe created DNG as a solution for that problem. museums have standardized on DNG of that reason. This is not a non-existing problem just because the big three don´t want to solve it. Everytime there is a new camera body released the people that have bought them gets a reminder of this fact. When I got my A7 IV as one of the first not just in Sweden but in the world (even the US got it far later, I had to wait for 6 months before DXO made a profile so I could debelop them as I wanted.

The RAW Flaw | OpenRAW

This article was written of Michael Reichmann at Luminous Landscape and even he then saw these problems as the problems they really still are.

Maybe you have missed this debate totally then but as I say nothing really has happened except for DNG and as you know DNG is still not anything to trust in Photolab right??

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I don’t know why. I bought a Nikon D100 right at the beginning of 2002 and have still got, 21 years later, all the RAW files I wanted to keep from then. Why would I want to bother with filling up hard disks with duplicate files in another format?

In the same way Adobe decided to deviate from the Metadata Working Group standards that they helped setup, so DNG was one of those “standardisation” efforts that nobody could agree on and, thus, a lot of manufacturers, wishing to protect their intellectual property in the camera software, decided that either DNG wasn’t evolving in a direction that they wished to follow or that it couldn’t cope with the way they wished to proceed.

As for compatibility with older formats, I now use Mac computers and am constantly amazed at how many devices I can simply plug in to the USB or into a card reader and, to quote their catchphrase, “it just works”

And there is always the option of keeping an old computer with old software on it if you are really paranoid about losing compatibility. After all, JPEG has been around for ever and converting to that on an older computer provides a perfectly readable file on a new computer.

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If manufacturers published full file format specifications, we’d not be talking about these things now…

Exiftool (as an example) needs to reverse engineer each new camera’s files in order to be able to display most tags and respective values. Imagine the waste of resources that come hand in hand with manufacturer’s slightly paranoid need to “protect intellectual properties”. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a standardized raw file format. It was possible with jpeg and tiff, so why not with raw? (rhetoric question)

My first DSLR was a D70s which I bought a very long time ago. The raw file formats are still supported. No desire to convert everything to DNG.

As for now using Mac computers, I have found with Windows 10 and 11 that I just plug stuff in and “it just works”. Windows had some issues a long time ago but I have not experienced any issues in recent memory.


If ever the time comes where a certain raw format gets abandoned I assume we all will have enough time to convert these raw files to a format which is supported by whatever software we will use then.
Why worry about something now when it is not an issue at all?
(And who says that DNG will be supported for eternity?)


Except some old raw formats such as that of the 2004 Pentax *ist D appear to be unsupported by both DXO and Lightroom. It does happen…
See; Support for old raw formats - DxO PhotoLab - DxO Forums


I have DeepPrime set as my default. For me, it offers a good balance between processing speed and results. It’s even (much) faster than standard Prime. DeepPrime XD, on the other, is very slow on my 2.5 year old Surface Book 3, so I only use for very noisy images. And it’s only on such images that I even notice a (subtle) difference between DeepPrime and DP XD.

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Thanks for the heads up. I have some *ist D RAW files in my archives. The *ist D was my first DSLR. The lens selection was no great shakes and manual focus with my vintage Pentax lenses (K1000 shooter in film days) were impossible to focus back then. Cross-graded to a Canon 20D and stayed with Canon until 2019 when their cripple-hammer (particularly on video features) and the Nikon Z6 won me over.

I’m using Prime usually, the AI denoising often leads to plastic-looking images for me.

That is the first time I recall anyone saying that. Are you using the default settings, which are recommended? I completely disagree, but use whatever gives you the greatest satisfaction.