DxO Pure Raw - before or after import to Lightroom?

Hello…testing out the product prior to purchasing and I have a question or two. Are the results better/different if I process the image via PureRaw first, before importing to Lightroom? Will I get a different result if I import to Lightroom first, and then process the image via PureRaw? Seems that if I do the latter, then the RAW file will get processed twice. Related question, what difference will it make if I import first to Lightroom, make all of my edits, aside from lens corrections, and then run the image through PureRaw?

For the most part, I really like the result of the processing via PureRaw. I am trying to find the most effective and efficient way to incorporate it into my workflow.


You need to process your files BEFORE sending to Lightroom as PureRaw only works on RAW files and will NOT process files that have been processed by Lightroom even if you export as DNG files.

Strictly speaking, that is not true. PureRAW does accept DNG as input:

Which DNG files are supported by DxO PureRAW as input? – Customer Support

Raul, you ask some good questions. PureRAW applies several corrections to an image: optical corrections, demosaic with noise reduction and sharpening, and some tonal changes to balance exposure. It’s meant to be used before exporting to other software such as Lightroom. You should expect this to yield the best results. You can try doing it the other way around, but once the image is no longer stored in a RAW format (for example, a linear DNG file), PureRAW probably won’t be able to do anything with it.

The DNG has to be RAW otherwise PureRaw cannot use it. Most adjustment can only be applied to draw data. If you apply changes in Lightroom this means that Lightroom has de-mosaiced the raw file and is hence now a linear DNG file which PureRaw cannot work on.

HI Keith…PureRaw does process files that have been edited in Lightroom, or at least it has allowed me to do that. I do not convert images to DNG when I import, so that may be why it lets me.

Hi Raul, What files are you processing in PureRaw? PureRaw only works on original RAW files (and maybe DNG files with embedded RAW files). This is how PureRaw is designed to be used - process in PureRaw then in another program.

I have processed RAW files directly from my camera card and I have processed NEF files that I had previously imported and edited in Lightroom. You can simply drag the NEF files from LR right into PureRaw. The only files it doesn’t let me bring over from LR are the DNG files I created when I made some HDR images.

Since Lightroom does not write its edits directly into NEF files but instead uses the LR database and .xmp files for that purpose, any raw files used to create DNG files from within PureRAW will not contains any Lightroom edits.


That would mean a DNG file contains always not edited content, is always based on the original RAW file.
I’m just trying to understand the DNG story.


It does appear that PureRaw will accept DNG files created in Lightroom as input. However, native raw files edited in Lightroom and then used in PureRAW without first exporting them to DNG will not retain any Lightroom edits. .


DxO apps are peculiar about the image files they will process.
I’ve found no support article about it for PureRaw yet, but for DPL, the statements are clear.

DxO’s usual position is to use PureRaw and PhotoLab before any other processor. Other sequences can work, but not under all circumstances. As far as camera written DNGs are concerned, they should be accepted as per the article linked above. The same applies to DNGs written by Adobe Lr and DNGC…unless they contain linear, panorama or (probably) hdr data.

In order to work around the somewhat complicated bag of conditions, best practice suggests

  • use PureRaw first and with unchanged raw files.

From my opinion, the question when to process your RAWs is not that important, as long as are working with the DNG/RAW from your camera.
I did some tests with DNG and PEF. Both formats came directly from my camera. As there were no difference between the two formats, I will use just DNG/RAW in the following (which is not absolutely precise).
Step 1

  • Import DNG/RAW into Lightroom.
  • Change some settings:
    Color Label
  • Basic
    Exposure to +2
  • Lense Correction
    Enable Profile Corrections
  • Sharpening
    Amount: 100
    Radius: 3
    Detail: 0
  • Noice Reduction
    Luminance: 100
    Detail: 0

Step 2

  • Drag&Drop into PureRAW
  • Process it
  • Export to Lightroom

It is obvious, that the imported PureRAW.DNG does not show any development settings.

Step 3

  • Select my original photo
  • Save the metadata (Photo/Save metadata to file)

Step 4

  • Drag&Drop into PureRAW
  • Process it
  • Export to Lightroom

At first sight, the imported PureRAW_2.DNG only shows the exposure setting.

Step 5

  • Reset the development settings PureRAW_2.DNG (Reset button in module develop)
  • Compare PureRAW.DNG and PureRAW_2.DNG (400%)

No difference at all.

Even if LR saves metadata to file, it saves it as an adopted information, and does not change the underlying camera raw information.
PureRAW processes the underlying camera raw information.
After processing, it embeds the adoptions from LR (like the exposure and color) but not the adoptions which would conflict with the changes from PureRAW like profile correction, sharpening or noice reduction.

By the way, if you use the export functionality from LR (format Original or DNG) the behavior is identical as you would make changes to your DNG/RAW and saving metadata to file and use drag&drop.

Thank you Dieter. I believe I have settled on a process for now that I like, both for efficiency, as my three-year old MacBook Pro takes 2 minutes to process one image in PureRaw, and for quality control, as I find the processing to be sometimes overdone by PureRaw. I copy new images to my hard drive directly from the card, and then I import them all, using Copy, into LR. From there I do my first stage of review, deleting some, flagging others, etc, then I start on my edits. Once I have a file that I think is a keeper, and my edits are complete, I open PureRaw, process the original, non imported, non edited file, export it to LR and then I paste my edits from one to the other. I then compare the two images and discard the one that I don’t like. So far it has been the one edited by PureRaw about 80% of the time that I have kept, as the sharpness and improved clarity work well, and don’t seem overdone.

I will likely tweak that process once I upgrade to a faster laptop later this year, but for now at least, it is working for me.

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Exactly and you don’t waste a lot of time waiting that Pure Raw process all your files
You first select the files in Lr

I believe PureRaw WON’T process a DNG file if it has previously been processed in any other photo-editing application. You will see the dreaded “can’t process, or corrupted” message. Footnote: I do not use LR, but have in the past. I wanted to re-process several DNG files that were previously processed in LR, and still preserved the DNG file type, and PR wouldn’t process them. See my posts on the subject of “can’t process/or corrupted” files.

The other big issue (fatal in my opinion) is that PureRaw doesn’t allow export as a TIF file. Therefore, if you open the file in either LR or PS, you are forced to re-process your “pure” conversion from PureRaw in ACR, and it’s unclear what defaults are being applied. My point is, if one wants to use PureRaw for conversion, one should NOT have to “corrupt” the pure conversion by going through another raw conversion tool (ACR, etc). Until DXO changes PureRaw to export the converted DNG as a TIF file, in my opinion, the “purity” of the DXO conversion is in question.

To clarify: " if you open the file in either LR or PS (AFTER YOU HAVE ALREADY CONVERTED THE DNG IN PURERAW), you are forced…"

The DNG produced by PureRAW is a linear DNG file which will be equivalent to a 16-bit tif so you will NOT be reprocessing your file. All PureRAW does is apply lens corrections and noise reduction.

Just run a little test to see what Pure Raw can do in comparison to Lightroom.
My key takeout: PureRaw is good for many things, but not for everything.
The reason for this are the following observations:

  • PureRaw ignores white balance settings and orientation flags, while it retains crop
  • PureRaw is well suited for items that have a smooth surface, less so for structured surfaces (rocks)
  • PureRaw produces haloes around high contrast edges

The above also means that PureRaw is best used before anything has been done in/by Lightroom. This means that images should be downloaded, PureRaw-ed and then imported in Lightroom, together with the original files. This procedure uses up some time, but does not take your attention, just let PR do its job and cull images afterwards.

Smooth surface and haloes at 300%…

But quite alright under certain conditions.

L/R: Source material/PR-export, all images manually WB’ed