Article Outline

The future of noise reduction is RAW

We’re SO excited about our newest model in DeNoise AI v.3.3, built specifically to take advantage of the vast amount of image data in your RAW files. We use whatever image data you send to DeNoise AI, so you can imagine how much cleaner your noise reduction results could be when you send RAW sensor data as opposed to processed RGB data (like you’d find in a JPEG file).

Our RAW model uses all of that rich sensor data to provide results that are cleaner than anything else out there, even our existing models! We also made serious improvements to our DNG output support, so you’ll still be able to edit your saved image files with the same precision as your RAW files. Here are some example photos that showcase just how powerful the new RAW model is.

Original photoOriginal photo
Original photoOriginal photo
Original photoOriginal photo

Comparing the DeNoise AI RAW model to other models

It’s one thing to show you some compelling before and after photos. It’s also important to visualize what I mean when I say that the RAW model produces results that are cleaner than anything else out there. Here’s a Comparison View of that parrot photo I shared above. At first glance, it may be difficult to see the differences between the RAW model and three of our other models.

Comparing the RAW model to our existing models in DeNoise AI

Now, let’s apply a Curves adjustment and desaturate this same Comparison View photo. This allows us to see just how much better the RAW model is at eliminating that distracting mottling.

Illustrating how much better the RAW model is at removing mottling

Comparing the DeNoise AI RAW model to Lightroom Classic

We also wanted to compare the results of our RAW model against Lightroom Classic’s noise reduction. Not only is there a lot of mottling, but Lightroom also obliterated so much important edge detail all over the parrot’s head.

How does the RAW model work?

The best way to explain the benefits of the new RAW model is to compare how it works with our four existing DeNoise AI models: Standard, Clear, Low Light, and Severe Noise. Let’s say you want to use DeNoise AI to apply noise reduction to a RAW photo you have stored in your Adobe Lightroom Classic catalog. Currently, the supported workflow requires you to convert your RAW file to a processed RGB file format that DeNoise AI uses as the input source.

Sourcing RAW image data vs. RGB image data

Unfortunately, RAW converters introduce clipping, demosaicing, and other post-processing steps when converting the RAW data to an RGB image. Different RAW converters use varying conversion methods that change the noise pattern of the sensor data. When we train a model for RGB images, we take the variations of these RAW converters into account. Also, the RGB images can go through additional editing processes by the users, which we also account for in our RGB model training.

As a result, a great deal of effort is required to cover all possible variances when using RGB models to apply noise reduction. We can eliminate this extra effort with our new RAW model by utilizing the pure RAW data from the camera, where noise is ideal. The RAW model can now learn the unchanged noise patterns and apply better noise reduction without the inherent flaws of processed RGB files.

Using Bayer filter data for improved results

The RAW model also does the demosaicing itself, which should be much better than traditional demosaicing algorithms because we use the original Bayer filter data that the camera sensor records as the input source. The primary benefit of using the Bayer filter data as a file input is the number of color channels, and most cameras use it when saving RAW files. The Bayer filter pattern contains four channels for each pixel on the camera sensor: two green, one red, and one blue. Typically, a demosaicing algorithm is then applied to interpolate a red, green, or blue value for each pixel, resulting in a 3-channel processed image file.

Using the Bayer filter data allows DeNoise AI to produce better image detail while minimizing residual patterns. The result is an output image that is more detailed with fewer artifacts and aliasing. In other words, we designed our new RAW model to take full advantage of your unprocessed RAW files, allowing us to deliver superior noise reduction, especially when compared with using JPEG files. We also have this great article that dives into the differences between RAW and JPEG files.

Let’s talk about workflows.

We’ve extensively discussed photo editing workflows on the Learning Center, and it is, after all, one of the most popular topics that we keep hearing. The new DeNoise AI RAW model is the next step to provide outstanding noise reduction results without sacrificing image quality, but we’re still working to improve workflow functionality.

When should I send my RAW files to DeNoise AI?

This is critical: You need to send your RAW file to DeNoise AI at the very beginning of your editing workflow to get the most benefit from the RAW model. That doesn’t mean that you have to send every RAW file to DeNoise AI. You’re encouraged to go through your current rating and culling processes to identify the images you’re most likely to edit.

Which RAW files are supported?

Before diving into workflows, it is important to understand that the RAW model will not convert a non-RAW file (JPEG, TIFF, PNG) into a RAW file. The RAW model will only work with supported RAW files. While we support most RAW file formats from major camera manufacturers as input files, the RAW model does not currently support DNG or Fujifilm RAW files. Part of these limitations involves how we currently handle DNG files and how Fujifilm X-Trans sensors differ from more common Bayer filter CFA sensors. The RAW model will also be greyed out if you open a processed RGB file (JPEG, PNG, TIFF) or a DNG file.

DeNoise AI standalone workflow

This one is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is launch DeNoise AI on your Mac or Windows computer and navigate to the folder containing the RAW file(s) you want to edit. When you’re happy with the results, I recommend selecting DNG as the file format and Source as the destination. Doing so will save the DNG file in the same folder as the original RAW file. You can also see this workflow in action by watching the video below.

Lightroom Classic on Mac workflow

If you’re an Adobe Lightroom Classic user on the Mac, there is an option to drag and drop a RAW file from the Grid view onto the DeNoise AI app icon to load it in standalone mode. I recommend first disabling the “Apply RAW color correction” and “Apply auto lens correction” options in the DeNoise AI Preferences window if this is your intended workflow. I also recorded this video illustrating the round-trip workflow I use to send one of my RAW files from Lightroom Classic to DeNoise AI.

Lightroom Classic on Windows workflow

It’s important to note that the drag-and-drop workflow between Lightroom Classic and DeNoise AI on the Mac is not supported on Windows, and it is not something we have control over. However, you can still leverage the RAW model while using Lightroom Classic with the following steps:

Step 1. While in the Lightroom Classic Grid view, right-click on a RAW file that you want to open in DeNoise AI and select “Show in Explorer”

Step 2. Drag the highlighted file to DeNoise AI to open it. Apply the RAW model and make any additional settings changes. Then, click on the Save Image button. Be sure to use the DNG file format and ensure to select Source for the destination.

Step 3. Return to Lightroom Classic, right-click on the folder containing your original RAW file, and select “Synchronize Folder…”.

We’ve made great strides to improve the quality of our RAW support and DNG output. However, we also understand that the current workflow recommendations aren’t as smooth as we’d prefer. We are constantly working to streamline how we interact with host applications like Lightroom Classic and improve the quality of our DNG output files. For now, we hope you take the time to explore the capabilities of the new RAW model in DeNoise AI.

Try DeNoise AI for free

Fill out the form below to begin your free trial of DeNoise AI and experience the superior noise reduction performance of our new RAW AI model. It’s completely free, fully functional, and never expires.

Name(Required)

About the Author: Brian Matiash

Brian Matiash serves as Product Marketing Manager for Topaz Labs and manages the Topaz Labs Learning Center. He is also a photo educator and author, with his work being featured in dozens of international publications. Learn more about Brian by visiting his website.
Published On: September 29th, 2021 / Categories: DeNoise AI, Photo Editing Workflow Series, Technology /

39 Comments

  1. Liam October 18, 2021 at 2:26 am - Reply

    Why is the maximum amount of photos in denoise ai 13. Is there a way to batch edit more than 13 images. I would love to use denoise ai to edit images for a time lapse but I don’t want to have to edit only 13 photos many many times to have a 10-15 second timelapse. Any solutions?

    • Brian Matiash October 18, 2021 at 8:15 am - Reply

      Hi there, Liam. So batch processing is a funny thing. To start, if you open your photos directly into DeNoise AI as a standalone application, you won’t be affected by any limitations related to the number of photos you can batch. The issue with Lightroom and Windows, for example, is that the OS puts a limit on the total characters in the file paths when sending from Lightroom to DeNoise AI. Unfortunately, it’s not something we have any control over. So, if you do plan on batching a large number of photos for a timelapse, my recommendation would be to export all of them to a folder and then send those images to DeNoise AI directly. After the batch job is done, you can re-import them and resume your timelapse processing. I hope that helps!

  2. Paul L October 16, 2021 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Hi Brian I am a Fuji user. Understanding that the new Denoise AI can’t process XTrans Fuji Photos I wonder If I could bypass this problem ? If I start in Lightroom,transfer my photo to Photoshop then use the new Denoise AI … will it work ?

    • Brian Matiash October 18, 2021 at 8:17 am - Reply

      Fair question, Paul. Unfortunately, the RAW model is not accessible at all via Photoshop regardless of the camera. That’s due to the way Photoshop passes pixel information over from itself to a plugin app. That’s why if you open a RAW file in Photoshop via Camera Raw and then open that layer in DeNoise AI, it’ll work fine but the RAW model will be greyed out.

  3. Thomas Cakalic October 14, 2021 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    Thanks Brian.

    I understood the first part regarding non-destructive edits and .xmp’s. The last part was what I was getting at. :)

    If one sends the file with absolutely no changes from LR, Denoise AI will still receive an RGB (non RAW) version of the image.

    If one does, as the workflow in your article suggests, Denoise AI receives the unmolested RAW, and applies the RAW model when processing.

    Thank you. :)

    Tom

    • Brian Matiash October 18, 2021 at 8:26 am - Reply

      It depends on how you send the image from LR to DeNoise AI. If you use the Edit In function, then LR will bake your RAW file (with any edits) into a new file—as you mentioned: a processed RGB file (JPG, TIFF, or PSD)—and send it along. However, on the Mac, you can drag your RAW file from the LR grid view to DeNoise AI and it will open up in its original, unedited state regardless of whether you already made edits to it in LR. If that is the workflow, then yes, you can apply the RAW model and save out a DNG file to re-import into LR. :)

  4. Thomas Cakalic October 14, 2021 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Thanks Brian.

    You’re saying that by the time we’re viewing an image in LR (or any other editor), the RAW has already been converted to RGB to display via software on the monitor. For Denoise AI 3.3 to process the actual RAW information, it must open the RAW file itself.

    Tom

    • Brian Matiash October 14, 2021 at 6:32 pm - Reply

      Not necessarily, Tom. Let’s play it out with a basic LR workflow. When you import a RAW file and make edits in the Develop module, you’re not actually writing anything to the RAW file itself. Rather, those changes are written to a sidecar .XMP file. Your monitor will display the image based on the colorspace you have selected and based on what it’s capable of displaying. And correct, in order for the DeNoise AI RAW model to work (and analyze the original sensor data), you must open the actual RAW file in the app.

  5. Thomas Cakalic October 14, 2021 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    Hi Brian,

    I currently have Denoise AI 2.4.2.

    The instructions above for using Denoise AI 3.3 with LR on Windows seem overly complicated.

    Today I go to the Grid View in LR, select the RAW image, choose the Develop Module, reduce any default sharpening to zero, then Edit in Topaz Denoise AI. Will this process no longer work with version 3.3? I don’t understand why I’d have to Show in Explorer, than drag the image to a standalone version of Denoise AI, that’s already been opened.

    Thanks.

    Tom

    • Brian Matiash October 14, 2021 at 3:55 pm - Reply

      Hey there, Tom. Thanks for writing in. The workflow you described will work exactly the same with DeNoise AI v3.3.x. The key difference is that you won’t be able to use the new RAW model if you use the “Edit in DeNoise AI” workflow because Lightroom creates a new file (JPG, TIFF, or PSD) and the RAW model isn’t compatible with those file formats. The “drag from Explorer” Windows workflow is one of the more “streamlined” ways to open a RAW file in DeNoise AI if you want to use the RAW model. I hope that helps clarify things.

  6. Louis Stuhl October 14, 2021 at 10:56 am - Reply

    Pentax cameras produce DNG files natively and that is what I have always used with mine. Does this mean that I can’t use the new RAW model on my photos? If so, I will not upgrade until this is resolved.

    • Brian Matiash October 14, 2021 at 11:41 am - Reply

      Hi there, Louis. It depends on the type of DNG that Penxtax saves. If it’s a photometric DNG, then it will work fine with the RAW model. However, if it’s a linear DNG, then it won’t work. If you’d like, send me one of your original DNG files and I can test it myself. My email is brian.matiash@topazlabs.com.

  7. Karsten October 13, 2021 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    “However, we also understand that the current workflow recommendations aren’t as smooth as we’d prefer. We are constantly working to streamline how we interact with host applications like Lightroom Classic”

    In order to implement a seemless integration you may want to look at the workflow of DxO PhotoLab, DxO uses LR plugins to export a RAW file from LR to DxO and re-import the resulting DNG file into LR. The plugins are available in source code (.lua) so you could easily come up with something equal for DeNoise. Your users (including myself) would love it!

    • Brian Matiash October 13, 2021 at 2:58 pm - Reply

      100% agreed, Karsten. And that is exactly what we are doing. I think DXO does a decent job with the way they invoke the LR import screen after finishing up within their apps. We’re going to look at this approach and a few others to see if we can provide something that is both functional and superior. Rest assured that something better is coming for DeNoise AI!

  8. David Skinner October 13, 2021 at 4:18 am - Reply

    Looks really good. However, I always “Convert to DNG” when importing new files into Lightroom so can’t do a side-by-side comparison on any old files. TBH, it is going to be a pain to change my workflow or remember to change the import options when I have high ISO files to import. Since DNG is just a container with a RAW file inside it isn’t clear why we can’t transfer DNG files from Lightroom to DeNoise AI and still use the RAW model. One would think it is possible to extract the RAW file from the DNG container. Can you throw any light on this?

    • Brian Matiash October 13, 2021 at 2:38 pm - Reply

      Hey there, David. You bring up a valid question and the short answer is that it depends on the type of DNG that is created. The DeNoise AI RAW model supports Photometric DNG files, but not Linear DNG files and it’s not always obvious which is which. For example, if you shoot in RAW using an iPhone, it saves the file as a DNG. However, Apple saves it as a Linear DNG, which is not supported. Also, not all DNG files have the full RAW file embedded within, so that isn’t reliable either. And while DNG is a wrapper of sorts, it doesn’t always contain all of the same metadata as the original RAW, which is why I abandoned converting to DNG years ago. What I can say is that we are actively working to improve our RAW and DNG support with the DeNoise AI RAW model.

  9. Paul L October 12, 2021 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Hi Brian

    Did I read well that Fuji rawfiles are not supported by the new Topaz DeNoise AI version 3,3. If so thousand of Fuji users will be very desapointed and move to another company offering a good Denoise software that supports Xtrans .

    Please correct me Brian if I am wrong…

    • Brian Matiash October 13, 2021 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      Hey there, Paul. You are correct. DeNoise AI currently does not support Fujifilm RAW files due to the complexities of the X-Trans sensor. The good news is that we are actively working on improving support for Fujifilm and other RAW/DNG formats.

  10. Lynn R Meyer-Mountjoy October 12, 2021 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    Hi Brian,
    I use Lightroom on a PC. I had your video up while I followed along in Lightroom with one of my photos. I always shoot in raw, so I figured this
    would be pretty easy. First I didn’t find the “apply the auto lens correction” in the list, but I opted out on the other. I was able to drag my photo
    from my explorer into Denoise and then went to save and and I did as you suggested. When I got back into Lightroom I chose synchronize folder.
    So there was my Denoise raw DNG photo along with the original. HOWEVER, you point out that when you take that photo into the Develop Module
    you still have access to all the white balance choices and the Profile options, AND I DO NOT have those options….just color and monochrome!!! What
    went wrong??? Please help!!!

    • Brian Matiash October 13, 2021 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Hi there, Lynn. I know exactly what you’re referring to and I think it has to do with the camera you’re using. I had tested with my Sony RAW files, but it looks like RAW files from other cameras aren’t being recognized properly by Lightroom. That’s why you aren’t seeing all of the profiles. I’d like to ask you to contact our Customer Support team so that they can capture all of this information and help troubleshoot the issue. We’d love to get all of this figured out and your images will help a lot. Thanks so much!

  11. Rod Barbee October 12, 2021 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Really impressed with the new RAW model. Like Marc above, I too have been converting my raw files (NEF) to DNG so I currently can’t rework older files (but hey, DeNoise AI already did an amazing job on those). I’ll be rethinking my workflow for high ISO images.
    One thing that really impressed me was watching chromatic aberration disappear while at the same time those very edges with the color fringing were clarified. Great job on this update.

    • Brian Matiash October 12, 2021 at 5:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much, Rod! And I’m with you… I’m constantly floored when I see chromatic aberrations disappear along those aliased edges. It’s kind of magical, to be honest. I also definitely recommend rethinking your DNG/RAW workflow for high ISO shots. The RAW model truly is impressive in that use case.

  12. Dave Kilgariff October 12, 2021 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Brian,

    I’m an iPhone photographer. Does DeNoise work on these JPEG files?

    • Brian Matiash October 12, 2021 at 5:00 pm - Reply

      Hey there, Dave. DeNoise AI certainly works with JPEG files, including those created by iPhones. With that said, you won’t be able to use the RAW model in DeNoise AI when opening up a JPEG file or an iPhone DNG file. Only supported RAW files will work with the RAW model.

  13. John Street October 12, 2021 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    Hi Brian, thank you for the info on this new mode. Are the settings that are shown in the Black & White 4-up view of the Parrot the settings you used for this image, and if so are they the ones you recommend? Specifically: Auto: No Remove Noise: 100 Enhance Sharpness: 100 Recover Original Detail: 0 and Color Noise Reduction: 0. Did you use similar settings for the other three modes shown in the 4-Up image? I apologize in advance if you addressed this somewhere and I overlooked it. :-)

    • Brian Matiash October 12, 2021 at 5:03 pm - Reply

      Hey there, John. I’d be happy to answer that question. The black and white photo I used to illustrate the performance improvements of the RAW model was created by my colleague, Hillary. One of the things that I know about Hillary is that she loves to crank up the sliders in DeNoise AI (and Sharpen AI) because it helps her more easily visualize what our apps are doing. So, that’s likely why the sliders are max’d out. I tend to take a more conservative approach to slider values, but I’ve definitely found myself cranking them up when the image calls for it. I hope that helps!

  14. Paul Ward October 6, 2021 at 12:14 am - Reply

    I am not quite sure I understand how RAW compares to the other models – I always input my files into DeNoise from NEF files. Is RAW a new output mode like Low Light, Clear, etc? Why would I choose RAW over the others?

    • Brian Matiash October 6, 2021 at 9:58 am - Reply

      The easiest way to explain the difference between the RAW model and our other models has to do with the image data that we use to apply noise reduction. With the RAW model, we’re using the actual sensor data as written by your camera. All of that extra data allows us to provide the cleanest possible noise reduction results. Our other models use processed RGB data and while that allows just to provide excellent results, the RAW model data is simply more robust. I hope that helps clarify things.

    • Brian Matiash October 7, 2021 at 5:08 pm - Reply

      Hey there, Paul. If you’ve been opening your NEF files directly in DeNoise AI all this time, then you’re good to go. You now have access to a fifth model called RAW. It’ll use all of the sensor data in your NEF files to provide even cleaner noise reduction.

  15. Ian Street October 5, 2021 at 5:45 am - Reply

    Any plans to Include Fuji RAW files in the DeNoise Raw model?

    • Brian Matiash October 5, 2021 at 11:17 am - Reply

      Good question, Ian. We are actively working on adding support for Fujifilm RAW models. The issue stems primarily from how they engineer their sensors. Most camera manufacturers use a traditional Bayer filter on their sensors. Fujifilm uses X-Trans, which is a different type of pattern and that makes it more difficult to support. It’s also why other raw processors, like Lightroom and ON1, have had difficulties rendering those images. Still, we are working on improving our support for it.

  16. Marc Verdiesen October 5, 2021 at 2:46 am - Reply

    Thanks for your reply Brian!
    I was aware that some camera specific info, like the focus points used, would be lost in a DNG conversion. I do not care much for that. But if essential image info is lost, that sure would be a showstopper.
    I understand you are not able to commit to future support for DNG files in DeNoise at this time. So I will have to chose whether I will continue with DNG conversion or not. Good topic to spend a coffee on :-)

    I liked your article on RAW vs JPG. Now that more and more cameras are able to create HEIF files, maybe a good time to extend your article to include that file type?

    Cheers, Marc

    • Brian Matiash October 5, 2021 at 11:20 am - Reply

      Thanks for your reply, too, Marc! Hmmm… I hadn’t heard of cameras saving out HEIF files. I know that iPhones have adopted the standard for a few years now as an alternative to JPEGs, but I still prefer that format over HEIC. Are cameras starting to save in HEIC, too?

      I ultimately decided to abandon the automated DNG conversion process many years ago because I just didn’t see any significant advantage to keep on with it. I have never been worried about losing support to view/edit RAW files, even from cameras that are over a decade old at this point. And, if I’m already shooting in RAW, I might as well hang onto all of the original sensor data, even if some of it is inconsequential. But, that’s just my preference. I know plenty of photographers who auto-convert to DNG as part of their import workflow and their work is amazing. So, at the end of the day, just do what works best for you. Thanks again for the reply!

  17. Daniel October 5, 2021 at 1:25 am - Reply

    Hi, is there a list with the supported RAW formats? I have a Sony A7RIV and if I want to use the new RAW mode I get an error message, that “DNG or Fujifilm RAW” are not supported… :(

    • Brian Matiash October 5, 2021 at 11:22 am - Reply

      Hey there, Daniel. We don’t have an official list published anywhere, but I can affirm that Sony a7R IV files work fine because I have that same camera model and have tested many of its RAW files with this new model. So, my request to you would be to contact our Customer Support team so that they can help troubleshoot. This definitely sounds like a weird metadata issue and I’m interested to hear what shakes out.

  18. Marc Verdiesen October 3, 2021 at 3:18 am - Reply

    I was very excited reading about the new RAW model, until I read that DNG is not supported. I have been converting all my CR2 and CR3 files to DNG lately and that now prevents me from using the new raw model. Have I lost important information in the DNG conversion or will DeNoise be able to handle my converted DNGs as good as original CR2/3 files in a later update?

    • Brian Matiash October 4, 2021 at 11:19 am - Reply

      You are correct that the RAW model does not support DNG input files, only RAW files from supported camera manufacturers. Remember though, you can still use our four existing models (Standard, Clear, Low Light, and Severe Noise) with your DNG files without a problem. As for whether you’ve lost important information during the DNG conversion process, that’s hard for me to say for sure. Typically, the DNG conversion process does get rid of some metadata information and that alone is enough of a reason for me to not convert my RAW files. I also wrote more about it in this article.

  19. Samuel Caplan September 29, 2021 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    With Denoise Ai I’m not afraid to shoot with high ISOs anymore. I’ve gone to the top in my camera, ISO 16,000. When I apply the App, the results are amazing…

    • Brian Matiash September 29, 2021 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      That’s what I love to hear, Samuel! Thanks so much for sharing the kind words.

Leave A Comment