Article outline


We’ve been thrilled with all the positive (and constructive) feedback on the new RAW model recently introduced in DeNoise AI v3.3. We’ve also loved seeing the noise-reduced photos you’ve shared with us online! We built the RAW model to deliver the cleanest possible noise reduction by changing the data we analyze.

Typically, you’d import your RAW files into your digital asset manager (DAM), go through a curation process, edit your picks, and then send the noisier ones to DeNoise AI. This workflow requires your DAM first to create a duplicate file, often a JPEG or TIFF. Both of these file types are classified as compressed RGB files, and while DeNoise AI can do great things with them, there is so much more that we can do when we source the original RAW data. I recommend reading this article to learn more about how and why we built the RAW model.

The $60,000 question.

I spent a lot of time reviewing all of the comments left on our DeNoise AI v3.3 update post and our social media channels, and one of the most common themes—and source of confusion—has to do with when to use the RAW model. Fortunately, the answer is straightforward: you should use the RAW model at the very beginning of your post-processing workflow. That’s when to use the RAW model, and you have to use supported RAW files.

If, not when.

The real question worth asking is IF you should use the RAW model, and the answer is a bit more nuanced. Not every RAW photo needs to be sent to DeNoise AI at the beginning of your post-processing workflow. My workflow involves editing my “Pick” RAW files using Adobe Lightroom Classic first. Once I am close to wrapping up the edit, I’ll take a close look to see how much noise is affecting the photo.

My DeNoise AI RAW model workflow

If the photo suffers from excessive noise, I’ll create a virtual copy or a new snapshot and send the unedited RAW file to DeNoise AI. I will then apply the RAW model, save the file, and import the newly created DNG output file back in Lightroom. The next step is to sync the edits I made to the original RAW file to the DNG file and apply tweaks to match them up.

My traditional DeNoise AI workflow

If the edited RAW file isn’t affected by excessive noise, I’ll follow my typical workflow of using Lightroom’s “Edit in DeNoise AI” option. That involves sending a TIFF copy to DeNoise AI and use the improved Comparison View to choose the best model and settings. Here’s a short video showing the new features of the Comparison View.

The nice thing about this workflow is that the noise reduction changes made to the updated file are automatically available in Lightroom Classic. In contrast, the RAW model workflow requires me to synchronize the folder to import the new DNG file manually.

Both workflows in action

It’d be easier to show you both of these workflows in action, which is why I recorded the following video. I want to provide clear reasons and examples for when I think it makes sense to follow the RAW model workflow and when it is ok to use the more traditional workflow.

Comparing the RAW model

After you finish watching the video, check out this parrot photo and the comparison images illustrating the differences between the RAW model and the Severe Noise model. Specifically, look at how much smoother and more even the flat areas of the background are with the RAW model vs. the Severe Noise model. Both models do an excellent job cleaning up distracting noise, but the RAW model can do so more cleanly because it uses actual RAW sensor data to analyze the required noise reduction.

Original photo
DeNoise AI RAW model vs. Severe Noise model
RAW modelSevere Noise model

I hope this video and these images provide clarity and eliminate confusion about how to effectively use the new RAW model.

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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: October 7th, 2021 / Categories: DeNoise AI, Photo Editing Workflow Series, Tutorial /


  1. Sharon December 21, 2021 at 11:49 am - Reply

    OK, Brian, I would like to reword my earlier comment. Watched your RAW demo, very good. Tried looking at compare views, chose Severe Noise to work with so then opened all 4 views with severe noise. Did 1st view with Auto settings. Did manual adjustments on the other 3 views. Picked one of those 3 manual views to change to Auto also and that image looked totally different from the original Auto view. Seems the Auto adjustment in this case was applying those adjustments to the manual ones that I made originally.
    Also, when we open an image into the program, there are no adjustments made until I select one, based on the red bar at the bottom of the image. How do we return to that without closing the program?

    • Brian Matiash January 12, 2022 at 4:08 pm - Reply

      Hey there, Sharon. Can you clarify what you’re asking about? Are you saying that the auto process isn’t working when you load an image? I assume you’ve confirmed that you have “Auto Update Preview” enabled in the Preferences? If that’s still not working, then I’d like you to contact our Customer Support team for further troubleshooting. Thanks!

  2. Sharon December 9, 2021 at 7:30 am - Reply

    I just tried your tutorial. Set DeNoise to see Compare 4 views, changed all 4 views to Severe Noise by my choice and did tweeking on each view to fine tune adjustments. I noticed that after I made a few tweets manually on a view, when I again chose Auto setting on that tweeked image, the auto settings seemed to be applied to the image post manual tweeks, not auto applied to the original image. Is this correct? Also, how would you reset a view to the original image?

    • Brian Matiash December 16, 2021 at 5:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Sharon… I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking about. Any change you make, whether it’s using the Auto or manual settings, will be applied to the original image. As for resetting a view to the original image, all you have to do is click and hold on the image to see the original version.

  3. Laszlo Szirtesi December 5, 2021 at 4:21 am - Reply

    When will be Canon EOS R3 and R5 CR3 files supported?

    • Brian Matiash December 6, 2021 at 2:03 pm - Reply

      Hey there, Laszlo. We are expecting to have Canon EOS R5 support in the next release, but R3 support will come with a future update.

  4. Laszlo December 3, 2021 at 5:37 am - Reply

    Unfortunately for my CR3 files of Canon R5 and R3 the RAW method is useless. R3 files won’t open the app, R5 files become darker and less contrasty. After I export in DeNoise the R5 file as DNG, in Adobe Camera Raw are the camera profiles missing and the images is ‘washed out’.

    • Brian Matiash December 6, 2021 at 2:06 pm - Reply

      I’d love to have you try this again after our next release, which will have R5 RAW support. R3 RAW support will be coming in a future update.

  5. Peter November 30, 2021 at 11:12 am - Reply

    Hi, how can i use the RAW model with Capture One

    • Brian Matiash December 6, 2021 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      We don’t have a way to send RAW files from Capture One to DeNoise AI. You’d need to navigate to the RAW file in your Finder/Explorer and open it directly within DeNoise AI. This article should help illustrate how to use DeNoise AI in a standalone workflow.

  6. Lataxe November 9, 2021 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Is it (or will it be) possible to employ RAW processing mode for both Denoise AI and Sharpen AI on the same image during the same workflow? At present, it seems that I can feed a RAW file to Denoise, as the first workflow step, but the output can at best be only the Topaz DNG file. As I understand it, this isn’t a true RAW file and it’s therefore not possible to feed the noise-processed file AS A RAW FILE to the Topaz sharpening engine; or to Lightroom. Lightroom and Sharpen AI will only have the Topaz DNG file to work on …… ?

    I understand the process for editing the RAW image file as a separate copy without Denoise processing then copying the LR edits from that file to the Denoised (using the RAW model) DNG output file. But that still leaves only an RGB file of some format to feed the Sharpen AI. And the copying of the LR edits from the true RAW file to the Denoise-produced DNG file doesn’t always have exactly the same effects, as shown in your video where highlight reductions are not the same across both files.

    But perhaps I’m missing something?

    Ideally I’d like to use: Denoise AI on the RAW image file as a first step; Lightroom development of a denoised RAW (not Topaz DNG) file as a second step; Sharpen AI on the resultant RAW (nor Topaz DNG) file (with LR edits included) as a final step. This doesn’t seem possible now but will it be eventually?

    • Brian Matiash November 10, 2021 at 12:14 pm - Reply

      Both Sharpen AI and DeNoise AI have RAW color correction options. However, because you’d be saving out a different file format whether you first start with Sharpen AI or DeNoise AI, it wouldn’t be possible to continue using that feature (since it only works with RAW files). Also, only DeNoise AI has a dedicated RAW model for noise reduction. We are also constantly working on improving and streamlining our RAW editing pipeline by making our DNG files higher quality.

  7. Chuck November 1, 2021 at 2:59 am - Reply

    Hm. I actually prefer the Severe Noise version. The RAW version introduces a colour cast and additional detail that’s distracting. The additional detail in the bird’s feather in the centre of its body for example. Also the colours in the Severe version more closely match the original. Granted, the background is smoother in the RAW version but that’s easier to fix (with a blur) than the colour cast and oversharpening. Is there another way to use the RAW option that doesn’t introduce those issues?

    • Brian Matiash November 8, 2021 at 1:59 pm - Reply

      Hey there, Chuck. I haven’t noticed any color cast issues when using the RAW model with my images. Do you have the RAW color correction option enabled? If so, I’d suggest disabling it first.

  8. Doug Gardner October 15, 2021 at 5:36 am - Reply

    What’s the difference between Denoise and sharpening?

    • Brian Matiash October 18, 2021 at 8:20 am - Reply

      Hey there, Doug. I assume you’re asking about the differences between two of our apps, DeNoise AI and Sharpen AI. Please reply to this thread if I’m incorrect. The primary difference between these two apps has to do with intent. DeNoise AI uses AI-powered models to analyze your photos and apply the most effective type of noise reduction while also preserving (and enhancing) edge details. There is some sharpening capability in DeNoise AI, but if you want far more control over the type of sharpening, you’ll want to use Sharpen AI. Sharpen AI also uses AI-powered models to analyze and apply specific types of sharpening based on the qualities and issues affecting the photo (i.e. it’s too soft, out of focus, or blurry). I hope this answer provides clarity to your question.

  9. Hans October 15, 2021 at 4:04 am - Reply

    what about Pentax RAW Format?

    • Brian Matiash October 18, 2021 at 8:21 am - Reply

      Hi there, Hans. The DeNoise AI RAW model does support a number of Pentax cameras. Which model are you referring to? I’ll let you know whether it’s supported.

  10. Peter Prentice October 14, 2021 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Can I just drag a RAW file from my photo files into Denoise AI and process it from there or do I have to install Lightroom?

    • Brian Matiash October 14, 2021 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Hey there, Peter. You can absolutely drag a RAW file from your Finder (Mac) or Explorer (Windows) to DeNoise AI and open it up without needing Lightroom.

  11. henry October 14, 2021 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Brian, me again Henry
    come on… comparing Sharpen AI with Lightroom sharpening… I never had a tool that makes sharpening so powerfull without a HDR look to the photo. But you are definitly right i could start the procees from Lightroom with sharpening set to 0 and the after editing get back to AI. Thanks for reminding me..

    • Brian Matiash October 14, 2021 at 10:16 am - Reply

      HA! I’m with you, Henry. I absolutely love the quality of output from Sharpen AI. But, I can also be a very lazy photographer at times, which is when I’ll try Lightroom’s sharpening. :) :)

      Regardless, I have Lightroom configured to set Sharpening to 0 by default because I don’t want it applied without my direct input.

  12. Henry October 14, 2021 at 12:39 am - Reply

    Hi Brian,
    good article, anyway.
    By comparing the edited RAW file in DeNo with a saved on to .DNG i do see a less accurate picture in sharpening by opening the DNG file in Lightroom. Lightroom always sharpen the image as well. Taking away – or reducing -the sharpeness in Lightroom gets a more unusefull picture as the original edited one in DeNo. So, why should i open picture in Lightroom- only for color correction?

    • Brian Matiash October 14, 2021 at 9:35 am - Reply

      Hey there, Henry. I generally set sharpening to 0 on all my photos because it’s one of the very last things I do. In some cases, Lightroom’s sharpening utilities are more than sufficient to add some “bite” to the photo. However, it does fall short and in those cases, I’ll send the edited photo to Sharpen AI. So, I wouldn’t write off Lightroom’s sharpening altogether.

  13. Jim Cornell October 13, 2021 at 10:56 am - Reply

    Good information on new workflows, and when to pick each method. But I am curious about your choice of using JPEG file when sending the image to Denoise in the “traditional” workflow. Would you not be keeping more information by sending it as a TIFF or even PSD? Please explain the advantage you find in using JPEG as the transfer format to Denoise.

    • Brian Matiash October 13, 2021 at 2:28 pm - Reply

      100% correct, Jim. If I were working on my photo as part of my normal workflow, I’d certainly use PSD. I used JPEG for the sake of faster processing while recording the video. I guess I could have been more clear about that in the video and will be sure to mention that in future videos. Thanks for the great question!

  14. Mrs Susan Leonard October 13, 2021 at 2:01 am - Reply

    Does the new Denoise version now include processing Fuji RAW images?

    • Brian Matiash October 13, 2021 at 2:39 pm - Reply

      Hi there, Susan. DeNoise AI does not support Fujifilm RAW files because of the way the X-Trans sensor differs from the more traditional Bayer filter sensor. With that said, we are working on adding Fujifilm support. I just don’t know if or when it’ll be a reality yet.

  15. Marvin Reinhart October 12, 2021 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    Brian, as someone pretty new to using DeNoise AI, I appreciate this workflow article. I use SILKYPIX DS Pro 10 and after reading your article I saw that I could follow similar post processing steps for my high ISO photos and get a better result than I would have if I had just followed my normal workflow. Thanks for putting me onto something that gets me a better looking photo as an end result.

    • Brian Matiash October 13, 2021 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      My pleasure, Marvin! I’m thrilled that the article helped and I hope you keep getting a lot of great results from DeNoise AI!

  16. C Wilson October 12, 2021 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    Your article I have just read make NO sense at all. Firstly, What is a digital asset manager? I do a lot of reading about editing photos etc and have never heard of it. And what is a “curation process”? And why would you work with a JPEG when you start with a Raw file? AFTER I have finished my photo editing, with Photoshop, and using the Topaz Labs DeNoise and Sharpen plugins, I will save it as a JPEG for easy emailing or posting; (although for a Facebook post I have read to reduce the longest side to 1048, otherwise FB compresses a larger image).

    I have never been able to make sense of Lightroom, although I guess that is just me, because everyone thinks the world of it. I Never ‘import’ photos . . . I always just quickly run through my new photos of the day and give the ‘keepers’ a name. Then when I want to edit one I right click on it and open in PS. (If I right click on a Raw photo and try to open in LR, on my last attempt, it opened a different photo!! It was one of mine, but what the hell? (I currently use the Microsoft OS, sadly, although thinking of switching to a Mac)

    Having trouble with your term “RAW mode”; I haven’t figured out what you mean by that . . .

    So, I’m no pro, not by a long shot . . . but I have great results opening a Raw photo in PS, which opens Camera Raw first, where I do a LOT of configuring, then opens in PS where I may go directly to the Topaz DeNoise plugin. Then, possibly the Topaz Sharpen AI maybe, then when that is done I’m back in the main PS window where I would so more editing, saving the result as a .jpg. When I close the file PS asks me if I want to save changes to the original Raw file and I Always click no, so I have saved my edited photo, (a few versions) and the original stays original. I only edit a few photos at a time, and never ‘import’ photos. And I never save anything to the cloud; they are always on my computer.

    I acknowledge I might be missing something, but your article goes into using LR and not sure if will Ever find a use for that. Any helpful ideas would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Brian Matiash October 13, 2021 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      At a high level, the reason why I reference Adobe Lightroom Classic in this article is that the DeNoise AI RAW model is not supported when using Photoshop. And since the article focuses specifically on when to use the RAW model, it would be unnecessary to discuss a Photoshop workflow. You can manually open your RAW file in DeNoise AI from Windows Explorer, though.

      As for the RAW model itself, it was built to analyze the actual sensor data, as opposed to the processed RGB data of a JPG, TIFF, etc, when applying noise reduction. This process allows us to provide exceptionally clean noise reduction results, but it does require you to open your original RAW file in DeNoise AI first and then save the result as a DNG.

      As for what is a digital asset manager, the name says it all. It’s an application that manages your photos and videos (aka digital assets). Adobe Lightroom happens to be one of the most popular options, but there are several others that people enjoy like Capture One and ON1 Photo Raw.

  17. Cliff October 12, 2021 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    How does the RAW model work with Photoshop?

    • Brian Matiash October 13, 2021 at 2:52 pm - Reply

      The RAW model isn’t supported with Photoshop, Cliff. It has to do with the way Photoshop passes image data over to DeNoise AI.

  18. Neale Eckstein October 12, 2021 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    I guess I don’t understand why they can’t just let you send a raw file from Lightroom over without creating a Tif. Then make a new DNG file and reimport back to Lightroom. The extra steps are a workflow killer

    • Brian Matiash October 13, 2021 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      Lightroom does have a “Plug-in Extras” workflow that will send a DNG to a third-party app and we are looking into building support for it. If you’re on a Mac, you can drag your RAW file to DeNoise AI and it’ll open up just fine. However, I do agree that this entire round-trip workflow needs to be improved and streamlined. Fortunately, we’re working hard to make that happen.

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