DaVinci Resolve Free vs. Studio: What’s the Difference?

DaVinci Resolve Free vs. Studio: What’s the Difference?

Key Points

  • DaVinci Resolve Studio costs $295 and offers additional effects, increased video resolution and framerate, GPU acceleration, and neural engine access.
  • The free version of DaVinci Resolve can handle 4K video with a maximum resolution of 3840×2160, while the Studio version can handle videos up to 32K.
  • The Studio version of DaVinci Resolve allows for GPU acceleration, which improves editing and delivery processes, especially for H.265 and H.264 formats.
  • DaVinci Resolve Studio includes temporal and spatial noise reduction for video clips, as well as lens correction for distortion caused by wide lenses.
  • The Studio version of DaVinci Resolve offers a wide range of additional effects, such as lens flares, dirt removal, and film grain, which require more processing power.

DaVinci Resolve is a free-to-use video post-production suite developed and published by Blackmagic Design. The program offers a full-fledged engine for cutting and editing videos, video FX and compositing, and even audio engineering. However, while free, it has a paid option, DaVinci Resolve Studio. Let’s examine DaVinci Resolve free vs. Studio.

DaVinci Resolve Free vs. Studio: Side-by-Side Comparison

Motion Graphics EngineFusionFusion
Multiple User EditingYesYes
Max Video Resolution3840 x 21604K+
Max Video Bit Rate8-bit10-bit
Max Video Framerate60 FPS120 FPS
DaVinci Neural EngineNoYes
GPU AccelerationNoYes
Temporal/Spatial Noise ReductionNoYes
Stereoscopic 3DNo Yes
Film Grain FXLimitedYes
Optical BlurNoYes
Mist EffectNoYes
Powerful Color Grading Tool
Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio
  • Professional video editing program
  • Perfect for colorists
  • Features 8K editing
  • Compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux
  • NLE editing tools
  • Compatible with Resolve Studio 16
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 08:20 am GMT

DaVinci Resolve Free vs. Studio: What’s the Difference?

As with any paid upgrade to a free program, DaVinci Resolve Studio has some additional features that might entice people with serious aspirations in video post-production. Someone with experience in video editing would expect additional effects included in the paid version, and there are some. However, the most important features are the increased video resolution and FPS. Let’s look at the differences.

Maximum Video Resolution

davinci resolve free vs. studio
DaVinci Resolve Studio offers higher-resolution video processing.

One of the primary differences between DaVinci Resolve’s free and Studio versions is the maximum video resolution. While the free version can handle 4K video, the largest resolution is 3840×2160, which means that other 4K formats like DCI 4K (4096×2160) aren’t possible.

Additionally, professionals or aspiring professionals may need to produce videos in resolutions higher than 4K. DaVinci Resolve Studio can handle videos up to 32K, making it perfect for editing videos that will be played on massive projector screens that need high resolutions to maintain the video’s clarity and sharpness.

Maximum Framerate

The other significant difference is the maximum framerate. This factor isn’t going to matter to most hobbyists and even many professionals. Many major projects will be shot and edited in a 24.9fps format to avoid the soap opera effect. So, being limited to 60 frames per second won’t affect everyone.

However, if you work with specific media types, such as sports or wildlife coverage, you may need to handle video that was shot with a super high framerate. Sport and wildlife slow-motion shots require an exceptionally high source framerate to look smooth and natural.

DaVinci Resolve has some issues handling super-high-framerate footage and may downscale the framerate if you don’t have access to a high-FPS timeline.

GPU Acceleration

Professionals like using multiple graphics processing units (GPUs) or boosting one chipset to achieve smoother playback and faster rendering. This feature is essential if you use the ever-popular H.265 or H.264 formats, as GPU acceleration can significantly improve the editing and delivery process.

GPU acceleration and the simultaneous use of multiple chipsets are only available for Studio users. Since these features are essential for professionals who need to be able to make the most of exceptionally powerful workstations, we recommend the Studio version for users who are looking to make it in the professional scene.

Temporal/Spatial Noise Reduction

DaVinci Resolve Studio also has temporal and spatial noise reduction for video clips. Electrical noise—the same colored specs you see on a staticky TV — is often present in low-light footage. The intense light signal drowns out most electrical noise in proper lighting. However, low-light videos don’t have a strong enough signal on the sensor to drown out the electrical noise, resulting in videos with the little colored specs that we associate with TV static.

Temporal noise reduction uses an algorithm to analyze each frame of the video. The computer determines both what changes are made from frame to frame and also what pixels in the video are expected to change and in what way. Then, it uses that information to smooth out the colors of the frames to the predicted color changes. Spatial noise reduction takes a noise reduction algorithm and applies that to each individual frame.

Lens Correction

Shooting with super-wide lenses is fun but can distort the video file. The “fish-eye” effect is a common issue with clips shot with a wide lens. Lens correction can help with the distortion from wide lenses. This algorithm uses resources to determine how distorted the video is and where. The lens correction algorithm will then correct the image to remove the distortion.

Lens correction is only available to Studio users. The program’s lens correction feature has both manual and automatic changes. So, you can let the computer do its thing or do it yourself. Most professionals end up doing a little of both; sometimes, the computer just does a terrible job, and you need to get elbow-deep in there to get your footage looking good.

Additional Effects

davinci resolve free vs. studio
Many additional effects are available with the Studio upgrade.

DaVinci Resolve comes with a wide breadth of free-to-use effects and compatibility with user-made presets, many of which are also free. However, if you use DaVinci Resolve Studio, you get more effects. The paid effect suite uses the GPU acceleration feature of the Studio version, providing more complex effects that require more processing power.

You’ll get a considerable amount of extra effects, including lens flares, dirt removal, lens reflection, analog damage, de-flickering, and film grain. These additional effects are must-haves for aspiring professionals and would constitute buying multiple plugins for other video editing suites. So, getting these with the paid version of DaVinci Resolve is a pretty good deal, even if you don’t use any of the other features.

Neural Engine

DaVinci Resolve also uses Blackmagic’s Neural Engine to improve many of the Studio version’s features. Magic Mask, for instance, is a masking tool that uses the Neural Engine to determine what pixels to mask without human input.

Magic Mask isn’t the only Neural Engine-enabled effect either. You can use the Neural Engine to increase the footage resolution, organize your media, re-time videos, track objects, detect scene cuts, remove objects, and more.

DaVinci Resolve Free vs. Studio: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • DaVinci Resolve Studio costs $295
  • The fee for DaVinci Resolve Studio is a one-time payment that promises you access to all future program versions
  • DaVinci Resolve Studio has additional FX, Neural Engine access, GPU acceleration, and increased resolution and framerate output
  • Most of DaVinci Resolve’s core functionality is available with the free version
  • DaVinci Resolve Studio’s license allows two cross-installs

DaVinci Resolve Free vs. Studio: Which One Should I Choose?

The Studio upgrade is an excellent purchase for video editors, especially aspiring professionals. While the standard for consumer video post-production continues to be Avid Media Composer or Adobe Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve has a solid foothold in the market. If you were to land a job where you got to use your program of choice, you could use DaVinci Resolve Studio.

The most important thing you should consider is your goals and aspirations within the video post-production market. If you want to become a professional, you will need to be able to use many of the premium features packaged into DaVinci Resolve Studio. Thus, getting ahead of the learning curve and starting early will be valuable to you, even if you don’t use the program professionally at first.

DaVinci Resolve is most popular for colorists. However, its multiuser collaboration feature makes it popular for studios of all sizes. You may not get to use it in all video production studios, but there’s a good chance you’ll need to know this program on some level if you become a post-editor.

However, most hobbyist video editors will be spoiled with features whether they use DaVinci Resolve free or Studio. If you’re unsure, grab the free version to start, and if you decide you want the additional features, you can upgrade it.

  1. Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio
    • Professional video editing program
    • Perfect for colorists
    • Features 8K editing
    • Compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux
    • NLE editing tools
    • Compatible with Resolve Studio 16
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/02/2024 08:20 am GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

What is DaVinci Resolve?

DaVinci Resolve is a video post-production suite encompassing DaVinci Resolve, Fusion, and Fairlight.

Who produces DaVinci Resolve?

DaVinci Resolve is developed and published by Blackmagic Design.

Is DaVinci Resolve free?

DaVinci Resolve has a free-to-use version with no limitations beyond locking a few advanced features.

What is different about DaVinci Resolve Studio?

DaVinci Resolve Studio unlocks additional features such as an increased bit rate, higher resolutions and FPS, and Blackmagic Design’s Neural Engine.

How much is DaVinci Resolve Studio?

DaVinci Resolve Studio is available for a one-time payment of $295.

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