DaVinci Resolve: Free vs Studio

By Timothy Brauning on June 22, 2022

DaVinci Resolve is a powerful video editing program that you can use to create stunning videos. There are two versions of DaVinci Resolve: Free and Studio. The Free edition has many features, but the DaVinci Resolve Studio is one of the most powerful editing software available. This article will compare the two versions and discuss what's included in each one.

davinci resolve free vs studio

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Table of Contents

davinci resolve vs studio

DaVinci Resolve Evolution

Before we go on the technical side of why there are different free versions of DaVinci Resolve, we should consider their evolution. In 2009, DaVinci Systems acquired Blackmagic design and focused its efforts on developing DaVinci Resolve. Davinci then was still quite expensive, and the color grading was limited to the black-and-white color scheme. Soon prices dropped, and things started to change. In a short time, the Mac OS version was released. It suddenly became available to everyone.

With the release of the free version, many people were able to get their hands on this powerful software. However, the free version lacked certain features that were essential for professional video editing. This is where the Studio version comes in. It is a paid version that includes all the features of the Free version plus more. Let's take a closer look at the differences between these two versions.

davinci resolve free vs paid

DaVinci Resolve Free vs. Studio: Features

The free version of the Studio is a powerful but basic video editing program. It includes all the essential features to create simple yet effective videos. However, if you require advanced editing features, you might want to consider upgrading to the paid version. The Studio version offers a wide range of many more advanced features that can be very useful for those working with high-end equipment or post-production workflows. These other features are essential for professional video editing and include things like:


GPU Acceleration

GPU acceleration is one of the key advantages of the studio version of the software. GPU accelerated encoding and decoding of the popular H.264 and H.265 formats allow for considerably quicker editing and rendering performance in the Studio version. The free version doesn't have this feature, so it can't take advantage of multiple GPUs, making the studio version a much better choice for anyone who needs to do a lot of video editing or rendering.

Neural Engine

Neural Engine helps automate many of the most time-consuming, repetitive tasks involved in video production, such as scene detection, object tracking, facial recognition, and auto-color matching. It also implements tools like object removal and footage upscaling that allow editors to enhance their clips without needing professional training or additional software. Altogether, Neural Engine AI is a must-have for anyone looking to improve their video editing workflow and regularly create compelling, high-quality content.

Multi-User collaboration

Both the free and paid studio version supports multi-user collaboration. A professional audio engineer can perform the same work in real-time using the same tool. The software also includes an integrated chat feature, allowing users to share thoughts and ideas without leaving the site. In the Studio version, you can find other collaborative tools. The paid version includes more features, including the ability to sync markers and comments between DaVinci Resolve and Dropbox. This can be handy if you're collaborating on a project with someone else and need to keep track of changes. 

difference between davinci resolve and studio

Advanced Audio and Visual Effects

As one of the most popular and powerful video editing tools today, DaVinci Resolve Studio is continually being updated and improved with unique new features. With the upcoming release of version 17, it's expected that more than 30 audio and visual plugins will be included in the software, offering users an even wider range of creative possibilities. These plugins include everything from stylized video effects such as analog noise and pencil sketch to physical effects like lens reflections, dirt removal, analog damage, and face refinement. Additionally, there are patch replacers, film grain presets, de-flickering capabilities, and more. 

So whether you're a serious filmmaker looking to create standout visuals or just a casual creator who enjoys experimenting with new tools, you're sure to find plenty of advanced plugins in DaVinci Resolve Studio 17 to elevate your work to the next level.

Motion Blur and Noise Removal

When working on more challenging video projects, having access to advanced noise reduction tools can be essential for creating a crisp and clear image. Whether your project involves noise from shaky footage or excessive noise in low-light settings, DaVinci Resolve Studio offers powerful and intuitive tools to help you get the results you need. In addition, Resolve Studio also gives you access to motion blur and mist effects, helping you enhance the overall quality of your images even further. Overall, if high-quality imagery is important to your work, upgrading to DaVinci Resolve Studio may be worth considering. Its advanced noise removal and other image-enhancing features can help you create a truly stunning final product.

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Color Grading and HDR Scopes

One of the most impressive features of DaVinci Resolve is its color grading capabilities. DaVinci Resolve Studio offers an incredibly intuitive and user-friendly color grading interface that gives you complete control over every aspect of your video's colors. You may like to make small adjustments or completely transform the look of your footage, DaVinci Resolve Studio has the tools you need to get the job done!

Whether you are looking to grade your projects professionally or are a beginner, Resolve's advanced color correction tools make it easy to get the perfect look for your work. There is something for everyone in Resolve's extensive set of features with everything from basic color wheels to powerful curves and custom controls.

In addition to its robust toolset, DaVinci Resolve also offers truly world-class HDR scopes. With these tools, you can get detailed information about your images, including brightness values and adjustments, to create stunning images with complete control and precision. And if that's not enough, Studio even includes stereoscopic 3D grading capabilities, allowing you to work on projects across the globe and with ease. 

Lens Correction

Another area where DaVinci Resolve Studio shines is in its lens correction capabilities. With the built-in Lens Correction plugin, you can quickly and easily fix a variety of common lens distortions, such as barrel and pincushioning. This plugin can be extremely helpful when working with footage that has been shot on less-than-ideal lenses or when trying to achieve a specific look for your project.

davinci resolve vs davinci resolve studio

Resolve FX

In addition to its excellent lens correction tools, DaVinci Resolve Studio also includes over 100 plugins known as Resolve FX. These plugins cover a wide range of different effects and can be used to enhance your work in various ways.

With the latestadvancements in GPU technologies, visual effects are more powerful and easily accessible. DaVinci Resolve can offer users more than 30 innovative Resolve FX thanks to its advanced GPU processing capabilities, including effects like lens flares and reflections, dirt removal, image damage simulation, and numerous other professional-grade visual effects. These effects typically come as expensive add-ons for other software platforms, so having them included with DaVinci Resolve Studio is certainly a huge benefit. Whether you're working on feature films or music videos, with DaVinci Resolve Studio, you can create stunning visual effects to elevate your work to the next level.

resolve vs resolve studio

More Sound and Visual Effects Tools

Fairlight Audio Post-Production

Anyone who has edited audio knows that it can be time-consuming and frustrating. Even with the best tools, getting the sound right can be difficult. FairlightFX created Resolve, a professional audio mixing panel that makes editing audio a breeze. The free version of Davinci Resolve includes all the basic features you need to get started with an audio editing program. Still, you'll need to upgrade to Davinci Studio for more advanced features. Studio-only features include Auro-3D audio, support for Dolby Atmos audio, and B‑chain audio monitoring. With these effective tools, you can create truly unique sounds.

Moreover, one of the unique features offered by Davinci Resolve is its integrated stock audio library, which allows you to download royalty-free sound effects and background music for use in your projects. Additionally, DaVinci Resolve comes with the Fairlight audio editor built-in, giving you access to powerful tools for working with up to 2000 audio tracks at a time. 

Fusion Visual Effects and Motion Graphics

While there are many different options for visual effects in film and video editing, the Effects library contains some especially powerful tools worth exploring in more detail. For example, the OpenFX option is one of the most comprehensive toolkits available, containing a wide range of filters like film grain, camera blur, and lens flare to optimize your work. However, these pro-grade effects aren't available in the free version of Resolve.

Along with OpenFX, Resolve Studio also gives you access to features like face refinement and Pencil Sketch, which can be extremely useful for enhancing your visuals and achieving more precise results. Whether you're working on a feature film or just looking to add some professional polish to your videos, Resolve offers powerful visual effects tools that will help you take your creative work to the next level.

davinci studio

Delivery and Output Options

Davinci Resolve's free version can only output 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160) and 60fps. It, however, allows you to import, modify, and grade higher resolutions, but you can't export them. As a result, you won't be able to generate DCI 4K or greater resolution videos.

The Studio version offers the ability to export up to 4K Ultra HD and 60fps and import, edit, and grade higher resolutions. Also, it lets you create DCI 4K- and even higher-resolution videos with ease.

With support for formats like H.264, H.265, and 10-bit, Studio is an ideal choice for editors working with footage from high-end filmmaking cameras like the Panasonic GH5.

Extra Features

On the other hand, Resolve Studio has several more advanced functions such as scripting and automation, color space transformation language, workflow integrations, plug-ins, 3D audio, and much more. The majority of these features are aimed at professional work, and if that's what you're doing, you'll need Resolve Studio.

Which One Should You Get?

As you can see, the Studio version offers a lot more than the Free version. If you are serious about video editing, the Studio version is definitely worth the investment. However, if you are starting, the Free version is a great place to start. As someone serious about video editing, you know that post-production can make all the difference in creating a high-quality final product. With its post-production suite, the Studio version of the popular video editing software gives you all you need to bring your vision to life. 

Whether you need to create complex transitions between scenes, add special effects and filters, or adjust the color and lighting of your footage, this advanced version has everything you need. And if you are just getting started with video editing, there is no better place to start than the free version. While it may be more limited in terms of features and post-production tools, it is a fantastic way to get familiar with the basics of video editing and hone your skills before investing in a more advanced software package.

If you would like more resources while navigating through the DaVinci Resolve platform, consider FMC’s online training courses! FMC hosts a variety of interactive, online courses for beginner and intermediate editors. Take a look at upcoming courses here.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started with DaVinci Resolve today and create stunning videos that will amaze your colleagues, friends, and family!

Join our ever-growing Facebook group and ask any DaVinci Resolve questions you might have!

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