Noise reduction

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by david_simon, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. I use Elements 8 and unless I am missing something, the noise reduction component doesn't do very much. What other good noise reduction software is there for the occasional user and does not cost a small fortune to buy?
  2. I'd say that Topaz DeNoise meets all your criteria very nicely - it works as a plugin from within Photoshop/Elements, and (having used most of the noise reduction programmes out there) in my opinion it produces the best results, and sometimes by a wide margin.
    You might wish to note that Topaz often runs special pricing offers on its software - I got my copy of DeNoise for $29.99, if I recall.
  3. I have been a long time user of Neatimage, from the time it was the defacto NR standard. They have a very good (read: not expensive, often free) upgrade policy and Photoshop plugins are available. I must admit though that I mostly use Lightroom's built in NR.
  4. Noiseware Community Edition
  5. I've been very happy with Noise Ninja. The NR in LR4 is so good, however, that I rarely have to use it any more.
  6. david_henderson


    I use Lightroom and CS5, but the Nik "Define" is more powerful than either. Mind, there's no free lunch here, for the more NR I apply the fuzzier my photographs get, and if I attempt to mitigate that through sharpening detail, then the more artificial they look. I'm learning that I need to be careful.
    If anyone knows a free lunch, please say.
  8. If anyone knows a free lunch, please say.
    Selective application of NR and sharpening, David - it's very easy and truly effective.
    I do it like this. Dup layer; apply NR as required; erase from subject; flatten.
    Then, dup layer; apply sharpening; erase from everything but subject; flatten.
    You can even get clever and apply intermediate levels of NR on a layer to just the subject first if it's particularly noisy: sometimes handy if you're really dragging detail out of the shadows.
    It's quicker to do than to write down, to be honest.
  9. Lightroom 4.x. Use globally, or with a brush for applying selectively. Quick, easy-peasy, and outstanding results.
  10. Yep, that's another way to go - I find the dup layer approach to be more precise and more versatile, but sometimes I'll use the Lr brush too as an alternative to the intermediate NR stage.
  11. The best stand alone NR utilities I've used are Noise Ninja and Noiseware. If you're patient and working on only one photo at a time these can be used selectively to avoid excessive smoothing of desired details. Working in layers you can minimize noise in the sky while preserving desired texture elsewhere.
    Among the free or low cost options, Raw Therapee includes effective global noise reduction with some fairly sophisticated adjustments. It can be a bit twitchy to get the right balance between the various demosaicing algorithms, sharpening, contrast and noise reduction.
    Lightroom 4.x is very easy and straightforward to use, including with the adjustment brushes. It can easily be adjusted to preserve aesthetically pleasing texture while minimizing chroma and luminance noise. Overall it's much more efficient for most of that I do.
  12. By the way, I just read that article on While it's somewhat helpful as a quick overview, it doesn't appear to address the distinctly difference chroma and luminance noise types individually. This can be critical to getting the best possible results.
    Usually a full-auto application of noise reduction will impose excessive smoothing due to luminance NR. This is usually the default setting for Noise Ninja and Noiseware, even when using Noise Ninja's camera-specific defaults.
    I'm not particularly bothered by the texture of luminance noise, which can somewhat resemble b&w film grain with some digital cameras and at some enlargement sizes. Luminance noise from my Nikon D2H and Ricoh GX100 doesn't bother me - it's reminiscent of grain from pushed b&w film. But my old Olympus C-3040Z digicam produces odd looking luminance noise that doesn't resemble film grain much at all, so I tend to apply more smoothing to photos from that camera.
    But chroma noise produces objectionable - to me - color specks and popcorn shaped blotches of color. I usually set chroma noise reduction fairly high and adjust luminance NR to just enough to minimize the gritty appearance without excessive smoothing of desired detail.
    I've noticed that the default NR setting in Lightroom 4.x matches my own preferences - it automatically reduces most chroma noise, but typically leaves luminance NR to the discretion of the photographer.
    Most NR utilities will give you the option to adjust both chroma and luminance noise separately. Noise Ninja even allows viewing the effects of its NR on individual luminance, chroma and color channels. It's overkill for most photos but helpful when working with complex photos such as landscapes or sunsets where noise is obvious in some areas and barely noticeable in others.

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