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Thread: Noise Reduction

  1. #1
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Noise Reduction

    I am at a point where I want to pay closer attention to Noise Reduction. From what research I’ve done, there are two basic options, use the Detail Panel in ACR or Lightroom or use a third party product. The third party products can be plug-ins for Photoshop (or Lightroom), or stand-alone applications.

    The Detail panel is very basic, but can it adequately address most noise reduction situations?

    If a third party solution is needed, here are what appear to be the front runners along with a few comments. Prices are US and don’t represent discounts that may or may not apply.

    Neat Image - $40/$80 for Basic/Pro. Supports camera profiles.

    Nik Dfine - $100. Supports location selective noise reduction. $300/$500 for suite.

    Noise Ninja – $45/$80 for Basic/Pro. Photoshop Plug-in only. Supports camera profiles and location selective noise reduction.

    Topaz DeNoise - $80. Supports camera profiles. Interesting tutorial at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3QeDswRaWo

    I am leaning toward DeNoise but it is relatively new. Other Topaz applications that might be of interest later are Adjust, ReMask and Detail. If I get more than one in the future, I would expect the interface to be similar, potentially making the learning curve easier.

    I do primarily nature photography so zoom, cropping and tonemapping can affect the amount of noise to be corrected and I prefer sharp images.

    With that as the primary usage, what are the comparative benefits and/or drawbacks to these applications?
    Last edited by FrankMi; 4th December 2011 at 04:48 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Noise Reduction

    I use DXO. Not only do you get a good noise editor, you get a full raw editor. It is a great program in my opinion. The only setback is the speed . It takes a couple of min. /image to run the edit.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Frank - I'm not sure that you're looking for a new Raw Processor as part of this, but I'd certainly endorse what Steve has said. I, too, am a DxO Optics Pro user and think it's wonderful tool. But I say that from the perspective of never having gone down the route of Adobe products that incorporate ACR.

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    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Hi Steve and Donald. I'll check into DXO, havent heard of them before. I'll stick with ACR for the RAW processor though as I am familiar with it and it's already paid for. Thanks for the tip!

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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Frank,

    I use mainly ACR for almost everything. I think it's just about up to speed for just about everything now. I do have Noise Ninja. I think the best thing about this program is the fact that you can download the profiles for your camera at all ISO settings from their website. Amazingly accurate.

    I do all my sharpening and noise reduction through masks and I find this works well too.

  6. #6
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Hi Frank,

    You probably already know that my vote will go to Neat Image, since that is where my experience lies. You may have seen my Neat Image, a simple workflow thread.

    I have to say that I tend to use ACR upto about 400 iso if I am cropping a lot and noise is a visible issue.

    If I have shot at extreme; say 1600 or 3200, then it has to be Neat Image.

    The big difference is that with Neat Image, I sample the image in an area of blank detail (and hence visible noise), then that is subtracted from the entire image, so it is a 'shot specific' noise profile, the 'camera model' profiles are only needed if the entire image is busy and contains no blank area to sample from.

    I think Neat Image has the advantage, from your breakdown above, of being available as both a standalone and plug-in, although, in their latest version, the licencing may have changed this.

    I find it only takes a few seconds to apply, so now great delay involved.

    Cheers,

  7. #7
    Kris V's Avatar
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    I am at a point where I want to pay closer attention to Noise Reduction. From what research I’ve done, there are two basic options, use the Detail Panel in ACR or Lightroom or use a third party product. The third party products can be plug-ins for Photoshop (or Lightroom), or stand-alone applications.

    The Detail panel is very basic, but can it adequately address most noise reduction situations?

    If a third party solution is needed, here are what appear to be the front runners along with a few comments. Prices are US and don’t represent discounts that may or may not apply.

    Neat Image - $40/$80 for Basic/Pro. Supports camera profiles.

    Nik Dfine - $100. Supports location selective noise reduction. $300/$500 for suite.

    Noise Ninja – $45/$80 for Basic/Pro. Photoshop Plug-in only. Supports camera profiles and location selective noise reduction.

    Topaz DeNoise - $80. Supports camera profiles. Interesting tutorial at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3QeDswRaWo

    I am leaning toward DeNoise but it is relatively new. Other Topaz applications that might be of interest later are Adjust, ReMask and Detail. If I get more than one in the future, I would expect the interface to be similar, potentially making the learning curve easier.

    I do primarily nature photography so zoom, cropping and tonemapping can affect the amount of noise to be corrected and I prefer sharp images.

    With that as the primary usage, what are the comparative benefits and/or drawbacks to these applications?
    Care fore another take on this?
    I recently bought Scott Kelby's book "The PhotoShop Channel Book". It's a few years old, so I got it for about $ 5.00 at Micro Center.
    There is a complete chapter about noise reduction, using individual channels. I don't know if it's still available, but scanning through this book, I found that there's a lot that can be done using channels. I'm starting to scratch the surface on this...
    According to Kelby, in most cases it's the blue channel that has the most noise, and reducing noise in only that channel keeps better detail in the picture.
    Haven't tried it yet, but I will. After new year, I will have plenty of time ----- I'm RETIRING the end of the year!
    I do have the Topaz suite, and currently I use deNoise, but it does soften the image.
    Just my two cents....

  8. #8
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Frank,
    I have used Neat Image on some pics I took with a high ISO in a dark theater with some decent results. And that is just the trial version. Try it and see. Noel

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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Hi Frank,

    The thing that always pops into my mind first when I hear questions being asked about noise reduction is "why are you needing noise reduction in the first place?" 95 times out of 100 it's due to people having to reveal noise when they post-process due to the shot being significantly under-exposed at time of capture. Just wondering if there's any scope for "an ounce of prevention" here? Personally, I never need noise reduction, and the only time I ever use it is when trying to salvage a grossly under-exposed shot that was taken with a P&S camera. In my experience, all that noise reduction programs seem to achieve is a softening of the image.

    2nd, I see that DxO Optics has been mentioned. Just be aware that as far as I know, DxO won't accept a DNG file as an input file (although it can write it as an output file).

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    Re: Noise Reduction

    LR3 has a very good NR built in. You have LR3 right? Don't like the result what LR3 gives?

  11. #11
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    I am with Colin on this one. If I need to shoot at a high ISO (which I have had ocassion to do) the noise is really only in the solid colours or daker areas. Correct exposuer does help but your sharpening technique also can minimise noise. I have tried 3rd party software and Photoshop noise reduction but all they do reduce sharpness in the image.

    We are all aware that sharpening only exagerates noise so my inital sharpening I mask out all flat areas in ACR and only sharpen the fine edge detail. A flat wall or sky does not need to be sharpened. I find using ACR and and the sharpening mask hold noise to very acceptable levels. Any output sharpening only needs to be very minor and the noise does not translate in print.

    I suppose it really comes down to what you do with the image. If you are keeping them in the digital domain and not printing them mybe noise is more of an issue for you than those who print their work.

  12. #12
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    I am using Noiseware. I use it as a plug-in with Adobe CS5 and I find it works fairly well. Most of the time I use it to reduce noise in scenes where skies are involved. It can be found at http://www.imagenomic.com/nwpg.aspx

  13. #13
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Personally, I never need noise reduction, and the only time I ever use it is when trying to salvage a grossly under-exposed shot that was taken with a P&S camera.
    Hi Colin,

    This may be because a 1Ds3 is better than a point-and-shoot camera for noise.

    I think that some cameras will need a bit of noise reduction. It certainly helps on my 7D for flat areas of the image. Those little pixels can be very noisy for blue skies when shooting birds at higher ISOs. I recently read that the blue channel holds the most noise out of the three (thanks Bruce Fraiser, Real World Color Management). Sometimes it can help to just perform noise reduction on this channel.

    However it still depends on the final output destination and size. In most cases it is not worth worrying about. Only when I am trying my hardest do I put some effort into it.

    What is more noticeable is the reduced contrast that accompanies the noise. As you keep stating, dynamic range, noise and ISO are linked. That needs more work to make the image look good than noise reduction.

    Alex

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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Hi Frank; I use Topaz DeNoise5 because it is easy and does a good job. Ya don't want to be messing about with noise reduction where much more interesting things need to be done. If you bang the exposure up to the right it is possible that no noise reduction will be necessary since high iso only reduces the ev range from shadows, and dark scenes are supposed to look dark.

    800 iso 1/25 17mm Topaz DeNoise5
    Noise Reduction

  15. #15
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    I just remembered this again:


    Discount Voucher for Topaz

  16. #16
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Mark and Chriss - LR3 and ACR use the same engine and I use both. Most of the time there is little or no noise to bother with. On some images, however, I can get an acceptable reduction in noise in either.

    The area I have the most problem with is night shots and distant wildlife that has to be cropped and sharpened. It can also be a significant issue with tonemapped output. One could argue that these images are too far gone and should be trashed anyway. At the point I am in my learning curve, and particularly because it is not always possible to do a reshoot, I'm trying to get a feel for how far I can go so I am pushing the envelope so to speak.

    In addition, I have some favorite images, like 'After the Rain' (http://frostbyte.smugmug.com/Photogr...the-Rain-L.jpg) that I would love to find a way to address the significant noise in the sky.

  17. #17
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Dave, Noel, Image, and Steve - thank you for contributing. Your input is helpful in trying to determine which application would be most appropriate for the common situations that I find I would need for noise reduction.

  18. #18
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Hi Kris! I tried in CS5 to use Filter/Noise/Reduce Noise using each of the three channels on the image at http://frostbyte.smugmug.com/Photogr...the-Rain-L.jpg without much luck. Perhaps this image isn't appropriate for this technique or maybe I'm not using the right technique. Let us know how you get on with your Channel Book techniques when you gat a chance to try them out!

  19. #19
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Hi Colin! I agree that NR shouldn't be needed 'most' of the time, but as I favor available light, high contrast images and like my images really sharp I tend to get in trouble with noise from time to time. There comes a point where I would be willing to trade a little sharpness for a lot of NR or vice-versa.

  20. #20
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Noise Reduction

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    I mask out all flat areas in ACR and only sharpen the fine edge detail. A flat wall or sky does not need to be sharpened. I find using ACR and and the sharpening mask hold noise to very acceptable levels. Any output sharpening only needs to be very minor and the noise does not translate in print.

    I suppose it really comes down to what you do with the image. If you are keeping them in the digital domain and not printing them mybe noise is more of an issue for you than those who print their work.
    Hi Peter, not sure about how to mask in ACR. Are you masking in CS5, saving as a JPG then opening the masked JPG image in ACR or is there a simpler technique I'm not aware of?

    I rarely print and when I do, it's on my home printer so digital display is what I am primarily concerned with. I like to use the best images for a rotating wallpaper for my PC and to share with friends and family.
    Last edited by FrankMi; 5th December 2011 at 01:03 PM.

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