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Thread: Neat Image, a simple workflow

  1. #1
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Neat Image, a simple workflow

    Those that have bought a Neat Image product may find my simplified workflow useful.

    I find that if I just do the four mouse clicks on the big, bold steps below without anything else, it will improve things in most noisy images, usually without noticeable degradation of fine detail.

    I have used/am using Neat Image with PS Elements 6/8 and now CS5, although this will work when used in other versions of Elements, Photoshop and many other image editors (e.g. Corel, Serif, IrfanView, etc.). I started with the Home+ (8 bit) product at V5.9, I have since upgraded to the Pro+ (16 bit), currently at V6.1. There is a separate 64 bit version (v6.2) which is priced separately, but with deals for current owners, make contact with their support team - I've always had good, fast service from them too.

    With image open in PS Elements;
    1) From menu bar: Filter > Neat Image > Reduce Noise
    Neat Image will open with the left hand of two tabs active; "Device Noise Profile"
    2) Click the Auto profile button, wait a little while for the action to complete, you should see a blue box {see b), e) and g) below}
    3) Click on the second, Noise Filter Settings tab
    4) Click the Preview button to optionally review the effect.
    i) Use the mouse scroll wheel to zoom in to 100%
    ii) Click and drag preview box to a different area of the image as necessary, as you do this, after a short delay you will see the preview area noise reduction kick in, this is helpful to assess effects on fine detail
    iii) See also c), d) and f) below
    5) Click Apply button, the image will reappear in Elements and after a short delay the noise filtering will be applied.

    I haven't found the need to go any deeper than the suggested tweaks in Notes b) or c) below - but then I may just be lazy, or too easily pleased
    For the fastidious, there are enormous possibilities for fine tuning, batching, etc., see the Neat Image website for details.


    Notes:
    a) Always do this before you crop an image and at full resolution, in fact I usually do it first thing after the RAW conversion, or on opening if original image was jpg.
    b) If the Auto profile didn't achieve the desired results, this may be because it chose an area of image that isn't relevant to the final shot. If so, in step 2, just drag the box to a more relevant area and click Auto profile button again.
    c) I generally just go with the "Noise Reduction Amounts" at their defaults of 60% Luminance and 100% Chrominance, but these can be tweaked (on right hand side) in step 4
    d) I don't use Neat Image to apply sharpening or other processing
    e) Very occasionally Auto Profile may not be able to find an area of image that contains no image detail with which to sample the noise (red sample box) - in this case if it gets it wrong it may remove required image detail, fear not - in step 2, just drag the sample box to other areas until a better result is obtained. See g) also
    f) If you want to abort the correction altogether, just click the red X to Close the app, you will be returned to Elements.
    g) If you really don't have an area of no detail to sample only noise from, e.g. a shot in a forest with only trees and leaves in; download a set of profiles for your camera model and use the one for the image type (jpg or RAW) and iso speed that was used for the shot, instead. See their website for further info. on noise profiles

    When I used the Fuji S6500 I used this on almost every picture I shot at, or over, 200 ISO, I would urge anyone with a bridge or compact camera that is bothered by noise in their pics to do the same.

    Hope that helps,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 16th September 2010 at 09:14 PM. Reason: Updated again

  2. #2
    rogerb's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Image, a simple workflow

    Dave:
    Good, simplified, 4-step instructions for using what is an excellent program. The number of control options can be daunting for the new user.
    As with any noise reduction program, examine the preview at 100% to make sure you are not losing detail in the image. It is possible to end up with a Moire effect if the image has very fine repetitive patterns (sand dunes is where I discovered the problem) but this is the case with any noise reduction program.
    Although you mentioned that you don't use Neat Image for sharpening, I find it to be quite an effective tool for that function but, obviously, that needs to be applied at the end of the post-processing procedure.
    Take care,
    Roger

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Image, a simple workflow

    Thanks Roger,

    I haven't encountered the moire effect yet, so thanks for the 'heads up' on that.

    I did have an image of tree bark once that was effectively the same all over with no plain area to sample from. A good reason to include a WhiBal or grey card in shot!

    More seriously, the fall back from here I think I would adopt is to sample of another image shot at same time with same ISO. Or use one of the downloadable profiles for the camera concerned. Must try that one day - meaning I haven't needed to so far.

    FWIW
    I just upgraded to the Pro+ version for 16 bit capability, it all went fine and it only cost the difference between Home+ (V5.9) which I bought in June 2008 and Pro+ (V6.0).
    So yes, I think it's good too, I have no connection with them other than as a satisfied customer.

    Cheers,

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    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Image, a simple workflow

    Dave, I finally got a chance to try your simplified workflow and it was perfect. I guess now I can explore more complex controls on the software. Thanks a lot!

    I have to say though, for some reason, I am still not able to use the plug in from within Photoshop. It is installed in the right folder but does not work.

    Thanks again,

    Alis

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Image, a simple workflow

    Hi Alis,

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis View Post
    Dave, I finally got a chance to try your simplified workflow and it was perfect. I guess now I can explore more complex controls on the software. Thanks a lot!
    Great news, no worries, I'm here to help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis View Post
    I have to say though, for some reason, I am still not able to use the plug in from within Photoshop. It is installed in the right folder but does not work.
    I believe you will need to re-start Photoshop after installing Neat Image, or it won't appear in the PS Filters menu, but assuming you did that, here is what to try next.


    Hmmm, I was intrigued, so I looked where it is in my system and I have to say it isn't (quite) where I expected.

    I would have expected, for a Plugin to work in Elements or Photoshop, you need the file, in this case called NeatImage.8bf, placed in the following folder tree (on a Windows Vista PC):
    C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements 6.0\Plugins\Filters

    Now obviously you have something different to my "Photoshop Elements 6.0", probably "Photoshop CS4".

    What I actually discovered is that my NeatImage.8bf file is actually just in the
    C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop Elements 6.0\Plugins folder, not in the Filters sub-folder.

    Don't do this unless you have already re-started Photoshop after installing NI and confirmed the test in step 5 below fails.

    1) Close Photoshop.
    2) Make sure you have Windows Explorer set up to show all file extensions, even recognised ones.
    3) Carefully open the above path
    3a) Find where the "NeatImage.8bf" file is and move it to where mine is (if not already there)
    4) Re-start Photoshop
    5) See if the Photoshop menu path: Filter > Neat Image > Reduce Noise now exists
    6) If it doesn't work, put the file back where you found it
    7) Summon assistance from Neat Image Tech support by e-mail.

    Disclaimer: if it all stops working, don't blame me please
    So, if you're not confident moving Windows system files around, or you are a Mac person, then go straight to step 7 above.

    Hope that helps,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 26th July 2009 at 08:59 AM.

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    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Image, a simple workflow

    Thanks again, Dave, for the detailed instructions. I still can not open the filter from inside PS4 and I will have to call their support.

    However, I used the software on this picture I shot the other day (the first one is the original and the second, as you can tell, is the processed):

    Neat Image, a simple workflow


    Neat Image, a simple workflow


    To me it sort of looks nice but not natural. Do you think I have overdone it and what would you recommend to prevent this. I think if I get this part right, I am all set!

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Alis; 5th August 2009 at 03:35 PM.

  7. #7
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Image, a simple workflow

    Hi Alis,

    Thanks for the reminder

    Do you think I have overdone it and what would you recommend to prevent this
    Yup.

    Where did it sample from?
    On this picture, I would have made it use the blank wall in top right corner - if that wasn't where it went on "Auto", so invoke e) in step 4. e.g. drag the box there, then re-click the Auto Profile button.

    If that's still too agressive; be sure to scroll around the picture (at 100%) to review the effect on different surfaces; e.g. skin, cushion, carpet, then invoke c) in step 4 too. e.g. by winding down the luminance correction from 60% (or whatever it is), before you click Apply.

    After a few pics you'll soon get the hang of it and learn to predict when Auto sample is unlikely to give the best result.

    Hope that helps,

  8. #8
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Image, a simple workflow

    Further to the above and mainly for the benefit of others;

    Neat Image (and similar NR progs) work by inverting whatever pattern it finds in the sample area (expecting this to be noise alone); but if you let it sample on skin, or cushion, or carpet, etc., not only will it remove the noise, but also the texture of the surface it samples.

    Sometimes this can be what you want, for example; Dave Crowe defreckled

    This may seem counter intuitive to some; e.g. "I want to remove the noise on the trees, so that's where I'll sample", but that's why I am spelling it out. Sorry if it is labouring the point

    For just noise reduction, always sample on something completely devoid of texture and patterns.
    Hence the suggestion it is done before cropping, or you may not have such an area (big enough) left in shot!

    Regards,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 5th August 2009 at 12:13 PM. Reason: clarify to death

  9. #9
    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: Neat Image, a simple workflow

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Further to the above and mainly for the benefit of others;

    Neat Image (and similar NR progs) work by inverting whatever pattern it finds in the sample area (expecting this to be noise alone); but if you let it sample on skin, or cushion, or carpet, etc., not only will it remove the noise, but also the texture of the surface it samples.

    Sometimes this can be what you want, for example; Dave Crowe defreckled

    This may seem counter intuitive to some; e.g. "I want to remove the noise on the trees, so that's where I'll sample", but that's why I am spelling it out. Sorry if it is labouring the point

    For just noise reduction, always sample on something completely devoid of texture and patterns.
    Hence the suggestion it is done before cropping, or you may not have such an area (big enough) left in shot!

    Regards,
    Thanks, Dave. Very helpful!

  10. #10

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    Re: Neat Image, a simple workflow

    There are diffent versions of Neat - standalone, and plugin...is it possible that you have the s/a? I've C&P' d this from their site;

    "#Pricing and Availability

    Neat Image v6.1 32-bit /Win is available in five editions, from the basic Demo edition to the most feature-rich Pro+ edition:

    * Demo edition: freeware edition of Neat Image with limited functionality; free; download

    * Home edition: standalone edition supporting 8-bit images and limited batching; $29.90; purchase

    * Home+ edition: the Home edition with added Photoshop-compatible plug-in; $49.90; purchase

    * Pro edition: standalone with 8/16-bit image processing and unlimited batching; $59.90; purchase

    * Pro+ edition: the Pro edition with added Photoshop-compatible plug-in; $74.90; purchase

    For differences between editions please see the feature map."

    It's well worth either downloading or creating a profile set for your camera. If you look under "Tools" for "Calibration Target" you'll find instructions there.

    HTH

    proseak

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