Best Way or Application to reduce Noise ???

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by PantelisMor, Oct 11, 2016.

  1. PantelisMor

    PantelisMor Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 14, 2013

    I always use LR for post proseccing. I am Happy with this App. I just sometimes wonder which is the best way to reduce Noise ??
    I use Dfine2 and Noise reduction in LR.

    Is there any better way or application ?

    Thx a lot.
  2. ionian

    ionian Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 20, 2016
    Kent, UK
    In my experience, LR noise reduction isn't great but the Nik noise reduction is much more effective. What sort of output are you producing (digital, large print) and what sort of noise is it? Is it grain, or colour noise? What's causing it - high ISO, pushing shadows in post, long exposure?

    There are different remedies for each, and so while a global slider (such as lightroom) may deal with some issues, for really polishing an image you may use some complimentary treatments in local areas to produce the best results. Of course, you can ETTR or bracket exposures to reduce some issues at the capture stage.
  3. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    I personally really like the approach of Neat Image - basically, it builds a specific noise profile for your sensor at a given ISO/exposure duration vs a known test image (or even specifically a test image per stage-of-toolchain output, so it can deal with say Oly Viewer 3's NR/sharpening, lightroom's default sharpening/nr, lightroom's stuff turned off, lightroom with blue channel saturation turned up, etc), combined with very fine scale control over sharpening and noise reduction. v8 of it launched a few months back and added a bunch of new stuff - known artifact removal, ultra low level frequency noise reduction, selectable frequency edge smoothing, gpu acceleration etc. I use it as the photoshop plugin version and I use photoshop's masking tools (either layer mask or select>focus area) to control what it hits - typically just as "out of focus - high NR and very little sharpening, in focus - very little nr and high sharpening". Between Photoshop's various tools and its ability to reveal/hide layers at different blending strengths, it does a pretty good job being able to target different bits of an image with different nr/sharpning profiles. There's a demo version of NI8 on their site that is AFAIK pretty much identical to the full version, except it can only (well, only realistically) work as the last stage in a toolchain on the final jpg output.

    Lightroom does an OK job for some tasks (it can do a decent job of colour noise assuming it's not too out-there to begin with) but I find it's too inflexible to use on its own, the area adjustments like adjustment brush only have "noise" and "sharpening", it gives you the ability to amplify colour channels without actually being able to effectively control the resultant noise in that channel, it has a blunt "masking" setting that doesn't really allow for different frequencies being able to take different amounts of sharpening before oversharpening is apparent, etc. For me it's always been like - here is a scale of noise reduction and sharpening that go to 1000, except everything other than about between 0 and 50 make it look like an airbrush painting or a ferocious case of the pox. Plus, let's face it, as noble an endeavor as it is giving you graduated/radial/brush masks is, it's fiddly as hell for actually bashing an image with problems, it gives no real easy idea what you have even applied adjustments to without switching between several different panels and mouse-overing several different bits of the image, etc. That shit is what photoshop is for.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
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  4. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    1- I'm not going to say that LR has the absolute best noise reduction around, but it does have better noise reduction than a lot of people give it credit for. Learning how to use LR's sharpening tools better can help because what you do in sharpening can increase the noise, and the visibility of noise, in the image and what some people see as a noise issue in an image can sometimes be a sharpening issue. Second, you can apply noise reduction in the adjustment brush and the graduated and radial filter tools so you can apply noise reduction at a local level. You can apply one level of noise reduction to the image as a whole and then apply an increase in noise reduction to, say, a noisy shadow area or you can reduce noise reduction in a brighter area where the overall level of noise reduction is reducing sharpness a little. There are things you can do with noise reduction in LR that many are not aware of so if you aren't aware of everything you can do with noise reduction in LR its worth exploring LR's noise reduction capabilities further.

    2- You didn't say whether you have a perpetual licence version of LR or the CC subscription version. If you have the CC subscription version you also have Photoshop and there's a pile of noise reduction options in Photoshop that you have available for free.
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  5. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    I use/love Topaz Denoise in post for problem images. If it is just light noise reduction, Lightroom works just fine for me.
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  6. Drdul

    Drdul Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    May 16, 2015
    Vancouver, BC
    At higher ISOs (1000+) I get better results from third-party noise reduction software than from Lightroom. I've used several noise reduction apps, and have settled on Imagenomic's Noiseware (I also have Topaz deNoise installed as a backup option, but I rarely find I need it). I make only basic exposure adjustments in LR, then export to Photoshop, run Noiseware and then make further adjustments to the image before saving back to LR.
  7. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 10, 2013
    I'm using Topaz Denoise at home, and find it pretty great.
    Neat Image should be worth checking out too though (I certainly will). We're using Neatvideo at work (the product version of it for "moving" images) and it's pretty fantastic too.

    Both have trials/demo versions. I'd have a look at those and see, whichever one works better in your workflow...
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  8. nublar

    nublar Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 22, 2013
    DXO Prime
  9. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Kiillarney, OzTrailEYa
  10. PantelisMor

    PantelisMor Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 14, 2013
    Thx a lot all of you for your comments.

    My output is digital, the sort of noise is grain. The reasons are High ISO and long exposures.

    I give a try to Topaz Denoise.

    Any other comment would be helpful....
  11. SimonL

    SimonL Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 15, 2009
    NW England
    Imagenomic Noiseware is very fast which allows you to almost browse through the presets in real time to find the correct level you require. I always get the feeling that the treatments it gives are kinder and less smeary than some of the others progs.
  12. Witzgall

    Witzgall Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 23, 2012
    I have been very happy with dxo prime for raw images. It is slow, but very effective.
  13. PantelisMor

    PantelisMor Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 14, 2013
    I have the above picture
    Dropbox - PMoromalos_20160315_0017.ORF

    I believe it has a lot of noise. I tried Dfine and topaz Denoise ( I don't know to use it well). The results were disappointing

    Any help ??
  14. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 10, 2013
    That's kind of a worst case scenario :)  A lot of fine detail (pebbles/rocks, needles, waves), a very underexposed foreground and ISO 2500...
    I had a quick play with Topaz Denoise and couldn't get much out of this too...

    Since Piggsy mentioned Neat Image (and I know just how good Neat Video is) I downloaded the demo for that.
    ... it surprised me again - positively.
    Unfortunatley the demo doesn't let me render images bigger than 1600x1600, so I didn't bother... I recommend downloading the trial yourself.
    (Don't expect 'magic', (a lot of image detail is simply lost in noise) but Neat Image does a pretty darn good job in removing noise without smudging the fine image detail... )
  15. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 All-Pro

    Haha that's a pretty cool image for demoing NR/sharp software though, you have the waves and the needles with very fine detail and high frequency and it's basically right at the same pitch as the sensor noise.

    My NI8 (I don't have a 2500iso profile set up so it's just an auto one)



    I'd probably want to do it as 3-4 stages in layers though - the needles and edges, the waves, plain clouds (you can see NR could be pushed further on them here but this is about the point where you're not losing any of the needles), and the dark land foreground would ideally all have different noise reduction and sharpening.
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  16. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    OL, I'll bite. You've got a sunset scene with a bright sky and sea and a dark foreground area. If it had been me, I might have given a little bit more exposure because you could have done that without running into clipping in the highlights which you don't want to do, it's a nice sky and I'd like to keep the detail there. A bit more exposure and there would be a bit less noise to worry about but I'm not unhappy about your exposure choice.

    But how much noise I see in that image depends on how much I increase the exposure setting in LR and how much I lift the shadows. If I do a minimal increase in exposure and lift shadows a little but still keep that foreground area reasonably dark, which is how I would process the photo, I don't see an objectionable amount of noise and I'm happy with the result I get using Lightroom, but that's me. In the interests of full disclosure I like to keep shadow areas shadowy and go for mood when processing an image like this one, I would not go for detail. The way I would process that image you would just be able to make out the rocky ground in the foreground but you would not be able to see a lot of detail. I don't try to bring out lots of detail from shadow areas and I also don't try to sharpen detail in those areas strongly, and in this image there is little fine detail that is not in a shadow area so I wouldn't sharpen strongly, I'd use a radius greater than 1.0 rather than reducing the radius as I would if I was trying to bring out fine detail, and I'd keep LR's default sharpening detail setting of 25 rather than increasing that setting. I'd also set masking so that there is virtually no sharpening being applied to the sky and clouds. I didn't see "a lot of noise" when I processed the image like that.

    On the other hand, if I really exposure and lift shadows to bring out a lot of detail in that foreground and make everything "nice and clear" there, then I do see a lot of noise. If that's the way you wanted the image to turn out then I would say that you underexposed the shot considerably for the kind of result you wanted or that you should have bracketed exposures and gone the HDR route.

    So, what kind of result were you chasing? Show us what you did with the image in Lightroom and what the noise was like. Tell us what your settings in the Basic and Curves panel were. What did you do to the file because with this sort of image what you do to the file has a big impact on how much noise you see, and you really have to tailor your exposure to the kind of result you want to get if you are going to avoid creating noise problems. As a guess, I'd say you tried to get quite a bit of detail in that foreground area and the exposure you used won't support delivering that kind of detail without showing noise.

    I'm not saying that you can avoid noise, and I'm not saying that you can solve all noise problems without going outside Lightroom but what I am saying is that for lighting situations like the one you faced in this scene, you can do a hell of a lot to minimise the noise issues you're going to have by having a clear idea of what kind of result you want and actually setting your exposure with that result in mind. If you want good detail in shadow areas then you need to start by giving an exposure that will deliver low noise and good detail in the shadows and that can mean blowing out your highlights. In scenes like this you have a choice between good highlights or good shadows and the exposure you used delivers good highlights. If you try to get good shadow detail in this sort of scene from an exposure like this one, you're always going to run into noise.
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