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Anti-noise software or technique

SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
edited October 2013 in home

I need an anti-noise software or technique suggestion. I shot an event that was in low lighting indoors and a lot of dancing. And no white walls. In fact no walls really, very high black ceiling and black distant walls (it was a theater). So I did the best I could and so far don't have any regrets or kicking myself moments. But I did have to shoot at 2500 and 3200 a lot. So I have a lot of noise.... worsened by darkish exposures which I think is preferable to too much flash. Sometimes I shot with no flash and sometimes with flash dialed back by -2 which was sometimes a nice balance.

So, I am looking for an anti-noise suggestion to get rid of some noise. I don't use anything now.



  • Are you shooting raw files or jpg? Lightroom or camera raw are great for noise reduction. There are also other software companies the make noise reduction software. If you are doing any type of professional photography there has to be some type of post production so hopefully you have access to one of the first two I mentioned.
  • Thanks. I shot RAW. I do not use Lightroom. I process in ACR, Adobe camera raw, I do shoot professionally. I know there are a lot of noise reduction softwares but I do not know which are the better ones and I don't have a lot of need for them as I do not usually shoot with such high ISO. So I don't want to spend a lot of money. On the other hand I want to spend enough to get a good one.
  • I opened one noisy photo in ACR and went to the noise reduction feature there. Luminance is default at 0 and color is default at 25. I'm assuming these are defaults since I've never used. I slide the sliders and I see no difference. Hmmm...
  • LR trial is free for 14 days. Also, NIK has excellent noise reduction software-better than LR any day but LR will do you just fine.

    First shot is with LR noise reduction
    Second is w/o noise reduction.
    NR reduction settings included.

    ISO was 25,600 at f2.0

  • MikeZMikeZ Member
    edited October 2013
    In acr you have to zoom to 100 percent to see the effect of the noise reduction. Use the luminance and color sliders in acr to reduce noise. I do most of the final sharpening in photoshop. I keep the acr sharpening low other wise you will be sharpening noise and that is ugly. I set the sharpening mask high, holding down the alt key on a pc to define only the edges. You will have to experiment with the other sliders to see if they are needed for your photo. Sometimes there is more color noise and so forth... there are some really in depth articles online specifically about acr and lightroom noise reduction. This is just a quicky info reply. Acr works very well for me.
  • Thanks TravelinTrevor. The photo is beautiful. But I do not see any difference between the two. Maybe a little bit in the background. Thanks for the settings though. Mike, the funny thing is I was zooming to 100% and sliding the sliders a lot in both directions and I don't see any difference. No change. Weird. Maybe I should try NIK. I don't sharpen these high ISO pix as yes it makes it worse.
  • SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
    edited October 2013
    Here are a few pix to show you what I am talking about. Although the women appear to be performing it's really an impromptu performance at a Halloween party. Not a real performance and so the lights were not as stage lights would be -- far brighter. So I did not have the great light you usually have at a real performance. These pix have been reduced in size here. I think these were all shot with an ISO of either 2500 or 3200.
  • Well, afterwards I thought to include a 100 crop but I already left the house. But at least you can tell that the noise reduction works without softening the picture too much. And you can sharpen high ISO-I actually do not change my high ISO sharpening levels at all, just when I apply it.

    Here are closer crops

    1-as shot
    2 sharpening and noise reduction

  • Thanks. Yes, now I see it. Subtle and nice.
  • what do you think?
    download them and compare
  • Wow, yes, thanks. Much better. And you did that so quickly. I'll send you all 2,788 files. :-)

    I do not have LR but I'm pleased to see what can be done. Did you just eyeball it or do you have a formula you tend to use most of the time?
  • For these, I looked in the shadows and then adjusted from there but for my files I actually have a preset that I apply since I know the 5d MK III well. I only take a closer look for large pint orders.

    You should try a 30 day trial. LR is awesome!
  • If you"re already using Photoshop after ACR check out Imageomic Noiseware.
    http://imagenomic.com/nw.aspx You can batch process and it can be fine tuned for both Luminace and Color noise.
    Free trial
  • I don't think the photos shot at ISO 3200 are particularly noisy especially since your camera is capable of shooting at ISO 25,600. I routinely shoot at ISO 6400 with Canon's 1D Mark III and 1D Mark IV; the trick is to Expose to the Right then lower the exposure slightly during raw processing. ETTR minimizes the High ISO noise and whatever noise remains is easily be handled in Adobe Camera Raw.

    You do not need to use Lightroom; the same processing is available in ACR (what version of ACR are you using, btw?) I've used Lightroom since its first beta release in 2006 and while I'm an advocate for the program I also realize that others have a defined workflow with which they are already comfortable and there's no need to add Lightroom when the exact functionality is already available in Adobe Camera Raw.

    Here's what I suggest:

    1. Select a single image you consider to be noisy and open it in Adobe Camera Raw

    2. Make sure you have the correct exposure and other adjustments in the Basic Panel completed.

    3. Click on the Detail Panel, zoom the image to 200 percent and move to an area of the image that contains Shadow detail and noise.

    4. Reduce all 5 Noise Reduction sliders to 0. (the Color Detail slider normally works in conjuction with the Color slider so lower the Color Detail slider first)

    5. Once all 5 sliders are set to 0, select the Color slider and move it to the right while watching the shadow area of the photo. Ideally you want to raise the slider until the red, green, and blue specks (Color Noise) disappear and only the monochromatic (luminance) noise remains.

    6. Now select the Luminance noise slider and increase it until the visible noise is minimized (you don't not want to remove all noise or your photo will lose detail).

    7. Once you've applied the Color and Luminance noise sliders you can adjust the other three sliders but they are less important that the main two sliders.

    8. You can now save the NR settings as a preset by clicking on the fly-out menu icon (it is the small icon to the right of the Details heading) and selecting "Save Settings." In the dialog box that appears, deselect all the options except Luminance Noise Reduction and Color Noise Reduction and click on the "Save" button. Give the preset a nice descriptive name like "Theater Party", click on Save and you're done. You can now press Cancel to back out of ACR without adjusting the photo.

    9.The final step is to open Adobe Bridge, navigate to the folder containing the files for processing, press CTRL + A to select the all, right-click on any of the selected thumbnails and choose "Develop Settings" from the context menu that appears. Once you point your mouse to Develop Settings you will see another flyout menu with the previously saved NR preset listed at the bottom. Just click on it and the NR will be applied to all the selected photos.

    10. An alternative to step 9 is to open all the images in ACR, click on the "Select All" button in the upper-left corner, then click on the fly-out menu icon, select "Apply Preset" then the preset you saved earlier. However its more efficient to use step 9 since when ACR is run from within Photoshop it has a hard limit of 200 open files at a time. When you run it from Adobe Bridge you can open as many files as you want; the only constraint is the amount of system memory.

    See this NR tutorial from Thomas Shue; its designed for Lightroom but the same principles apply:

    Also how are you delivering these files to your client? Will they be full-sized or reduced? Reducing the size minimizes noise so you may want to crop and/or resize BEFORE applying noise reduction. You may also find you don't need as much NR when the file size is reduced.

    If you really want a third-party Noise Reduction solution I would suggest either Imagenomic Noiseware or Topaz Denoise. I've tested most if not all of the available noise software and those two work the best in my opinion.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited October 2013
    I agree with Jan, if you don't own any noise software or Lightroom there is absolutely no need to spend money, just use ACR.

    In fact, if you do the adjustments right, it's one of the best NR tools out there.

    I normally apply 10 and Zero on detail but I am using a Nikon D3s which is great anyway, but certainly no need to spend money, not unless you are feeling the need to.
  • I use NeatImage. Quick and easy solution if you want to spend around 30 bucks, but I mainly use it because it has a linux port. Attached photos are unedited aside NR. 5D classic and 3200 ISO.
  • Thanks very much everyone. I'm going to work with ACR, sounds like it will do as long as I can figure it out. I shoot with a D700 by the way. Jan 1215 I process with CS4 so ACR 4. I do have 5 and 6 but I prefer 4. That looks like a great step-by-step guide in ACR Jan 1215 so thank you. I'm going to print it out and give it a try. For events like this I deliver the pix as jpegs on a CD. They are large, ratcheted back only a bit from original size -- from about 4200 on long side to about 3600 -- so they can do what they need to with them. If reducing a bit more would improve noise I can do that as few if any of these will end up poster size. I do like Imagenomic. Haven't tried the NR but it makes a portrait software called Portraiture that I use almost every day and it's great. I appreciate all these responses. Thank you so much.
  • If you're using CS4 then then version of ACR you have is version 5.

    I would suggest using the latest version of ACR that you have because the processing algorithms were improved in the last two versions.
  • When shooting in Camera Raw at high ISOs, you have options. Either noise reduction in camera or some 3rd party software as mentioned above. However, too much reduction results in plastic looking images. Best bet is to spend some time learning how to make a better exposure so you minimize this problem. A properly exposed image should have minimal noise.
    If you are shooting portraits, you can also reduce the " clarity slider " on ACR to -20 or thereabouts. This not only softens the skin of your subject but also reduces noise a bit. You can still add sharpness back later if desired.
    Some noise will also not even show if you are resizing images to 4X6 or 5X7.
    Nothing beats getting it right in camera so you don't have these problems.
  • Thank you jan1215.

    Thank you Skip. Yes, totally agree about getting it right in the first place. I am wondering how these exposure could have been better. I cranked the ISO as high as I felt I could go -- 3200 (the camera only goes to 6500 or so anyway). Went down to f2.8, best I had. Shutter speed had to be as high as I went (160) as they were dancing. Of course higher SS would have been better but then darker. As for flash, if I put any higher than minus 2 the pix were 'flashy' and there were shadows. So I felt the -2 was a nice balance and may've stopped some action. And at times I used no flash to fire quickly and take advantage of the available stage lights for drama. Wondering how a better exposure might have been achieved?
    Perhaps a higher ISO would have resulted in a better exposure and therefore less noise despite higher ISO?
  • When shooting in Camera Raw at high ISOs, you have options. Either noise reduction in camera or some 3rd party software as mentioned above.
    I don't know of any third-party raw converter that reads and applies the in-camera noise reduction settings. ACR, Lightroom, Capture One, DxO Optics Pro, PhotoNinja, etc....none of them use the noise reduction set in the camera. In fact, third-party raw converters only apply four settings: ISO, shutter speed, aperture and White Balance. Only the software provided by the camera manufacturers can apply all of the in-camera settings.

    Skipperlange, I shoot lots of sports in low-light settings where I need to get 1/500 to 1/800 shutter speed to freeze action. I crank up my camera to ISO 6400 to get the required speed and then worry about noise reduction later in post production. If you Expose to the Right all you'll need in post is to reduce the exposure by about 1/3- 1 stop and you'll get reasonably clean images. Then with the Noise Reduction steps above you can totally clean up the images. It also helps to know how much exposure headroom you have above what is shown on the in-camera histogram. Typically, when shooting raw, you have approximately two stops above what the histogram shows.
  • ACR/LR. Canon 7D at 12,800.

    ACR/LR colour noise defaults @ 25 so I turned it down for the demo.

    No NR


    First use the colour slider to get rid of the colour blotchiness. Once you get it so it is satisfactory don't go any higher as it will alter hues.


    Then apply luminance NR. Careful with this as well because the higher you go the less sharp your image will be. Adjust to taste


    Final results

  • Forgot to say. I stopped using 3rd party NR software a few years ago because Adobe does such a great job.
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