Old 10-23-2007, 08:14 PM   #1
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Default HOW TO: Noise Reduction

I think its finally time for me to give in and learn some tricks about reducing noise. I've been out on many cloudy days lately forcing me down to ISO 400 and now even at 800x600 I have an annoying amount of noise. I just downloaded the free version of NeatImage and I have played around with the setting but can't seem to get it right. I was wondering what settings those f you that use NeatImage usually tune to?

Advice on other free/easy to download programs would be greatly appreciated!

TIA
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:30 AM   #2
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Sorry, Andrew, I'm not the one to ask. But one inquiry for you, what is so bad about the noise reduction in PS? I use noise reduction in PS Elements fairly often with good results.
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:03 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
Sorry, Andrew, I'm not the one to ask. But one inquiry for you, what is so bad about the noise reduction in PS? I use noise reduction in PS Elements fairly often with good results.
I only have PS7.0 and I don't believe there is noise reduction, unless I am missing something?
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:24 AM   #4
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That's an old PS. Of course, I am not familiar with new or old! But in PS Elements 3 it is in Filter/Noise/Reduce Noise. No chance that you would have missed that, so I presume you don't have it.

I've not used them, but the big names I read about are Noise Ninja and NeatImage.
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
That's an old PS. Of course, I am not familiar with new or old! But in PS Elements 3 it is in Filter/Noise/Reduce Noise. No chance that you would have missed that, so I presume you don't have it.

I've not used them, but the big names I read about are Noise Ninja and NeatImage.
I trust www.cnet.com/downloads for downloading programs and I originally searched for NoiseNinja but no luck so I re-installed the free version of NeatImage. I just can't seem to get the hang of the sliders and what not. I really am a simple person. Anyone care to chime in?
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Old 10-24-2007, 04:34 AM   #6
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In my experiences, adjusting the top two levels takes away details. I try to only adjust the "Noise Reduction Amounts." On default, it's set at 60%. I move it up to 100% and it usually does the trick (to a certain extent).

I'm also not really good at noise reduction either. I've had Neat Image for about two years now and still have trouble.
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:30 AM   #7
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I tried NeatImage and couldn't get consistent results either. I now use Noise Ninja. Available from

http://www.picturecode.com/

as either a plug in or standalone app.

If you use the auto profiling feature it can be a bit aggressive with noise reduction and you end up losing detail, especially on vegetation. Try manual profiling and choose a sample from somewhere like a featureless area of sky.

I also use NN for final sharpening
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Old 10-24-2007, 01:58 PM   #8
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I've had good luck with the noise reduction built into PaintShop Pro 9 (not the most recent version, but, it was the last version they put out that had useful functionality). The only issue I've ever had using that software is that it doesn't support saving/working in the CMYK color space. If that's not a big deal to you, you can pick that software up for $10 from Amazon. It can handle Raw images, curves, levels, USM, and so on and so fourth... It also supports Photoshop plugins. Why it doesn't get more attention, I don't know... like I said, the only thing I haven't been able to do with it was some CMYK stuff.
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Old 10-24-2007, 02:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ottergoose
I've had good luck with the noise reduction built into PaintShop Pro 9 ... It also supports Photoshop plugins. Why it doesn't get more attention, I don't know
I've not used PSP myself, but my general sense from reading photography boards is that it is excellent software and may be better value for the money than PS Elements for those people who have no desire to build up PS-specific skills for an eventual move up. I didn't know it runs PS plug-ins. I ultimately chose PS Elements in part because I felt that I would be learning a PS-way of doing things that would be useful down the road.
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Old 10-25-2007, 02:19 AM   #10
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Andrew,

I used the free version of Neat Image for awhile and it worked well, as long as there was a large enough area of sky for the profiling feature to work on. Without that, that percent match didn't work and it wiped out detail. Even so, I then usually faded the action by about 30% to 50% in Photo Shop.

I finally tried Noise Ninja (recommended by some pretty big name photographers) and found it well worth the price. It too can be aggressive, but you can manually move the five smoothing and sharpening sliders to get the image working the way you want, plus you can adjust how it affects each color individually.

It's only $44.95 as a PS plug in or $34.95 as a stand alone. It's worth it!

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Old 10-30-2007, 02:39 AM   #11
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I was messing around with some noise reduction software last night.... and my kids disappeared!!!




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Old 10-30-2007, 03:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe the Photog
I was messing around with some noise reduction software last night.... and my kids disappeared!!!




Joe
EMAIL ME THE COPY!!!!




I use a stand alone copy of Noise Ninja. All I do is profile, set the sharpening, then brush away the loss the detail in the trees and weeds.

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Old 10-30-2007, 04:06 AM   #13
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Hey Andrew, it looks like Nick Hart is the only one willing to give you some numbers.

I tried the Neat Image freebie, and it seemed to work pretty good at the default settings. Sometimes I just had trouble finding a sample area - doesn't like choppy water or cloudy sky.
I'm apprehensive about using the PSE4 noise filter because I can't figure out the optimum settings, you know, the numbers no one wants to give.
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Limits
I'm apprehensive about using the PSE4 noise filter because I can't figure out the optimum settings, you know, the numbers no one wants to give.
All right, Jim, message received!

In PSE3, unlike unsharp mask, where I start with 75/0.6/0 every time, there is no noise reduction setting that consistently works for me. It's different every case. For that matter, sometimes one pass works well, but sometimes two passes works better.
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Old 10-30-2007, 06:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Limits
. . . the numbers no one wants to give.
Thanks, Jim. You seem to be the only who picked up on that. LOL I guess I'll just have to keep playing with NeatImage although its kind of like a number lock; there are A LOT of combinations to try until I hit the right one. I was hoping to get a little hint as to where to start.
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Old 11-23-2007, 12:35 PM   #16
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I only use Neatimage & always use the default settings. Sometimes I'll pass it through twice, but only for something like an ISO 1600 wedding shots.
I'm surpised your getting so much noise at ISO 400....what camera are you using now?
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Old 11-23-2007, 03:38 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill
I only use Neatimage & always use the default settings. Sometimes I'll pass it through twice, but only for something like an ISO 1600 wedding shots.
I'm surpised your getting so much noise at ISO 400....what camera are you using now?
Rebels give tons of noise at ISO 400. Here's a dark, cloudy day shot I took the other day as an example:

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Old 11-23-2007, 03:53 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
Rebels give tons of noise at ISO 400. Here's a dark, cloudy day shot I took the other day as an example:
Gotcha. I have no suggestions other than Neatimage. I used Noise Ninja & various photoshop techniques, but I always come back to Neatimage at the defaut settings for best results.

Thanks,
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Old 11-23-2007, 07:52 PM   #19
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My problem is not with digital noise (yet) but with scans of old grainy film.

At Michael Allen's suggestion I have been using Noise Ninja with reasonable success, usually with the default settings. It is not a panacea, because it can be pretty aggressive and soften an image, but usually with some fiddling I can get a reasonable result.

Noise Ninja is on my Mac, so when playing with stuff on my PC I have just started using the Photoshop noise reduction program in Elements 5.0 and it seems to work pretty well.

One of the challenges of switching from film to digital is that I am so used to a certain amount of grain that I sometimes have difficulty recognizing pure digital noise.
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Old 11-23-2007, 11:04 PM   #20
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Default Noise Reduction

Hi Andrew and all,

I don't use any noise reduction unless I shoot above 1000ISO as it is a bit destructive on detail.

When I do need NR I use Noiseware

http://www.imagenomic.com/products.aspx

I create a copy layer in PS (cntl J), then apply noiseware at default setting, noiseware analyses each shot internally. After the programme has run I then view the screen image at 50% magnification and fade the noiseware back until I can just see the noise, then go back up a bit. then flatten the image, I always work on a copy layer in case I make an error, then I don't have to repeat any PP.

Noiseware is not free, but the standard plug in is only $49.00 and worth every penny.

EDIT I see there is a community edition free, but I have not tried this.

Alan

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Old 12-10-2007, 12:18 PM   #21
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[quote=JimThias]Rebels give tons of noise at ISO 400.

At iso 400 the photo's should be better than that. You will a ton of Noise if the shot is dark and you have to lighten it in PS. Try making a test shot and get the exposure as far to the Right side as you can, With out it touching the side.
If shot on Auto with snow and or gray sky's and head lights camera's tend to under expose the shots.
Richard

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Old 12-11-2007, 12:45 AM   #22
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[quote=milwman]
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
Rebels give tons of noise at ISO 400.

At iso 400 the photo's should be better than that. You will a ton of Noise if the shot is dark and you have to lighten it in PS. Try making a test shot and get the exposure as far to the Right side as you can, With out it touching the side.
Doesn't matter...the noise is there whether I darken it, lighten it or it's perfectly exposed. 400 ISO on a 350D is noisey as hell, IMO, regardless. I guess I just have overly sensitive eyes.

Quote:
If shot on Auto with snow and or gray sky's and head lights camera's tend to under expose the shots.
Richard
I shoot in manual, so headlights never have any effect on my exposures.
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Old 12-25-2007, 06:06 PM   #23
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Andrew, I've been a Neat Image user for quite a few years and through several versions. Like John West, my main concern isn't high ISO digital images, but grain from film scans, particularly color & BW negatives, but the principals are still pretty much the same. I found NI to be a bit better with grain than Noise Ninja, its long-time competitor.

I'm probably just going to frustrate you further with what I'm going to say, but here goes... There are no magic numbers. The most important thing is to get a good profile to begin with, and the best profiles are not default or camera profiles, but ones built on each individual image being de-noised. Then it's a matter of trying things and getting a feel for what works and what doesn't - something which will change somewhat from image to image.

NI defaults are WAAAY too aggressive for areas of even modest detail (unless you like your stuff to look like Plasticville toys), so the the way I set parameters depends on the kind of image, amount and type of detail, and even the area of the image I'm focusing on.

I use the full "professional PS plug-in" version (I think it's called Pro+, but can't remember for sure), which you will want in order to use masking and the history brush from within PS. The pro version is the only one that supports 16-bit as well. I'll typically make masks for, at minimum, the sky and everything else, though I'll often add additional masks for any relatively smooth surfaces, so that I can selectively de-noise each of these areas. Skies will be de-noised at close to default settings, smooth areas a bit less, detailed areas even less and so on.

Another useful trick to fine tune areas is to use the history brush at varying opacities to selectively brush back in detail (based on the state just before applying NI) in critical areas.

All of this sounds more difficult than it really is. It's really pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it.

Here is an example of old and very grainy ISO 400 color negative film, de-noised using the methods described above. With care, detail is maintained, while noise is virtually eliminated. Newer, finer grained ISO 100 films give even better results using these techniques. Clean, crisp & detailed.

Now, having said all that, let me echo what Alan says. After years of using NI, I've recently evaluated Noiseware, was very impressed and am in the process of moving to the new stuff. I'm getting excellent results with less effort and fiddling than I do with NI, even though I've far more NI experience. I'd suggest you take a look. The demo version is fully featured, but watermarks the results.

Hope this helps a bit,

Scott

Last edited by westernsteam; 12-25-2007 at 07:59 PM. Reason: correcting typos & minor content additions
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Old 01-30-2008, 02:50 AM   #24
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Default Neat Image camera profiles

Try going to the neatimage website. They have camera profiles available that have been created by users. Maybe they will help you in your "tweaking" efforts.
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