While I was on a shoot for 10 Magazine, I encountered a problem: noisy pictures. When your are shooting in dark areas and need sharp shots you often need to bump up the iso. The general rule is that you should shoot in the lowest possible iso that you can, in order to reduce the noise. In this case, I was shooting between iso 800 and 1600. Suffice to say that the images were noisy and not up to snuff.
The Cheap Way
Many photo programs now have noise reduction. Photoshop is working hard to make theirs better, but it still sucks. Aperture 3 is no better. However, if you don’t want to pay, here are a few ways to work with the noise reduction.
First, if you shoot in RAW, camera raw has it there and you should go there first. When you bring up the camera raw dialogue the third icon from the left (the two little triangles), is the one you want to click. By pushing the bottom two sliders to the right, you can decrease the noise with a concession to saturation and detail. However, I have never really founf this to work all that great. After adding some slight fuzziness to an otherwise sharp photo, it is still rather noisy.
So then you can bring it into photoshop and head to the “filters” menu. Then select “noise” and then scroll down to “reduce noise” From there you can begin to try and reduce the noise. Be care of the bottom slide and the amount of “preserve details” you add because it will make the image look like garbage if too much is applied.
I have also tried the noise reduction brush inside of Aperture 3 and found for really noisy shots (or all for that matter) it really does nothing. I found myself just using the blur tool for images suffering from a lot of colour noise.
The Better Way
So now you can see that when I brought in some fairly important shots into camera raw and couldn’t get rid of the noise, what kind of situation I was in. Then came Scott Kelby to the rescue. In his “Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Digital Photographers” book (yes, I am still using that version), he talks about Imagenomic’s Noiseware Professional.
I have used this before and found the results to be superior to the other noise reducing software. The best thing about this is that not only does the default settings work extremely well, but it also is a plugin for photoshop so that mean you never have to leave photoshop to get the results. Essentially, Noiseware gives you excellent noise reduction without having to tweak the settings too much. That is the kind of software that I look for. Something that removes the noise without spending to much time adjusting sliders for every single photo.
What I like about this product is that it is relatively inexpensive and gets the job done. I like that you don’t have to play around with a lot of settings or find camera codes to make the product useful, it just takes the noise away hassle free. Also the interface or dialogue boxe that comes up in photoshop is simple and gives you a variety of options.
The cool part too is that you can get a decent amount of discounts from popular websites like Stuck in Customs, to chip away at the price. I was able to get a 20% discount using 2 coupon codes that I found. The download was quick and painless and I was back to editing in a matter of moments.
If you are still not sure whether this is for you, take a look at Trey’s screen shots in his review. I was trying to get some to show you but I couldn’t find a shot that could show you exactly the kinds of improvements that I am talking about here. Trey got some great screen shots. If he uses it, you can be sure the product is top notch.
I also want to say that I am not getting paid to endorse any of these products. Like most other blogs, if I use something that I like and think that it is useful, I will pass it on to you. Especially, if it is something like this where I use it and know that it will get the results that you are looking for. Have a great week everyone!