Mini test – Noise Reduction Software

original_crop I was looking for a good noise reduction tool. When I looked on the internet it was not clear to me what would be the best program, so I did some testing.
My main goal is to reduce most of the noise without the use of all the fancy settings. Personally I do not hate some noise in my pictures. Probably because I own a Canon 5D which doesn’t generate much noise at all. But the main reason why I’m looking for noise reduction software has to do with HDR. When I generate a HDR image I always get more noise in my images then I wished for. So I am in need of some good noise reduction tool

Don’t expect too much of this mini test. Basically what I did was the following, I opened the original photo with the appropriate program or plug-in (within Adobe Photoshop CS4). If the program or plug-in had an automatic setting I used that. If not I only used the most basic adjustments/settings to get a decent result. Maybe I am just lazy, but hey I don’t want to spend my precious time with reducing noise.

So the image on the top left is a crop of the original HDR file. (the un-cropped image can be found in the following article Curacao misty water HDR). The other images are the results of one of the following tools:

  • Noise Ninja 2.2.1 (Stand Alone)
  • Noise Ware 2.6 (Stand Alone)
  • Noise Ware 4.2 (Photoshop plug-in)
  • Photoshop CS4 (Stand Alone)
  • Lightroom 3 (Stand Alone)
  • NikSoft Dfine 2 (Photoshop plug-in)
  • Neat Image Pro 6.0 (Stand Alone)
  • Topaz Denoise 4(Photoshop plug-in)

The most important thing for me is that I don’t loose any important details in the photo, so that is one of the things I based my conclusion on. The other important one is of course the reduction of noise. So I used the images below to pick the best tool (for my use)

Conclusion
The build in functionality in Photoshop and Lightroom affect the details too much, so does Dfine from NikSoft and Topaz Denoise. Noise Ninja and Noiseware (the standalone versions) do a good job. For me the Plug-in version of Noiseware disturbs the details a wee bit too much. (which is strange in my opinion because you would think it would give the same result as the standalone). Neat Image was a disappointment to me. I read some good reviews on the net but in my test-case it doesn’t reduce much noise but does affect the details.

So I need to choose between Noise Ninja and Noiseware. Based on the images below I would say Noiseware 2.6 (standalone). Maybe I need to do some more testing with different photos.

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