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Monday
Jul072008

Using Noise Ninja To Clean Up Your Photographs

Crop of Destroyer PicNoise. The bane of the Digital Photographers. In the days of film, it was called "grain", and it made images look more artistic, stylish and cool. Unfortunately Digital Noise isn't as pretty, as is sadly evident when you use higher ISO settings in low light or situations where you're worried about camera shake and what a faster shutter speed.

One answer (apart from always using ISO 100 or 64), is the Photoshop or stand-alone programme, Noise Ninja. So does it work? Lets look at a few images.





The following is a 100% crop of an image taken at ISO 400 with my Fujifilm S5700, and as you can see it's very noisy!
iso 400, 100% crop, original

Remember that this is a 100% crop, so it's only a fraction of the original image, and the noise wouldn't be as evident when viewing the whole, but its scary how much the image is degraded right out of the camera.

The following is the same image given the Noise Ninja treatment, auto-profiled:
iso 400 image, 100% crop, auto-profiled


In the next photo I've removed the noise using a custom Noise Ninja image profile, created by photographing their Colour Chart, profiling that image, then applying it to my image:
Iso 400, 100% crop, profiled from colour chart



Now lets see how Noise Ninja deals with a ISO 100 image, again a 100% crop.


Original crop:
Iso 100, 100% crop, original


Auto-profiled:
Iso 100, auto profiled, 100% crop


Profiled from colour chart:
Iso 100, 100% crop, profiled from colour chart


With all the images I've given the Noise Ninja treatment I've applied the filter to the whole image, but within the Photoshop / Elements plug-in you can paint out, or in, the areas of the image where you want Noise Ninja to do its work. Certain areas can get more noisy where there's loads of detail, so you can keep those as they were.

Noise Ninja recommend you apply their filter before any other corrections that increase noise in a picture, such as levels, contrast, curves, colour, sharpening, etc. So the idea is as soon as you open your photo, apply Noise Ninja, then continue with your work-flow.

If you fancy trying Noise Ninja for free, they do a feature-limited trial, but it'll give you an idea about whether it'll help your photography editing.

Thanks, Rob.

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