Topaz Labs just released a pretty major upgrade to their already excellent digital noise reduction software, DeNoise. There several new features in DeNoise 6, which you can read about on the Topaz Labs website. What caught my eye right away is that they have added presets for specific camera and ISO combinations. I jumped on that and gave it a test with this photo:
On a visit to Cusco, Peru, I wandered the cobblestone streets of the popular San Blas neighborhood one evening. I was looking for photo ops, but for this night, I left the tripod behind and just carried my Nikon D750 and 24-85mm lens (a great combo for walk-around travel photography).
The new Nikon DSLRs are remarkable for their low light capability, so I didn’t have any hesitation about shooting at a high enough ISO setting so that I could get a reasonable shutter speed for handheld photography. With the available street lighting here, I set the camera for ISO 6400. I knew I would get some noise at that ISO, but I knew software could minimize the noise when I processed the raw NEF file.
The photo above was processed in Lightroom CC, with no noise reduction beyond Lightroom’s default of 0 for Luminance and 25 for Color. I exported the photo as a 16-bit TIFF, then opened that file in DeNoise 6.
Going to the Presets panel in DeNoise, I clicked on Nikon and was presented with a bunch of presets for the Nikon D810, D800, D750, and Df, with a range of ISO settings for each camera. I selected the preset for the D750 at ISO 6400 and let DeNoise do its magic.
Here are a couple of comparison images showing the digital noise without applying noise reduction, and the results with the DeNoise6 preset. Click on the images to see a larger version representing a 100% view.
Digital noise is most visible in shadow areas of photos, and becomes even more evident when increasing exposure of dark areas, as I did here using Lightroom’s Shadows slider.
As you can see in the comparison photos, there is still some noise in the images. I could have modified the preset, or gone to total manual mode in DeNoise and adjusted all the settings to try and eliminate more noise.
Personally, I’m of the opinion that a little noise is not a bad thing, especially in scenes like this. Maybe that’s because I started my career shooting Kodak TriX 400, and loved the grain in the prints produced from that classic film.
In my experience, removing all noise usually causes too much softening. DeNoise lets you precisely control the amount of noise reduction and detail recovery, and even lets you add a bit of grain for that natural film look.
Lightroom can do a pretty good job of noise reduction by itself, but Topaz DeNoise gives you total control over all the factors and lets you view the noise, and preview your adjustments, in several modes – RGB, Luma, Color, Red, and Blue.
I love the camera-specific presets, but it’s great to have the option to fine tune the noise reduction with the individual controls. At this time, Topaz provides presets for several models of cameras from Nikon, Canon, Sony, Panasonic, and Olympus. There are “generic” presets, and you can create and save your own presets.
Topaz is making DeNoise 6 a free upgrade for anyone with an earlier version of the software. If you don’t already have the program and want this degree of control in your photo processing, DeNoise 6 is on sale ($30 off) from now until March 20th, 2016. Use the coupon code NOISEFREE when you order to take advantage of the discounted price of $49.99. Here’s the link to Topaz Labs DeNoise 6.
Disclaimer: That link to Topaz is an affiliate link. It won’t cost you even a penny extra if you make a purchase after clicking on it, but Topaz will reward me handsomely. 🙂