A quick comparison of some noise reduction tools

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by freixas, May 3, 2019.

  1. freixas

    freixas TPF Noob!

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    There are articles that compare various noise reduction tools. Here is a comparison I performed that I thought I would share. I welcome recommendations for better noise reduction tools.

    I started with a noisy image (underexposed). I tried Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), Capture One (C1) and DxO PhotoLab 2. In each case, I tried to eliminate every adjustment except exposure, contrast, sharpening and noise reduction. There is no way to apply the same adjustments to the image when you're using different RAW tools, so the results are somewhat subjective.

    Adobe Camera RAW:

    ACR.jpg
    Capture One:

    C1.jpg

    DxO PhotoLab 2:

    DxO.jpg

    DxO blew me away. It removed noise, didn't create artifacts at the edges (such as where the bird and the background meet) and revealed some detail that I swore was not in the original image. For a while, I wondered if it was just "making up" detail until I raised the noise level on the other two and saw that the ACR and C1 version also had the detail, but if I removed the image noise, I removed the details. No amount of fiddling with the "Noise", "Detail" and "Threshold" sliders restored the detail without also raising the image noise.

    C1 was second in quality, in my opinion. ACR was the worst. C1 revealed the same fine detail as DxO with a bit nicer contrast, but any attempt to lower the noise would wipe out the details.

    I use DxO's "Prime" noise reduction, which is only available in the Elite edition ($199).

    I also tried Topaz DeNoise AI. The results were pretty pathetic and not worth posting.

    I like C1 for the workflow and speed. I like DxO for its noise reduction. It may also be superior in its lens corrections. The two together are a pricey combination.


     
  2. DGMPhotography

    DGMPhotography Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Interesting!

    DxO looks similar to the effect you'd get from increasing Clarity, and lowering noise in Lightroom. I'd love to see a comparison to that.
     
  3. freixas

    freixas TPF Noob!

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    OK, here's another try. I think it improved the appearance a bit, although still a lot noisier than DxO. I tried raising Clarity to full and then raising Luminance Noise to get rid of noise. Again, I could choose to preserve details or get low noise, not both. The image here is a compromise. By the way, I had the "Detail" slider all the way to full--this was the only way to match the level of detail I could see in the DxO image. "Masking" would improve the noise reduction but, again, the details would start to vanish--plus it leaves a ring of noise around edge regions.

    One of the problem with any of these comparisons is that it's possible someone else might do a better job by varying other controls. My DxO sample might not be the best it could do, either, but at least I didn't have to fuss with a lot of controls to get the DxO result.

    I should clarify that I don't own Lightroom and that my Adobe ACR is from CS6. They may have improved noise reduction since then.

    ACR-2.jpg
     
  4. DGMPhotography

    DGMPhotography Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    That does look a bit better. But yeah, I believe that Adobe has updated the NR process since then. I'm not sure what the differences would be between ACR and LR.
     

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