Does noise-reduction affect other aspects of your photo?


TPF Noob!
Dec 14, 2011
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In audio, applying noise-reduction plugins will sometimes get rid of the background noise but alter the tone or color of your audio in an undesirable way. Does applying noise-reduction in Bridge, Lightroom, or Photoshop negatively alter your image in other ways? If so, are there any plug-ins that are better at noise-reduction than what comes with the Adobe products?

All noise reduction affects images, It softens them and lowers edge contrast and sharpness. But it's balancing game. What's worse, the noise or the resulting loss of sharpness.
There are many that are way better than Photoshop, Neat Image, Noise Ninja and surprisingly Topaz Denoise does a great job. Use Them on a separate layer and use with discretion
if you are using Photoshop... your best bet would be to apply the noise reduction only to areas that you really want to fix.. and not on the whole image. You have to be extra careful when working with skin tones... hope that helps.
Topaz Denoise works the best IMO but it's sluggishly slow.
In Photoshop you can use an edge mask to apply a blur to the image in the smooth areas (to eliminate noise) without effecting the detail areas of the image. You can also use the same mask (inverted) to apply sharpening to only the edges with no effect given to the smoother areas. Google "Edge Mask" and Photoshop noise reduction.
Excessive noise reduction can cause banding to appear in out of focus areas, that is where instead of a smooth gradient you get hard lines of colour change where there shouldn't be. Further, as said above, proper noise reduction should be done selectively only one the areas that require it and might also require that you do different amounts in different areas of a photo.

Noise reduction is destructive editing however, so like sharpening it should be saved for the final stages of editing (this excludes capture sharpening and capture noise reduction - values applied to RAW images by default from most RAW processing software options - values can be changed but research into this).
i use a program called Neat Image. It works pretty good and is cheap. Very powerful though. Too much and it will really ruin a picture by softening it too much.
Just a point, but in general I've not come across any review that puts any one noise software option above the others across the board. In general they all do a very good job when used correctly, options like Neat Image, Noise Ninja, Topaz DeNoise and others are all quality options if used correctly.
Some will shine above others in specific examples, but you can't shoot with those specific examples in mind - and the gain over the others is often very marginal (and even more marginal once you get to printing or presenting on the web)

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