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Post Process Noise Reduction, when do you use it?


TPF Noob!
Jul 20, 2010
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I am just curious as to whether anyone uses noise reduction as a standard step of their Photoshop workflow and if so, at what point do you use it? Currently I rarely ever use it, but then again, I rarely go above 400 ISO.
I mostly shoot between 1600 and 3200, and used to use it on every photo. Little to none has been needed since going to full frame a few months ago, but it really depends on how you're able to expose the shot. Exposing to the right will help a lot more in reducing the noise at the moment of capture so none (or very little) will be needed in post.
I do most of my post-processing in Adobe Lightroom 3, which offers some really nice noise-reduction algorithms. However, I make it a point never to apply noise-reduction unless there is noise in the photograph.

High ISOs are a no-brainer candidate for noise-reduction, but like you, I rarely shoot any higher than ISO 400.

However, noise can pop up for other reasons, as well... usually as a result of post-processing. For example, boosting the exposure, brightness, or fill light in a photograph can sometimes reveal color noise in the brightened areas. Adjusting saturation/vibrance, hue and luminance can introduce luminance noise, as well.

In these instances, I will zoom in to a 1:1 view and tweak the noise-reduction settings until the affected areas have smoothed out sufficiently.

But, by and large, I do whatever I can to achieve my desired result without having to bring noise reduction into the photograph. Even though the NR algorithms may be very sophisticated, the fact of the matter remains that they necessarily soften the sharpness, details, and contrasts of the photo. This is negligible in photographs that genuinely call for noise-reduction, since they stand only to improve as a result. But in other border-line cases, it means staging a balancing act... using only as much NR as necessary without having too much invasive impact upon detail and contrast.
If noise reduction needs to be done, I do as much as I can with the RAW file in Bridge. When I open the file in Photoshop, I do additional noise reduction if needed. In Photoshop I often select the area that shows noise, like the sky, and just do noise reduction to the selected area. I haven't tried any third party noise reduction software, but I hear that Genuine Fractals is pretty good.

Have Fun,
I check for noise in Adobe Camera Raw right before I export to photoshop, rarely shoot above 400 so not much usually, reduce luminance noise and sometimes colour if required.
just an fyi Genuine Fractals is not a noise reduction program, it is a program for making enlargements, very big enlargements.

Dnoise is very good as are several other programs. If you read the tutorial for Dnoise by Topaz they recommend using noise reduction first.

I use the Dnoise for creative purposes as i rarely need it for noise issues, as i rarely use an ISO above 200 and then when i do the camera handles noise very well.
I'm like you and like to stay below iso 400 but when i do have to go above that and end up getting a noisy photo i use noise ninja even though I had to pay for it I am on a budget and use gimp for my photo editing because its free and noise ninja because it works good and its cheap
I've recently discovered the Noise Reduction Plugin for Photoshop by Imagenomic and I absolutely love it. As someone who's primarily taking photos in less than favorable light and doesn't have the budget for gear that compensates, I've found myself shooting ISO800, 1200, 3200 because it was the only way i could shoot for the particular subject (my sister dances and i have friends that perform both theatre and musically and lighting there without pro gear frustrates the crap out of me).

Using this Imagenomics plugin i went back to photos taken months ago and salvaged some i wrote off and made some decent ones into something I would actually show people, so in my experience its been very useful.

Exposing properly around ISO400 I can see where you wouldn't use it, but don't dismiss it you might find it quite helpful as well :) Oh.. to actually answer the question I address any noise early on generally after making sure i have the white balance and any cropping how i want it.

p.s. quite jealous of your Lglass. i'm almost decided to pick up the 16-35mm f/2.8L next, followed by that superbe 70-200mm f/2.8L, but itll be a good year before i'm in any situation to do so :p

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