Wednesday 7 May 2008

Noise reduction using Neat Image

For further photography-related information check out my compendium of tips.

I usually try not to stray above ISO 1000 during a wedding but occasionally the light levels are so low I have no choice. The above close-up comes from Laura and Paul's wedding last year at St George's Church in Deal and was taken at ISO 3200. Apparently more recent digital cameras (in particular the Nikon D3) are getting very good at reducing noise at high ISO settings but for the venerable Canon EOS 5D it clearly is an issue. Still at least you can get the shot - that's the most important thing.

All is not lost however - digital noise can be dramatically reduced. Both Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop have this facility but produce a rather unreal, "plasticky" effect. Much better is Neat Image which can be bought as a plug-in for Photoshop and which was used to clean up the above shot. I created a personalised noise profile for my 5D, to make it more accurate, and set up noise reduction and sharpening as a Photoshop droplet, to automate the process. Now all my images are cleaned and sharpened automatically. Very handy.


Robert Whetton said...

try not to worry yourself about noise, if you haven't done so grab a film camera throw some 1600 film in and see what the results are like.

and the D3 has aggressive noise reduction which sacrifices detail..

a shot that has the correct exposure shouldn't need any noise reduction filter / application

Harrythephot said...

Hi David. I love your images. Just superb work. I must reply to the last poster though. Robert, the D3 has very little noise up to 6400 ISO even without noise reduction turned on. I sold my 5D setup for the D3 for several reasons, but high ISO low noise was a factor.
All the best.

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

I just purchased Neat Image following your comments and downloaded the 5DII profile from their website.

How do you setup the application in Photoshop to batch process? How do you workflow this with Lightroom?

Thank you for the help!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

You need to record an 'Action' in Photoshop. I've recorded an action of me opening a file, removing noise with the NeatImage plug in, sharpening, saving and finally closing the file.

This 'Action' can then be converted to a 'Droplet' which you place in Lightroom's 'Export Actions' folder. This allows you to run this 'Action' on all files exported from Lightroom.

I'm sure Google will help you find a comprehensive overview of this process online.