Reduce Noise and Grain in Your Digital Images Quickly and Easily
Neat Image Noise Reduction Software – Do you ever look at your digital images and see a grainy or noisy look to certain areas such as the sky or shaded parts of the photo? Maybe you like the look and purposely set out to achieve it, but if you didn’t, in some situations this noise is unavoidable:
- Shooting in Low Light
- Using High ISO’s
- Underexposing Images
It is similar to that “snowy” appearance of a poor TV signal. As a test, the next time you go to bed, lie back, switch off the light and allow your eyes to adjust for a minute or two. Then look around the room and fix on one area and really study what you see, you will probably see a multitude of grainy coloured dots dancing around your eyes in the particularly shaded areas.
The light is too poor to distinguish fine detail but something has to go there so why not throw in a few dancing pixels…says your brain? (Excuse the explanation but I am not a scientist nor am I a human biologist).
The same happens with film or digital sensors.
So, you will at some point experience “noisy” images but how can you overcome the problem and why?
If you intend to upload images to stock libraries for sale, most agencies now ask for noise free images. This is because many times, the images could be upsized to billboard proportions or used in sleek magazines…image is everything in advertising!
You may also want to make fine art prints for yourself or your customers and more often than not, clean images look better in print than grainy ones.
Introducing Neat Image Noise Reduction Software
I have used Neat Image for a number of years now and highly recommend that you add it to your photo editing software.
It has repeatedly come out on top against all other noise reduction software and is priced within the reach of most of us. I make back 4 times the cost of this software with the sale of just one clean image at Alamy so the value to me is obvious.
So let’s jump straight in with a sample grainy image and the process to clean it up. I have used the Canon EOS 1D Mark III with ISO set to 6400 just to get the grainiest image I can. Here it is…
NEAT IMAGE NOISE REDUCTION SOFTWARE – Fig.1
Not that grainy really as the 1D Mark III produces such nice files…here is a 100% crop…
NEAT IMAGE NOISE REDUCTION SOFTWARE – Fig.2
That’s much better. You can now see grain or noise in the uniform colours and shaded areas. Now we need to open Neat Image. If you have it or buy it as a stand alone product, just open it up and import the image. Here, I have Neat Image installed into Photoshop (which is a breeze to do by the way).
You simply go to your filters menu and scroll down to Neat Image – Reduce Noise and the program will open within Photoshop.
NEAT IMAGE NOISE REDUCTION SOFTWARE – Fig.3
As you can see in this image (below) there are various functions in the first part of the program (Device Noise Profile) but by far the easiest way to get moving is to run an “auto profile” which I am doing here.
NEAT IMAGE NOISE REDUCTION SOFTWARE – Fig.3
Neat Image will find a uniform area of noise and take a reading from it. Once done, move over to Noise filter settings as in this image.
NEAT IMAGE NOISE REDUCTION SOFTWARE – Fig.4
I have increased the image to 100% to show you the outcome. By clicking and dragging a square over part of the image, you can see a snippet of the desired outcome and make any necessary changes or tweaks before applying. I won’t go into too much detail as the program is pretty simple and it does most of the work for you, you can play more once you have it installed to see it in more depth.
Once you are happy with the effect, hit “apply” and viola, the noise is gone!
NEAT IMAGE NOISE REDUCTION SOFTWARE – Fig.5
Considering this was shot at ISO 6400, I am pretty pleased with that result. Imagine what Neat Image could do for your images shot at 200, 400 or 800 ISO. If you intend to shoot stock, you need Neat Image…don’t wait to have your images rejected or be unhappy with your prints…give them the attention they deserve.
The following images are a “before and after” and please bear in mind that this was an extreme example shot at ISO 6400 for illustration purposes. As I mentioned before, you are able to tweak, sharpen, adjust colours etc to get the desired results and hopefully you won’t be shooting ISO 6400 that often!
NEAT IMAGE NOISE REDUCTION SOFTWARE – Fig.6
The software comes with four different licensing options:
- Home – $29.90
- Home + – $49.90
- Pro – $59.90
- Pro + – $74.90
…and two formats (PC and MAC).
Go to Neat Image for more info and grab yourself a copy. If you go straight to the download page, you can download a trial copy before you buy…now that’s Neat!