Noise Reduction in Photoshop

Reduce and Eliminate the Appearance of Noise in Digital Images

Neat Image Noise Reduction

Noise Reduction in Photoshop - If you want your images to really stand out from the crowd, you need them to be as clean and noise free as possible. What does this mean?

As in the previous section, "cloning", you should have already removed traces of unwanted artefacts, blemishes and stains etc. Now you need to clean away any "noise".

Noise Reduction in Photoshop: Noise

Have you have ever used high ISO film in the past? Such as 400 or 800 ISO (ASA)? If so, you will have noticed that the images have more "grain" to them. The digital term for this grain is "noise".

Noise appears when using high ISO's with digital cameras as well as film and can also occur by:

  • Over use of the shadows/highlights tool resulting in noise appearing in shaded areas
  • Interpolation or "upsizing" an image
  • Over brightening or use of curves tool
  • Too much colour/saturation enhancement
  • Over sharpening

I have found noise appearing even in images shot at ISO 50 and have needed to correct on many occasions. Walls, skies and any shaded areas of your images are most susceptible to noise degradation. So how do we remove it?

Noise Reduction in Photoshop: Software

If you intend to enjoy digital photography as a business or hobby in the future, I cannot stress enough, the importance of a decent noise reduction program.

I would not hesitate to recommend Neat image which can be used as a standalone program or as a plug-in for Photoshop (or both). It is available as a trial demo for download so you can try before you buy.

If you decide to buy, Neat Image comes in various packages. From $29.90 for the standalone home edition up to $74.90 for the all singing, all dancing Pro + edition. If you have the resources, go for this version, it is money very well spent!

Neat Image is extremely easy to use with its "auto profiles" which automatically assess how much noise the image has and what adjustments are necessary.

It also has enough knobs and sliders for you to manually adjust and tweak each image individually to your own liking. There are other types of noise reduction software out there but this is deemed to be the best by many professionals.

Try it out using the free trial demo link above and familiarise yourself with it. It will be the best addition you have made to your editing kit in a long while.

Example of Noise Reduction in Photoshop

You will also find it invaluable in many other areas of photography, especially weddings. By using no flash and high ISO's in a church, it is likely that you will get some noise. Wedding images need to be as perfect as you can get them and may well be enlarged greatly, thereby enlarging the appearance of noise. The same happens when shooting at night.

As an example, the following image was taken with a Canon EOS 5D MKIV at night at ISO 12,500. The first image show a 100% crop with a bit of grain, and the second shows a sample area of noise reduced significantly.

Click for larger images. On mobile device? Tap inside and outside each image:

Neat Image Noise Reduction Fig 1
Neat Image Noise Reduction Fig 2

Unfortunately, by resizing to fit this book, much of the quality is lost. Needless to say, the final images were incredible, even at ISO 12500 and enlarged to an A3 print.

Neat Image Noise Reduction Fig 3

The same processes can be used for all of your interior shots making them look absolutely pristine and spotless and good enough for publication.

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