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Getting rid of digital noise in LAB

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  • Getting rid of digital noise in LAB

    In a recent trip to London, I took a ton of pictures. Almost all of them were taken with an ISO that was much too high. The result was enough digital noise to make one go deaf. Getting rid of digital noise has been one of the areas that I have had the most trouble with. I don't know if I am dealing with images that are beyond repair or if I just dont get it. I'm betting on the latter. I would prefer to hear the solution for LAB although an RGB solution would be fine as well. I am attaching a photo of big ben that is an example of what I am deal with. This is in no way the worst of what I have but I'm even having trouble with images like this one. If anyone wants to give me a hand it's appreciated.

  • #2
    Isaac, LAB is not the solution for this type of noise - at least not the normal method of blurring A and B channels. The noise manifests itself prominantly in the Lightness Channel as well. Several of the most effective way to treat this type of noise are:

    - The new Reduce Noise filter in PS CS2
    - The new Surface Blur filter in PS CS2
    - A dedicated noise reduction plugin or stand alone application like Neat Image (there is a free version) and Noise Ninja just to name 2 of many

    All 4 seem to work on this image. Sample attached using Noise Ninja (I adjusted levels to accentuate the noise)

    Regards, Murray
    Attached Files
    Last edited by mistermonday; 02-18-2006, 10:51 PM.


    • #3
      I'll re-inspect the surface blur and reduce noise filters. So far I have had very little luck though. What you did there worked very well. I had a feeling it was a bit more involved because I have seen the noise in the lightness channel as well as seen a great deal of noise in the red channel of RGB. Do you recommend any noise reduction plug-in in particular? It's definitely something I need. Being able to do it without the hassle seems appealing right now. I've got a few hundred photos and almost all of them have a great deal of noise. Many are worse than this one that I posted. I'm pretty impressed with what you did with your plug-in. Thanks


      • #4
        Getting Rid of Noise

        Neat Image is an excellent photoshop plug-in for reducing noise. The free demo can be downloaded: HERE


        • #5
          Hi Isaac, Like you, I find the filters in PS seem to apply a fixed algoritm and have limited and flexibility. I prefer the Noise Ninja interface over Neat Image. I work with very high resolution 16 bit images and find Noise Ninja gives me slightly better results and is faster. However if you ask 100 people, you may get 50 preferences for NI.

          Other comments I have regarding these are:
          - There is a demo version of Ninja ( It is fully functional but the demo version places a grid of lines on the output image so it is really for eval purposes only.
          - Both NI and NN are sold as stand alone programs and plugins. I prefer to have a plugin so that the filter is fully integrated into PS. I don't have time to open in one, filter, save, then open in PS.
          - Both NN and NJ are sold in 3 versions. Here is where the marketing comes in.
          As you go from the basic to the intermediate to the pro version, you get more features and there are about $10 more as you go up. So for example the pro version of Noise Ninja lets you use it as a stand alone program and as a plugin. You get the ability to work on high res images and save in more file formats. The s/w producers have a comparison list on their web sites that list all of the features with each version.

          It sounds like an intelligent noise filter is a must for your work flow as well so it is probably a good investment for under $100.



          • #6
            Philbach: Thanks for the input. When it comes to looking at a new type of app or, in this case a plug-in, it is great to get a number of opinions. Much appreciated.

            Murray: Thanks for the run down. That helps quite a bit. Whenever I am looking for a new program or plug-in I like to here the lowdown from people that don't work for the company. Spending an extra $10 or $20 bucks for the pro version is irrelevant to me if it means getting the extra options. Even if I wouldn't use those options right this minute, I might use them later and spending the extra money is worth the option. The one option that seems especially valuable is the ability to work with 16bit images. I plan on taking my photos in RAW from now on so that I can get the advantages of 16bit files. I would also want to scan images in 16bit when I get a photo scanner. Without that option it would make the plug in more or less worthless to me as I start to move toward the 16bit image more regularly.

            Again, to both of you, thanks a lot for the input. Getting input on these issues is invaluable to me. I would probably have continued to try to figure out how to get rid of noise via LAB or some Photoshop filter in RGB for eons without it. The chances of frustration setting in and me giving up would increase exponentially as time went on.

            Any other input on Noise Reduction Plug-ins from others is appreciated as well.