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09-25-2017, 03:05 PM   #1
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Noise reduction in-camera vs photo editing software

Reducing noise in-camera vs photo editing software - which produces better results?

Also what software do you recommend for noise reduction (that might include pentax profiles)?

09-25-2017, 03:15 PM   #2
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Not sure which is best, but darktable uses camera noise profiles and does a nice job, but only for Linux and OSX.

Cheers,
Terry
09-25-2017, 03:16 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tigs Quote
Reducing noise in-camera vs photo editing software - which produces better results?

Also what software do you recommend for noise reduction (that might include pentax profiles)?
External processing gives you a lot more control, and when used properly can deliver better results. Topaz Denoise is one of my favorites (for JPEGs), as it's simple and effective to use. RAW converters are of course where you should start, though, if NR is of key importance.

QuoteOriginally posted by tduell Quote
Not sure which is best, but darktable uses camera noise profiles and does a nice job, but only for Linux and OSX.

Cheers,
Terry
They actually just released a Windows alpha

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09-25-2017, 03:53 PM   #4
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Tigs, the camera just applies a global preset unaware of the subject and scene. The heavier the noise reduction, the more texture and detail is wiped out.

With software you can control the amount and type of NR, and apply selectively to different areas of your photograph, with you looking at the results and moving the sliders in one direction or the other.

Lightroom is fine for this, but for high ISO photos I often send them to the free Nik Collection plugin (Dfine).

09-25-2017, 03:58 PM   #5
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As many has said before, Graphic software offers more control. I use Adobe camera raw.
09-25-2017, 04:27 PM - 1 Like   #6
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It's also worth noting that the average PC has a lot more storage for complex applications, more memory, more processing power and there's more tolerance to time delays in PP.

In camera NR has to use the tiny processor in the camera and not take too long.
09-25-2017, 06:31 PM   #7
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I do a lot of night photography so noise reduction matters to me. Software (LR, Photoshop, or plugins) does a better job than in-camera noise reduction.

In-camera NR is inflexible. It saves changes to the original JPG. If it applies changes that don't work well you can't do much more to adjust it.

I always shoot DNG. You can then try different non-destructive noise settings on your computer. For example, on a hot day you might have to apply extra noise reduction because warm circuits create extra noise. On a cold night, you can reduce NR and maybe see extra detail in your photo.
09-26-2017, 07:03 AM   #8
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There is one type of in-camera NR that is superior to post processing NR: dark frame subtraction on long-duration shots. For that type of NR, the camera collects special data on the exact pixel-to-pixel noise behavior of the sensor at the time and temperature of the image that no post processing algorithm could know.

(Note: You can collect your own dark frames manually and use them in post-processing but the results are not likely to be quite as clean as the in-camera version because the manually-collected dark frames won't be at exactly the same sensor temperature patterns as the in-camera ones.)

Overall, it's important to realize that the RAW image is NOT perfect image data but is, instead, a combination of the signal from the light levels in the scene and various thermal and noise effects within the sensor. Post processing software uses statistical reasoning to estimate and remove noise. But the actual dark frame measurements of the sensor's noise levels by the camera will be better than those statistical guesstimates.

09-26-2017, 07:18 AM   #9
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I guess Pixel Shift is another example ...

https://www.digitalrev.com/article/is-pentax-pixel-shift-technology-any-good

09-26-2017, 07:29 AM   #10
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There are 3 types of NR:
a) Luminance (typical noise that you notice).
b) Chromtic (yellow, purple, odd random discolorations).
c) Dark frame (slow shutter NR). This one takes a second frame (in camera does this automatically, but astrophotographers often do it manually). The second frame is pretty long, so disable it if you don't have time between shots. This only gets applied to photos that are exposed for more than 1 or 2 seconds. Its good, keep it turned on for long exposures

There is also Pixel shift, which can improve the ratio of noise vs. detail in the photo. It is not NR in the classical sense, but it can improve overall IQ. Again, this takes multiple frames and blends them, so you usually need a fairly static subject. If you have the time and a still subject, go for it. Note that some software cannot open Pixel shift raw files correctly, and the files take a lot of size.

a) and b) can be done in camera (you have some settings as well as Auto, usually does the job), or by hand (especially if you shoot raw. Usually adding NR to jpegs degrades overall IQ too much). These two types of NR are done differently by different software. Some software tries to differentiate between noise and detail, some applies more in some areas than others, some uses camera-specific profiles. You can try different software. RawTherapee's NR is not great in my opinion. LR is okay. NikEffects is pretty good. I only had Topaz for a short while, but I remember it as being pretty good. There are other plugins and software solutions for this. I think there was NoiseNinja? Not sure, but google around a little bit
NR can cause artifacts and it can blur out detail, so use it sparingly. Most audience does not notice some noise, it is just photographers who have some sort of OCD-like symptom. Especially with modern cameras, the noise is pretty low, so normal jpeg settings and raw PP will be enough. But the point of DSLR cameras is to give you, the photographer, control. Check your tolerance, develop your style, find the best software for your needs.

Edit: for my purposes, LR 6 is good enough (note that different versions of Lightroom, Camera raw might have different NR algorithms. NR keeps getting better and better in most software, as the generations go by). I rarely shoot at high ISO, rarely go above ISO 3200 and my cameras are pretty good up to that ISO.

Doing PP like adding brightness in post, or increasing contrast, sharpness, can make the noise more apparent. You can do edits sensibly for the noise to be almost invisible

Addendum: Higher ISO number means more noise. You probably already knew that. Shooting at low ISO means less noise, but in dark situations you need higher ISO sensitivity to brighten the image

Last edited by Na Horuk; 09-26-2017 at 07:35 AM.
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