Hey, keep the noise down!

I’m talking about the noise  in my photos whenever I crank up the ISO beyond 800. Man, it gets so noisy I can hardly see the subject.

Recently I was shooting a murky interior of a house hunkered deep in the woods of Guerneville by the Russian River. There was  some light-spill from the windows and a few small skylights, but not nearly enough. I could have used speedlights, but I wanted to go with the natural shadowy cabin interior. I kicked up the ISO  to 1,200 knowing I’d have artifacts to wrestle with in post. Not a major problem today thanks to some brainy software.

Of course Photoshop CS6  has  a Reduce Noise option, but I never use it. Not when there’s a cool third-party plug-in dedicated to the chore, i.e. Topaz DeNoise 5,

The folks at Topaz Labs eat, sleep, & drink noise and they know how to kill it without destroying all the detail in a photo.

Here’s a screen-shot showing the user-friendly interface and a portion of my noisy interior. (Click on images for a larger view.)

Topaz DeNoise 5 interface

On the left side of the screen you have a series of presets to choose from.

DeNoise presets

Usually one of these presets will get the job done nicely at its default settings.
But when you want to fine-tune the parameters you’ve  got all the tools  you need screen-right.


Handy slider bars let you control the noise in the shadow and highlight areas, as well as within color channels. You can adjust gain, reduce blur and recover detail. To switch between before and after views simply click on the large preview image. (HINT: A split-screen option would be a nice addition to the next version.)

You can of course save your adjustments as a preset, which is helpful when you’re working on a series of images shot under the same conditions.

Here’s my interior photo with the noise removed…

DeNoise 5 in action

As Larry David might say, pretty-pretty-pretty cool. I found the right balance between noise-removal  and preserved detail. In fact, DeNoise even erased some of the distracting reflections on the surface of the stove.

Here’s a dramatic closeup (detail view).

Before and After

Topaz DeNoise 5 can rescue your photos from a freaking noise-storm. It’s a must-have plug-in for shutterbugs.

A "DeNoised" image

See for yourself…download a trial version from Topaz Labs.