5-Way Noise Reduction Test II: Watch the Birdy

In this test, I focused on a small area of the sparrow and did a comparison among 5 notable noise reduction software packages.

 

The original image is at the top, which has a ridiculous amount of noise. I deliberately used this image because a) I wanted to see how they did with large amounts of noise and b) wanted to see if I could salvage this shot. So, I brought the shop into Photoshop using ADOBE CAMERA RAW (ACR), then used the 5 packages to try to reduce that noise. All of the packages were Photoshop Plugins with the exception of Neat Image which doesn't offer that for trial. As in the previous 5-way test, I actually stretched the programs a bit to try to get the best image. However, I must iterate that I am not an expert at any of these packages yet and better results might be obtained with trial and error. This is a novices attempt to do this. You can see some examples from someone a bit more familiar with the process here.

 

[• the RESULTS •]

As you can see in this image, there was a LOT of noise - perhaps too much, but that is what this test set out to determine. Again, I think you can put Dfine at the bottom of the list - mediocre noise reduction at best. Kodak GEM is about average in both noise reduction and detail preservation (but I still hate that interface). Noise Ninja preserved the detail nicely, but left a quite a bit of background noise - in fact, the most aside from Dfine. Noiseware did a good job at eliminating the extra noise but also produced one of the least detailed sparrows - it's not bad but I think almost all of the others did a better job. Neat Image is clearly the best image in this instance. The noise is reduced quite a bit (only Noiseware did better), and the details are fairly well preserved (although not as well as Noise Ninja); however, though the details are blurred, it actually produces a fairly nice image of the sparrow.

 

Based on the final images, I would give a nod to Neat Image for heavy noise, with a second-place between Noiseware and Noise Ninja, with GEM closely behind. In both tests, I found that Dfine was the long-distant finisher - in fact, I'll be removing this plug-in now. I'll probably do the same with GEM because it only performed okay, and I really disliked the interface. That leaves the 3 heavy-weights, all of which have their plusses and minuses. I'm not a huge fan of the fact that I have to export/save my image in order to use Neat Image, although I believe that the purchased version includes a plug-in. Still, over the three tests, I'll stick with Noise Ninja and Noiseware (my personal fav), although Neat Image deserves some consideration.

 

My Other Tests

3-way Original Test

5-way Test with Moderate Noise

5-way Test with Heavy Noise

 

Additional resources<

PhotoZone

Complete Digital Photography

Michael Almond

www.melor.com/projects/nr_comparison.htm

www.pbase.com/teffy/noise_reduction_comparison

Vincent Bockaert

 

Software Packages

Noiseware

Noise Ninja

Neat Image

Kodak GEM

Dfine

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Taken on December 9, 2005