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When to use Noise Ninja/Neat Image in workflow....??

Matthew Kane - Denver, CO , Sep 27, 2005; 10:25 p.m.

So I shot a wedding with certain photos being iso 800. I am wanting to implement noise ninja or neat image to help reduce noise. When should I use them in the workflow? I have heard early on.... Well what if I already have several hundred images that I have color corrected and done curve adjustments on already... can I still use the noise software on them 'now' and what issues may arise after doing so? Which software do you prefer? Thanks a million

Responses

Byron Lawrence , Sep 27, 2005; 11:19 p.m.

first thing ideally.

later if you have to. it is possible, as an arduous way around redoing your work and also if you have your work done with layers. to apply noise reduction to your work and copy paste your new backgroung image.

from what I have read several noise reduction softwares use a blank shot to establish a basic noise pattern then use this to reduce noise for later images. I would think applying the effect to processed images would only reduce the effectiveness of the program. this is a guess on my part since I use PS for all my stuff right now. maybe someday I will get some third party plugins.

Lex Jenkins , Sep 28, 2005; 04:28 a.m.

Noise Ninja instructions clearly state that noise removal should be the first step in the workflow.

At first this struck me as counterintuitive. Usually noise is most visible after sharpening, so it seemed logical to use noise removal after sharpening. While that can be done, it isn't the best way, altho' some noise removal software can handle chroma noise at just about any point in the process.

But I tried Noise Ninja according to the instructions and it certainly seems to work best this way. The programmers also include presets for many cameras at every ISO setting.

I was curious about whether this was the industry standard for applying noise removal and asked another company. They too advised using their noise reduction software at the beginning of the workflow.

The only flaw I can see in Noise Ninja's advice is that if you shoot RAW files it's impossible to use Noise Ninja as the absolute first step in the workflow. Noise Ninja doesn't - yet - handle RAW files so it's necessary to first convert them to TIFFs. (It'll handle TIFFs or JPEGs shot in-camera.) I'm not sure how much that alters the characteristics of a file to the extent that it's relevant to noise reduction, but I assume the designers of Noise Ninja have taken this into account.

I'm hoping Noise Ninja will eventually be usable on RAW files, at least in the standalone product. I haven't tried the Photoshop plug-in because I don't use Photoshop. I like Noise Ninja because it has a very quick response time - you don't have to wait after each adjustment for the effects to show. Neat Image is a bit slower.

If you're interested in trying alternatives, The Imaging Factory offers two Photoshop compatible noise reduction plug-ins that *do* work with RAW files. They're available as 30 day free trials.

One of the plug-ins is simple and reasonably effective. The other is much more effective but does require adjusting for luminance and chroma noise separately. Since my Olympus C-3040Z tends to produce more chroma noise than luminance noise at the lowest ISO, this is useful. Reducing chroma noise via the Imaging Factory's plug-in does not soften the overall image, which luminance noise reduction sometimes does. On the downside, this plug-in can't seem to do anything about reducing the "jellyfish" noise my C-3040Z sometimes produces in photos containing clear blue skies. The designers say they're working on an upgrade that should be available by the end of the year.

Patrick P , Sep 28, 2005; 10:28 a.m.

"At first this struck me as counterintuitive. Usually noise is most visible after sharpening, so it seemed logical to use noise removal after sharpening."

Noise becomes visible after sharpening because you are sharpening noise. That's one more reason to reduce noise first.

As soon as you start messing with a file you change the noise characteristics of the capture device. All this means is that you make it more difficult for Neat Image to profile. Especially if you have made it so the noise is no longer uniform.

You could try what Byron suggested. Reduce noise in the original and paste it into your corrected image, then change the blending mode to Luminance. This way you preserve your colors and reduce noise in luminance layer (where most noise hides). One downside of this method would be that you would loose any highlight/shadow corrections you had made (such as contrast adjustments).

My advice is to just reduce the noise on the corrected image and if it isn't good enough then try the above method, if that doesn't cut it, start from scratch.

Good luck,
Patrick - www.patrickperon.com

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