Noise reduction experiment

Started Apr 20, 2012 | Discussions
Ron Tolmie
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Noise reduction experiment
Apr 20, 2012

The top photo is a noisy B&W image that has been subjected to two noise reduction steps: "One step noise removal" then "Edge preserving smooth" using Paint Shop Pro. Neither step by itself was nearly as successful as using the two together. In this example there is a large improvement in image quality at the expense of only a small degradation in sharpness.

In this experiment a B&W image was chosen so that the noise reduction only had to deal with luminance noise, not chroma noise. Moreover, much of the noise was artificially introduced by using part of an image (by coastcontact) that employed the Film Grain filter in a FZ150 camera. That meant that the underlying image was sharp, as opposed to a normal noisy (and unsharp) image that you would get with a high ISO setting.

I nearly always use noise reduction for my ZS20 images even at ISO 100 to combat noise that shows up in blue skies or shadow areas. In such cameras the pixels are so small that the number of photons per pixel varies because of quantum mechanics and that variance (noise) cannot be eliminated by improvements in the electronics. There have been big improvements in the electronics of sensors in the past few years but this particular problem can only be dealt with by post processing in the camera or in an external PP step.
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Pap38
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Re: Noise reduction experiment
In reply to Ron Tolmie, Apr 20, 2012

Looks quite good. Like you I usually use one step noise removal on my ZS-8. Haven’t tried your two step method but will give it a shot.
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Jack Brandt217
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Re: Noise reduction experiment
In reply to Ron Tolmie, Apr 20, 2012

Well done Ron. I don't see a lot of reduction in detail there.

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Erik Ohlson
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Time Machine
In reply to Pap38, Apr 20, 2012

Very interesting - and very good noise reduction!

Does anyone know how to do similarly good noise reduction in Photoshop Elements 8 [or PSE4] ?

I am in need of a "Time Machine" - I took a Trip of a Lifetime back in 2005, from which I have posted a number of photo threads on this forum. At the time, digital cameras were not as good as they are now, and to top that off, I pushed my Minolta X-50's ISO higher in order to force the highest possible shutter speed to take pictures from a moving bus from Cuzco to Lake Titicaca, Peru.

Turns out I set it too high. Now I need to "step back in time" to improve the photos that were taken back then. I got some pretty good pictures of rural Peru from the speeding bus, but the noise is very disturbing:

Some time ago, I asked a similar question, and a forum member cleaned up this picture [in Juliaca, Peru]:

He made it this good using Noise Ninja:

IMHO, that's a great reduction of noise, and the detail has suffered not at all - if anything, the photo looks sharper

The Developer of Ximagic Denoiser also replied, with good info.

So, here I am chiming in on your thread in my continuing search for a Time Machine to go back and turn my old Minolta into a modern Panasonic

I can't very well do the trip again, but the photos can be saved - retroactively!

-Erik
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kkardster
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Re: Noise reduction experiment
In reply to Ron Tolmie, Apr 20, 2012

Looks pretty good. There is some smearing and clarity loss in the object on the far left. [I can't tell if it's a stuffed animal or some sort of terry cloth.]

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kkardster
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Re: Time Machine
In reply to Erik Ohlson, Apr 20, 2012

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Does anyone know how to do similarly good noise reduction in Photoshop Elements 8 [or PSE4] ?

I can't help, but I'm sure someone will come to your rescue using Elements.

If all else fails, you could trial Paint Shop Pro [PSP] to get your photos cleaned up before using Elements for further PP. PSP supports creating macros from commands that can be applied against many images as a batch process.

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Erik Ohlson
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Re: Time Machine
In reply to kkardster, Apr 20, 2012

kkardster wrote:

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Does anyone know how to do similarly good noise reduction in Photoshop Elements 8 [or PSE4] ?

I can't help, but I'm sure someone will come to your rescue using Elements.

If all else fails, you could trial Paint Shop Pro [PSP] to get your photos cleaned up before using Elements for further PP. PSP supports creating macros from commands that can be applied against many images as a batch process.

Yes, indeed, thanks.

I'm about to "Pull the Trigger" on Noise Ninja, but want to make sure I make the best choice I can, so I thought I'd ask again.

-Erik

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danielsonkin
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Re: Time Machine
In reply to Erik Ohlson, Apr 20, 2012

Big difference in the images. I agree, the ZS15 also does produce a bit of noise even in low ISO shots, but nothing that Lightroom or Dfine (which I just started using) can't control. I used to use Noiseware Pro + CS5, and loved how well it worked, but with the upgrade to OS7 on the mac, photoshop no longer can be opened in 32-bit mode, so third party plugins are kaput! I bought the entire Nik plugin collection this week, which includes their noise reduction program, Dfine. Hopefully, I'll be as satisfied with it as much as I was with Noiseware Pro. Not sure whether Dfine can separate the de-noising process like PS Pro, but I'll look into it. Thanks for the tip.
Take care,
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kkardster
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Re: Time Machine
In reply to Erik Ohlson, Apr 20, 2012

Those Noise Ninja results are impressive. I see that the two images provided expand to different sizes - was that due to Noise Ninja or was the final image resized later for some other purpose?

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Ron Tolmie
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Re: Time Machine
In reply to Erik Ohlson, Apr 20, 2012

Erik:

I have used Noise Ninja and was very happy with the results.

Nearly everyone (including me!) tends to be leery about using cameras with small sensors but with a little extra effort they are capable of producing acceptable 13x19" prints. There are tradeoffs. For example, in my smoothed image the stuffed animal on the left is smudged and the pattern in the wallpaper is nearly lost (but would probably be recoverable if the settings are adjusted). The alternative of carrying a DLSR with lenses from 24 to 480mm is too high a price to pay if the benefits are barely noticeable.

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ANAYV
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Re: Time Machine
In reply to Erik Ohlson, Apr 20, 2012

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Very interesting - and very good noise reduction!

Does anyone know how to do similarly good noise reduction in Photoshop Elements 8 [or PSE4] ?

I am in need of a "Time Machine" - I took a Trip of a Lifetime back in 2005, from which I have posted a number of photo threads on this forum. At the time, digital cameras were not as good as they are now, and to top that off, I pushed my Minolta X-50's ISO higher in order to force the highest possible shutter speed to take pictures from a moving bus from Cuzco to Lake Titicaca, Peru.

Turns out I set it too high. Now I need to "step back in time" to improve the photos that were taken back then. I got some pretty good pictures of rural Peru from the speeding bus, but the noise is very disturbing:

This shot seems to have an oversharpening problem, not a noise problem

Here it is after an attempt to remove the halo's:

Some time ago, I asked a similar question, and a forum member cleaned up this picture [in Juliaca, Peru]:

He made it this good using Noise Ninja:

IMHO, that's a great reduction of noise, and the detail has suffered not at all - if anything, the photo looks sharper

Looking close, there is less detail in the noise reduced version.

The Developer of Ximagic Denoiser also replied, with good info.

So, here I am chiming in on your thread in my continuing search for a Time Machine to go back and turn my old Minolta into a modern Panasonic

I can't very well do the trip again, but the photos can be saved - retroactively!

Hopefully you get to improve those shots of old !

ANAYV

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kkardster
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Re: Time Machine
In reply to ANAYV, Apr 20, 2012

ANAYV wrote:

Erik Ohlson wrote:

IMHO, that's a great reduction of noise, and the detail has suffered not at all - if anything, the photo looks sharper

Looking close, there is less detail in the noise reduced version

True, you can't create detail that isn't there, but they can be sharper . The point is the noise reduced images are "easier on the eyes" and definitely more enjoyable than the originals.

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VadymA
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Re: Noise reduction experiment
In reply to Ron Tolmie, Apr 20, 2012

Very good. I've tried Topaz DeNoise recently and really like the results I am getting with FZ-150 RAW files (JPEG not so much). The additional benefit of Topaz is a Deblur slider which improves small-sensor images significantly in my opinion. The drawback is duplicated TIFF files (appx 30MB each) that Topaz creates. But I noticed that Aperture adjustments work slightly better with TIFFs than with FZ150 RAW files so I am fine with TIFFs in general. I don't shoot that much anyway to worry about disk space.

Here is a video about Topaz comparison with other noise reduction programs which swayed me into Topaz camp (in case somebody interested).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSzdM62LHnI

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Humboldt Jim
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Re: Noise reduction experiment
In reply to Ron Tolmie, Apr 20, 2012

Always a compromise, eh Ron? Originally smooth surfaces are very good but fine texture and pattern are lost. in bear's fur and doll's clothing. It all depends on what is important to the image presentation.

HJ

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Detail Man
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Groundhog Day ... All Over Again
In reply to Erik Ohlson, Apr 21, 2012

Erik Ohlson wrote:

I'm about to "Pull the Trigger" on Noise Ninja, but want to make sure I make the best choice I can, so I thought I'd ask again.

A bit hard to believe that you have again forgotten, but it was NOT NOISE NINJA that was used to process that image - it was the free XiDenoiser developed by BRodriguez . On the thread that the post below exists on (which you yourself started), these things were previously explained to you on more than one occasion on that thread (by him and me). Try a little "Ginkgo biloba", eh?

BRodriguez wrote :

I post this denoised image, but it is processed with Ximagic Denoiser not Noise Ninja.

There are another one processed with noise ninja in the same thread but it not this one.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1033&message=38472361

From this post: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1033&message=39946317

Seems to me like a situation of giving credit where credit is due - as well as perhaps (yet again) aiming you towards the program that actually produced those results (free, no less). Download at:

http://www.ximagic.com/d_download.html

If you go back through the thread (which you started), you will see all of this having been said ...

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morepix
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For hard cases ...
In reply to Erik Ohlson, Apr 21, 2012

Erik Ohlson wrote:

Does anyone know how to do similarly good noise reduction in Photoshop Elements 8 [or PSE4] ?

... I revert to Topaz DeNoise, a Photoshop / Elements plug-in. I've used Noise Ninja, Neat Image, and the NR in Lightroom 4, all of which are pretty good. But DeNoise is the best I've ever seen. And if there's still any work to be done in smooth areas, like the sky, I use Photoshop's Surface Blur, with low values of the two parameters.
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Erik Ohlson
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Re: Groundhog Day ... All Over Again
In reply to Detail Man, Apr 21, 2012

Detail Man wrote:

Erik Ohlson wrote:

I'm about to "Pull the Trigger" on Noise Ninja, but want to make sure I make the best choice I can, so I thought I'd ask again.

A bit hard to believe that you have again forgotten, but it was NOT NOISE NINJA that was used to process that image - it was the free XiDenoiser developed by BRodriguez . On the thread that the post below exists on (which you yourself started), these things were previously explained to you on more than one occasion on that thread (by him and me). Try a little "Ginkgo biloba", eh?

No need to resort to insults, even if you DO thrive on controversy.

H0wSomeEver - as Pogo was wont to say, turns out that BOTH Noise Ninja AND Ximagic were applied to this. I do, indeed come back to this problem from time to time and I went to the post in which Noise Ninja was introduced, and wound up with the wrong shot, as posted here:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1033&message=38464261

This is, indeed, not the best. The best so far is, indeed the XiMagic, which is the one that wound up on Flickr, whence I got it for this thread.

This, denoised with XiMagic is the best - note the virtually complete lack of chroma noise in the rear window, as compared with the Noise Ninja version:

This is why I brought it up again, thanks!

-Erik

BRodriguez wrote :

I post this denoised image, but it is processed with Ximagic Denoiser not Noise Ninja.

There are another one processed with noise ninja in the same thread but it not this one. The somewhat poorer "NoiseNinja" photo can be seen in the second post on this old thread: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1033&message=38463981&changemode=1

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1033&message=38472361

From this post: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1033&message=39946317

Seems to me like a situation of giving credit where credit is due - as well as perhaps aiming you towards the program that actually produced those results (free, no less)

Credit duly given.

Download at:

http://www.ximagic.com/d_download.html

-Erik

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Erik Ohlson
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Re: Time Machine
In reply to Ron Tolmie, Apr 21, 2012

Ron Tolmie wrote:

Erik:

I have used Noise Ninja and was very happy with the results.

Hi, Ron,

Sorry I confused Noise Ninja with XiMagic, which did better on this project which wound up on the "Back Shelf" for some time.

Nearly everyone (including me!) tends to be leery about using cameras with small sensors but with a little extra effort they are capable of producing acceptable 13x19" prints. There are tradeoffs. For example, in my smoothed image the stuffed animal on the left is smudged and the pattern in the wallpaper is nearly lost (but would probably be recoverable if the settings are adjusted). The alternative of carrying a DLSR with lenses from 24 to 480mm is too high a price to pay if the benefits are barely noticeable.

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Ron Tolmie

I - personally - have no problem at all with small sensor cameras, and I have been using 12x18 prints from them since my Minolta X-50 days [alhthough not the high ISO shots mentioned here.

Viewed at a reasonable distance, sky noise [From the CMB? ] doesn't show to the eye - 'barely noticeable' as you say.

I'm presently experimenting with a ZS19 - ZS20 without GPS, and the zoom seems very useable, indeed as noted in this post, should you be interested:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1033&message=41267314

-Erik

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Erik Ohlson
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Re: Groundhog Day ... All Over Again
In reply to Detail Man, Apr 21, 2012

Detail Man wrote:

Seems to me like a situation of giving credit where credit is due - as well as perhaps (yet again) aiming you towards the program that actually produced those results (free, no less). Download at:

http://www.ximagic.com/d_download.html

Unfortunately, XiMagic Denoiser need Mac OS 10.6 or higher & I'm happy with my 10.4.11.

I'm not going through the whole "Update" thing yet again, just for ANY software, "free" or otherwise.

Maybe when my iMac goes up in smoke........

But, thanks anyway.

-Erik

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dgcohen61430
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Re: Time Machine
In reply to kkardster, Apr 21, 2012

PaintShop Pro is a great program, I was using version 9. But every article and lots of tutorials use the full version of PS with lots of applicability to elements I also played with Serif PhotoPlus, another very good program, but the later versions loaded very slowly on my older (but not ancient) desktop machine. It's pretty good on my newer laptop.

However, elements 8 works very well, I could get books for this program from the local library and it (and I assume PS) have some very powerful selection alternatives. It doesn't do macros or scripting but the keyboard short cuts are a lifesaver. So easy to change brush size using the keyboard.

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