Worth purchasing a Noise Reduction addon for Aperture 3?

Started Apr 28, 2013 | Discussions
BandofBrothers
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Worth purchasing a Noise Reduction addon for Aperture 3?
Apr 28, 2013

Hey guys,

I have recently purchased Aperture 3 for the Mac, and will of course be spending the next few days/weeks learning to use it effectively. I have downloaded some helpful videos, and purchased a book online already.

I was wondering, is it worth purchasing an additional Noise Reduction tool / plugin for Aperture? I shoot with a Nikon 1 V1 presently, so noise is fairly common on poorly lit indoor shots where I have to crank up the ISO.

A lot of the photos I have looked at online (fairly professional looking pics) have been sharpened using Noise Ninja. I have googled this, and there appears to be a standalone program for this, as well as a very outdated addon for Aperture from many years ago - is this no longer available as an Aperture plugin?

I have also seen the Nik Software collection comes highly recommended - in particular the "Dfine 2" program for noise reduction.

Would it be worth me purchasing one of the above to use instead of the Aperture built in NR, and which would you guys recommend?

Many thanks for any help:-)

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Brandon birder
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Re: Worth purchasing a Noise Reduction addon for Aperture 3?
In reply to BandofBrothers, Apr 28, 2013

BandofBrothers wrote:

Hey guys,

I have recently purchased Aperture 3 for the Mac, and will of course be spending the next few days/weeks learning to use it effectively. I have downloaded some helpful videos, and purchased a book online already.

I was wondering, is it worth purchasing an additional Noise Reduction tool / plugin for Aperture? I shoot with a Nikon 1 V1 presently, so noise is fairly common on poorly lit indoor shots where I have to crank up the ISO.

A lot of the photos I have looked at online (fairly professional looking pics) have been sharpened using Noise Ninja. I have googled this, and there appears to be a standalone program for this, as well as a very outdated addon for Aperture from many years ago - is this no longer available as an Aperture plugin?

I have also seen the Nik Software collection comes highly recommended - in particular the "Dfine 2" program for noise reduction.

Would it be worth me purchasing one of the above to use instead of the Aperture built in NR, and which would you guys recommend?

Many thanks for any help:-)

The Nik suite with dfine 2 is very good indeed and integrates brilliantly with Aperture3. The built in upoint technology effectively allows you to mask noise in or out without any hassle. It is excellent and selective.  Apertures noise reduction is poor imo but can be selectively brushed in or out.

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Alpha Doug
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Re: Worth purchasing a Noise Reduction addon for Aperture 3?
In reply to Brandon birder, Apr 29, 2013

Aperture's noise reduction isn't exactly "poor", but it is somewhat difficult to use properly.  First you need to use the Camera RAW Fine Tuning controls to modify the basic RAW conversion that Aperture does to all your images as they are imported.  There are noise and moire controls in there.  They are subtle, but effective in getting a better initial RAW conversion.  Don't expect all the noise to go away, but adjust it as for as good and image as you can get on a "typical" image.  (Some like to set a different preset for low and high ISO images in this control).  Be sure to save these settings as a preset.  Only after you have done this, you can then proceed to add more noise reduction in the standard adjustmens pane tool.  But dFine by nik, and DeNoise by Topaz, are adjustable to a much finer extent.  My favorite right now is dFine.  The complete set of nik filters is available through Google, who bought them, for $149.  A raging bargain.

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Najinsky
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Re: Worth purchasing a Noise Reduction addon for Aperture 3?
In reply to Alpha Doug, Apr 29, 2013

Alpha Doug wrote:

Aperture's noise reduction isn't exactly "poor", but it is somewhat difficult to use properly.  First you need to use the Camera RAW Fine Tuning controls to modify the basic RAW conversion that Aperture does to all your images as they are imported.  There are noise and moire controls in there.  They are subtle, but effective in getting a better initial RAW conversion.  Don't expect all the noise to go away, but adjust it as for as good and image as you can get on a "typical" image.  (Some like to set a different preset for low and high ISO images in this control).  Be sure to save these settings as a preset.  Only after you have done this, you can then proceed to add more noise reduction in the standard adjustmens pane tool.  But dFine by nik, and DeNoise by Topaz, are adjustable to a much finer extent.  My favorite right now is dFine.  The complete set of nik filters is available through Google, who bought them, for $149.  A raging bargain.

Search for some discount codes to that can be entered at checkout for an extra $20-30 off the price.

-Najinsky

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Najinsky
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Re: Worth purchasing a Noise Reduction addon for Aperture 3?
In reply to BandofBrothers, Apr 29, 2013

Noise comes in two types, luminance and chroma, but more importantly 3 levels of intensity:

  • Normal - An inherent part of the process
  • Excessive - High ISO shadow noise
  • Extreme - High ISO raised shadow (eg under-exposed shots) visible across the whole image.

Apertures handling of Normal noise is excellent, every bit as good the best in class, in fact the results are so close to Noise Ninja, I suspect they may have licensed NN. It is pre-optimised to deliver an excellent balance and can only be tweaked, never fully turned off (even setting the slider to zero in raw fine tuning) as it's built into the raw conversion process.

It's in the area of Excessive noise where it doesn't perform. The problem is it doesn't let you differentiate between Luminance and Chroma noise, it just smears them together giving blotchy results that look just as bad as the noise.

Third party tools and plugins give much more control and do a much better job here.

In the area of Extreme noise, nothing really does a good job here and you have to make decisions about how to rescue the image and what you are willing to sacrifice; how much resolution loss, how much saturation loss, which details are important, how much time you can spend, and so on.

The first decision is whether the image is worth rescuing. The plug-ins have the advantage that they are quick to use and easy to see what sort of rescue they can give you.

I was explaining some features of my camera to a neighbour and took some photos of his kids taken in near darkness at a barbecue, they really liked one of the photos, but the noise was both extreme and excessive, so I tried numerous tools to rescue it. Counter-intuitively, I actually got the best result from Aperture.

I didn't use the NR tools, instead I used of cocktail of adjustments to target the specific issues.

I used the colour tool to target the green and magenta elements of the noise, adjusted the saturation and luminance and then selectively brushed the adjustment where needed.

The blur tool to reduce any excessive grain or blotches. The contrast and sharpness tools to emphasise the important details, the tint tool to deal with some colour shifts, and so on.

And not just one version of each adjustment. Aperture lets you have multiple versions with different impacts, selectively applied to different parts of the image.

In essence, I repainted the image!! But the result was far better than what the dedicated NR apps could give me. I wouldn't want to do it for any old snap, but for an special or important image, Aperture has the tools to do it (Although photoshop would have been quicker, I haven't re-install it yet and it seems a good chance to really push Aperture).

Anyway, that's really an aside. Returning to the question of plug-ins, it's a good idea to consider all your likely plug-in requirements, rather than individual ones as they arise.

For me it's a three way consideration between Nik Suite, Photo Ninja and DXO.

Nik suite is much more of a creative package. It's pure imaging tools are D'fine for noise, Sharpener Pro for detail, and Viveza for colour. The other tools are all about creative enhancements.

It downsides are: Tied into Apertures raw engine, No lens correction tools and no perspective correction tools.

DXO and Photo Ninja both have their own raw processing engine, which gives you an extra choice on an image by basis. The both have excellent noise reduction, lens correction and perspective correction. The both can do some neat tricks with colour but lack any way of applying it selectively.

So the decision probably comes down to what you are looking for in addition to Noise Reduction.

If lens and perspective correction are important, PN or DXO have the edge. Of those, PN has better integration with Aperture while DXO arguably has the class leading tools in all areas. DXO is more expensive, especially if your camera requires the elite version (a bit of a con as better cameras/lenses need less correction!).

If it's creative output, the Nik suite is a lot of fun.

-Najinsky

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Stubb
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Re: Worth purchasing a Noise Reduction addon for Aperture 3?
In reply to BandofBrothers, Apr 30, 2013

Consider also DxO Optics Pro, which addresses lens and perspective correction along with noise.

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f8BeThereToo
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Nik Discount Code
In reply to Stubb, Apr 30, 2013

Use the discount code DZISER and get another 25% off for a total of $126.65.

It worked for me one month ago but I cannot guarantee that it is still good...

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Robgo2
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Re: Worth purchasing a Noise Reduction addon for Aperture 3?
In reply to Najinsky, May 1, 2013

Apertures handling of Normal noise is excellent, every bit as good the best in class, in fact the results are so close to Noise Ninja, I suspect they may have licensed NN. It is pre-optimised to deliver an excellent balance and can only be tweaked, never fully turned off (even setting the slider to zero in raw fine tuning) as it's built into the raw conversion process.

For the record, the current version of Noise Ninja that is integrated and available only in Photo Ninja is significantly improved over the previous stand-alone version.  I have no idea if NN was ever licensed for use in Aperture.

Rob

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Sonyshine
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In reply to f8BeThereToo, May 1, 2013

Aperture noise reduction is pretty good. I would learn to use it before buying expensive plug-ins.

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Alpha Doug
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Re: Worth purchasing a Noise Reduction addon for Aperture 3?
In reply to Robgo2, May 1, 2013

Robgo2 wrote:

Apertures handling of Normal noise is excellent, every bit as good the best in class, in fact the results are so close to Noise Ninja, I suspect they may have licensed NN. It is pre-optimised to deliver an excellent balance and can only be tweaked, never fully turned off (even setting the slider to zero in raw fine tuning) as it's built into the raw conversion process.

For the record, the current version of Noise Ninja that is integrated and available only in Photo Ninja is significantly improved over the previous stand-alone version.  I have no idea if NN was ever licensed for use in Aperture.

Rob

I have the full version of Noise Ninja as a plugin running inside Aperture, Lightroom, and Photoshop.  It was definitely available as a plugin and a stand alone for Macs.  With the move to embed it in Photo Ninja, it now is no longer available as a plugin.  Moved to nik dFine.

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Najinsky
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Re: Worth purchasing a Noise Reduction addon for Aperture 3?
In reply to Robgo2, May 1, 2013

Robgo2 wrote:

Apertures handling of Normal noise is excellent, every bit as good the best in class, in fact the results are so close to Noise Ninja, I suspect they may have licensed NN. It is pre-optimised to deliver an excellent balance and can only be tweaked, never fully turned off (even setting the slider to zero in raw fine tuning) as it's built into the raw conversion process.

For the record, the current version of Noise Ninja that is integrated and available only in Photo Ninja is significantly improved over the previous stand-alone version.  I have no idea if NN was ever licensed for use in Aperture.

I specifically tested Aperture NR (the type that happens at raw decode, not the NR adjustment brick) against Photo Ninja rather than the old NN. The normal shot noise reduction was near identical.

Obviously Photo Ninja's version can also be used for dealing with excessive noise as well, and does so very well.

-Najinsky

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Nikko aus London
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Re: Worth purchasing a Noise Reduction addon for Aperture 3?
In reply to BandofBrothers, May 1, 2013

+1 for the Nik suite.  Simply love 'em!

Nikko

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Andy Hewitt
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Re: Worth purchasing a Noise Reduction addon for Aperture 3?
In reply to BandofBrothers, May 2, 2013

I bought the Topaz plugins for Aperture here.

For sure the Aperture noise removal tool is a bit weak, and fiddly to get good results. However, for low levels of noise it can be used to good effect, and you can duplicate the adjustment brick to add levels of process.

For more severe noise you do need to go external, and most of the plugin type solutions will offer better results than the built in one.

You'll get plenty of recommendations, but you might be better to download a few demos, and give them a try out. They all offer slightly different functions, and perform slightly differently. Possibly even down to the camera brand/model you have - I found that the Topaz DeNoise plugin gave the best results on my Olympus Raw images.

Of course you may also want to take cost into consideration too. It can be easy to significantly increase the cost of your photo editing software when you start adding third party plugins. There are perhaps one or two cheaper solutions, such as the noise filter built into GIMP, for example. And of course there are often special offers - such as the mentioned Nik one, and Topaz frequently have promotions too.

Personally though, I find that many photos that actually require de-noising to the extent where I need a plugin to fix it, then it is never going to be a great photo - but that's mainly because I simply prefer my photos to look as natural as possible.

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Doug R
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In reply to BandofBrothers, May 2, 2013

Lightroom works good.

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