Topaz DeNoise 6 – How to Be a Noise Reduction Ninja

Cameras get better and better at producing clean images at high ISO settings. But if you think that noise reduction software isn’t necessary anymore, you’re missing the point. Photographers will always push the ISO to its limits to get higher shutter speeds in lower light. Therefore, the whole ISO game is simply shifting.

In this tutorial, I will show you a very effective workflow for reducing the noise in your images using Topaz DeNoise 6. Topaz Labs have released the latest version of their noise reduction software recently. And while they did not update the core noise reduction functionality over the previous version, it is still one of the best if not the best noise reduction software out there.

However, you need to know what you’re doing to get the most out of the application. And in this video, I’m going to show you how to do just that.

The Visual Comparison

Here are some 100% crops from the test image. Please click on the respective image to show a larger version. In each case, you see the original ISO 6400 image without any noise reduction applied on the left. In the middle, you find the result of our DeNoise runs, and on the right you see the ISO 100 version of the image as a reference.

The Downloads

If you want to inspect the result closer, if you want to try your hand at creating a better result in Topaz DeNoise 6, or if you think you can improve the result using some other software, here are the downloads you need in order to get started.

  • The original noisy image, shot at ISO 6400
    • File type: Nikon Raw file (NEF)
    • Download (22.4 MB)
  • The same image, shot at ISO 100 for reference
    • File type: Nikon Raw file (NEF)
    • Download (18.2 MB)
  • The result of my workflow shown in the video
  • The final Photoshop project
    • File type: PSD file
    • Download (294.2 MB)
    • Remarks: original ISO 6400 image, ISO 100 image and both Topaz DeNoise runs included as layers

The Challenge – Now it’s Your Turn!

If you think you can improve on what I did in the video, I’d be very interested to see your result and learn about your method. I think Topaz DeNoise is hard to beat. But here’s what you should do to prove me wrong:

  1. Download the original file above.
  2. Apply your own noise reduction magic.
  3. Upload the result (full resolution please) to some place that is publicly accessible (e.g. flickr).
  4. Post a link to your version in the comments below and explain what you did to the image.

I am looking forward to some revelations in terms of noise reduction.

10 HDR Top Tips for FREE!
Join our newsletter to get this eBook and step up your HDR skills today!
You will receive: The free eBook + our regular email newsletter with tips, tutorials, news and product information… all for free!
100% Spam-Free - Easy Unsubscribe
21 replies
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Interesting result, Marek! I see some quite diverse ways in which the software dealt with the noise in different areas. Most notably, there are some big blocks of noise around the letters on the label of the bottle. I wonder where this comes from.

      Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Thanks for your version, Dimitris! I see that you worked with quite a bit of detail recovery. It’s visible especially around the letters on the lens barrel. Reducing the detail recovery slider a bit may help here.

      Reply
      • Dimitris
        Dimitris says:

        I think you’re right, I’ve gone a bit too far with sharpening. It’s really easy to oversharpen when you try to achieve a balance between sharp image and a noiseless one.

        Reply
  1. Greg Steffen
    Greg Steffen says:

    Very good explanation of the use of Not only deNoise but layer masking as well.
    Another homerun Klaus

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Joe! I see that you left quite some noise in the image. Was that a conscious decision in order to preserve the details?

      Reply
      • Joe deSousa
        Joe deSousa says:

        Hi Klaus. Yes, I tried to preserve the details at the cost of some noise. I figured that unless you’re looking at 100%, the noise tends to be minimized when you downsize the image for display.

        Reply
  2. Katharina
    Katharina says:

    Welcome pixelpeepers 😉 here is my version:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/bestofkahi/25589270452/in/dateposted-public/
    Admittedly a bit more noise than your version, but also a lot more detail and sharpness (see the blue dm logo, the A/M switch of the lens, the 1862 on the glass bottle…). I am not saying my version is better, but it has different priorities. Your version definitely wins on the part of the TV screen in the background.
    Edit with DxO PRIME Noise reduction with almost the standard settings (only Luminance increased to 80, standard is 40). Invested time: 3 minutes.
    Anyway, thank you for the interesting tutorial and the fun challenge. The method is definitely worth considering for special images, where I am willing to invest quite some time.

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Katharina! I like your version. It’s a good balance between noise reduction and preserving the details. Well done!

      As for the time invested: Obviously, it takes quite a while to explain all this stuff, but if I had just concentrated on the noise reduction side and shut up, this would have taken me only a few minutes.

      Reply
    • Joe deSousa
      Joe deSousa says:

      Your version is excellent Katharina. There’s so much detail preserved, specifically the side of the tissue box closest to the lens.

      Reply
  3. Jannette Osborne
    Jannette Osborne says:

    Thank you for such a detailed, but easily understood tutorial. You have certainly demystified DeNoise for me.

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      You’re welcome, Jannette! Yes, this type of software can easily be a total mystery. I’m glad I was able to help you overcome this and use DeNoise more effectively and efficiently in the future.

      Reply
  4. Alan Iskiw
    Alan Iskiw says:

    Hi Klaus, I very much enjoyed watching your tutorial. It was very informative. I now have a much better understanding of the use of DeNoise. I look forward to giving it a try on some of my images. I enjoy night photography so this technique will be very helpful.

    Reply
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Alan,

      it’s great hear that my tutorial made you consider Topaz DeNoise for your images. It is definitely going to help with your night photography. Just be sure to stay on the conservative side and avoid too aggressive noise reduction.

      Reply
  5. Steve Gould
    Steve Gould says:

    I was away the last couple of months and only now was able to watch this great tutorial. The problem I have is that you left Lightroom as soon as you disabled Sharpening and Noise Reduction, so when the image comes back to Lightroom for further processing, you’re now working on a PSD or TIFF and have lost what I think is a lot of the value in Lightroom’s (or ACR’s) develop option since you’re no longer working on a RAW file. It’s the conundrum we always face if we’re going to use a separate noise reduction program first. How do you deal with this?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *