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This page shows you the result of sharpening a photo with NoiseControl and 12 other tools. We tried to apply the other tools as accurately as possible and did not try to cheat by using them wrongly. The names of the other tools aren't mentioned (only those of Photoshop, Lightroom and Paint Shop Pro), but they are sorted according to their price.

The Original Photo

This is the crop of a photo taken at ISO 25600 and shows the label of a wine bottle.

 


Result
Tool & Comment
 

NoiseControl ($50 / $30):
This result was achieved with a bit of fine-tuning after auto sampling. As you can see the noise was removed successfully while keeping all details crisp and sharp.

No other tool in this test allows so much control over the denoising parameters as NoiseControl, which is another reason why NoiseControl produced such a superior result. NoiseControl is also able to preserve the most image details without side-effects.

You can also achieve a softer look with NoiseControl if you like. Here we kept a very fine grain structure with as many tiny details as possible. This also retains the photographic quality of the image.

Photoshop's Reduce Noise filter:

Even with extreme settings this filter leaves a lot of noise in the image. It is still possible to increase the noise reduction a bit, but then the details get quite blurred.

Surprisingly Photoshop's Reduce Noise filter is not as bad as we first thought - it even produces better results than many of the tools below - but it is no match for NoiseControl.

Noise Reduction feature of Camera Raw/Lightroom:

Both tools use the same algorithm and offer five sliders for noise reduction and four for sharpening.

If you want to keep more image details, you need to use a higher Detail slider setting, which adds artifacts as shown here. If you want to avoid the artifacts, a lower Detail slider setting makes the image quite soft and plastic-like.

Either way it does not manage to preserve as many image details as NoiseControl. Its sharpening adds back or emphasizes the artifacts.

 

Paint Shop Pro's Digital Camera Noise Removal filter:

This tool automatically evaluates the noise and offers four sliders for adjustment and a sharpening option.

It does not manage to sufficiently remove the color noise and manual adjustments do not improve the situation. It lets you produce a less soft look than here, but that also returns the noise. Sharpening produces pixel artifacts.

$100 Tool:


This tool does the denoising automatically and only offers two sliders for adjusting the denoising parameters, which do not really let you essentially improve the result. There are options for special noise types, but that does not help either. There is no sharpening option, so the noise gets amplified again when using an external tool.

The denoising result is soft, although much less noise was removed than in the NoiseControl example.

$100 Tool:


This tool only offers two sliders adjusting the denoising. There is a sharpening feature that works fine.

The result exhibits an obtrusive smudged color noise pattern, which does not really look attractive.

$80 Tool:

This tool takes quite long to start up, does not offer automatic denoising, but a lot of sliders and a few presets.

It forces you to make a bad compromise between a smeared result (as seen here) or a noisy look with artifacts. Additionally, as you can see here, the color noise is still very visible and distracting. It is certainly one of the worst results in this test.

$40 - $80 Tool:

This tool offers automatic denoising as well as adjustment options, but not as many as NoiseControl.
There is a sharpening option, but it tends to add line artifacts along the edges. The UI of this tool is a bit inconvenient to use.

Even at full intensity quite some color noise is retained. The details are smoothed a bit. It does not reach the denoising effectivity of NoiseControl.

 

$35 - $80 Tool:

This tool offers a lot of features, but is quite unintuitive and hard to use. Its sharpening feature tends to add a mosaic pattern to the image.

It is possible to remove more noise, but then the details get too soft. So too keep image details you have to keep some of the noise. This tool offers a good performance on average, but not as good as NoiseControl.

$30 - $70 Tool:

This tool is intuitive to use and includes many features. Still, the four sliders for influencing the denoising parameters did not help at all. The sharpening adds strong artifacts along the edges, so it is better to omit it.

Although the details were preserved fine, too much coarse noise was retained in the image. Especially the remaining color noise is obtrusive.

$35 / $25 Tool:

Both tools from the same company contain one slider for denoising. Overall, both apply a similar denoising, which is quite ineffective and produces ugly blotches.

$30 Tool:

This tool forces you to run itself two times, because it does not apply luminance and color denoising at the same time.

Color denoising seems to work OK, but luminance denoising is ineffective.

 

$20 Tool:

This tool offers no auto and sharpening functions, only a few sliders. The UI is simple but a bit clumsy.

The luminance noise seems to be removed fine, but the color noise is still very visible as a coarse pattern. The details are a bit soft.

 

 

Copyright (c) 2000 - 2009 by Harald Heim