are the advantages of Noise Control compared to Photoshop's
Photoshop's Reduce Noise Filter works more or less sufficient with images with weak noise, but has problems dealing with strong noise. At the highest settings it often removes strong noise only partially while already blurring many image details. NoiseControl on the other hand removes strong noise while still keeping image details. Reduce Noise does not offer any automatic noise detection feature like NoiseControl and contains much fewer options for fine-tuning the noise reduction parameters.
does Noise Control compare to the noise reduction feature
The noise reduction feature of Camera RAW and Lightroom tends to produce a soft or plastic look. Unlike NoiseControl it does not manage to remove coarse film grain and often adds blur artifacts to photos taken with ISO 12800 and higher. It only offers five sliders for manual adjustment and there are no options for selectively treating image areas with other settings. NoiseControl on the other hand offer more fine-tuning options, including selective ones, detects noise automatically and lets you automatically open a preset for images taken with a certain camera and ISO value. NoiseControl also lets you view the luminance and color information separately, which helps with fine-tuning the settings.
3. You already offer a noise reduction mode in FocalBlade ...
The noise reduction feature in FocalBlade is not as sophisticated and convenient as NoiseControl. It is only meant as a bonus feature. FocalBlade's noise reduction requires much more tweaking and is not really effective on images with strong noise. Try both and you will see.
4. Should I deactivate the noise reduction option of my camera?
Yes, please do that if you shoot JPEG. If you shoot in RAW, it does not matter, because no noise reduction is applied to RAW files by the camera. Just make sure that no noise reduction is applied during RAW conversion.
Cameras do not have the time to apply extensive and sophisticated noise reduction to their photos, because they do not want you to miss a shot. Additionally the noise reduction features of some cameras are quite brutal and remove image details that could have been saved by NoiseControl. NoiseControl on the other hand has the time and is able to remove noise more effectively. NoiseControl may still be able to improve photos that had noise reduction applied in-camera, but it cannot restore removed image details.
5. Some people claim that you can shoot photos at a higher ISO value if you use a noise reduction software. Is this true?
Theretically it is true, but we do not recommend it anyway. You can certainly improve the image quality of high-ISO photos by using noise reduction, but you will never get the same resolution and fine details as when using a low ISO value in the first place. Photos taken with low ISO values contain a higher optical resolution, which cannot be restored by software even if the high-ISO noise is completely eliminated. Some software manufacturers may deny this fact and claim that you can overcome photographic hardwear limitation with their software, but that is only marketing buzz.
6. How can I make NoiseControl render faster?
The Radius slider of luminance denoising has the biggest influence on rendering time. Larger noise particles require a higher slider value, which in turn reduces the processing speed. Usually you can expect that images with stronger noise require longer rendering. Using a Radius values that is as low as possible decreases rendering time. Deactivating features that are not needed for a certain image, e.g. color noise reduction or sharpening, helps too.
You should also apply NoiseControl to images at capture size. Applying it to upsized images not only increases the rendering time, but also makes NoiseControl work less effectively.
7. Some processed images show a slight desaturation. How can I fix that?
Luminance noise reduction requires you to decide how much grain you want to retain in the image. If you want to keep as many details as possible, you sometimes have to accept that a bit of grain remains. If you want to avoid as much grain as possible, you more or less have to live with a softer look with fewer image details.
It is similar with color noise reduction. Removing very strong color noise completely involves the risk of reducing saturation, especially in small color details. For some images it is better to partially keep color noise in order to retain color details.
Here is what you can do to avoid or reduce the desaturation problem:
1. In Advanced
Mode reduce the Threshold slider value of the Color Denoising
group. Values of 10 or below usually avoid saturation loss.
In Easy Mode best choose "Low" or "Mid"
for color denoising.
Can I use FocalBlade for sharpening instead of NoiseControl's
Yes, but the sharpening feature of NoiseControl has a big advantage. NoiseControl always sharpens a 100% noise removed version of the image, even if you set the intensity of the luminance noise removal e.g. to 50%. This makes sure that no noise is emphasized by the sharpening. So if you apply NoiseControl with less than 100% luminance noise removal to an image, FocalBlade may emphasize the luminance noise again. So it is a good idea to at least use NoiseControl's sharpening feature to presharpen the image, so that you later do not need to apply a strong sharpening in FocalBlade.