Jul 10, 2012

Tips to Reduce Noise


It is ALWAYS better to shoot at a low ISO if you don’t want a lot of grain in your images. 100 or 200 are the best to work with if you don’t want any grain. The more light you have the less chance you have of shooting a large ISO. If you can’t afford strobes you can look for cheap work Lights work Lights from Home Depot or a hardware store.

If you are shooting a wedding or something where you can’t control the Light it’s a good idea to rent a better camera such as a Canon 5d Mark ii or the Nikon d800.

Using a lens with a wider aperture will allow more Light to come in, something like the 5omm 1.4  is a great choice.

Open up your aperture and slow down your shutter speed with a tripod to get a lower number. Newer DSLRs allow you to shoot at a higher ISO without noise, but be careful how far you push it. Shooting tethered is a good idea to check and make sure you’re getting the effect you want.

Reducing Grain

If you have noise in your image and you can change it to Black and White it often times looks much better.

If that’s not an option there are a couple options for fixing it in post. The one that I think works best is FilterNoise-Reduce Noise.  I always bump up the Strength all the way and check preview to see the Difference in my photo. You can then bring up the Preserve Details slider to keep information and make the image less blurry, but do it subtly or you will just add the Grain back in.

The next step we’ll try is Filter-Blur-Surface Blur. This can be used to blur the Background slightly to make the image look overall cleaner. You can play around with the Radius and Threshold Level. Some areas will look great while others don’t, so use a Layer Mask to affect only the areas that don’t have a lot of detail.

Helpful Links

I’ve never used Noise Ninja but it has great reviews. This is a plug-in you can use with Photoshop to reduce Grain in your photos.

Lens Rentals is our favorite resource for  gear rentals!

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  • user image

    1) if you take a photo in RAW format, remember: you can always ad up up to 1 1/2 more light (aperture step e.g. f/5.6 to f/4). So, for example I’ll shot a photo at iso 400 instead of 800 and later add the light in adobe bridge. less noise, same amount of light

    2) in camera raw bridge, crank up the “reduce color noise” up to 90. in colored photos, most of the noise is found in the colors. also try to play with the luminance in colors.

    3) another option in photoshop is to choose “LAB MODE” instead of rgb. then you go to channels and only edit the “light” channel with the gaussian blur. then recombine all channels back to rgb mode and re-sharpen a bit.

    • user image

      It is actually better to shoot at 1 stop faster ISO and overexpose and then correct exposure down in post.

  • user image

    Great tip, Topaz Lab have great plug-in’s you could use to reduce noise…

    Just a quick question at 6:35 you use both your Wacom + Keyboard key so change the size/hardness of the brush. How do you do that?

  • user image
    Wolfgang Gruber

    Yeah LR does a great job on reducing noise, but for me the workflow is much longer…

  • user image
    Tsaqib Al-Hasawi

    My tip is, I use smudge tool, I can even edit with pictures from camera phone that is 2megapixels or below because camera phone has the most noise and with smudge tool, everything seems good.

  • user image

    Hello. I’ve been working as a video compositing artist. One of the main rule in video is grain match. All elements must have the same grain. Otherwise they don’t really match together. Isn’t that the same thing in photography? 

  • user image

    Hey guys I just wanted to add that depth of field also create noise in areas that are out of focus.