Noise Reduction Software Reviews (2021 Update)

Today we are going to focus on photography noise and the best noise reduction software currently available. But first of all, let's make sure that we understand "noise" in photos.

In digital photographs, “noise” is the commonly-used term to describe visual distortion. It looks similar to grain found in film photographs but can also look like splotches of discolouration and can ruin a photograph. Noise tends to get worse when you’re shooting in low light (high ISO).

Luckily there is a way to reduce noise on your photos with the help of noise reduction software. However, as there are many different types of noise reduction software, it can be difficult to decide which one to use.

Finding a balance between eliminating noise and maximizing the photo’s detail is crucial when deciding which denoise software to use. That’s why we decided to run a group of tests using the main noise reduction and photo editing software available on the market.

We believe that the best noise reduction software is the one that keeps the details while removing the colour and luminance noise. In this article, you’ll find all the information you need related to the best noise removal software, with all the specs, functions, and photography tests we run using each specific piece of software.

Noise Reduction Software Reviews:

  1. Topaz Denoise AI - (5/5)
  2. Adobe Photoshop - (4/5)
  3. Adobe Lightroom Classic - (4/5)
  4. Skylum Luminar AI - (3/5)
  5. Affinity Photo - (3/5)
  6. Vance AI Image Denoiser - (2/5)

1. Topaz - Denoise AI - The best noise reduction software on the market

Compatibility: Windows & Mac
Learn more: Here
Price: $79.99
Free trial: Here

Topaz Denoise AI is number one on our list for a simple reason. At this point, it's the best noise reduction software on the market. Although the price tag quoting almost $80 seems like a lot of money for software that only focuses on one simple tool, the results are incredible. It's not a surprise that the Denoise AI is used by some of the best photographers in situations where everything else failed.

The software removes noise using AI after analyzing your image. It automatically gets rid of digital noise in grainy areas while preserving the detail. You can adjust the noise removal using two basic sliders to remove noise and sharpen. Denoise AI also includes more advanced options, like a low-light mode for high-ISO images (perfect for milky way photography) and masks to apply the effect selectively without using Photoshop.

Noise Reduction:
  1. Open your image
  2. Select the AI Model on the right toolbar
  3. Select the "Setting" below or use the AI Auto setting
  4. Recover the details in the "Post Processing" tool using the "Recover Original Detail" slider
  5. Check the result on your screen
  6. Click on the "Save Image" button
Pros:
  • The best results reducing noise and preserving details of your photos
  • Includes simple masking tool
  • Works well as a plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom
  • Includes advanced noise reduction options for night photography
Cons:
  • Pricy option for basic editing
  • Processing time is a bit slow compare to other software.

2. Adobe – Photoshop (Adobe Camera Raw)

Compatibility: Windows & Mac
Learn more: Here
Price: £9.98 per month
Free trial: Here

Noise reduction in Photoshop is one of the most effective ways to reduce and remove digital noise selectively using masks and advanced techniques.

Using Photoshop, you can process the noise reduction in Adobe Camera Raw, which uses the same algorithm as Lightroom, but with the enormous advantage of applying these adjustments in a much more selective way.

Furthermore, you can use noise reduction filters and other more advanced techniques to eliminate digital noise, such as blending noise reduction or stacking noise reduction.

Noise Reduction:
  1. Open your photo
  2. Duplicate the "Background" layer
  3. Go to Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise...
  4. Adjust the strength of the noise reduction using the "Reduction" slider
  5. Fix the details with the "Preserve Details" slider
Pros:
  • Many different noise reduction tools
  • Camera Raw Filter with same options as Lightroom
  • Possibility of using layer and mask editing
Cons:
  • The noise reduction process is time-consuming
  • The price tag and need for a monthly subscription
  • Some noise reduction techniques require previous training

3. Adobe – Lightroom Classic

Compatibility: Windows & Mac
Learn more: Here
Price: £9.98 per month
Free trial: Here

Reducing digital noise in Lightroom is simple and effective with a dedicated "Noise Reduction" section in the Develop module. Counting on the fact that Lightroom is still the most popular photo developing software currently available, the noise reduction tool in Lightroom will be without a doubt used by many photographers.

The noise reduction tool does work well in simple low-light situations. However, it starts to struggle from ISO 2000 up. The loss of details is quite significant, and it can be tricky to balance the "Sharpening" with the "Noise Reduction" tools to recover some details.

Lightroom works well in combination with Photoshop, giving you the possibility of layer and mask editing bringing the noise reduction process to another level.

Noise Reduction:
  1. Import your photo
  2. Navigate to the "Develop" module on the top of the screen
  3. Open the "Detail" tool in the toolbar on the right side of your screen
  4. Adjust the strength of the noise reduction using the "Luminance" and "Color" sliders in the "Noise Reduction" section
  5. Recover the details in the "Sharpening" section above using the "Amount" slider
Pros:
  • Complete tool to edit and catalogue your photos from start to finish
  • Works very well in combination with Photoshop and other Plugins
Cons:
  • The balance between noise and details is not as good as in other software
  • The noise reduction struggles on very noisy photos
  • Some of the sliders have minimal effect on the result

4. Skylum – Luminar AI

Compatibility: Windows & Mac
Learn more: Here
Price: £59
Free trial: Here

Luminar AI is a compelling alternative to Lightroom that includes noise reduction. To reduce noise in Luminar, in addition to the basic noise reduction settings, you can make adjustments more selectively using masks and layers as if you were using Photoshop.

The Luminar AI noise reduction is applied through a filter called “Denoise,” which will allow you to reduce luminance or colour noise, increase or decrease the overall effect through a “boost” slider, and finally, adjust the opacity.

Noise Reduction:
  1. Open your photo
  2. Navigate to the "Edit" module on the top of the screen
  3. Select the "Denoise" tool in the toolbar on the right side of your screen
  4. Adjust the strength of the noise reduction using the "Luminosity Denoise" and "Colour Denoise" slider
  5. Fix the details in the "Details" tool above the "Denoise" tool
Pros:
  • Cheaper alternative to Lightroom with a large number of powerful tools
  • A straightforward noise reduction process
  • Possibility of using layer and mask editing
Cons:
  • The balancing of the "Denoise" tool and the "Details" tool can be time-consuming.
  • The noise reduction removes lots of details from the photos.

5. Affinity – Affinity Photo

Compatibility: Windows & Mac
Learn more: Here
Price: £48.00
Free trial: Here

Affinity Photo offers powerful photo editing tools, including a very decent noise reduction tool. Considering the price and features, this software is usually aimed at photographers who prefer to buy the software in one go and avoid the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

In terms of noise reduction in Affinity Photo, in addition to settings like "Luminance" or "Colour", which are similar to those in Lightroom, Affinity includes handy sliders called “Luminance Detail“ dedicated to detail recovery during the noise reduction process.

Noise Reduction:
  1. Open your photo
  2. Duplicate the "Background" layer
  3. Zoom to 100% (use the zoom tool)
  4. Go to Filter > Noise > Denoise
  5. Adjust the "Luminance" slider to fix the noise in the dark background
  6. Fix the details with the "Luminance Detail" slider
Pros:
  • Part of compelling photo editing software
  • Handy "Luminance Detail" slider
  • Possibility of layer and mask editing
Cons:
  • Photos lose lots of details during the noise reduction
  • Luck of AI/Smart function with the Denoise tool

6. Vance AI - AI Image Sharpener

Compatibility: Windows & Mac
Learn more: Here
Price: 3 photos for free | £9.99 per month after
Free trial: Here

The Vance AI is the second representative of AI noise reduction and the only online software we will cover on our list. As such, you will require an online connection with decent upload and download speed to utilise this interesting tool fully.

When it comes to the actual noise reduction, the Vance AI is the true representative of the AI function as it uses the 1000s of images it edited in the past to learn and improve noise reduction. We noticed the software trying to replace certain parts of the photo and its textures with brand new sections in many cases. As good as this sound, the results are very inconsistent and quiet often; it removes entire parts of the photo without recovering that in post-processing.

Either way, we believe that Vance AI's AI Image Sharpener is very interesting, and everyone should try and experience it.

Noise Reduction:
  1. Navigate to VanceAI.com
  2. Select the "AI Image Sharpener" in the menu
  3. Upload your photo
  4. Select the noise reduction amount with the "Degree" slider on the left
  5. Click the "Start the Process" button
  6. Download the result
Pros:
  • An online tool without the need for software installation
  • New technology = worth the try
  • Some fascinating results
Cons:
  • Free version results create watermarks on the photos
  • Expensive for what it is and what it can do
  • Minimal adjustment options
  • Some results lost textures and elements of the photo

The End

That's it for today, but if you need any help, make sure to contact us directly, and we will do our best to help.

#StaySafe - Jakub Bors
@CleverPhotographer | @BorsPhotography

Jakub Bors Photography

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