Chroma noise reduction: Aperture vs. ACR/Lightroom

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by JonD25, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. JonD25 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    #1
    With my spiffy new Canon 40D, I thought I'd do some tests of my own to see what kind of noise I got in my RAW files at 3200 ISO. So I took a random shot at 3200 and loaded it onto my Mac. I also wanted to compare Aperture (my current tool of choice) with Adobe Camera Raw/Lightroom to see which one dealt with chroma noise better.

    I started with Aperture and going to the Raw Fine Tuning brick. With Auto Noise Compensation turned on and both the Moire and Radius sliders all the way to their max, I could barely tell the difference.

    Then I opened the same RAW file in ACR and went to noise reduction. In seconds, I had a drastically better looking photo with barely any nasty chroma noise left in the image.

    Am I doing something wrong in Aperture? Or is the chroma NR really that ineffective?

    I'm on the verge of switching to LR again because of this. I almost switched right before Aperture 2 came out, but Apple managed to keep me with the improved performance and better adjustment tools. But lately, I've found performance to be pretty bad if certain things have already been done to the image (i.e. cropping, straightening, or even just a few standard bricks and then zooming in, plus it's been really slow at preparing for an external editor/plug-in). The fact that Adobe seems to always be a step ahead of Aperture in terms of adjustments to RAW files is hard to overlook. I just wish I could have the interface of Aperture with the performance and adjustment tools of LR. Oh well, I guess life can't be perfect.

    Just so everyone can see what I'm saying, here's the photo zoomed to 100%. The left is the unedited CR2 file, the middle is Aperture, the right is ACR. The only adjustments were chroma NR. Also, the photo was taken with a crappy lens, which accounts for the general blurriness. But this is just to show the difference in effectiveness of Aperture vs. ACR. To me, I see little to no effect with Aperture.

    On an even more interesting note, I decided to bump the Aperture RAW version down to 1.1 instead of 2.0 to make use of the Chroma Blur feature they got rid of in 2.0, and it was WAY more effective. However, the way I see it, this isn't much of an option since using 1.1 takes away the other added adjustments 2.0 brings like Recovery and Black Point.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #2
    I think you're nitpicking. Yes, there is a difference, but it's so small that with file of any reasonable size you'd have to be doing a side-by-side comparison to notice the difference.

    Also, how often do you shoot ISO 3200? Is the difference between Ap. and LR big enough, and does it happen often enough, to justify a switch?
     
  3. JonD25 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    #3
    I used 3200 as an extreme example. I wouldn't say I'd use it a whole lot, but I can see myself using it some, because when I'm shooting with available light, I'd rather get a noisy picture I can de-noise rather than a blurry picture from a slow shutter speed no amount of PP could fix. And I'd say the difference seems pretty drastic. Aperture did barely a thing. And even in the zoomed out file, the amount of noise in the Aperture version was still really noticeably bad whereas it was nonexistent for the ACR version. Now, if I had a D300 like you, it might be even less of an issue (if only!) ;)

    I may or may not switch, I just thought it was an interesting thing to point out that perhaps someone who's trying to decide between the two might like to see. I think for me personally, it's not so much this one thing, but it just kinda solidifies in my mind how Aperture seems to be behind in terms of actual image adjustments. Apple has Adobe easily beat in terms of the user interface and workflow. But performance and adjustments, Apple always seems to be playing catch up to Adobe. Once Adobe releases the next version of LR, it'll be a definite step ahead in that regard. Apple will eventually catch up, but then Adobe takes another step forward. At least this is what it seems to me.

    Whether I switch or not was not the intention of this thread though. It was more of a comparison I thought people might be interested to see since I couldn't easily find a direct comparison out there myself. So I thought I'd just do it on my own in case anyone else was interested to see. It was also kinda a way to hopefully find out that I really am doing it wrong in Aperture. If anyone out there can get better chroma noise reduction than I did, I'd really like to learn how.
     
  4. Everythingisnt macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #4
    I think it is really interesting. Then again, I'm not exactly surprised to hear that the software made by adobe is better at editing than apples...


    Now I'm just waiting for Apple to buy adobe :rolleyes:
     
  5. JonD25 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    #5
    Haha, now THAT would be interesting.

    I just don't know why Apple got rid of a very effective adjustment tool (Chroma Blur) in favor of a completely ineffective adjustment tool (Moire and Radius). Maybe it's more effective for other camera models?
     
  6. Everythingisnt macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #6
    Maybe. One thing I did notice looking at those samples is that the adobe version seems to have a bit more contrast then the Aperture one.. Depending on what you want, this could be bad for some photographers, and maybe apple decided to try and preserve the detail as most it could? I definitely don't see apple thinking that Aperture would be a pro photographers main editing tool, so I guess it makes sense that the noise reduction tries to harm the picture quality as little as possible..
     
  7. JonD25 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    #7
    Yeah, that may have something to do with just the standard way Aperture renders a RAW file compared to Adobe, and certainly makes sense.

    But still, if a tool is supposed to reduce chroma noise, and it does basically nothing at the complete extreme of the settings for it, it just doesn't make much sense to me. I would understand if the default rendering left it relatively untouched, but at least give me the choice of messing it up, you know? I mean, I don't expect Noise Ninja results. Just ANY results would be nice.
     
  8. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    In my imagination
    #8
    Why would you instantly go to noise reduction in LR, but only use "Auto Noise Compensation" in Aperture? The Moire and Radius sliders in the Raw Fine Tuning don't do anything with nolse, chroma or color. You will have to go to the "Noise Reduction" tab/option in Aperture, or load it into the palette if it's not there.

    Honestly, neither ACR/PSCS3/Aperture or LR handle noise as good as a dedicated noise reduction app like Noise Ninja. Not that you would have to go out there and buy the app because there are other ways to reduce noise in PS other than applying a NR filter.

    I agree, that shooting at ISO 3200 isn't something that should be done most of the time, and having a D300 or even a D3 is besides the point since they only yield you 2 and 4 stops respectively (more on that later).

    I've been from LR to Aperture to LR and back to Aperture with dedicated workflows for Photo Mechanic, Bridge and PS, Capture 4, and straight up Finder many times and in many different ways for different jobs personally and professionally. If you have LR or Aperture, there is no reason to switch since neither will give you the "best" image editing.

    So far, only PS does that, and the only apps that work perfectly with it are Bridge and Photo Mechanic, Ap and LR function just like each other. Unless you need that one thing that the other app just won't give and never will, you are better off sticking with what you have.
     
  9. JonD25 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    #9
    The Moire and Radius sliders are, to my understanding, exactly for getting rid of chroma noise. I could be misunderstanding the purpose of that tool though. Do you know where I can find a real good explanation of it?

    I just took a minute to look it up in the Aperture manual, and it seems that it's not even the right tool. That explains why it didn't seem to do anything, but it doesn't quite explain how this is supposed to be a replacement for the Chroma Blur tool in 1.1.

    My thoughts behind not using the noise reduction brick in Aperture was because it adjusts luminance noise as well, which I wasn't really interested in getting rid of. ACR can get rid of just chroma or just luminance or whatever combo of the two I want. I tried using the noise reduction in Aperture as well, and getting a photo with the same amount of chroma noise taken out as what ACR can do without touching luminance noise just blurred the image to an unacceptable point. And yes, I tried my best with the edge detail option. High enough to regain sharpness brought back the big pieces of chroma. Low enough to get rid of that, it's blurry.

    I agree. I think it's nice though to not have to export to another program or plug in to just do a decent job at noise reduction. And I don't think I'm the only one who thinks Aperture is pretty poor at noise reduction.

    But, like I said, this is also a learning opportunity for me. I'd honestly like to be proven wrong in that aspect and to learn how to do it right if I just don't know how to use it correctly.

    Certainly. But like I said, if it's a choice between noise or motion blur, I'll choose noise.

    Personally, there's more to it than just noise reduction. Performance is a big issue. Even though AP2 got a lot better, I still find I get the spinning beach ball a lot, and my aging iMac probably won't get much better with it. I think the next small shoot I get, I'm just going to try and do it all in LR and see what kind of results I get and how easy the workflow is. I don't think I'll ever like the modules setup compared to Aperture, but we'll see.

    Anyways, switching isn't really what I intended this thread to be about.
     
  10. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    In my imagination
    #10
    Now if speed was an issue, then you may find better performance with LR. Since it isn't as robust or built into the OS as Aperture is then you may find that it runs a little smoother on older Macs.

    From what I have worked with the all apps are poor with noise reduction unless you turn the settings all the way up, loosing quality. Even PS3 isn't as good as it could be. I hope that the Noise Ninja plug-in for Aperture will allow me to know export an image to another program to reduce noise of any kind.

    When I used LR, I exported to PS a lot, with Aperture 1.5 I exported to PS almost every image. With Aperture 2 I find myself getting decent results with in software editing, good enough for color tweaks, sharpness, and exposure. If I need anything else, I'll put it into PS.
     
  11. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #11
    If you are interested in very good noise reduction, simply wait for the Noise Ninja Aperture plugin.

    But even now, I don't really see what the big deal is: if you find an image that you like so much that you need to edit it until it's picture perfect, then you can export it to your favorite app (e. g. ACR or PS).
     
  12. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    In my imagination
    #12
    Indeed, and from the looks of the finer points of both Aperture and Lightroom these programs are strongest at toning/color correction, sharpening, and medium level editing. I wouldn't put any high level of noise reduction at medium level personally, since (IMHO) LR and AP don't do as good a job as a dedicated app, or even a combination of filters in Photoshop.
     
  13. JonD25 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    #13
    Again, this thread wasn't for the purpose of "oh Aperture sucks, I'm switching to LR." It was a simple comparison I thought people might be interested to see, and I just happened to tack on the random thought that I'm considering switching. If I personally didn't own either and was trying to decide between the two, this would be one of the things I'd like to know before choosing. I'm well aware that Aperture can export to any editor I want to do noise reduction, and that Noise Ninja is coming for it. But the point of this thread was to show how both programs deal with something I think I've dealt with a bit in the past.

    But, on that note (seems to be where this thread has gone, so why fight it?), maybe it's because my Aperture library is on an external disk, but I've found exporting to another editor or plugin has gotten really slow. It sometimes takes almost a full minute of "preparing" the file. It's kinda made me sick of doing it at all, thus a round trip to PS has been tiresome. However I haven't tried it yet with LR to see if it happens to be any better in that regard.
     
  14. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #14
    No, the word is "pixel peeping". It refers to people who shoot test targets then blow them up to wall size photos and look at them under a magnifiying loupe. When you do this you ignore one of the rules of digital imaging. and that is that in the final product the pixels need to be at about 300 DPI for best quality. It makesvery little sense to look at 72 or even 36 dpi images and then talk about quality. You have to judge the images by looking at the inal product.

    In general there is no way to reduce the noise in a high ISO image without allso reducning sharpness, so it is a trade off. Trade offs never have a "correct" answer.

    I've found the best way to remove noise is my hand in Photoshop. Programs like Aperture and Lightroom have sliders that apply a single corection to an entire image. This is never the best way to do it. It you look at any noisy imge you only really notice the noise in the big blank areas that are uniform color, like the sky. In areas with much detail the same noise is present but we don't notice it. So if you have the time you can select out the blank areas and make a fuzzy edged mask in PS. Then apply some heavy handed anti-noise techniques there, like a gausian blur filter. This will completly remove the most noticable noise while preserving detail where it is needed. It can't be done automatically because no software can know where you want to reserve detail.
     
  15. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    In my imagination
    #15
    I've had this happen when I was still running CS2 on a MBP with Aperture 1.0 :eek:

    And the kids these days talk about CS3 and Aperture 2 being slow.... they no nothing of slow. By the time I got CS3 and Aperture 1.5 update I was rolling in speed, but transfers to PS using PSD or TIFF were still a bit of a wait on my C2D MBP 2.16.

    I got more RAM which helped a lot, then a new book which made it flawless.

    It won't change much in LR. Just to rant a little, and not to bring in the "switching" thing too much, but the speed difference from LR to AP isn't that large. It's not like LR will fly on any one's system with any hardware specs. you still need about a gig of RAM 2GB recommended and some pretty good chips to get great performance.... Adobe really just made LR work with G4s and old GFX cards to get more users to hop on.

    I agree with the points made Chris...

    I would go into depth explaining but it would be redundant.

    Trade offs is the key word... we make them every time we choose a product, whether Canon or Nikon, Windows or Mac OS X, LR or AP, or ACD or Dell.
     

Share This Page