Noise Reduction Software?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mikeschmeee, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. mikeschmeee macrumors 6502a

    Mar 9, 2009

    How is everyone doing? I hope all is well.
    I have a few questions that I would like answered and although I generally know the how to solve the issue I'd still like some advice from fellow photographers who have more experience then I in this area.

    Although I love the automotive world, I love to shoot wildlife as well. Especially birds. Large birds! I understand the basics of shooting them but I learned quickly that no one really likes to see boring birds. Meaning sitting on a branch or ground just staring at you, although sometimes that's all you can get with really rare birds but catching them in the act doing something interesting is key. I may be wrong on this though...

    Anyways. I visit a bird sanctuary every chance I get so there are plenty of interesting birds to photography that are always there. I feel that I am progressing quickly but I'm still learning. Yesterday I spent a good few hours in one spot where I saw two Coopers Hawks and some Bald Eagles trying to catch some lunch. While my lens does not get the distance I'd like I was still able to get as close as possible with my equipment and got some decent shots but there is one problem. Catching them in flight is a little tricky. The shots are fairly crisp but I have to bump my ISO so high in order to have a faster shutter speed thus creating noise which I hate extremely!!
    I know I can get a teleconverter for longer distance but I was told this slows the lens down but sure by how much or if it really does at all. Plus your aperture will be at around f5.6 or so. I prefer as wide as possible due to more light coming in thus having a lower ISO?

    Many of us, including myself, cannot afford large lenses but I am working towards it. Instead I always find a spot and wait patiently. There are many bird blinds around the sanctuary so that's not a problem, its more of the noise, light, aperture, speed that I'm concerned about. For now it's the noise as I finally got some good in flight photos but when I zoom in all I see is grain.

    I have some decent in flight photos of the birds but I'm not willing to post them on my flickr page as they are not up to par due to the noise and slight slight slight blur.

    So... Any tips?

    Is there any good FREE noise reduction software available that's not a trail version and only allows a certain size for noise reduction? Should I invest in noise reduction software or plug in? Lower ISO and shutter speed? but then I can't get the photos the way I want. Yesterday was a fairly cloudy day so my settings were 300mm, f4, ISO ranged from 640-800, shutter speed was 800-1250. What to do? Please advise.


    My equipment...

    Nikon D90
    Nikkor 18-200mm VR
    Nikkor 300mm AF-S f4 (I use this one for birding and hate that it doesn't have VR)
    Manfrotto tripod with 141 head (Don't know the model number of the tripod. It was given to me by a co-worker that he no longer needs or uses)
    PhotoShop CS2 for Mac OS X
  2. dcains macrumors regular

    Mar 27, 2007
    Can't recommend anything free, but as a plug-in, Topaz Labs' Denoise is quite amazing. Much better than Noise Ninja, which doesn't seem to have been updated in a long time. The Denoise plug-in works in Aperture 3.x, LightRoom 3.x, and CS5, but I'm not sure about backward compatiblity to your CS2. Another great option is LightRoom itself, as its built-in NR feature is also very capable (again better than Noise Ninja), and you'll get all the other capabilities LR has to offer as a RAW image processor. Finally, if you're not shooting RAW, start now, and watch your histogram. Try to get the curve centered to the right (bright) side of the spectrum, which will increase shadow detail and reduce noise, but still offer some flexibility to pull back blown highlights. Each camera body is different, so maybe try +1/3 stop as a starting point.
  3. Kees Braam macrumors newbie

    Jan 5, 2011
    The Netherlands
    I personally don't know any free noise reduction software, though Aperture and Photoshop have a noise reduction option built in. My tip: first of all try to be creative with your lighting and try to keep the ISO low and work with fast lenses (with large maximum apertures). If you have to crank up the ISO, try the built in noise reduction of the D90 (I assume that it has this function). I use this on my Canon EOS 7D and it works pretty good. I didn't see any noise in my pictures at all.
  4. mikeschmeee, Jan 9, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011

    mikeschmeee thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 9, 2009
    Thanks for the reply guys. I messed around with CS2 built in noise reduction and it helped out a little bit but not by much in my opinion. Not to get it the way a 400mm f2.8 would with low ISO setting.

    I'm aware of the noise reduction software plug-ins that are mentioned above and if I really need to I will purchase the software.

    As far as I know the D90 only features noise reduction on long exposures.

    Equipment for bird photography is very expensive and as of right now I cannot afford to purchase $10,000 worth of gear to get a wicked photo of a hawk that's meters away. If I had the money I totally would but right now I don't.
    So in the mean time I have to work with what I have.

    I can shoot with lower ISO but my shutter speed will be too fast and the images will come out really dark and in my opinion, I'm not that great with photoshop other then some basic adjustments.
  5. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    I've had Noise Ninja for a while and have begun to suspect I should be looking at alternatives. Sounds like Denoise should be on my list...
  6. jabbott macrumors 6502

    Nov 23, 2009
    Check out NeatImage. Although it has a trial that limits the size you can filter, the full version is $50. I have used it numerous times for high ISO speed images and it usually cleans them up nicely. It is also available in standalone form or as a plug-in for Photoshop and Aperture. To use it, select an area that has a consistent solid area of noise (like the sky) and enlarge the bounding box as much as you can in the solid area. Then switch it over to preview and note the quality percentage. You want that to be as close to 100% as possible. Once you have found an ideal noise sample, keep it in preview mode and then adjust the noise reduction settings.
  7. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    You're three versions back, don't expect much...

    You really need to.

    Um, that's not the way exposure works. The correct exposure at low ISO will still produce the same brightness as a high-ISO shot- it's just that the shutter speed will be lower so you'll get motion blur. For BiF, the best thing is to use shutter priority and probably set Auto-ISO if you're not used to judging exposure, then use exposure compensation to bring the histogram into alignment.


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