Contact us: +44 116 291 9092
 

Review – Noiseless Pro

  |   Articles and reviews, Image Editing, MacPhun, Review, Skylum, Software review   |   No comment

Review – Noiseless Pro

Software from Macphun to remove noise from photos


Noiseless Pro from Macphun lets you reduce the amount of visible noise in photos.

Noise is ever present in digital images, it’s a fundamental property of any electronic system, and the discreet nature of light adds even more to it at low light levels.

Camera manufacturers go to great lengths to reduce the amount of noise that their equipment shows, but there are limits. The smaller the sensor on your camera, the more noise will show up, especially at low light levels.

noiseless pro

The question becomes one of how much noise is acceptable in any particular photo.

Noiseless Pro is an Apple Mac application that can process your images and improve how they look. Keith has been trying the Pro version of the software as a plugin for Photoshop.

Buying Software from Skylum

Skylum Luminar  ... [review] 

We have a code northlightimages10 - that will usually get you a 10% discount on current MacPhun/Skylum offers.

Aurora HDR - (review) | Tonality Pro (review)
Intensify Pro (review) | Noiseless Pro (review)
Snapheal CK (review)
Tonality Pro 'City Light' - article and free presets made by Keith for Architectural B&W

Looking for a non-lightroom solution? Macphun have outlined their plans

If you buy the software via a link on our site, then we receive a small commission, which helps in the running of the site. We have no commercial connection with Macphun, and believe strongly that readers should be aware how we run the site.


We've reviews of many MacPhun/Skylum apps. See the Macphun or Skylum Category in the dropdown menu at the top of the right column.

V1.1 update (Aug 2015)

  • Batch Processing, users can process a number of images at once, resizing, renaming and saving files in popular image formats (JPG, TIFF, PNG)
  • Users will have the option to select from automatic noise reduction, use a built-in preset, or even create their own custom preset. Custom batching presets can also be saved so a combination of options chosen previously can be used again.
  • The Light, Moderate and Medium presets have been improved to give even better results with portraits and photos where the noise is minimal
  • 14% speed increase.
  • The new version will be available for $49.99 as a limited time offer, or within the Creative Kit for $99.99 only

When noise is a problem

Two factors contribute to the amount of noise visible in a photo.

It’s largely about the amount of light that a sensor chip has to work with.

Smaller camera sensors have smaller pixels making up their sensors, which work with less light going in to them.

Higher ISO (sensitivity) settings are making use of even less light.

If you add these two together, then smaller sensors (phones, compact cameras) tend to produce noisier images.

There are lots of other factors (enough to keep many forum threads running) but without going into much more detail, you can assume that any picture has noise, and that it becomes more noticeable with smaller/cheaper cameras in lower light.

The upshot of this is that phone camera images at night tend to look noisy, and even much ‘better’ cameras may show too much noise at high ISO to make a photo worth using.

The image to the right is a highly magnified (200%) section of a photo taken with my Canon 100D (SL1) at its highest 25600 ISO setting.

It’s a photo of a coloured test target (see below) where I’m looking at the JPEG image straight out of the camera.

Noiseless Pro – What do you get?

I’m looking at the Pro version of the software, which works as a standalone App and as a plugin for other software

The software will install as a trial version. This needs activating once you have purchased a copy.

The software installs as a stand-alone application. To use it as a plugin for other image editing programs, you’ll need to install the plugin options. The software finds any relevant software and will install as needed.

install software

Using Noiseless Pro

The software works very simply, in this instance I’ve opened the plugin whilst looking at a night time photo taken with my 100D at 6400 ISO.

You can see that I’ve selected a before/after split view, and the whole image is visible.

To really see the effects of noise reduction, you do need to zoom in though.

The basic mode just offers a range of preset levels of noise reduction.

basic noise reduction settings

The amount of noise reduction applied affects different parts of the image in different ways

Move your mouse over the image below to see two different settings.

As you can see, noise reduction comes at a cost, in terms of fine detail.

You can push the reduction even further.

highest nise reduction setting

Why would you do this?

Well, the shot above shows a highly magnified view – if you’re only making a small version of an image for the web, then higher noise reduction might make for a cleaner looking image – that said I couldn’t find an image of mine that looked good at ‘Extreme’…

Note that ‘Amount’ slider though. You don’t have to have all settings turned up to full.

If you switch to the ‘Adjust’ view, then you can see that the simple noise presets hide a lot of individual settings.

These are what live behind the ‘Medium’ setting.

fine adjustmen sliders

Just turning down the overall strength (opacity) of the adjustment may be all you need

Move you mouse over the image to see the effect.

The individual sliders’ effects depend very much on the image. Sometimes a bit of residual noise in an area gives the impression of more detail. The various presets are good starting points, but a bit of experimentation may produce much better looking results.

Some sliders may not have much effect at all on your image, or cause big changes – see some effects below (mouse over image)

With a much higher ISO image (25600), the coarse noise is relatively easily reduced.

25600 ISO image noise

The loss of fine detail (real or imagined) is quite noticeable.

Note the small navigation window I’ve activated, to give some context for just how small a part of the whole image this is.

detail of noise reduction at 25600 ISO

All the tests so far have been on JPEG images from my 100D – not a bad camera at all, but one that I’d rarely consider using at 25600 ISO.

I hardly ever carry a mobile phone with me (yes, really) so don’t have any sample images to test, but there is a demo of the software available, so it’s easy enough to test.

Looking at JPEG images means you are also relying on noise reduction carried out by the camera. If I was taking photos at high ISO though, I’d be taking them in RAW format and then applying noise reduction during processing.

RAW files

The Noiseless Pro App will open RAW files, and also allow you to export converted files to other applications for processing.

There are basic controls for RAW processing, and the settings for noise handling.

processing a RAW file

At 200% you can get an idea of how the processing affects this particular image – how well it works with other cameras and images is something you’ll just have to try.

I’ve used many different RAW converters over the years, and they all have good and bad points – this is one of those areas though that you will have to do some experimentation to see. Step by step ‘recipes’ for image processing workflow should only ever be thought of as a starting point

Any tests of RAW converters giving hard and fast conclusions are almost guaranteed to be wrong IMHO ;-)

detail of noise reduction

Conclusions

The software is easy to use and effective, although to get optimal results you will need to experiment.

Buying Software from Skylum

Skylum Luminar  ... [review] 

We have a code northlightimages10 - that will usually get you a 10% discount on current MacPhun/Skylum offers.

Aurora HDR - (review) | Tonality Pro (review)
Intensify Pro (review) | Noiseless Pro (review)
Snapheal CK (review)
Tonality Pro 'City Light' - article and free presets made by Keith for Architectural B&W

Looking for a non-lightroom solution? Macphun have outlined their plans

If you buy the software via a link on our site, then we receive a small commission, which helps in the running of the site. We have no commercial connection with Macphun, and believe strongly that readers should be aware how we run the site.

That, and have an idea of what ‘Optimal’ means to you in the context of any particular image and what you want to do with it.

If you use JPEG images a lot and regularly use a phone camera or compact, then Noiseless may well be just the tool you are looking for, particularly when used with some of the other Macphun image editing applications.

Coming from the commercial, architectural and landscape photography background I do, the software is unlikely to be as useful to me as Tonality and Intensify, since I just don’t tend to shoot any serious (paying) work at high ISO.

It’s one reason I never updated my Canon 1Ds Mk3 to a 1D X – differences at 100 or 200 ISO were negligible.

There are lots of additional resources on the Macphun web site. (more details are here: http://macphun.com/blog)

  • V1.1 update info – Aug 2015

Summary

Standalone program and plugin for reducing noise in pictures. Handles a wide range of file formats including RAW. V1.1 includes batch processing.

We've reviews of many MacPhun/Skylum apps. See the Macphun or Skylum Category in the dropdown menu at the top of the right column.

System requirements

  • Mac OS 10.8 and above
  • iMac/MacBook Pro/ MacBook Air/Mac Pro/Mac Mini late 2009 or later
  • 4GB RAM and more
  • 512 MB Graphic RAM and more
  • Noiseless Pro can work as plug-in for:
    Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, 5 or later;
    Apple Aperture 3.2 or later,
    Photoshop Elements 10 -12 (App Store version is not supported due to Apple Sandboxing)
    Adobe Photoshop CS5, CS6 or CC (including Smart Object support).
Image formats handled
  • RAW (.NEF, .CR2, .DNG, .ORF etc.)
  • 8-bit, 16-bit
  • TIFF
  • PNG
  • JPEG
  • Noiseless Pro also supports .PSD

Never miss a new article or review - Sign up for our Newsletter (2-4 a month max.)

Enjoyed this article?

Other areas of our site that may be of interest...

All the latest articles/reviews and photo news items appear on Keith's Photo blog 

We've a whole section of the site devoted to  Digital Black and White photography and printing. It covers all of Keith's specialist articles and reviews.

Categories include Colour management and Keith's camera hacks - there are over 800 articles/reviews here...

Articles below by Keith (Google's picks for matching this page)


If you start your buying of anything whatsoever from Amazon (not just what's listed) via one of our links below, it helps myself and Karen to keep the site going. We really do appreciate this - thanks 

[link for Amazon UK | Amazon US]