Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Digital Outback Photo Contest #010

Contest November 2003: Noise Removal #1

Limited to 8 entries (8 entered, contest ended)

See also our other contests

  A Note on Copyright: This image can only(!) used in the context of this contest and the only site that has the right to publish images is Digital Outback Photo. If you want to use this image for any other purposes (e.g. marketing) you can acquire a license from us.
  There are no prizes for this contest as the evaluation of the results can be too subjective.

To share experience it is not enough just to show the results. We need precise step-by-step descriptions of all image editing operations that had been performed. That is why we need to limit the used tools to the ones that are available at Digital Outback Photo (and they have to be available for PC or Mac):

  • Photoshop (this is the standard image editor we use)
  • Noise tools we have are Noise Ninja, Neatimage, Fred's Actions, Grain Surgery and some more. We need to be able to verify your results if you use other tools.

Photo was taken with the Canon 10D (we know the image is tilted, would be fixed in PS).

Photo was converted with Capture One DSLR (EV +1.3 and second lowest noise removal level). The shadows were later brightened in PS CS with the new Shadow/Highlight tool. We did not perform any final sharpening.

The above crop shows the level of noise in the dark shadows. Remember this shot was ISO 400, underexposed and also the shadows were brightened.


  • You load the image (copyright Bettina & Uwe Steinmueller) from here (about 3.7MB ZIP)
  • Use noise removal tools of your choice (no painting techniques though!)
  • Describe the process step by step and include all used noise profiles and settings
  • Send only the instructions, profiles and a 500x300 pixel crop as shown (JPG 9 in Photoshop) and you full name to:
  • Do not change any colors and don't sharpen (except minor sharpening as part of the noise removal process)
  Note: As all photos should be in the Adobe RGB color space it is recommended to download interesting samples and view them in Photoshop on a profiled monitor and at larger magnification.
  Sample Entry (by Uwe Steinmueller)



  Noise removal was done with Noise Ninja using a standard Canon 10D ISO 800 profile (used ISO 800 profile as the noise is very strong).
  #01 Livio Matassa
  • Convert image to LAB mode.
  • Blur both channel "a" and channel "b" (Gaussian Blur filter, radius 3)
  • Duplicate layer.
  • Blur luminance channel of the newly created (Gaussian Blur filter, radius 35).
  • Set layer blending mode to "Soft light" (opacity and fill: 100% for maximum effect; could be reduced as needed).
  • Flatten image.
  • Curves to luminance channel (1,0; 25,40; 75,80).
  • Convert to RGB mode.
  #02 Brad Johnson
  • Load into Neat Image (either standalone or plug-in)
  • Load Profile 10D Raw ISO 400 (Uwe did not compress the jpg much so no need for the 10D JPG ISO 400 Profile - which does a good job with some JPG compression artifacts)
  • Here is the tricky part - need to modify the loaded profile so it can compensate for at least some of the heavy noise in the doorway - so select an area behind the girl in the doorway large enough to be able to get " high + mid + low + very low freq" underneath the Noise Profile Equalizer (which must be enabled), then click on the green ruler symbol next to the text
    *Note - do not use the Auto fine-tune or Auto complete - as you are trying to modify the profile for the dark noise, not for the whole image - the profile will take care of the rest of the image just fine.
  • Next go to the Noise filter settings tab
  • Under Filter preset, select (by clicking on the little down arrow on the right) first "Retain natural image look", then "Remove only half of stronger noise (fewer details)" This makes some alterations to Noise levels and Noise reduction amounts so that you don't loose too much detail with this large an adjustment.
  • Then Apply.


  • To get rid of further noise (you may or may not want to do this extra
    step - judge for yourself):
  • Reopen in Neat Image
  • Load Profile 10D Raw ISO 200 (not 400 - we want to have a more subtle adjustment this time) do not use the selection tool on any area this time or you will get too much blurring.
  • Go to the Noise filter settings tab (verify that the settings have stayed the same as before (from step 5).
  • Apply.

Here are the used noise profiles for Neat Image

  #03 Derek Drury

Used Nik Multimedia's Dfine v1.0 and 10d Module

Using the Filter set Luminance Noise with Canon 10d ISO 400 Module

- 80% 50% 20% 40% 60% - default as far as I am concerned and have not risked altering the settings until I know how!
Chrominance and Artifacts

- Global reduction
- Chrominance Noise Level 4

Contrast and Light

- Quick Fix
- Strength 50%

Color Cast and Color Balance

- Quick Fix
- 50%

Then File
- Automate
- Dfine Selective
- Background
- Used brush.

  #04 Noel Carboni
  • Adjusted curves to darken deep shadows ever so slightly. Image appeared too washed-out otherwise.
  • Ran the dSLR Tools "More Noise Reduction" action (not the most aggressive noise reduction action in the set, but quite effective).

dSLR tools is Noel Carboni's commercial action set

  #05 John Connell
  • Ran Fred Miranda's Canon 10D ISOR at ISO 400 and again Color Noise Removal
  • Increased the size of the image by 200% with Fred Miranda's SI Pro
  • Filter/Noise/Median -> radius 1 pixel
  • Image/Image Size -> to original size
  #06 Thomas Paul
  • Built custom profile for Neat Image starting with the rough noise analyzer in the darkest noise area I could find.
  • Tweaked profile with the fine-tuning analyzer.
  • Saved (can download the noise profile here)
  • Opened new image in Photoshop, crop and save.
  #07 Seth Friedman
  All in Photoshop CS

1. Load Channel as a selection
2. Go into quick mask mode
3. Adjust selection with levels 0 - 1 - 27
4. Exit quick mask mode
5. Select inverse
6. Expand selection by 3 pixels
7. Layer via copy
8. Load layer as selection
9. Contract selection by 2 pixels
10. Gaussian blur selection 9 px radius
10. Gaussian blur selection 40 px radius
11. Adjust curves on selection one point 31/25
12. Flatten

  #08 Per Stavnesli
  * Built custom Noise profile for Noise Ninja based on the noisy eara.
* Tweaked Filtersettings and ended up with only filter for the lumince.
* Saved
* Crop and saved in Picture Wondow
  The original RAW File
  Only for personal tests the original raw file can be found here. If you intend to publish results from this file you need to acquire a license from us first.

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