Noise Reduction Wars | Lightroom vs. Topaz DeNoise

Important Updates:

Last night I took this photo in La Jolla:


At first glance, it doesn’t look too bad, right?

But, if you zoom in, you’ll notice noise. Lots of noise. I took this photo, handheld at ISO 3200 with my Canon 7D. I didn’t do much processing to the image – just lens correction and a slight boost to the exposure levels in Lightroom.


Right now, Topaz has their noise reduction plug-in, DeNoise, on sale for 50% off (you’ll find the coupon code at the end of this post) and, having never used this software before I thought I’d give it a quick demo and see how it performed next to Lightroom’s noise reduction tool (my usual go-to fix for noisy images).

Attempt 1: Lightroom’s Noise Reduction (Luminance) Slider at 40 (all other noise settings at their default locations)


Better, but still grainy, especially in the shadow areas and the sky.

Attempt 2: if we move the Luminance slider up to 80 we get this:


Its noticeably more smooth, but we’ve lost a lot of detail and photo starts to look almost cartoonish.

Now, lets see how Topaz DeNoise performs. Here is Topaz DeNoise using the RAW – Moderate preset:


There is still some grain, but its very similar to Lightroom’s higher setting (i.e. Noise Reduction – Luminance at 80) in quality. I also experimented with the RAW – Strong preset:


The result was very smooth, but with noticeable loss of detail. My final choice for the Topaz DeNoise example used the RAW – Moderate preset, since it was the closest in results to the higher setting in Lightroom.

Now – take a look at the DeNoise and Lightroom results side by side:


In both versions the noise (grain) is significantly reduced. The downside to reducing noise is that there is always (at least with the software I’ve used) some loss of detail. However, in comparing Topaz DeNoise to Lightroom, the Topaz version retains more detail, while producing an overall smoother final photo.

My verdict? Topaz DeNoise wins! It takes a bit more time and effort to open another program just to reduce noise, but if its an image you really care about, its probably worth the effort. It did a great job of reducing noise while maintaining a reasonable amount of detail.

Pick up Topaz DeNoise March 11-31, 2014 for 50% off using coupon code “mardenoise”.


Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. This post also contains affiliate links which means that I may receive a commission if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase. I only share products that I believe will be valuable to my readers. All opinions are my own.

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