Retain Incredible Detail and Reduce Unwanted Noise with Topaz DeNoise AI

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There used to be quite a few noise reduction tools/plugins on the market. Over the past few years most software makers have eliminated the one-trick ponies in favor of a generic noise reduction tool in their jack-of-all-trades editing suites.

While it is certainly convenient to have all of your tools in one place, I think quality of some of these tools, specifically those for noise reduction, have suffered.

Thankfully my friends at Topaz Labs haven’t forgotten the value of a piece of software that does one thing exceptionally well.

Topaz DeNoise AI is an artificial intelligence/machine learning powered noise reduction tool that can reduce (and often eliminate) noise while preserving an exceptional amount of detail.

I’ve run several different types of images through Topaz DeNoise AI – high ISO, low-quality iPhone photos, under-exposed raw images where I dramatically opened up the shadows – and in all of those situations, the results from DeNoise AI are impressive.

The Topaz DeNoise AI Interface

Topaz DeNoise AI’s interface is simple and intuitive. You can drag and drop a photo or folder of images, and the application gets to work.

Your first choice is going to be choosing an AI Mode:

  • DeNoise AI – best for preserving detail in low-noise images
  • AI Clear – great for high-ISO noise
  • Low Light – ideal for photos shot in dim light

Within each mode you have a few options. DeNoise AI and Low Light provide more options for fine-tuning the results while AI Clear has quick options for those looking for a faster workflow. Both modes have an “auto” setting that work great as a starting point.

There are also options for “post-processing” that will help you recover original detail and reduce color/chroma noise.

I typically start with the Auto setting, and then click through the different modes to see which one provides the best result for the image. From there, I’ll adjust the Noise and Sharpness settings if necessary then use the post-processing sliders for final touches to recover detail or take care of any residual color noise.

Masking and Selective Noise Reduction

One of the best (and probably most overlooked) features in Topaz DeNoise AI is the masking tool. It allows you to apply masking selectively which is great when only part of the image needs strong noise reduction. Some instances might be:

  • Deep shadows that have been significantly brightened
  • Obvious noise in smooth areas like a sky or shallow depth-of-field background

Topaz DeNoise AI Performance

Like most AI-based applications, Topaz DeNoise AI requires a relatively powerful computer and utilizes a lot of system resources. There is a ton of fancy math going on behind the scenes so make sure you allow for refresh time between adjustments, and time for the final processing when you hit Save, even on a well equipped machine. (Be sure to check the recommended and required computer specifications before purchasing.)

Reducing Noise on High-ISO Photos

Most modern cameras have exceptional capabilities at high-ISOs. Until recently, I was still shooting with my trusty Canon 6D, which is by technology standards, a bit long in the tooth. It did okay at high-ISOs, but in the image below I was at ISO 5000 – and it shows.

I opened my raw .CR2 file directly into Topaz DeNoise AI and the photos below show the result of the default settings using the Low Light mode. The only thing I altered was Auto Brighten Preview which lets me see the effect of the noise reduction a bit better – it doesn’t alter the brightness of the final image.

Before and after split screen view in Topaz DeNoise AI
Before (left) | After (right)
Before and after split screen view in Topaz DeNoise AI
Before (left) | After (right)

I don’t know about you, but I find those results to be wildly impressive! DeNoise AI did a spectacular job of removing noise while retaining crisp detail.

Noise Reduction for Under Exposed Images

We’re all guilty….taking the shot before checking our settings. Perhaps we caught the moment, but the photograph is under exposed. Luckily we shoot raw (you do shoot raw, right? If not, you should…but that is a topic for another day) so we can open up the shadows.

We head into our tone settings and brighten up the image only to see that there is a TON of noise in those shadows, even though we were shooting at a low ISO. Luckily, Topaz DeNoise AI can help in this situation, too!

Before and After Lightroom Processing of a raw file
Unprocessed | Processed
Before and After Topaz DeNoise AI
Before (left) | After (right) Topaz DeNoise AI

Given the amount I had to brighten that image (3 full stops!!) I’m pretty stoked with the artifacts that I was able to remove and the detail that remains.

Removing Small Sensor (iPhone) Noise

I captured this image of my fuzzy buddy, Pumpkin, in a hotel room (we were in the process of moving across country). The light was perfect and I loved the contrast of his gorgeous fur with the teal chair. He looked so regal!

My cat, Pumpkin, Looking Regal
Pumpkin, Looking Regal

I grabbed my iPhone 7+ and snapped a few photos with the Lightroom Mobile camera which captures images in DNG format. Even though this photo was captured at ISO 32, the small sensor size of the iPhone creates a lot of unwanted artifacts.

Before and After Topaz DeNoise AI on an iPhone small sensor photograph
Before (left) | After (right) Topaz DeNoise AI

I found it absolutely remarkable that Topaz DeNoise AI retained so much of the upholstery’s texture. The after image also has great detail in his eyes, fur, and the wall…but the noise is gone!

Get Topaz DeNoise AI

DeNoise AI is easily one of my favorite and most useful plugins. If quality is your goal, then you can’t beat the results with this application. Frankly, most of the all-in-one apps I have, have a noise reduction tool, but I almost never use them because the results don’t come close to what I get with Topaz DeNoise AI.

Click here to get DeNoise AI and be sure to enter ANGANDRIEUX at checkout to save an additional 15% on your entire Topaz Labs purchase! Want to try before you buy? Topaz also offers a free 30 day trial!

Questions?

If you have questions about Topaz DeNoise AI or any of the Topaz apps, let me know in the comments below or message me directly. I’m always happy to help!

Angela Andrieux

Photographer Prone to Wanderlust | Photography Coach | Foodie | Cat Lover | Navy Wife

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