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Noiseless and Noiseless Pro review: Clean up your photos shot in low-light conditions

Jeff Carlson | Oct. 12, 2015
Here’s something I do more often than I’d like to admit, and I’ll bet plenty of other photographers do it, too.

As is the case with many image-editing applications, I expected that the presets were just starting points, and that I’d be doing the “real work” using the controls in the Adjust panel. But often the presets were all I needed. If an effect seems to push too far, dragging the Amount slider within the preset button pulls it back (by changing the effect’s opacity).

noiseless cup original
Here is the original image (top) and the version processed using only the Intense preset (bottom). Credit: Jeff Carlson

noiseless cup intense final
Credit: Jeff Carlson

When you do want to dig into the manual controls, the Adjust panel includes sliders for manipulating the amount of color, luminance, and smoothing (which targets noise patterns on large surface areas). That’s also where you’ll find Structure and Filter controls for adding definition to images and mitigating the softening effects of noise reduction. When working on images that include people, for example, too much smoothing can make them appear plastic. I found that adjusting the opacity slightly often did wonders to offset the effect.

Noiseless also adds an editing extension within the Photos application under OS X El Capitan, allowing you to reduce noise in images without having to first export them from your Photos library.

Noiseless Pro

Noiseless Pro, available as a separate application or as a paid update from within the Noiseless app, adds the ability to process raw images (Noiseless by itself supports only JPEG, PNG, and TIFF files), and includes plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop CC, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements versions 10 through 12, and Aperture. It also adds a Details control for teasing out more definition in images, RAW Processing controls for making basic exposure and color temperature adjustments in raw images, and it supports sRGB, ProPhoto, and Adobe RGB color spaces.

noiseless pro vs lr raw
Comparing a detail of Noiseless Pro versus Lightroom CC processing. Credit: Jeff Carlson

Noiseless Pro also includes a batch feature for processing multiple files at once (using settings you choose or letting the software pick based on its analysis of each image). Batch can also be added to the regular Noiseless application for a separate upgrade fee.

Noiseless Pro’s ability to work on raw files produced mixed results for me. One advantage of editing raw images is that the raw formats incorporate some noise reduction in the algorithms, and Noiseless Pro appears to take advantage of those.

However, when I opened and edited the raw file of a noisy, underexposed shot, Noiseless Pro did a fine job of removing noise but muddied the tones overall. The basic raw processing controls for handling exposure are limited compared to what’s found in Lightroom or Photoshop CC, resulting in heavy-handed tonal adjustments. In the Adjust panel, I left those controls alone and focused just on the noise reduction options, then exported the image as a 16-bit TIFF file to work on exposure in Lightroom. The result was uneven.

 

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