Photo by Scott Bourne

Photo by Scott Bourne

If your digital photographs are noisy, meaning they look like they have the digital equivalent of grain, consider trying Nik Software DFine 2.0.

Dfine is a plug-in that works with Photoshop. It costs less than $99 and it’s very easy to use. I suggest that you use this plug-in first before you make any other modifications to your photos. It can work on automatic for most photos. That is the way I use DFine. And I have never found a single photograph shot at ISO 400 or above that DFine couldn’t improve.

It works on any digital image whether captured by a high-end digital SLR or a digital point and shoot. It is a very deep utility. It even includes some very effective contrast and color controls, which I’ll be covering in future articles. This plug-in well worth the price.

NOTE: Some of my photography friends also report good results using Noise Ninja.

This post sponsored by Lensbabies.

Join the conversation! 21 Comments

  1. I’ve never used DFine but I’ll have to try it out. I’ve gotten great results with Noise Ninja and imagenomic noiseware,

  2. Thanks for posting this tip. I am looking for software to reduce ‘noise’ on my D200 when I shoot 800 or 1600 ISO. I tried neat image but it does not always do the job. When I shot with my D50 @ 1600 ISO the noise was easier to ‘clean up’.

    Some folks say the noise is more when I shoot youth events when they have a ‘band’ playing. :-0

  3. I haven’t tried DFine, but I like Noise Ninja as well. I’m having trouble deciding when to integrate them into my workflow. The advice I’ve gotten is to use noise reduction first, make adjustments, sharpen last. But, I have a hard time integrating Noise Ninja into my Aperture workflow. I don’t want the extra overhead of having Tiff copies of my raw files. I’m using Noise Ninja at the end of my workflow, to reduce the noise of my outputted jpgs.

    One thing I like about Noise Ninja is that you can download specific noise profiles for your camera – they have presets for each camera/iso setting. I haven’t fiddled with the settings, but it’s been giving me good results so far.

  4. Another vote for Noise Ninja. Great plug-in, though I might have to try this one.

  5. this might extend the life of my D200 as my primary camera

  6. I was just about to ask about Noise Ninja- as I’ve heard they are going to be the best noise reductions software there is! Anybody has any input? I’ve got trial version and it seems so complicated to use.

  7. I use Neat Image – a brilliant piece of software. Easy to use as well, and quite reasonable.
    (Works much better than the last version of Noise Ninja I tried.)

    I use it most to clean up skies. After I’ve done all the editing to an image in Photoshop, I’ll haul the tif into Neat Image and apply the amount of noise reduction I like. I save it as a copy, and then open both images into Photoshop, layer one over the other. Then I rease the denoised foreground, so that the clean sky/clouds remain. This results in well detailed areas where they should be, and nicely clean areas in smooth graded areas like skys and clouds.
    I love the effect.

  8. The Aperture 2.0 plugin version of Noise Ninja is supposed to be released August 5th!

  9. I have never tried DFine, but I have used Noise Ninja, but after pretty much everyone over at the Digital Wedding Forums suggested it, I switched to Noiseware and have never looked back.

    I have heard tips about running noise reduction software on just the Blue Channel of the image…..Anyone know anything about this?

  10. SCOTT; I concur.

    Nik Dfine 2.0 is the nearest thing to magic I have ever seen.

    Anytiime I shoot at ASA 200 or above I run the file thru Dfine as my first step in the computer.

    I have experimented with specialized settings to try an improve the results the Dfine provides when on automatic pilot and I have been unable to improve upon these results. So I just let the software do the driving …


  11. Heres another vote for NeatImage. Great program.

  12. Another +1 for NeatImage. Very good results and very easy to use

  13. Scott, just wondering how you compare DFine against the denoising in Camera RAW 4.5?
    (Relative to your particular photographic needs of course.)
    I’ve no experience with DFine.

  14. I didn’t realize we were running a poll here.

  15. @Quinn – in my opinion, DFine is hands down better at removing noise than ACR or any other program I have personally tried. That’s why I use it. Download the trial and see if you like it.

  16. Noiseware is phenomenal, especially on skin!!

  17. I bought Noise Ninja based on reviews a year ago. It is good but it requires a lengthy calibration process to work well. Three weeks later I tried DFine 2. No comparison – really. I subsequently
    bought DFine 2 and have never gone back to Noise Ninja.

    With DFine 2, I get best results in Manual mode, selecting 5 or 6 solid colors. I can credit Nik with allowing me to keep D300 and save $5-10K by not buying a D3/D700.

  18. I love neatimage, but Ive been using Dfine since it came out, as an plugin for CS3 extended, and found it to be pretty amazing as well as simple and powerful at the same time. I dont think ive used anything else since i started using it. But can say when you start using NIK software everything else seems weak to me anyway.I have all the releases except the new silver,which is on my list.

  19. Well, I gave the DFine demo a whirl…
    I did denoising shootout with DFine against Neatimage on the same pic….the noisiest image I could find in my archives…an old dark overcast photo from a 1mp Agfa 1680. :shock:

    I was astounded to see the output from both was virtually identical – I really expected one to trump the other, but they both worked excellently. Very cool to know! :cool:
    So, at least as far as I’m able to tell, these both do a great job and it comes down to user preference. I like how NeatImage lets you get totally surgical about settings, but DFine’s split views and UI are nice.
    It’s good to have choice. :)

  20. Great to see competition in this area of software. I remember painstakingly editing by hand in PShop using blurs, blends, dust and scratches and the like. Been an avid NeatImage user since 2002 but have also tried Noise Ninja and the like. Its also good to have free trials so people can check out the different versions and choose what works best for them. I’ve stuck with NI and recently used their other program NeatVideo which does wonders for grainy video footage.

  21. I tried many (except DFine) and settled on Noisware. There are a lot of controls (too many) but the defaults manage to clean up noise without much loss of detail, and the batch processing is great. I’m on the lookout if there is something “better”, but for now I’ll stick with what I have. Thanks for the post, Scott. I’m going to have to do a side-by-side with DFine and see if it is worth my coin.

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