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How do I remove noise from an image?
Noise is often caused by shooting at a higher ISO. This is often prevalent in darker photos, but there are other situations that can cause noise, including heat or smaller sensor size. Let me show you how to fix it. Let’s select our next image here. And one of the first things that I recommend to check for noise is to actually view the image. Now, up here in the navigator, you have a great control called 1:1. If you click it, the image is going to punch in so you can easily see the details. Now you can drag this box around to see other parts of the photo.
And with this particular image, which was made on a micro 4/3 sensor, very early in the morning, it’s got some noise. I shot at a reasonable ISO of 640, but the lens was open for 1 1/2 seconds, which tends to produce a noisier image. Let’s scroll down to the details section, and you’ll see it also provides a loop. If you don’t want to use the navigator, you can easily take this loop and just click on a source point, and you’ll always see a preview down here.
This makes it easier as you adjust to kind of gauge what’s happening. Now, we’re going to deal with noise. Luminance noise is going to be those parts of the image that have grayscale noise. If you increase the slider, the noise is removed. But if you go too far, it starts to look like a painting, and not really a photo anymore. Let’s double click to reset that. I like to hold on the option or alt key as I drag ’cause I can now see a grayscale image, which makes it easier to judge the noise.
I’ll increase the noise reduction for luminance. Drag to increase the details so the subtle details in the rock aren’t removed. And then I can do the same with the contrast slider. You’ll see now definite improvement. Remember the split screen can be really useful here. So you can look at the noisy image on the left, and the cleaned up one on the right. I’m going to increase this just slightly. Besides luma noise, there’s also color noise. And by default, Lightroom usually has this slider up a bit already.
But you can see that with some of the speckles down here. By putting that back up to a slightly higher value, a lot of that unwanted color noise is instantly cleaned up. Now, you can drag these sliders here as well, and adjust the smoothness and the amount of detail. But as you can see there, it’s really cleaned up a lot of details. And we still have great texture in the rock. I can really see everything in the photo. But all of that unwanted noise has been removed. All right, let’s try another image.
In this case, same thing. Make sure up in the navigator, you click 1:1. This will allow you to see what’s happening in the photo. Drag through, and take a look at some of the areas. Usually the shadows or the sky where the noise is going to be most prevalent. I like to see the side by side split screen myself. But you can work with a full image if you prefer. Now, what we can do is go to that detail section. Remember, if you want to preview area, just click to set your target.
This can be easily hidden as well. Now, increase the noise reduction. Hold down the alt key as you drag so you can judge the amount of change more easily. Adjust the amount of detail, so you don’t lose key details in the rocks. And play with contrast if you’d like to see a little bit more definition between the two areas. Now that did a nice job, but I still see some noise in there. So I’m going to take that up to a higher value on luminance, and increase the color noise a bit ’cause I see a little bit of details in here that I don’t want.
Now, that looks substantially better. A lot of the noise in the sky is removed, yet the rock texture is still rich and detailed. As you drag, there might be a slight refresh on your computer. But you can really see the improvement here. Noise is impossible to judge if you don’t view it at 1:1. You may want to then pop back out and look at the overall image to make sure that you haven’t lost details. But using the navigator here to quickly move in or pan around the photo is quite useful.
This way, you can take a look at several different areas quite quickly and see how the improvements were applied. This particular image looks a lot better, so I’m ready to save it or move on to the next one.
Rich has published over 100 courses on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.