Guest post by: Max Therry

Whether you’re shooting with an iPhone or a top grade consumer camera, noise is one of the most common and destructive issues that photographers and editors run into. When shooting in low light environments or at a high ISO, it is nearly impossible to avoid having particles or grain somewhere in your image. At first glance, one may think that their image has been ruined by the excessive noise and is beyond repair. However, if you find that your image has an abundance of grain to it, fear not – you have options.

Through the magic of photo retouching, you can install a number of programs and Photoshop and Lightroom plug-ins to fix up even the most severe of noise damage. Below are some of the most effective options available for Photoshop and Lightroom that are sure to improve the quality of your images and reduce the amount of noise disrupting them.

NoiseControl runs as a filter plug-in for Photoshop that, like Freeware Boundary Noise Reduction, is specifically user-friendly towards novices. By adjusting the proper settings to match the ISO that the photo was shot in, you can use NoiseControl to preserve surrounding aspects of the photo that do not blend into the grainy content areas. The Plugin Site (where you can purchase the plugin) also offers a host of similar features all within the same price range. You can download plug-ins for color washing, contrast, stylization, and lighting adjustment to blend with the artifact removal and make it seem more natural.

Retail Price: $49.95

Neat Image is a high-quality software that prides itself on being the best in noise reduction for digital cameras and scanners. This plug-in is offered for not only Photoshop but Corel Photo-Paint and other programs. Neat Image manages to clear up darker backgrounds and surfaces to give photos a softer sheen. Neat Image can be downloaded as a stand-alone product or as a plug-in for Photoshop and comes with additional features.

Retail Price: $39.99

Noise Ninja 4 from PictureCode bolsters its name by allowing its product Noise Ninja 4 to meet in the middle grounds of noise suppression and retaining fine details. They present noticeably softer images that are free of the flurries of grain. Using adaptive lighting, PictureCode has managed to downplay noise from RAW photo files without breaking a sweat. The only setback this product has is its price tag:  Noise Ninja 4 is considerably more expensive than either of the mentioned products.

Retail Price: $129.00

One of Macphun Plugins, Noiseless offers editors a simple to use plug-in with a built in algorithm and highly functional presets. Noiseless and its services provide attention to detail and unique methods to preserve the quality of photos that may have otherwise been lost. This plug-in is best applied to low light content, photos that have been shot at night or in darker rooms. It is particularly well suited to bring out the nuances of photographs that may have gotten blanketed with darkness and grain as a result of shooting with a high ISO in poorly lit locations.

Retail Price: $70.00

Noiseware from Imagenomic offers noise reduction as one of its key features of the Imagenomic plug-in suite. In addition to noise reduction, Imagenomic delivers skin retouching tools and grain imitation as some of its hallmark offerings. Noise reduction is also available separately, as its own individual offering, for those that are operating on a budget.

Retail Price: $79.95

Freeware Boundary Noise Reduction is one of the most broken down, straightforward plug-ins for Photoshop. It has a user interface that is simpler to navigate than most and friendly to beginners. As far as sub-features available with Boundary Noise Reduction go, the options are slim. However, unlike the previously mentioned noise reduction programs and plug-ins, Boundary Noise Reduction operates primarily as a freeware. This can be viewed as a blessing for those in need of help but also a penny pinch. Boundary Noise Reduction is efficient in its goal of being an improvement over Photoshop’s standard softening features, but it lacks in comparison to its competition. A commercial version is also available, though less popular, that contains a small amount of complimentary surplus features.

Retail Price: Free  

Denoise by TopazLabs is one of the better noise reduction plug-ins for Photoshop available. It provides crystal clear image quality, regardless of your lighting situation or shutter speed, and gives stills a signature look of professionalism. With TopazLabs Denoise, you also have the ability to brighten your image further without reduction to the overall quality of the image.   

Retail Price: $79.99

XiMagic Denoiser provides a different kind of method in wiping out the grain. The plug-in has seven different tools to eliminate noise for photos. Unfortunately, XiMagic’s main method of toning down noise comes from manipulating the basic Gaussian blur tool, a function that has already been loaded into Photoshop. XiMagic Denoiser contains features that support local blurring, decomposition filtering, non-linear diffusion, and more.

Retail Price: $16.72

Magic Denoiser is a denoise software designed by ImageSkill Software that can be installed into Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, and most notably Adobe Illustrator. With Magic Denoiser, you can clear away poor image areas by selecting a personalized noise pattern. This allows you, also, to build your own presets. The biggest downside of this plug-in is that Magic Denoiser is exclusively available for Windows.

Retail Price: $29.95