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The Detail tab of Camera RAW, which is next to the Basic tab, has some more controls. Don't forget about these just because you can't see them on the face of Camera RAW. These are controls for reducing digital noise in the image, and for sharpening the image, which is always an important thing to do. Let's talk about reducing digital noise. First of all, to see digital noise in an image, and to preview your attempts at reducing it, you need to be viewing the image at 100%. To do that, I can go down to this menu at the bottom of the interface, and I can choose 100%, or I could have double-clicked the Zoom tool.
When I get in this close, you can see that there is indeed digital noise in this image. There is color noise -- these little color specks -- and even if I reduce this you'll still see some grayscale noise, which is called luminance noise. This noise is produced by the digital camera sensor, and it's in most cases unavoidable if you're shooting in a relatively high ISO, as in this case, the ISO was 400, and particularly where you have dark areas in a photo. But that's okay, because the Noise Reduction sliders here in the Detail tab can do a pretty good job of reducing digital noise.
So let's see that in action. I'll go down to the Noise Reduction section, and I'll start by making sure that both Color, and Luminance are at zero, so I can really see what the noise problem is. And then I'll drag the Color slider over to the right, until I don't see those little specks of color noise. Now, as I said, there is still some noise here in the form of these gray specks. To try to deal with that, I'll drag the Luminance slider over to the right, and that does reduce the luminance noise.
But you have to be careful with the Luminance slider, because if you drag it too far, then the image will look too soft. So there is usually some compromise between retaining a little bit of that noise, and an image that is not too soft. Now, because I'm zoomed into 100%, and I can't really see the whole image, I should pan around in the image to see other areas, either by selecting the Hand tool, or -- even if I still have another tool selected up here -- by holding the Spacebar, and that changes to the Hand tool temporarily. Then I can move around just to make sure that I've reduced the noise to the right amount in all the important parts of the image.
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