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Reducing noise

From: Up and Running with Lightroom 3

Video: Reducing noise

If you shoot a photo with your camera set to a high ISO, you may see some digital noise in the photo, particularly in the dark areas. Fortunately, Lightroom 3 has improved noise-reduction capabilities that do a good job of reducing noise while preserving detail and color saturation. The challenge is of noise reduction. To see noise accurately, it's best to zoom in to one-to-one view. You can do that from the Navigation panel, as I've shown you in other movies, or you can use the Warning Symbol over here in the Detail panel.

Reducing noise

If you shoot a photo with your camera set to a high ISO, you may see some digital noise in the photo, particularly in the dark areas. Fortunately, Lightroom 3 has improved noise-reduction capabilities that do a good job of reducing noise while preserving detail and color saturation. The challenge is of noise reduction. To see noise accurately, it's best to zoom in to one-to-one view. You can do that from the Navigation panel, as I've shown you in other movies, or you can use the Warning Symbol over here in the Detail panel.

It's this triangle here. When I have the Detail panel open, which is where the Noise Reduction sliders are, this warning appears if I am viewing the photo at something other than one-to-one view. Then to get to one-to-one view, I can just click this icon. If you didn't see that icon, it means that either you were already at one-to-one view, or you might need to click this arrow over here to hide the preview in the Detail panel. There are two kinds of digital noise, both addressed by these Noise Reduction sliders: one is luminance noise, and those are these grey specks that you see in this image, and then there is color noise.

To show you color noise in this image, I have to go over to the color slider and move it from its default of 25 back to 0, so there is no color noise reduction being applied right now. Now, we can see these red, green, and blue specks in the dark areas. To get rid of those, I'll go back to that color slider, and I'll just start dragging it to the right, until I no longer see the color specks in the image. That works great in this photo where there is not much color detail, but reducing color noise in a really noisy photo that has fine color edges could possibly cause some loss of detail or de-saturation at those color edges.

That's what this Color Detail slider is designed to fix. If that happens to you, try dragging the Color Detail slider to the right past this default of 50. But since I don't see those problems in this photo, I am going to leave the Color Detail slider at its default. And now to tackle the gray specks, the luminance noise. To do that, I'll go to the Luminance slider, and I'll drag it over to the right. I don't want to go much farther than this in this image because watch what happens if I do take Luminance over to the right. Yes, it does smooth out those gray specks, but at the same time, it causes the objects in the photo to get blurry at their edges.

So working with this slider is generally a compromise between preserving detail at image edges and smoothing out that luminance noise. There are a couple of other sliders that can fine-tune that result-- the Luminance Detail and Luminance Contrast sliders. But when you are just getting up and running, you're probably not going to use those sliders very often. Remember that in practice there will be many photos for which you won't need to do any noise reduction at all. But if you have shot with a high ISO, then give the improved Luminance and Color Noise Reduction sliders a try.

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Up and Running with Lightroom 3

29 video lessons · 11010 viewers

Jan Kabili
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