Friday, July 1, 2005

Remove digital noise with Noiseware

PRODUCT REVIEW

By John Roling

Today's digital cameras allow photographers to take great photos in low-light conditions with a minimum of effort. To accomplish this, the camera boosts the light sensitivity, or ISO rating, for the photo. There is a penalty to pay for this. That that penalty is a noisy photo.

Digital photo noise can be characterized by tiny dot patterns throughout the photo. Although this can be appealing to some (making it seem more like film grain) it can be distracting to others. To remedy this, there have been a lot of products that attempt to clean up a noisy photo. Noiseware from Imagenomic is one of those products, and it's one of the easiest I've ever used.

Noiseware exists to accomplish one task. That task is to remove noise from your photos and make them look the best they can. Noiseware does so with quality and simplicity. Anyone from professionals to hobbyists can use this product to clean up their photos.

Noiseware exists in two variations. One option is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, and the other is simply a standalone client that does the noise removal on its own. There are also standard and professional versions of both, and they only differ in their feature sets. I'll touch on that later. For this review, I looked at the standalone Professional version as seen in Figure A.

FIGURE A

The Standalone Noiseware Professional client has a clear and clean interface. (click for larger image)

Simplicity is key

The client is neatly laid out in three columns. The left side can show the noise filter settings, and EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) data or the noise profile. The center of the screen shows the image you are manipulating, and the right side shows the image browser or batch processing options. A toolbar along the top of the client allows you to effectively mix and match what components are showing at a given time.

To use noise removal on an image, click the Open button or choose File, Open from the File menu. Once the file is opened, you can click Go in the noise filter area. The program will go to work cleaning up your image with default settings. Once it completes, you can click on the image itself to toggle between the before and after results.

If everything looks good, simply Save your photo and you're done. It really is that simple. This process alone will give you great results the majority of the time. I honestly think this is good enough for most people, but if you want the ability to tweak the results, you have the myriad of options as shown in Figure B.