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We Compared Popular Noise Reduction Tools and Denoise AI Came Out The Winner

We Went to Amsterdam to put Denoise to the Test

This month we hosted a photography workshop in Amsterdam to practice nighttime exposures in one of the world’s most photogenic cities. 

While our attendees were busy setting up tripods and shooting long-exposures along the canals, we photographed handheld DSLR scenes at high ISOs, capturing images with extreme noise to create the “worst case scenario” in photography. 

Because every photographer has been there: Whether you’re shooting a wedding in a venue with no flash photography allowed, or you’re photographing partygoers at a festival in near-darkness, or you encounter a photogenic scene while traveling at night, sometimes we have to shoot in extremely high ISO.

We built Denoise AI to correct noise in any image while preserving sharpness. Let’s take a closer look at noise and some of the leading noise reduction technology available to photographers.

What's Wrong with Shooting High ISO?

Shooting with a high ISO increases the light sensitivity of your camera’s sensor, allowing you to shoot faster and sharper in dark environments. 

The downside is a higher ISO creates unsightly artifacts known as noise, which reduce the sharpness and detail of your image. While it’s ideal to shoot in the lowest ISO possible, sometimes we have no other option.

Here’s what noise looks like in this 100% crop shooting at night at 12,600 ISO:

100% crop of an image at ISO 12,800 resulting in high noise

Ouch! A noisey image like this has limited use — would you deliver this to a client? The solution is to process the image with noise reduction software. Let’s compare the most popular options.

Our Test Image

The image we’ll be working with was a classic scene photographed along the Damrak in Amsterdam. It was captured at 25,600 ISO, f11, 1/13 sec.

The original image has very heavy overall noise, obscuring the sharpness and textures of the buildings. 

Want to test this image along with us? Download the full-res JPG below.

Noise Reduction in Adobe Lightroom

We tested our image in Adobe Lightroom and pushed the limits of their noise reduction tool. We had to max out the noise reduction slider to remove noise in the sky, while the buildings started to become muddled and lost sharpness.

Lightroom Results

After noise reduction in Lightroom the details were fuzzy. You can see blur around the window frames, and an overall loss of texture.

Noise Reduction in Phase One Capture One

Capture One didn’t even begin to touch the noise in our photo, even at maximum power. There was still obvious noise in the sky despite pushing the slider to 100.

Capture One Results

Even at maximum noise reduction, Capture One still left noise in the sky.

Noise Reduction in DxO PhotoLab

DxO managed to remove the noise from the sky… by burning the whole image. Shadows are darker and blacker than before, and detail is lost.

DxO PhotoLab Results

DxO overbaked the image to downplay the noise, resulting in a burned image.

Noise Reduction in Topaz Labs Denoise AI

Finally, we took our image into Topaz Labs Denoise AI and were able to achieve the perfect balance of noise reduction and detail. Denoise AI uses machine learning technology, comparing your photo against millions of images to calculate the most intelligent improvements. The results are superior to all other noise reduction tools.

Denoise AI Results

The sky is cleared of all noise while texture and sharpness are restored with Denoise AI.

Try Denoise AI free for 30 Days

The results are clear, and that’s why Denoise AI is the industry-standard noise reduction tool used by the pros. Download Denoise AI and try it free for 30 days.

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Topaz Labs Puts Denoise AI to the Test in Amsterdam

We Hosted a Free Photo Workshop in Amsterdam

Last weekend Topaz Labs went to Amsterdam to put Denoise AI to the test alongside a talented team of photographers.

We partnered with Kjell Leknes of the Amsterdam Photo Club, Nikon Ambassador Michiel Buisje, and Dutch photographer Jeroen de Jongh to help lead a group of 50+ local photography enthusiasts in a nighttime long-exposure workshop on the cobblestone streets of Amsterdam.

The Challenge was to shoot and edit the best nighttime cityscape using Topaz Denoise AI in post-production for precision noise reduction.

Amsterdam is known for its highly photogenic old-world canals, especially at night when iconic viewpoints are aglow in romantic light.

Photographing cityscapes at night calls for a small aperture and a slow shutter speed for maximum sharpness and correct exposure. But shooting in low light will always result in more grain, or noise, in your photos.

With Denoise AI, grain can be completely eliminated without the loss of sharpness.

Our friends at Think Tank Photo have offered up an Urban Access 13 photographer’s backpack to the best Amsterdam night photo submitted after the workshop—we’ll announce a winner on October 7! 

See The Shots From Our Community

Browse the #TopazLabs hashtag on Instagram to see some of the workshop photos from our community rolling in, like this image by pro photographer Chiuki of Amsterdam.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Chiuki | Amsterdam | NL (@chiukiamsterdam) on

Be sure to follow Topaz Labs on Instagram and Facebook to hear about upcoming community events near you!

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Featured Interview: Nature Photographer Joanne Klausner

We recently selected photographer Joanne Klausner’s image to be featured on the launch screen of Studio 2. We wanted to learn more about the artist behind the image. Read on for an interview with Joanne Klausner. 

Tell us about your background. How did you get into photography?

Photography was something that was introduced to me at a very young age.  I grew up watching both my father and brothers develop their own black and white photographs they took, and later on, my father dabbled in developing his own color prints.  I always found it fascinating watching my father put a piece of paper into some liquid (developer) and it slowly started to show an image. 

I also remember thinking we would all die when my father would slam on his brakes on a highway and pull over to the side of the road to get a shot!  I grew up in Montreal, Canada and we had beautiful mountains that, in the fall, turned into an absolutely beautiful painting.  Caught at the perfect time (height of color) if I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe the colors could be real. 

I always enjoyed taking photos, always had some kind of point and shoot but I didn’t really have any desire to do anything with them.  Fast forward many years, moved to Edmonton Alberta, Canada, kids grew up, moved out and we finally started to travel.  We love to cruise and I just love being in a new port with new photo opportunities daily.

I was frustrated with my point and shoot as I couldn’t get close enough to anything and really wanted a zoom lens.  My first DSLR was purchased about nine years ago with a zoom lens.  I kept it in “auto”, so proud of the pictures I was getting⁠—not when I look back at them now!  

Fast-forward again to about four summers ago, I had my staff over for a BBQ at my house and I pulled out my camera and began to take photos.  One of the girls started asking me questions about the camera and it came out that I was shooting in auto.  She just looked at me and asked why I would have such an expensive piece of equipment and not use it to its potential.  DARE ON!!!  I am very competitive with myself and from that day forward I made it my mission to learn how to shoot in manual.

What is your favorite subject to shoot? 

My favorite subject to shoot is anything in nature, but mostly flowers and birds.

Tell us about your photographic style and gear.

I try to capture anything that evokes emotion.  If I see something and it moves me in any way, I am inspired to capture it. 

I am a Nikon gal and over the past 4 years I have changed Camera bodies 3 times.  I am now using the D850 and absolutely love it.  The lens most often on my camera is the Nikon 28-300 mm.  In my bag I also carry my Nikon 105mm, 50mm and my Sigma 14-24mm.

I use a combination of Adobe LR, PS and various Topaz products.  I downloaded Topaz Studio 2 as soon as it came out and loved it right away.  It is now an integral part of my workflow.

How does Topaz Labs software help your editing process?

I have been using Topaz products for probably the past 4 years, which is when I started to take my photography seriously.  As I mentioned, Topaz Studio is always in my workflow.  I will always use AI Clear and basic adjustment.  

When I am doing my macro flower work, I love using a combo of Glow, Radiance and Smudge.  If I really feel like getting creative, I will start diving into the textures!  I recently downloaded the 30 day trial of Sharpen AI and am anxious to test drive it.  

How do you find your inspiration? 

It doesn’t take much to inspire me to pick up my camera.  I find my job can be stressful at times, and there is nothing better for me to calm my nerves than to pick up my camera and go into my backyard in the summer.  I have bird feeders all over so I can just sit quietly and wait for my subjects to show up.  I also love to travel and my husband and I will pick destinations that will offer the best photographic opportunities.

Living in Canada with our long harsh winters I sometimes have to get creative.  I very often will buy a single flower at the supermarket and come home and take shots until I find that special angle that is just a little different.  I also have been dabbling in model train scale people set up with either fruit or vegetables to tell a story.  I probably love Macro photography the best for its shallow debt of field. 

If you could only shoot with one lens, which would it be? 

I would have to say my 28-300 as it is the most versatile and gives me a good range of wide angle to telephoto so I wouldn’t miss many shots.

What is your biggest challenge in photography?

In-studio lighting!!!  One day when I am retired from my full-time job, I will master it.  I am always growing and learning new things every day.  When I compare my photos today from 5 years ago….well there is no comparison.  I hope I say that again in another 5 years.

Do you have prints for sale?

All my prints that you find on my Instagram page or my Facebook Photography page are for sale.  I also sell greeting cards a few times a year, and I am currently taking orders for my 2020 Calendar.