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6 Ways to Reduce Noise in Photos

    Digital noise in photography is essentially a “backdrop” for every photo you take, which is probably one of the most undesired side effects that makes your photos look low quality. For digital noise reduction, you should be technically skilled in capturing more light before you’re trying to photograph. Besides, it is significant for you to get some useful techniques on how to reduce noise from photos you’ve taken. There are 6 ways and types of software provided in this article to help you effectively reduce noise in photos.

Part 1: About Digital Noise

What is Noise?

Digital noise in photos is random tiny colored pixels or specks scattered all over the photos, which obscures details and makes the photo low-quality and unflattering. Similar as the grain that you may see in film photography, noise in your photos may distort your visual effect and significantly degrades the photo quality.


What Causes Noise?

Noise usually are caused by several factors, including sensor size, higher ISO settings, and long exposures. A camera’s sensor size plays an important role in the final photo quality, including the level of noise in a photograph. Naturally, noise is likely to appear in the photo when the camera sensor does not capture the information properly during the shot. Besides, when you are shooting low light, a higher ISO will amplify the signal as well as the noise at the same time. Moreover, noise also occurs when a photo is exposed improperly, such as long exposures. As a matter of fact, long exposures creates sensor heat which reduces the signal to noise ratio and finally reduce the quality of the photo.

Types of Noise

Mainly, there are two types of noise in photography: luminance noise and color noise. As the most common digital noise, luminance noise is a random variation of brightness that your camera processes in relation to the original and correct brightness of the photo. Color noise, also known as chrominance noise, is a random variation of color in relation to the original colors of the photo. Usually, color noise is associated with sensor heating.


Luminance Noise


Color Noise

Part 2: 6 Ways to Reduce Noise in Photos

Noise is annoying in digital photography. To get photos in higher quality, you definitely need to find multiple powerful ways to prevent and reduce noise in photos.

1. Shoot at a Lower ISO

As far as you know, the higher the ISO you set on your camera, the more noise your photo will get. For digital noise reduction, you’d better keep the ISO as low as possible while taking a photo. To make it, you are able to use a wider aperture, a slower shutter speed, and deploy a tripod or use a flash if you are shooting in low light.


2. Shoot in Raw File Format

You can shoot in RAW, which is a better file format than common JPG for post-production and digital noise reduction. Actually, JPG photo files applies compression technology, which contains some noise in the photos and reduces quality of the photos. Using a high ISO makes noise in photos worse. RAW files are more flexible in post-production. With a RAW file, you can easily remove noise and increase exposure.


3. Shoot with Better Lighting

For reducing noise, you can slightly overexpose or add artificial light to brighten the scene up or use a lower ISO. Slight overexposure makes the shadows a little brighter than normal, and then you can easily pull the highlights down and reduce noise in post-production. Besides, make sure you make a good balance to get good lighting by simply introducing a flash, LED light, fluorescent light, or moving to a well-lit area to take a better photo with less noise.


4. Use In-camera Noise Reduction

There is a function called High ISO Noise Reduction or Long Exposure Noise Reduction in most cameras. It’s helpful to turn this function on to shoot at a high ISO or do long exposures for digital noise reduction. The camera will analyze the photos and fix the pixels that are not correctly rendered when you take a shot using long exposure.


5. Get A Better Camera and Lens

An amazing high-end camera always has a better performing sensor that requires less light and generates less noise. Besides, you can use a high-performance wide-aperture lens which has larger openings that allow more light into the camera to use a lower ISO. Though wide-aperture lenses are usually expensive, the cheap-and-good 50mm prime lenses are also available.


6. Reduce Noise in Photoshop or Lightroom

After you have taken a photo, you can open it up in Lightroom or Photoshop and zoom your image to 100% to see the actual details of the noise in the photo. In Lightroom you will find the Noise reduction tools in the Develop module to make some adjustments for digital noise reduction. In Photoshop Camera Raw you can enter the Detail tab for noise reduction.


Part 3: How to Reduce Noise in Photoshop?

As mentioned above, there are color noise and luminance noise in a photo. Simply speaking, color distortion on the photo is often caused by color noise, and luminance noise often demonstrates like black, white, and gray dots. Identifying the noise type helps Photoshop reduce noise in different ways for you. There are the guideline on how to reduce noise in Photoshop for you to follow.

3.1 How to Reduce Color Noise in Photoshop

When you are trying to reduce color noise in your photos in Photoshop, follow these steps:

Step 1. Open the “Reduce Noise” Filter

Firstly, you can press “Ctrl + O” to import the photo you need to reduce noise to Photoshop. For digital noise reduction, click on the “Filter” menu, choose “Noise” and “Reduce Noise” to open “Reduce Noise” dialog box where features a preview window and different sliders and options available to reduce different types of noise.


Step 2. Set the “Reduce Color Noise” Slider

Slowly drag the “Reduce Color Noise” slider toward the right until the color noise blends with the photo as much as possible. You can keep your eyes on the preview area while dragging the slider and make sure you will not drag it too far.



    You can click and hold on the preview area to see the original version of the photo, which helps you make a comparison and adjust the slider to get the best version.

3.2 How to Reduce Luminance Noise in Photoshop

When you need to reduce luminance noise in Photoshop, follow the guideline below:

Step 1. Switch to Lab Color Mode

Go to the menu, and then click on “Image”, choose “Mode” and then “Lab Color” to enter the “Lab Color” mode. In the “Channels” palette, there are 3 channels: “Lightness”, “a” and “b” for the red-green axis and blue-yellow axis respectively. More narrowly, the “Lightness” channel features details about the black and white, or the luminance, of the photo. The “a” channel contains green and magenta details and the “b” channel contains yellow and blue details.

Step 2. Reduce Noise in Photoshop

Drag the existing background layer to the “Create New Layer” icon at the bottom to create a new layer, and then you can select the “Lightness” channel to o remove luminance noise from your photo.



    You can also create a Curves adjustment layer and switch to the “a” channel to boost colors dramatically without affecting the contrast in the photo by creating a steep curve. And then you can repeat the process for the “b” channel to match. After proper adjustments, it will finally improve your photo.

There are also some additional ways that makes Photoshop reduce noise, like using “Strength” and “Preserve Details” options and other advanced techniques. Obviously, learning properly how to reduce noise in Photoshop can help you improve your photos and achieve unique photography style. Except for reducing noise in Photoshop, there are other useful post-production tools you can use to create unforgettable photos, like Lightroom and Leawo PhotoIns. Lightroom is an amazing photo quality enhancer that can be used to edit, organize and share photos across any device. What’s pleasing is that it is quite easy to learn how to reduce noise in Lightroom on the premise that you know how to reduce noise in Photoshop because Lightroom and Photoshop has similar interface and functions in photo editing. Leawo PhotoIns is a powerful AI photo enhancer that can improve photos automatically and instantly with only a few clicks. Since Lightroom and Photoshop are both expensive and complicated to use, you can also choose Leawo PhotoIns to be one of the best Lightroom alternatives and Photoshop alternatives, which will help you reduce noise and optimize photos simply and automatically.

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With long-term dedication into the latest market demands and technologies, the author has become an expert in posting practical, in-depth and user-oriented how-tos, tutorials, recommendations, reviews, and more digital multimedia solutions in Blu-ray, DVD, video, audio, picture, Apple utilities, etc.

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