Review – Topaz DeNoise AI
As Travel Photographers we are constantly shooting in all sorts of lighting conditions and quite often we have no alternative but to increase our ISO to get a shot especially when it is impossible to use a tripod. This is not a major problem on our Full Frame sensor camera that can handle higher ISO settings, however, on crop sensor cameras it becomes a problem at high ISO settings and especially if an image is underexposed. This is where Noise Reduction software comes to the rescue.
There are lots of Noise Reduction plug-ins on the market including Lightroom which also has Noise Reduction that does an average job of reducing Noise. Keep in mind that this will good enough for images that are being shared on Social Media or even for small prints. However, for larger prints, images that are being showcased in your portfolio, or even loaded into a Stock Library will need a more powerful Noise Reduction tool to meet these standards.
Third-Party plug-ins, as far as we’re concerned, always seem to have better results as the plug-in is dedicated to perfecting the results that it’s been designed for. They are always far more intuitive than the features that are built into the major editing suites available and give you far more control. Several companies are now including AI (Artificial Intelligence) algorithms in their apps. As mentioned on their site, Topaz fed their algorithm millions of noisy/clear images until it actually learned what noise is, and how best to remove it.
Topaz DeNoise AI is an excellent plug-in for anyone that loves low-light handheld photography where the only option is to increase the ISO without the use of a tripod and especially for those that use anything other than a Full Frame sensor. Naturally for those that use a Full Frame sensor camera will also love this plug-in for those shots that need higher ISO settings than they would normally shoot.
“When you need pixel-level perfection in your results, DeNoise AI offers the absolute best quality currently available anywhere. Existing noise reduction tools like Lightroom give you a choice: keep some noise or remove some detail. DeNoise AI’s technology allows you to get the best of both worlds: to remove noise while actually strengthening detail” Topaz Labs
Although every image will not need Topaz DeNoise AI, you will be able to shoot high ISO images with the confidence that you have a plug-in that will save an image if needed.
In the past, many Topaz plug-ins have had a great range of Presets which are excellent for giving you a starting point but as this is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) app they are not needed. DeNoise AI examines the whole image and holistically determines the difference between detail and noise in that photo. For best results always apply DeNoise AI to your images prior to any major processing.
Please Note: we have not tested all the plug-ins that are available for Noise Reduction so there may be other apps that will give you a similar result.
Below is an image we shot in Japan at ISO 6400 on a Full-Frame Sony A7Rii camera. We have only straightened the image in Lightroom. The image is displayed at 100% and cropped in (check out the thumbnail in the top right-hand corner). Hover over the images for a larger view.
This is the original image without any Noise Reduction applied
The image above is processed using DeNoise AI at the default settings. The original image is on the left half and the processed image on the right.
This has done a superb job even at the default setting. There are a few small areas that the software has not fixed (just above the light and underneath the drainpipe), however, this was easy to fix by moving the Remove Noise slider from the default setting of 0.15 to 0.20 (see below). The amount of detail that has been retained is incredible.
In the past, Topaz Clear was also in their arsenal for removing Noise from an image. Why they have both, we’re not sure. They have now incorporated AI Clear into DeNoise AI and you can access it via the drop-down field next to “Select a Model”. We suggest you try both to see what best works for you. Below are some of the results using AI Clear.
The image above is using AI Clear at the default settings. The Remove Noise is set to Low. The original image is on the left half and the processed image is on the right. This is the worst setting for this particular image. In fact, it didn’t improve the image much at all. This setting is probably more suitable to reduce noise on images with a lower ISO than the ISO 6400 that this was shot at.
The image above is using AI Clear at the default settings. The Remove Noise is set to Med. The original image is on the left half and the processed image is on the right. This is a much better result for this particular image. Still not perfect but pretty good.
The image above is using AI Clear at the default settings. The Remove Noise is set to High. The original image is on the left half and the processed image is on the right. This is the ideal setting for this particular image. In fact, it is extremely difficult to separate the difference between this image and the default settings using DeNoise AI.