FIRST EXPOSURE BY STAN SHOLIK
Now that ISO speeds in digital SLRs have achieved astronomical
numbers (like 3,276,800 on the Nikon D5), the temptation for
photographers is to actually use ISO settings greater than 6400.
Those who succumb to this temptation soon find that image noise
increases in pace with higher ISO settings. Topaz Labs has updated its
well-respected noise reduction program DeNoise to version 6 to meet
the needs of photographers venturing into the realm of high ISO.
DeNoise 6 is a free update for registered users of DeNoise 5 on Mac
and PC platforms. New users can purchase the program for $80 directly
from topazlabs.com and install it on two computers, either Mac or PC.
I tested DeNoise 6.0.1 on both platforms and the look as well as the
results were as identical as the two platforms allow.
There are several significant new features in version 6, but two
stand out for me: the ability for it to run as a standalone program as
well as a plug-in, and its ability to batch process an entire directory of
images. DeNoise 6, as with version 5, will install as a plug-in to Adobe
Photoshop and Lightroom, Serif Photo Plus, Corel Paintshop Pro and
Photo Impact, and Topaz photoFXlab, but photographers not shooting
in a RAW file format can access DeNoise 6 noise reduction features
through the standalone version. Batch processing in the standalone
version processes folders of TIFF, JPEG and PNG images once you open
a sample image and set the noise reduction parameters.
Also new in DeNoise 6 are camera-specific presets, the ability to
view EXIF metadata attached to an image and high-resolution monitor
support. The presets are available for a range of high ISO settings for six
Canon, five Nikon, and one each Panasonic, Sony, Olympus and Fujifilm
cameras at present, with more presets promised in the future.
Users upgrading from earlier versions of DeNoise will have an
easy time navigating the version 6 interface, but new users would do
well to view some of the excellent tutorials on the Topaz Labs website in
order to get the most out of the program. While the workspace follows
the current conventions with a presets panel on the left, navigator
window and settings panel on the right, and a preview window in the
center, getting the most out of the settings tabs and their associated
parameter sliders is not particularly intuitive. Different noise reduction
parameter sliders are meant to be used with different preview display
modes to get the most out of the program. Sorting this out and
understanding the limitations of the Reduce Blur and Banding Width
sliders takes some time, as the results are subtle.
WHAT WE LIKED
There are many sources of image “noise” in a digital photo, making
the noise reduction task a complex one. But the camera-specific presents in
DeNoise makes it easy. For my Nikon D750, for instance, I found I couldn’t
really improve upon the preset when making my own manual adjustments.
For photographers whose cameras are supported by a camera preset and
who capture in JPEG or TIFF formats, this allows them to perform noise
reduction on entire folders automatically with a few mouse clicks.
I appreciated the ability to easily zoom the large preview image
to 200, 300 or even 400 percent to better view the effectiveness of
TOPAZ DENOISE 6
As ISOs get higher and higher, there’s a new way to reduce image noise
without sacrificing detail.
ABOVE: High ISO settings were needed to stop the movement of these
ballerinas performing leaps. DeNoise 6 is able to remove the resulting
image noise while retaining detail in the costume.