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There are so many different types of noise reduction software that it can be difficult to decide which one to use.
Finding a balance between eliminating noise and maximizing the photo’s detail is crucial when it comes to deciding which denoise software to use. That’s why I decided to run a group of tests using the main noise reduction software available in the market.
The best noise reduction software is the one that keeps the details while removing the color and luminance noise. Topaz Denoise AI has proven to be the best photo noise reduction software in 2021 compared to other denoise software such as Lightroom, Photoshop, Noiseware, and Luminar.
In this article, you’ll find all the info you need related to the best noise removal software, with all the specs, functions, and the graphic tests I run using each specific piece of software.
Ready to find which is the best noise reduction software in 2021?
Briefly, these are the best noise reduction software and plugins to remove noise in photography:
- Lightroom: Reduces the noise in the RAW file in a simple, fast, and accurate way
- Photoshop: One of the best ways to reduce the noise selectively using masks
- Topaz Denoise AI: The most advanced denoise software in the market thanks to its AI
- Noiseware: One of the simplest and most effective ways to get rid of digital noise
- Skylum Luminar: An alternative noise reduction software to Lightroom
- Dfine: A simple noise reduction plugin included in the Nik Collection package
- Capture One: Great color noise reduction with specific functions for hot pixels elimination
- Noise Ninja: A classic noise removal for photographers included in the Photoninja package
- Neat image pro: External plugin with plenty of customizable noise reduction options
- DxO Optics Pro 11 elite: Uses a popular option called “prime noise reduction” to reduce noise
1. Lightroom – One of the most popular photo noise reduction software
Reducing digital noise in Lightroom is simple and effective, and that’s the main reason why it’s one of the most popular noise reduction software for photography.
In terms of noise reduction, inside the “Develop” module, there is a “Detail” section where you can find different sliders to reduce luminance noise and eliminate chromatic noise.
- You can easily reduce the general luminance and color noise of your images
- Complete tool to edit and catalog your photos from start to finish. It allows plenty of denoise lightroom plugins if you need a more advanced noise reduction
- The balance between noise and detail preservation is not as good as in other pieces of software
- Ineffective at removing strong color bands
Since it is the most used noise reduction software in photography, we created a specific article on how to reduce noise in Lightroom.
The price of Lightroom varies depending on the Adobe package. As a reference, the basic photography package (which also includes Photoshop) is priced at $9.99 per month.
2. Photoshop – The best software to reduce noise selectively
As we previously mentioned, noise reduction in Photoshop is the most effective way to reduce and remove digital noise selectively using masks.
Using this software, you can process the noise reduction in Adobe Camera Raw, which uses the same algorithm as Lightroom, but with the enormous advantage of being able to apply these adjustments in a much more selective way.
Furthermore, you can use noise reduction filters and other more advanced techniques to get rid of digital noise, such as blending noise reduction or stacking noise reduction.
- Includes different noise-removal tools from basic to advanced adjustments
- Possibility of using masks to apply the effect selectively and to use different photoshop noise reduction plugins
- The noise reduction process is more time consuming compared to other pieces of software
- Adobe Photoshop might be daunting for new users
To sum it up, the possibilities to reduce and eliminate noise with Photoshop are endless, that’s why we created a specific article on the best techniques to remove noise in Photoshop. Don’t forget that you also have the option to apply many photoshop denoise plugins like Topaz, Noiseware, Dfine, etc.
Like Lightroom, the Photoshop price in the basic Adobe photo package is $9.99 per month.
3. Topaz Denoise AI – The best noise reduction software in 2021
Topaz Denoise AI removes noise using AI after analyzing your image. It automatically gets rid of digital noise in grainy areas while preserving the detail.
You can adjust the noise removal using two basic sliders to remove noise and sharpen. Denoise AI also includes more advanced options, like a low-light mode for high-ISO images (Perfect for Milky way photography) and masks to apply the effect selectively without having to use Photoshop.
- Best results reducing noise and preserving details thanks to the use of AI noise reduction
- Includes advanced noise reduction options for night photography and masking
- Higher computer graphic card requirements needed
- Processing times are a bit slow in comparison to other software
In terms of noise removal, I think that Denoise AI has no rival at the moment and it’s without a doubt the best noise reduction software of the market and the one I always use on my workflow. I created a specific Denoise AI review and tutorial where you can learn more about its functions and how to use it.
Topaz Denoise AI can be used standalone or as a plugin both in Lightroom and Photoshop for a price of $79.99 (check the offer). You can download the free trial version and also get 15% OFF using the link and code below.
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4. Noiseware – The best noise reduction plugin
Reducing noise with Noiseware is very simple since it allows you to remove noise with a single click, without having to make manual selections or adjusting settings.
Noiseware includes different preset modes depending on the amount of noise you want to reduce and customizable options in case you want to adjust the noise reduction manually.
- Great tonal and contrast recovery even in high ISO images
- Very easy and quick to use applying the preset modes
- To get the best results, it requires to fine-tune the adjustments using masks in Photoshop
- Only available as a noise reduction plugin for Photoshop
Noiseware is one of the best noise removal software and a great option if you’re an Adobe Photoshop user. However, in the last couple of years, if you compare Noiseware vs. Topaz Denoise, it’s lagging behind Topaz in terms of detail preservation.
The Noiseware price is $79.95 and can only be used as an extension in Photoshop.
5. Luminar – One of the best noise removal software
A good alternative to Lightroom that includes a noise reduction module is Luminar.
To reduce noise in Luminar, in addition to the basic noise reduction settings, you can make adjustments more selectively using masks and layers as if you were using Photoshop; with the advantage of processing in a non-destructive way.
The Luminar 4 noise reduction is applied through a filter called “Luminar Denoise,” which will allow you to reduce luminance or color noise, increase or decrease the overall effect through a “boost” slider, and finally, adjust the opacity.
- Plenty of noise reduction options and fine results
- It’s a cheaper alternative to Lightroom
- There is a star-elimination side effect when applying higher values of luminance noise reduction.
- Their technology eats up more processing power than others, which can cause some delays
The price of Luminar 4 is $69 (check the offer) for a permanent license, which makes it a very affordable option. You can also give it a try downloading the free trial version following the link below.
6. Dfine – The best free noise reduction software (trial version)
Included with the renowned Nik Collection 3 package, Dfine 2 is one of the most popular and straightforward plugins to reduce digital noise.
With Nik Dfine noise reduction, the software analyzes the noise in the image and applies the required noise reduction automatically. It also allows you to manually select the noisy areas and to tweak and fine-tune the process manually.
- It’s fairly simple to use and includes a user-friendly interface
- You can use it as a standalone version or as a noise reduction plugin in Lightroom and Photoshop.
- It washes out too much detail and some modes, like the edge conservation, pulls out too many artifacts
- Their local adjustments using circles it not as good as the masking available in other noise removal software like Photoshop or Topaz Denoise AI.
Even though I use Color Efex Pro and other plugins of the Nik Collection 3 Software, I never use Dfine in my noise reduction process since it’s not as effective as other plugins like Denoise AI or Noiseware.
Nik Collection 3 is priced at $149 in a Package that includes 8 advanced plugins like Color Efex Pro or Dfine. You can also give it a try by downloading the free trial version.
7. Capture One – A great noise reduction tool
Capture One offers more powerful tools and editing and options than Lightroom. Considering the price and features, this software is usually aimed at professional photographers.
In terms of noise reduction in Capture One, in addition to settings like luminance or chromatic noise reduction, which are similar to those in Lightroom, Capture One includes a slider called “single-pixel“ dedicated to hot pixels reduction.
- Best color noise reduction software in the market
- The “single-pixel” slider works wonders eliminating hot pixels, something very useful for images taken with high-resolution cameras
- It’s not very intuitive and requires some time to learn how to navigate and use the different functions
- It’s the most expensive noise reduction software and it’s aimed at professionals.
Capture one costs $299 or 20$/month, so it’s not a cheap option unless you develop your entire editing process with this software and you need top-notched editing tools. You can check the different options here.
8. Noise Ninja – A classic noise reduction program
Noise Ninja 4, part of the Photo Ninja package, is one of the most classic pieces of denoise software. It’s renowned for its effectiveness and preservation of detail.
Noise Ninja previously focused solely on noise reduction, but currently, Photo Ninja offers more functions, such as lights recovery or color enhancement.
The noise reduction panel in Noise Ninja is similar to other plugins, with luminance and chromatic noise settings. It can be used as a plugin in both Lightroom and Photoshop.
- Easy and intuitive to use. It loads the settings extremely fast
- Include a specific slider to remove halos called “defringe” that works really well
- There’s a significant loss of contrast, especially when compared to other image noise reduction software.
- Their AI technology and algorithms are not as updated as other options considering its price
Noise Ninja 4 cannot be purchased as a stand-alone denoise software. You can only buy it as part of the Photo Ninja package, which is priced at $129. They also charge $59 for upgrades. Here is the link to their site.
9. Neat image pro – A dedicated noise reduction software
The Neat Image Pro noise reduction allows you to automatically analyze the most noise-heavy sections of the image and apply anti-noise settings to eliminate them. In addition, you can adjust the denoise through several default sliders set in the software.
- Good noise reduction analysis
- Wide variety of options to fine-tune the image noise reduction
- It includes too much impractical information that can be confusing for the user
- The before/after zoom is messy, and it’s extremely low when loading settings
You can use it as a Photoshop plugin for the price of $39. You can check the software information here.
10. DXO Optics Photolab – another denoise software
Like Capture One, this software presents an alternative to the Adobe software, providing many camera profiles, local adjustments, and similar functions to Lightroom.
In order to reduce noise in DxO Optics Photolab, the software includes a function called “Prime Noise reduction“, which has gained a lot of popularity. In fact, many photographers largely use DxO for this function alone, since it’s one of the most effective types of noise reduction tools.
- Their “Prime Noise Reduction” is very effective in reducing noise and preserving details
- It can be used both independently or integrated as a denoise plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom
- Some functions like the “Dead Pixels elimination” don’t show great results
- The “Prime Noise reduction” can only be applied to Raw files.
The price of the basic version, called “essential,” includes the famous “Prime denoising technology” for a price of $129. You can check the software information here.
As you can see, there is an overwhelming amount of software and plugins options to remove digital noise.
To help you decide which is best for you, in the next section, you’ll find a real comparison with the tests I run using all the best noise reduction software by trying to remove noise from the same image.
COMPARISON: What is the best noise reduction software? – Graphic Test
After comparing more images with all the different photo noise reduction software and carefully analyzing the graphic results, these were my conclusions:
- The best luminance noise reduction software is tied between Topaz and Luminar. They are even more effective when used as denoise plugins in Lightroom and Photoshop.
- The best denoise software in terms of detail conservation, according to all tests performed, is Topaz. Its AI noise reduction technology cleans the noise and keeps the detail in the stars surprisingly well. In the second position, Noiseware also shows very good results.
- The best color noise reduction software is, without any doubt, Capture One. All you need to do is to review the test images to see it at a glance. Not only does it effectively eliminate all the color banding, but it also shows a very natural color.
Just so you can draw your own conclusions, below you’ll find the graphic tests of all the noise reduction software used in the previous photo, with a 100% crop image so you can see the noise removal process in more detail.
WHAT NOISE REDUCTION SOFTWARE OR PLUGIN SHOULD I USE?
As you can see after the previous comparison, the best noise reduction software is Topaz Denoise AI.
However, even though Denoise AI is the most well-rounded, it’s not perfect, and the decision to use a specific piece of software depends on many factors, such as the type of photography you do, the workflow you follow, and your budget.
Just as general advice, I would suggest:
- If you are already working with Lightroom or Photoshop, you can take advantage of all the features they offer by using a plugin that is simple and effective, such as Topaz Denoise AI, Noiseware, or Luminar; adjusting and applying the noise reduction selectively using Photoshop tools.
- If you don’t use any photo editing software and Lightroom exceeds your budget ($9.99 per month), you can use Denoise AI as a standalone version or start with a cheaper photo editor that includes noise reduction tools, such as Luminar, which has a fixed price of $69.
- ALL plugins and software covered in this article offer free trials, so you can download the different plugins, test them with your own images, and choose the plugin that best suits your needs.
What do you think the best noise reduction software is?
If you use any other plugin that I didn’t mention, please share it in the comments so I can include it in future updates. Thank you!