How to remove and reduce noise in Lightroom

Reducing noise in Lightroom is one of the easiest ways to get rid of the noise in your photographs. If you already use this software, you can apply the Lightroom Noise reduction in your RAW files, always with the possibility of using other software or plugins that will help us remove the noise in a more selective way.

Nowadays, there is a wide variety of software offering noise reduction adjustments, but Lightroom is the most widely used for a simple reason: It is fast and easy to use.

As you might know, noise is one of the most undesired effects in digital photography, as it gives our images a lower quality aspect, so it is very important:

We cover all this in our guide to reducing noise in digital photography, so in this article, we will focus on the Lightroom Noise reduction specifically.

  1. Basics you should know before reducing noise in Lightroom
  2. Best noise reduction settings in Lightroom
  3. How to reduce noise in Lightroom
  4. Lightroom selective noise reduction
  5. Best plugins to reduce noise in Lightroom
  6. Presets for noise reduction in Lightroom
  7. Noise reduction in Lightroom mobile
  8. Latest tips to remove noise in Lightroom

BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE REDUCING NOISE IN LIGHTROOM

In our guide to reducing noise in digital photography we explain in depth what is digital noise and the different types of noise in digital photography, so in this section, we will only make a brief mention of the basics you need to know before moving on to see how to reduce noise in Lightroom.

WHAT IS DIGITAL NOISE?

Digital noise (popularly known as grain) is the random generation of brightness or color in the pixels of our image.

It may appear in our images mainly for one of the following reasons:

  • Our camera is forced to generate information captured by the sensor when we amplify the signal (Raising the ISO).
  • The temperature of our camera sensor has increased while doing long exposure photography or when shooting long photography sessions at a high ISO, generating noise in some areas of the image.

These two factors cause noise, however, noise representation will be different in each case. Consequently, we can see two different types:

Luminance Noise

Luminance Noise corresponds to the random brightness generated by our camera, generally when we increase the ISO sensitivity.

It is the most common noise, and we will easily identify it as it is composed of pixels with different brightness giving the appearance of grain.

The area where it is usually most evident is in sections of the image that have a homogeneous hue such as clouds or water.

Color noise or chrominance noise:

Color noise is related to the random color that appears in our image as a consequence of an increase in temperature of the sensor when shooting long exposures at High ISOs for a long period of time.

This noise will look like blotches or color bands different from the rest of neighboring colors.

It is usually generated over the shadowy areas of the image.

It is likely that an image shows both types of noise when, for example, we take a series of long-exposure photographs at a high ISO. Another great example would be when doing Milky Way photography or Northern Lights photography.

best noise reduction settings in Lightroom

Lightroom Noise reduction allows removing noise in an effective and customized way for each image.

To reduce noise in Lightroom, we can use different settings that will be applied globally to the RAW file, with the advantage of having control of the noise reduction through different adjustments.

The basic option will be to use the sliders found in the detail panel, but there are other Lightroom noise reduction tools such as noise reductions Plugins for Lightroom, local adjustments and even Lightroom noise reduction presets.

Before moving on to noise removal in Lightroom, we need to understand perfectly the different ways of getting rid of noise in Lightroom.

DETAIL PANEL TO REDUCE NOISE IN LIGHTROOM 5

This is the main tool to correct noise in the latest version of Lightroom. We will find it in the detail panel, where we will have several sliders to balance the noise reduction in Lightroom together with the detail.

LUMINANCE NOISE IN LIGHTROOM

In order to reduce luminance noise in Lightroom, we will have three settings:

  • Luminance: Used to eliminate luminance noise in Lightroom. This adjustment works over the general RAW file. The more to the right we move, the more noise we will reduce, but with a downside: we will also sacrifice more texture and contrast, so in general, it is convenient to use lower values.
  • Detail: After applying the luminance noise reduction, we can recover part of the detail lost with this slider.
  • Contrast: After recovering the detail, with this slider, we can recover part of the contrast we had before the first luminance adjustment.
COLOR NOISE IN LIGHTROOM

To reduce color noise in Lightroom, we can adjust the following sliders:

  • Color: With this setting, we will reduce chroma noise in Lightroom. It is a very effective setting, but with possible side effects such as shifting the colors in areas that are correct.
  • Detail: This slider helps to recover detail, but without adding noise as it happens with the detail adjustment of the luminance noise.
  • Smoothing: In order to adjust the color noise reduction in Lightroom, this adjustment allows to smooth all the areas where we have applied the color noise reduction.

With all these sliders, we can adjust the Lightroom noise reduction for each of our pictures.

It is also important to:

  • Identifying if the digital noise in our image is luminance noise or color noise to know which parameters we need to adjust. This can be seen with the naked eye zooming in and zooming out.
  • Balancing the different sliders to reduce noise with Lightroom,  keeping, as much as possible, the details of the image.

How to reduce noise in Lightroom

In general, these are the best steps to reduce noise in Lightroom:

  1. Upload your image in Lightroom.
  2. Zoom in the image with 100% to see the noisy areas and the effect of the adjustments.
  3. Go to the detail tab, where you will find all the sliders.
  4. Increase the luminance slider until the luminance noise is reduced trying not to leave the image too “washed”, without sharpness or contrast.
  5. Increase the luminance detail slightly and progressively, to recover part of the sharpness that we lost in the previous step.
  6. Increase the contrast in the same way, to recover part of the contrast we lost with the initial luminance noise reduction.
  7. Adjust the color slider if your picture has color noise until you get rid of the noise. Pay attention to the side effects in the other colors.
  8. Adjust the color detail to fine-tune the previous setting.
  9. Try adjusting the smoothing to finish the Lightroom color noise reduction .

Each sensor and each photograph have different characteristics and, therefore, we cannot give general reference or values for the adjustments.

However, we can follow the same workflow in our images to apply the best Lightroom noise reduction as possible. Following this, below, I will show you the steps that I follow in my editing workflow to remove noise in Lightroom.

HOW TO REDUCE LUMINANCE NOISE IN LIGHTROOM

Luminance noise will be the most common adjustment that we will use in Lightroom.

This effect is very powerful, so we need to keep it under control so it doesn’t leave the image with a “washed” or “waxed” look.

Each photograph requires different settings depending on the lighting conditions and noise, but we can follow the next steps to reduce the luminance noise in Lightroom:

  • Adjust the first luminance slider, moving it to the right until the noise is not seen in the image by zooming in at 100%. It does not matter if the image loses too much detail, since we will recover it with the following sliders and then, we will lower the luminance noise reduction again.
  • Tweak the detail adjustment until you find a point where we can recover details in the image without increasing the noise again.
  • Move the contrast slider in the same way, recovering part of the contrast lost with the first luminance noise reduction.
  • Go back to the first luminance slider and make some adjustments by moving the slider little by little until you find the perfect balance between noise reduction and detail conservation.

H OW TO REDUCE COLOR NOISE IN LIGHTROOM

Color noise is not so common, but we can often find it in the same image along with luminance noise, so we will adjust it after having reduced the luminance noise in Lightroom.

These are the steps to effectively reduce color noise in Lightroom:

  • Move the color slider completely to the right.
  • Move the detail slider completely to the right
  • Tweak the color slider to the left until you find a point where we reduce the color noise without altering the original colors of the image. Pay attention to the color patterns that are forming, especially the famous bands of color also known as “banding”.
  • Adjust the smoothing slider, checking how it changes the noisy areas of the image and finding the sweet spot between color reduction and balance.

Note: The color detail slider will always be 100% since this, unlike the luminance detail slider, does not increase digital noise.

Local Noise reduction in Lightroom

As you can see, reducing noise in Lightroom is relatively simple and effective. The main disadvantage is the impossibility of applying a selective noise reduction in Lightroom to some areas of the image as we can, for instance, when reducing noise in Photoshop.

Even so, if our workflow is based solely on Lightroom, we have an option to reduce noise selectively through local noise reduction Lightroom settings.

In order to reduce noise locally in Lightroom, we will have the option to use the following local settings:

  • Noise reduction in Lightroom through the graduated filter
  • Lightroom noise reduction through the radial filter
  • Lightroom noise reduction with the Brush

HOW TO REDUCE NOISE IN LIGHTROOM WITH LOCAL ADJUSTMENTS

Reducing noise in Lightroom through selective adjustments has the great advantage of removing noise in specific areas of our image. However, there is a limitation, since there is a single slider to reduce noise without the possibility of adjusting the luminance or color noise reduction as we do in the detail tab.

We can apply selective noise reduction in Lightroom through local settings by following these steps:

  1. Analyze the noise in the image and assess whether it is better to reduce the noise in a general way or if the noise appears in a very specific area of the image.
  1. If the noise is in a specific area, check this area in order to decide the type of filter:
  • In night photographs, noise commonly appears in the lower part of the image. If this is the case, we can try with a graduated filter.
  • If noise appears in a specific and significant area in the image, such as a shaded area on the right side, try drawing a radial filter.
  • If the grainy area is a small irregular section, try to paint the whole area with the Lightroom brush using a medium-lower opacity.
  1. Use the noise slider to the right until the noise vanishes.
  1. Finally, we cannot make further adjustments on the noise reduction slider, but we can adjust other local settings, so if we lose detail or contrast we can recover it through the clarity and contrast parameters.

Before talking in depth about the noise reduction with Plugins in Lightroom, I wanted to answer a question that many photographers often ask:

WHEN SHOULD I REMOVE NOISE IN LIGHTROOM?

When working non-destructively with Raw files, it does not matter the moment or the step in which we reduce noise in Lightroom, since we can undo this step at any time without affecting the file.

In my case, I like to do it at the end of the process after having applied all the basic and color adjustments, although, as we said, there would be no problem in doing so at the beginning.

Best plugins to reduce noise in Lightroom

In addition to the Lightroom noise reduction through the default Lightroom tools, we also have the possibility of using plugins to remove noise in Lightroom.

These third-party plugins, will allow us to use different ways to remove noise in Lightroom, and, in some cases, to compensate Lightroom downsides such as more advanced local noise reduction adjustments.

BEST PLUGINS TO REDUCE NOISE IN LIGHTROOM

There is a wide variety, but these are the best noise reduction plugins in Lightroom:

LUMINAR NOISE REDUCTION IN LIGHTROOM

Luminar is the best plugin to reduce noise in Lightroom, since, in addition to reducing the luminance and color noise like in Lightroom, we can adjust the opacity and even apply a noise reduction with masks in Lightroom.

You can install Luminar permanently in Lightroom for $67 through this link. You also have the option to download the trial version for free here.

DFINE 2 NOISE REDUCTION IN LIGHTROOM

Another option to reduce noise in Lightroom using Plugins is with the plugin Dfine 2, from the Nik Collection package.

In Dfine, we have both the option to use an automatic noise reduction and the option to select ourselves the noisy areas of the image so the software can adjust the noise reduction.

You can get this plugin through the DxO website for $69.

NOISE NINJA FOR LIGHTROOM

Noise Ninja is famous for being one of the best noise reduction plugins on the market for many years.

Although there are ways to use it as a plugin, it is not optimized in Lightroom, so it works better as a plugin for Photoshop.

Therefore, we cannot consider Noise ninja as a plugin for Lightroom.

TOPAZ STUDIO NOISE REDUCTION IN LIGHTROOM

Another option to reduce noise is using Topaz Studio plugin in Lightroom.

Topaz offers a free version to download. however, this version is limited in some settings such as noise reduction, which we can try for free for a limited period of time through this link.

After this list, you may ask yourself the following question:

DO I REALLY NEED A NOISE REDUCTION PLUGIN IN LIGHTROOM?

The answer, however, will completely depend on your editing workflow.

The Lightroom noise reduction option that comes with the software by default is very powerful, but it is true that they it cannot be applied selectively and all parameters must be adjusted manually to be effective.

Thanks to the plugins, we can quickly apply an antinoise with options to apply it selectively according to the plugin.

On the other hand, if you have already decided to get a plugin, you may ask yourself:

WHAT NOISE REDUCTION PLUGIN FOR LIGHTROOM SHOULD I USE?

The answer is complex, since all the plugins in the list are effective and give guarantees to reduce noise in Lightroom.

In my opinion, if I had to choose a noise reduction plugin for Lightroom, I would opt for one offering the possibility of applying the effect more selectively, the great disadvantage of Lightroom, and besides would look for a plugin that include more functions besides noise reduction.

One example is Luminar, which allows you to adjust the opacity of the noise reduction layer and to use masks to reduce noise locally. In addition, some useful digital filters to get atmospheric light effects, micro contrast, etc. are included on this plugin.

ALL the plugins in the list offer free trial periods, so I encourage you to download them and check which is the one that best fits your editing workflow.

* Note: Once you use a plugin in Lightroom with one of your photos, the file will no longer be a RAW file and will change to another format like Jpeg or TIFF, so at this case, I recommend that you do it at the end of the editing process.

PRESETS TO ELIMINATE NOISE IN LIGHTROOM

One option to speed up the workflow editing process in Lightroom is to use Noise reduction Lightroom presets. These preset adjustments will eliminate digital noise in our images just pressing one button.

The main drawback of using presets is that they apply general adjustments to all the images in the same way by default.

Although we always apply some adjustments automatically like the profile correction, noise is something that changes in every image and requires specific adjustments according to the case.

Therefore, and although some photographers do it, I wouldn’t recommend to use Noise reduction presets for Lightroom.

REDUCE NOISE IN ADOBE LIGHTROOM MOBILE

In addition to the desktop version, Lightroom also has a mobile application, including the option to reduce noise in the Adobe Lightroom mobile app.

The Lightroom application offers a great variety of adjustments, and one of them is the noise reduction in mobile photographs.

These are the steps to reduce noise in your mobile photos with the Lightroom mobile app:

  • Download the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Mobile app. (Cost € 4.99 / month)
  • Load the picture you took with your smartphone where you want to apply the noise reduction.
  • Create a local adjustment in the noisy area, like a gradient or radial filter.
  • Click the triangle in the central part.
  • Adjust the necessary noise reduction to remove it from the image.
  • Close the local adjustment and evaluate if the image requires increasing the detail. If so, just add some clarity.

As you can see, reducing noise in your smartphone photos with Lightroom mobile is possible. It is true that the application does not include an advanced noise reduction, but is useful to remove noise quickly.

If you are interested in more advanced noise reduction mobile apps, I recommend to review the list included in our Guide to reducing digital noise.

Latest tips for removing noise in Lightroom

As you have seen throughout the article, reducing noise in Lightroom is one of the best ways to get rid of noise if we already use this software in our editing workflow or if we want to use an easy tool to do it.

The noise reduction in Lightroom will depend on each image. It is important that you tweak the different adjustments in your photographs to see how much noise reduction needs your image. Do not use automatisms or Lightroom Presets for noise reduction.

IS LIGHTROOM THE BEST SOFTWARE TO REDUCE NOISE?

As a final thought, I would like to highlight the main disadvantage of removing noise in Lightroom: the impossibility of applying these adjustments more selectively to specific areas of the image.

You always have the chance of applying the Lightroom noise reduction selectively through local adjustments such as graduated filters, radial filters or even reducing noise with the Lightroom brush. However, these settings only allow the use of a single slider to reduce noise, which generally limits the adjustment.

Also, when you want to reduce noise in Lightroom, keep in mind that you cannot leverage luminosity or color masks.

For this reason, in my workflow I make a small noise reduction in the Raw file in Lightroom to later remove the noise locally in Photoshop, using plugins, in a much more selective way.

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