Troubled having high noise (grainy pixels) in a photograph because of using high ISO or shooting in low light conditions? I have come across with this problem with my pictures as well and wish I could do something to reduce the noise without loosing the clarity. For long I have been taking the hard decision of trashing a beautiful image just because of the noise factor. There are options and softwares available which can help reduce the noise but the downside is the compromise on the image's sharpness or clarity. The answer to these problems is Neat Image.
I learnt about this software from one of the photographic talks I had attended and could not believe what I heard until I tried it myself. I downloaded the trial version and after working on it for 2 or 3 hours I made up my mind to upgrade to the PRO version. The software comes in two versions: Home and Pro. The major difference between them is that the Pro version has a support for 16/32 bit images compared to 8 bit for Home version. Here is the feature map which lists all the available features.
Both Home and Pro versions can be purchased either as a standalone software or as a Photoshop plug-in. You can also bundle them together if you like.
The software is easy to use and the website hosts a short but very informative and easy to follow introductory video which is all you need to get started. Below are some sample shots which I have processed using Neat Image's standalone version. The version which I have used is 8.2.0 Pro and the latest version available as of writing this is 8.3.
This image was shot at NASA at ISO 6400, 1/125s. The output as you can see is clearly noise free. Buy Extreme Engineering.
Sharp Turn is another image on which I have tried using Neat Image. I shot this image at an outside Rodeo competition. This was an action shot (1/400s) taken at a very high ISO (12800) in low light conditions. Even though I was successful in capturing the stunning moment of the sport, the image as a result is full of noise. The image in fact had so much noise that I had to use Neat Image twice on the image. I used the output of first processing as an input for another. Below is side-by-side comparison of after and before image and the result is extremely satisfactory.
Give the product a try and let me know your feedback on the product or on this blog in the comments below. Say no to noisy images.