Photo Software – Cutting Through the Noise

I was quite surprised with the amount of feedback we received from our how to remove digital photo noise article. More than a few friends recommended that I try Noise Ninja – so I did. Since I’ve grown largely familiar with how NeatImage works, I had to ask the PictureCode gang what made Noise Ninja that much different – and why so many of my colleagues recommended it over all other image noise editors. They responded, kindly:

This can be a little like Chevy vs. Ford or Honda vs. Toyota – i.e. some people prefer one, some prefer the other, and it isn’t always for an objective reason. That said, here are some of the things that have heard from users who have chosen Noise Ninja over alternatives:

* A Fortune 500 company that has licensed our technology put Noise Ninja and a half dozen other solutions through a rigorous blind comparison study. In multiple rounds of testing, Noise Ninja was consistently rated as the best overall solution, in particular because it preserved important detail while avoiding the introduction of artifacts (in the target application, both characteristics were very important).

* Some people find that Noise Ninja responds more predictably to adjustments, and they can get satisfactory results with less tweaking of sliders and profiles. Once you configure it properly, operation can often be reduced to adjustment of a single slider and one button click, and many people use it in a fully automated batch processing mode.

* Many users particularly like the “Noise Brush” feature in Noise Ninja, which allows you to paint with the mouse to fade or block the filtering effect in specific areas of the image. This can significantly boost productivity in cases where you disagree with the decisions made by the algorithms. For instance, hair and fine texture that is near the noise threshold tends to be challenging for any automated algorithm, so it’s useful to have a quick and easy way to override the algorithm in such cases.

* We’ve been told a number of times, and I’ve seen for myself, that some other products have at least an occasional tendency to introduce noticeable halos or color bleeding along high-contrast edges, to blur edges too much, or to leave “squiggle” artifacts in textured areas.

* We often hear that Noise Ninja yields a more natural, “photographic” result compared to other solutions. Of course, you can create a completely plastic look with Noise Ninja if you push it too far, but you usually have to do this intentionally. (In fact, some of our customers in the fashion and cinema industries have been doing this for special effects.)

Of course, I’m not the most unbiased source of information, and different people have different preferences regarding aesthetics, user interfaces, workflow, etc. For anyone who’s curious, I’d suggest playing with the trial version of Noise Ninja to see if you like it, and send us an email if you have questions or problems.

I’ll be posting results from both NeatImage and Noise Ninja to my Flickr account soon enough. The TX1 is not a very good camera in low-light situations, and using the flash seems to produce an insane amount of “bulbs” on the photo.