Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Topaz DeNoise 6 And Canon 5DsR Noise

Back in October I wrote about a five minute exposure I had made at Pete's Lake in Michigan's Upper Peninsula using my Canon 5DsR camera. That exposure was quite noisy because of its duration and if I wanted a usable image I had to leave the island quite dark, almost black, in order to mask the strong noise. I didn't really like the way it looked and thought the image might not be able to be saved.

Recently, Topaz Labs came out with a new version of their DeNoise product/plug-in. I already own a couple of noise removal programs, including the prior Topaz version, but decided to upgrade to their newest.  This version is a whole different ball game.

There is an incredible amount of control available within the program.  An excellent 40 minute video is all you really need to get a good grasp on how it works. So I watched it and gave DeNoise 6 a try with this immensely challenging image after I wasn't happy with the results that other programs gave me (see that original post).

The ground rules:

  • I duplicated and reprocessed the image from the same starting point but did noise reduction first and then processed it the way I wanted it to look in terms of the tonality of the trees and island.
  • I took the original, noisy image from that post back in October and, without applying noise removal, used a curve and a bit of saturation, to bring it to just about where the newly processed version was in terms of appearance.
  • The crops below are 100% but converted to 8 bit jpeg and sRGB color space; I didn't notice any dramatic changes resulting from this. 
  • Disclaimer: there were residual white specks following the DeNoise process that were present on the original (ie, they were not artifacts induced by DeNoise). I would not call the processing a success if these remained or if I had to work for hours on manual removal. I tried the Photoshop dusk and speck removal filter and it took care of nearly all these specks in a second.

So here is the newly processed image:


Pete's Lake, 5 Minute Exposure    © Howard Grill

Directly below is a 100% crop, as described above, from the upper left hand corner of the image without Topaz DeNoise processing. 

Upper Left Corner, Before Topaz DeNoise 6

Here is the same crop after noise removal. I was pleased that you could see the gentle tones of the cloud streaking. Removal of the noise actually made it more evident.

Upper Left Corner, After Topaz DeNoise 6

Below is a 100% crop from the water.  It's even worse than the upper left corner in terms of noise. NASTY!!!

Section Of Water, Before Topaz DeNoise 6

And below is the DeNoise 6 version of the same location in the image:

Section Of Water, After Topaz DeNoise 6

Finally, we come to the very distant trees in the shadows, which I significantly lightened compared to how the photograph came out of the camera. Note that at baseline there is some lack of sharpness, but this is explained by the fact that the trees are probably a half mile away and that the exposure is five minutes long with a gentle breeze blowing those branches.

Here is the original version:

Trees On Distant Isalnd, Before Topaz DeNoise 6

And the DeNoise version (after Photoshop dust and scratch removal was also used; see above).  It appears to me that there is perhaps a very, very slight softening of the image in comparison, which is pretty impressive for this degree of noise removal. In my opinion it has taken the image to a state where it is quite usable. Given that this is a 50 MP file the size of those trees on even a large print is going to be small.

Trees On Distant Island, After Topaz DeNoise 6

Definitely a worthwhile purchase in my opinion!