Noise Reduction in Camera Raw 7.0 / by Simon Abrams

Swiping through my photo collection on my iPad, I came across a photo I shot in Stonington CT last summer, of a really dramatic stormy sunset at the pier. 

Sunset at Stonington [326/365]

Maybe it was my mood or something, but looking back on the image six months later, I thought that it was nice, but the way I had post-processed it didn’t really convey the ominous and dramatic feeling I had when I was standing there. So using Nik Software’s very excellent SnapSeed for iPad, I gave the image a bit more punch, as seen in the photo below.

Stonington Sunset

Great - much more dramatic and otherworldly, but now SnapSeed has found every bit of noise my noise-challenged Canon G10 has imbued the image with, and exacerbated it. I guess a noisy photo is better than no photo… but there has to be a better option, right? Then I remembered the impressive noise reduction capabilities that Brian O’Neil Hughes showed off in his sneak peek of what’s coming up in the new version of the Camera Raw plugin, and then I remembered he mentioned that the same features are available in the new freely available Lightroom 4 Beta. I fired that up, and here’s the result:

Stonington Sunset (w/ noise reduction)

Impressive indeed. I’m an Aperture guy, and my workflow is pretty well-entrenched in that software so I’m unlikely to make the switch to Lightroom (though I won’t rule it out entirely). Hopefully the folks at Apple step their game up in the noise reduction department, but in the meantime, once Photoshop Next (or whatever it’s going to be called) comes out, I’m definitely going to be incorporating Camera Raw 7’s noise reduction into my workflow for salvaging images - especially those shot with that poor old G10.