Topaz has just released version 6 of their DeNoise software. It may seem like I’m plugging a lot of software of late, but it just so happens that the software that I have chosen to use is getting updated, and offered on sale which is pretty awesome.
I have used most all noise reduction (NR) plugins out there over the years, and while DAM software like Lightroom and Capture One do a good to decent job for a lot of NR tasks, I have never found better noise reduction anywhere than I have with DeNoise. So, what has changed with version 6? I’ve been testing version 6 against version 5 all week to see if I can really tell where they’ve improved it, and I feel that comes in the way of interface primarily, a huge boost to developing, saving and grouping presets specific to cameras, and further allowing those of us using this plugin to streamline our workflow when batch processing.
Topaz DeNoise 6 is on sale now, $30 off through March 20th HERE at Topaz Labs Website for $49.99 (normally $79.99) or as a FREE UPGRADE (as seems to always be the case with Topaz) for DeNoise owners! Use code “NOISEFREE” at checkout to get the sale price, and do so knowing that future upgrades will very, very likely be offered as a free upgrade as well. You can always try it out for free too. You can download a full free trial HERE if interested to see if it makes sense for you.
I chose DeNoise years ago because it beat the pants off of NIK Dfine for me (especially when correcting for noise banding), which I’d switched to after using Noise Ninja for years. I’ve yet to see anything outdo DeNoise, and the new version is an upgrade to an already stellar program.
If you’d like to see a side by side comparison between DeNoise 5 and 6, along with my thoughts on what has been improved upon, come on in…
Via Topaz, they list the improvements in version 6 as follows:
• Standalone Application – DeNoise 6 now works as a standalone product and doesn’t require a host editor to work. Although it can still be used as a plugin through Photoshop, Lightroom, and other supported host programs.
• Camera Specific Presets – DeNoise 6 introduces dozens of presets based on various camera profiles, with multiple ISO presets for each camera.
• Batch Processing (in standalone mode only) – DeNoise 6 introduces batch processing, allowing you to process a whole folder of images at once. That means no more need for Photoshop actions! Note that batch processing is only available in the standalone version, not the plugin version.
• Support for High DPI (4k) monitors in Windows 7/8/10
For me, the big difference, in the way I use it, and noticed immediately was firstly in the depth of new presets (camera specific) and streamlined interface. As I worked through the shots below, I built custom Lumix GX8 presets at each high ISO setting and saved them in a GX8 preset group for easy access in the future. Have a look at the screen shots below (click to see larger):
Mostly cosmetic changes to the UI and layout, bringing it more in line with the other Topaz plugins as would be expected. The big bonus though is the ability to build and add to groups of presets either to a specific camera or shoot, situation, lighting, etc. The zoom/resizing command moves up above the top right corner of the image, and now allows us to view the whole image, where in v.5, we could only go as small as 100%, which is really nice now having the ability to see more of the image we’re working on. Obviously we’ll want to examine the noise at 100% or higher, but this viewing versatility is a small thing that for me at least, will make a decent difference in how useful DeNoise is for me when assessing the entire image.
So, how does 6 stack up? Well, while I feel the true changes are more cosmetic, those changes seem to make it more intuitive and easier to start to really alter the preset settings. I rarely clicked the Preview mode tick box/bubbles in 5 to see the difference between RGB, Luma, et al. Same with the Auto Brightness, and while those features are not in any way new, the larger buttons seem to play better with my brain, and I was using the different modes quite often to asses different areas of noise. If we as users would be asked to pay for the upgrade, I’d say there would be little to justify the price on the surface alone, but seeing as we get it for free, it’s a no brainer. That it now acts as a batch processing standalone too is pretty radical. If you don’t already have DeNoise, I highly suggest downloading the full free trial via the link below, and giving it a try.
Here is what DeNoise does. I did little to no tweaking with these, other than to see which of the v.5 presets (running them through both) I’d find to be the best for the image, but below you can see side by side the same images taken at the same ISO values, run through 5 and 6 with the original file on the left.
*The first set of images were taken with the averaged metering reading “0” for the scene. The second set took that same reading and I underexposed by two full stops, then adjusted +2 stops in Aperture, then ran them through both versions of DeNoise again, just to see a worst case scenario situation.
Click to see larger:
Alright, a couple things I see. Firstly, I’m continually impressed with the GX8’s ability at high ISO, even the straight out of the camera, RAW files processed through Aperture. That said, above ISO 6400, the files get a bit messy. In the second set, they’re poorer across the board, and the files above ISO 3200 are next to unusable in most any way outside of a hail Mary shot while shooting a coal mine in the dark.
All things said and done though, up through ISO 3200, I’m amazed at how well DeNoise does to not only control, but practically eliminate any semblance of noise while retaining detail. Above that on the GX8, the noise does start to creep back in, but is still well controlled, and well balanced with the detail retention.
Overall, I still see DeNoise as the best NR software I’ve used, and the updates are gravy. While I would love to see a speed/processing boost, I know that noise assessment, and the subsequent processing is very intensive, so it (along with all NR software) is going to move a little on the slow side. If there are some magical processing fairies out there that can somehow make this process more speedy, I’d say it’s really the only negative thing I could say about DeNoise, and all NR software honestly. I really liked DeNoise 5, and I already love version 6.
Don’t take my word for it though. Best way to see it, is for yourself. Try it out for free, download the upgrade or buy it via Topaz Labs HERE, DeNoise 6 is available as a free upgrade, or new for $49.99 (normally $79.99!).
I talk a lot about Topaz plugins, and this is one of a half dozen that I use all the time. It’s solid.
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