Michael Almond Portfolio

PowerRetouche Noise Corrector

URL: www.powerretouche.com
Cost: $54
Platforms: Mac & PC
Version Tested: 2.0 (current version is 4.0)
Demo available: yes

PowerRetouche Noise Corrector offers five noise reduction methods:

  • Soft focus - a smart blur
  • Film-grain leveling - remove chroma noise
  • Despeckle - a smart despeckle
  • Patch RGB - a median filter
  • Blur - an averaging filter

For each image I tried all five methods to see which one worked the best for that image.

I had a hard time choosing between soft focus (which produced a slightly soft image) and film-grain leveling (which produced a slightly desaturated image). Both worked well, but in the end I chose film-grain leveling, which reduced the saturation of the colors a little (fixable), but kept the sharpness (and quite a bit of the luminance noise).

Settings:

  • Method: film-gain leveling
  • Filter size: 2
  • Effect: 70%
  • Preserve details: on, with default settings (this basically excluded areas of high detail (eg. the large rock) from the filter)
  • Clean up stray pixels: on, 80%

I really liked how Noise Corrector handled this image. The preserve detail option did exactly that, preserved the fine detail of the trees.

Settings:

  • Method: despeckle
  • Filter size: 3
  • Effect: 80%
  • Preserve details: on, with default settings
  • Clean up stray pixels: on, 80%

All the methods produced very similar results, but I had to use Noise Corrector's built-in masking abilities to prevent the details and particularly the dark areas getting too blurry.

Settings:

  • Method: soft focus
  • Filter size: 1
  • Effect: 80%
  • Preserve details: on, with selection level 85%
  • Use target range: on, with dark limit 79 (to reduce the effect in the dark areas)
  • Clean up stray pixels: on, 80%

Pros:

  • Offers five noise reduction methods, each one very customizable.
  • Can mask areas of high detail to help preserve sharpness where it counts.
  • Can remove hot pixels.
  • Great doc that really explains how to use this plugin.
  • Good value for money.

Cons:

  • Small preview with 100% maximum zoom in (however, latest version can zoom in up to 1600% and has a larger preview).
  • You generally have to choose between doing luminance or chroma noise reduction (I did not investigate doing two passes with different methods)
  • Slow.

AutoFX AutoEye 2

URL: www.autofx.com
Cost: $129
Platforms: Mac & PC
Version Tested: 2.0
Demo available: yes, but cannot use own images!

AutoEye is one of those "automatically fix my image for me" plugins, and I'm sure its very good at that, but I was only interested to see if it could fix noise.

Since AutoEye wants to fix my image, it did more than just remove noise, because certain parameters could not be completely turned off. With this image, because of the contrast and color cast changes, it actually increased the chroma noise in the trees, and doesn't really seem to have fixed the luminance noise in the sky!

Settings:

  • Strength: 0x
  • Remove color cast: 10 (the lowest it will go)
  • Rebuild detail: 70 (half way)
  • Smooth noise: 130 (max value)
  • Contrast: 10 (the lowest it will go)

Similar results as the first image, ie. not good!

Settings:

  • Strength: 0x
  • Remove color cast: 10 (the lowest it will go)
  • Rebuild detail: 10 (the lowest it will go)
  • Smooth noise: 130 (max value)
  • Contrast: 10 (the lowest it will go)

More disappointing results. I could see zero difference between a smooth noise setting of 10 and 130, so I must be doing something wrong!

Settings:

  • Strength: 0x
  • Remove color cast: 10 (the lowest it will go)
  • Rebuild detail: 10 (the lowest it will go)
  • Smooth noise: 130 (max value)
  • Contrast: 10 (the lowest it will go)

Pros:

  • None (for noise reduction uses only).

Cons:

  • AutoEye is simply not the tool for noise reduction (nor does it claim to be, I just hoped it would be able to!).

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