First, here's my pick for which tool produced the very best version
for each image. I viewed each final image at full resolution (not just
the 400x400 crops) and flipped back and forth between them, carefully
looking at every part of the image. I considered luminance NR, chroma
NR, sharpness, detail retention and color retention. I narrowed it down
to the best three tools for each image and then looked at them even
closer before deciding on the best one.
||This one was tough to judge, but it finally
came down to Neat Image, Noise Ninja, Grain Surgery and Noiseware. All four produced almost identical results, but Noise Ninja did a slightly better job than Neat image and Grain Surgery in retaining color saturation and left slightly less artifacts behind, and Noiseware was just a little bit softer.
||As expected, this image proved to be the easiest
to clean up. Once again Neat Image, Noise Ninja and Noiseware produced outstanding results. However, Picture Cooler was able to do just a little better.
||This image proved the most difficult for many of
the the tools, they either left a lot of luminance noise in the
sky or blurred the mountains too much. It was again between the four tools: Neat Image, Noise Ninja, Noiseware and Picture Cooler. I chose Noise Ninja for this one because it produced a slightly cleaner sky and retained more of the original image's brightness.
The latest versions of Noise Ninja and Neat Image just keep getting better, and newcomer Noiseware is close to them. Grain Surgery is now falling behind. Picture Cooler produced very good results too. Noise reduction techniques are obviously continuing to be improved upon. The other good news is that these tools are becoming available for Mac users too.
My recommendations are:
- Noise Ninja
- Neat Image
- Picture Cooler (PC-only)
- Grain Surgery