91 — 3 ways to reduce noise in photography

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #91 dis­cusses 3 common‚reasons‚we get noise in our pho­tographs and we offer tips on how to beat that noise. For the pur­poses of this pod­cast, noise is the appear­ance of coloured‚specks, ‚monochromatic‚specks or bands/lines that appear in your pho­tographs (often in uni­form areas like the sky or in the shad­owy parts of the image) that should not be there.

Scene from Oka Parc Quebec Canada

Scene from Oka Park Que­bec Canada

This image from OKA Park looks pleas­ing enough and look­ing at it here you might not know that the image was under­ex­posed. I boosted the lev­els in Pho­to­shop so at first glance it looks pretty good.

HOWEVER, this 100% crop from the same image reveals the noise (colours in the snow) due to underexposure.

Snow detail crop at 100% shows colour noise

Snow detail crop at 100% shows colour noise

TIP — Don’t auto­mat­i­cally under­ex­pose. Under­ex­pose the scene only when necessary.

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

Cam­bridge in Colour arti­cle on noise
Noise Ninja
Topaz Denoise

Shiny‚is the reg­u­lar assign­ment this month on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum
Ton sur Ton is the level 2 assign­ment this month on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum

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Thanks to rabs, Lee Sacrey, Las Vegas Wed­dings, Charles binns land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy, and Michael Van der Tol who posted a blog com­ment about our last pod­cast. Thanks as always to every­one that sent com­ments by email about our last pod­cast. Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board. Most of the links to actual the prod­ucts are affil­i­ate links that help sup­port this site. Thanks in advance if you pur­chase through those links.

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Happy Hol­i­days every­one and only the best for 2011 — thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!


  1. Sevenwords says:

    Don’t for­get about the effect of the sensor’s tem­per­a­ture on noise. In gen­eral, the warmer the sen­sor the more noise is pro­duced. If pos­si­ble keep your cam­era away from exter­nal heat sources and avoid live view because it heats up the sensor.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for the com­ments and extra tips Jack, muchly appre­ci­ated! i tried to keep the pod­cast really sim­ple because noise can be quite a com­plex issue. Scott’s logic works well for me and makes per­fect sense.

    many thanks again!

  3. Jack Label says:

    For­got to men­tion, Light­room 3 and ACR6 has an EXCELLENT noise reduc­tion and you can also remove all noise and add some fake grain, which makes the pic­ture even better.

  4. Jack Label says:

    Marko, just this week Scott Bourne made a com­ment about noise, and I also think its very true, if you expose for the right side of the his­togram, what would be the light areas, you get lesser noise. If you are pho­tographin on RAW mode try to get as much light as pos­si­ble then darken the image on pos pro­cess­ing that would dra­mat­i­cally decrease noise.

    Also light qual­ity influ­ence on ammount of noise, lets say youre pho­tograph­ing a christ­mas party, using ambi­ent light at night. If the ambi­ent light is bulb light (yel­low­ish light), you lack blue light, the cam­era will try to com­pen­sate this lack for the per­fect light for the cam­era is white light (not blue, not yel­low buth both at the same time) and it will intro­duce a lot of noise, so if you intro­duce a small pop of flash light the flash will com­pen­sate some of the lack­ing qual­ity and will lower the amount of noise. Do the test, with same high ISO make a flash and non flash pic­ture, youll see how much noise can be reduces just by rais­ing the qual­ity of light.

    Happy hol­i­days for every­one and good pic­tures to all.

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