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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How is denoise compare to DXO prime?
That is a good question, Jeff. Prime is one I’ve yet to use. I’ve just downloaded the free trial, I’ll give it a spin and report back as soon as I can 🙂
Hey Jeff. Downloaded and tried to run some RAW files through DXO, primarily looking at the Prime NR module. What I feel DXO does really well is mate and process based on sensor and lens combo. What I didn’t like about the Prime module is the severe lack of control. The only thing I could adjust was luminance. That said, it did a decent job at a RAW file shot at ISO 6400, but I was definitely able to get the same file looking better (albeit while taking a little longer to adjust) in DeNoise6. I think for most stuff, the built in NR features of management software like DXO or LR will do just fine, the times I need a heavy lifter, I still think that DeNoise is where to go. That said, I use and really appreciate DXO Viewpoint 2 for perspective and distortion correction. Irreplaceable for me, for my interior stuff. If you don’t shoot a lot in lower light at higher ISOs, a specific NR plugin probably isn’t hugely important, if you already have something like DXO prime that is working for you, but as a plugin, I also like being able to selectively apply NR via masks in Photoshop (handy for skin smoothing on occasion, or to help eliminate noise in a darker area while not necessarily needing to, to the same extent in lighter areas, etc.)
I am a big fan of denoise and DXO prime….but i find myself using DXO more often…my XT1 is in the shop …so I pulled out the old nikon 1 v1…and headed out to a local rink to shoot some amateur hockey…lighting is bad in most rinks and I found myself shooting at ISO 1600…that creates a lot of noise on the v1…I put the files through denoise and through prime on dxo…for me denoise images can get pretty painterly/smeary….but using prime on the raw files my images still look like photographs and a lot of detail is retained and at 100% the noise is just about gone
I think that my opinion on Prime would benefit from having some extended time and experience with it. My afternoon spent tooling around didn’t scream superior, customizable and controllable results, but that certainly may be down to my lack of time with it. Out of curiosity, when you put the images through DeNoise and Prime, how much tinkering and adjusting are you doing or able to do (in Prime)? I’ve always found that if I back off the intensity of the Denoise stuff, and re-introduce detail through the detail recovery slider, I can help pull back some of that oil paint smearing effect (unless my image was too far gone to begin with). I need about 16 more hours in each day, as then I’d have ample time to really spend digging through the many awesome options out there.
great post, and has opened my eyes to a new software system. I’ve been using Dfine2 (which I don’t know if its better or worse than Dfine(1?). None the less your results are compelling enough for me to make comparisons.
Dfine2 has the advantage of being free now … perhaps that says something?
You know, I did a side by side comparison of Dfine2 and DeNoise5 when DN5 came out. DN5 did a better overall job, especially when dealing with high noise banding, but I wouldn’t say so huge a difference that a free Dfine2 would be worthless :). I think the biggest thing is that it seems Nik is at the end of its life cycle as Google moves in a different direction, while Topaz continues to improve upon, and offer free upgrades as new versions are released. Totally an opportunity cost situation on a personal level.
agreed … and I don’t know how my name got in that above post (lack of care is what I say) … I’ve just found your comparisons on Nik and I agree about end of life vs continual development.
Again, thanks for posting!
I came to this post in a round about way looking for reviews on the forthcoming Panny GX80/85. I have DeNoise, so for once I didn’t read your post when you published it. Anyway, I’ve been trying DXO optics and whilst the interface is clunky and slow and it took me some time to get used the “camera – lens combo correction” that the software uses, I’ve been blown away by the Prime de-noise software. Noise free detailed images that I’m now happy with. Also the “camera – lens combo correction” seems to produce better results (in terms of overall image sharpness and reducing distortion) than with LR used alone. That said I would not like to use it by itself. LR is great in my opinion. DXO would be used as a plug-in albeit an expensive one.
You can adjust colour noise. Its just that by default its not shown (odd decision I think). Its under “advanced settings” below the luminance noise slider. I still have some time left on trial of it. Its a pity its so damn expensive, otherwise I might just buy it.
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