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What photographer (pro or amateur) hasn't been in a situation where the light is simply too low to capture a good photo...but the scene is too good to resist? So you boost the camera's ISO and/or reduce its shutter speed. (Many consumer cameras will do this automatically in low light situations.) You may get the picture, but most often, it's filled with noise: millions of random specks of color and light. Most de-noise software will try to remove noise by blurring the picture, which does work; however, it sacrifices image detail. Topaz DeNoise ($80, 30-day free trial) does a very good job of removing noise while retaining the sharp lines and shapes that define the picture.
Topaz DeNoise is quite easy to use, once you understand the proper order of steps to take. Fortunately, all this is explained in the short online demonstration video. You can use the handful of included presets, but we found that the simple slider settings allowed us to get superior results, quickly and easily. You can then save your settings in your own custom preset and/or import others from the Topaz online community. In our test image, the sharp edges of the building and signs--and even the details of the person in the window and the bricks on the walls--were clearly retained, even though the noise was removed.
Topaz DeNoise is a Photoshop-compatible plug-in, which means it will work within a number of different imaging programs, such as Irfanview or Photoshop Elements. What's more, unlike most plug-ins, it supports both 32-bit and 64-bit Photoshop, and it is compatible with Photoshop's Smart Filter engine for non-destructive editing. You don't have to register to download the trial/demo version, but you won't be able to save your images. A 30-day, fully functional trial version (including the ability to save) is available if you register for a free trial license.
Of course, no software is a magic bullet, but Topaz DeNoise is a useful program if you like to take low light photographs, and need a tool for removing random noise while keeping your image details.
Note: This trial/demo version works for 30 days, but does not allow you to save images. To unlock the 30-day, fully functional trial version, register the program for free at the vendor's site.
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