The new noise reduction in LR

Don’t know if it is in ACR also, but probably. A big caveat here – there is no one-size-fits-all solution to anything, but I’m currently evaluating a new lens that might be an improvement over my 17mm TS-E for Milky Way photography. (The Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, which would be used with my Canon R5.) I would like to be able to shoot untracked – as in out in the untracked wastes where the skies are dark. My tracker is too heavy and bulky for much traveling.

I was shooting here to look at the quality of stars in the corners, and didn’t want to re-rig the tracker for this evaluation so I was aimed at Polaris to minimize star movement. That gave me a good idea of the corners. But while I was at it, I had just upgraded LR and wanted to have a look at the new NR in a probably challenging situation. (Somebody somewhere had said it failed them with an astro shot, but I don’t remember who or where that was.) Well, bottom line is, when the filter rendered you can fill in a creative phrase of deleted expletives!

These are 100% screenshots before and after.

Oh – and the corners – at f/1.4 they suck. Not bad by f/2.8 and good at f/4.
EDIT: It’s not that bad. After more careful focus using LR Tethered capture (10 sec exposures centered on Polaris), f/1.4 is a lot better than my 24-70 II f/2.8 wide open, but still not up to what I want. The 28 is better at f/2 and good at f/2.8. The 24-70 at 24 lags behind at these apertures. The corner quality is noticeably dependent on the absolute best center focus.

Keith Bauer posted, on You Tube, a comparison between DXO and LR noise reduction. He was not entirely disappointed with LR, but thought DXO preserved detail better.

OK – I found that. It strikes me that one factor between the two that he didn’t discuss, and that may be hidden behind the scenes in processing, is that, particularly in the rock face shot and the eagle’s face, it looks like the DXO version has some added sharpening / micro-contrast – something more like Texture in LR. Not a bad thing, but it may make a direct comparison not exactly direct, as that item is dealt with by other sliders that can be used in LR.

Nick Page just posted a video comparing noise reduction LR, Topaz, and DXO Pure Raw. I haven’t watched it yet but plan to.

I watched Nick’s video and others in the last few days as well as running some of my own tests and find that most of the time, with careful manipulation of the one slider and the addition of sharpening and texture/clarity, Lightroom does a decent job. Yesterday I got a moderatly high ISO shot of a duck in a tree and four tries at denoise yielded almost identical results. I don’t know that I’ll have the time or inclination to do that with every photo, but I have confidence in what Lr can do out of the gate. I imagine it will be improved and AI Sharpening added to the mix.

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@Kris_Smith – a duck in a tree!! That’s got to be contest-worthy!

Not too strange since Wood ducks are cavity nesters and cavities are made by woodpeckers so forcing them to fly around inspecting various potential nesting sites. Even though the male doesn’t help raise the kids after they leave the nest, I think he sticks around during the incubation to feed his mate. Here he is waiting for her to decide about a nest site about 10 feet below him -

Just a down and dirty blend of two shots that I didn’t get quite right, but wanted to put a Topaz Sharpen image with a Lr Denoise image to get the best of both. Topaz is great for letting me mask the bird, but it isn’t great at letting me decide that I want some NR on the background even though I don’t want sharpening. Does that make sense? I didn’t want it to sharpen the bg, but that leaves me with a noisy bg so a blend is needed. Not a photo I would normally process, but a test shot.

I don’t typically shoot above 6400 ISO, but I found this shot that I didn’t even bother with at first and then forgot about.

This is with Lr denoise and Ps Smart Sharpen applied to only the mother’s face (where you can see some mites around her eye!) -

This is with Lr denoise and sharpening applied globally -

This is the original file -

This is a big crop, too. Kind of the worst case scenario and it came off rather well. With some color correction and distraction removal, this poor startled mouse family (in the dock boards) looks pretty good. No harm came to them from us, we herded them down off the dock boards and floats as we unstacked them. They went under the other shed to fulfill their lives at the bottom of the food chain.

Here is Topaz Denoise AI (standalone version) -

Impressive! I think mice are cute. I found one in the kitchen once, hiding behind a propped-up cutting board, only it forgot to hide its tail. I managed to shoo it into an empty mason jar and let it go well away from the house. The poor thing was terrified. It was probably back under the house in 5 minutes.

It really is pretty great once you understand and can use it with other sharpening techniques. Oh and I think the Lr denoise was at 60% strength. Added a Topaz shot for comparison done with these settings -

I also messed with the old noise reduction and sharpening tool globally and with masks using different strengths. Not good at all. Might make this image sort of salvageable, but not really useable if you know what I mean, which is why it’s never seen the light of day.

Mice don’t bother me if they’re outside and not chewing apart anything I value. We’re probably 20 generations removed from this group. I figure keeping them around feeds our foxes and raptors!

OK, @Kris_Smith – I’ll see your duck and raise you a chicken!! (And for bonus points, they don’t nest in trees.)

Yesterday, as part II of our granddaughter’s 7th birthday celebration, we took the kids on a tour at Safari West, the rather unique animal facility that occupies 400 acres over our back fence. They have about 900 animals, covering 40 species, mostly African. We had given Wylie a book about African animals at the official birthday party two weeks ago, and she knew the names of virtually all the ones the 3-hour jeep tour covered. In addition, there are a number of Bantam chickens, and all seemed to be in pairs, with the rooster being very protective of his mate and a clutch of very cute chicks just a couple of weeks old.

This guy was in a tree above the Flamingo pond, with his family apparently in the brush below. I wish I could replicate the gorgeous color, brought out by a sunny sky. I brought Highlights full down and Shadows full up. That was all. Here is a crop from both sides, and the 3 comparisons, the raw file (with those 2 adjustments) then a comparison of the Denoise adjustment in LR, at its default 50%, with my standby of going to PS and doing Topaz Denoise AI with the Low Light default settings. I think in most cases the LR denoise will become my default! No sharpening to the LR version and only the default amount in the Topaz version.

These three are screenshots at 100%:

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I love the chicken in a tree! They are such handsome birds, aren’t they? I visited a farm a long time ago and the roaming roosters had deep emerald green feathers with gold. Just amazing looking birds.

The feather detail is similar w/Lr and Topaz, but it looks like Lr got rid of the noise better. It certainly is going to be interesting as the tool improves and they (hopefully) introduce AI sharpening as well.