Best Free Photo Noise Reduction Software

 
Introduction

Noise on a digital image looks like random speckled color dots in areas where the color should be more even. The more you zoom into the image the more prominent the noise becomes. All digital images include some noise just as all traditional photographs have some grain. The amount of noise varies considerably between cameras but it also varies with how you use your camera.

On an automatic camera taking photos in poor light conditions increases the noise as it forces the camera to a higher ISO or sensitivity setting. Similarly on a manual camera; setting a higher ISO invariably increases the noise. Generally speaking the problem is worst with cheaper cameras but even the most expensive cameras have noise problems in extreme conditions.

Noise-reducing programs cannot eliminate noise from your digital photos but they can make it less obvious. But, there is a cost: any noise improvement you make will inevitably lead to some loss of detail to your images.

There is no outright winner in this review for a top noise-reducing program but there are two excellent contenders.

 
In a Hurry?

Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 
Discussion

Noiseware Community Edition has a drop-down-box that enables you to make simple choices (automatic noise profiling), but I considered this to be a blunt instrument. If you want to start using the automated profiles then I would recommend starting with weaker noise. If weaker noise has too little effect then further adjustments can be done manually with the preview box turned on. This is a gentle start and as you get to know these programs you will quickly learn to only do things in very small steps, otherwise the image is very easily spoilt. All of options in the More Controls section are not available on the free version, but very good results are still possible. Just how good, will depend on your skill and patience as it is unlikely the automatic fixes will give a satisfactory result. Thankfully, there is a good help file.

Helicon Filter is really a general purpose image correcting suite but it includes an excellent noise reduction filter. Other filters in the suite include:

    * Noise Reduction
    * Red Eye and Sharpening
    * Color Adjustment, Text Inscriptions and Frames
    * Crop & Resize and Distortions
    * Clone brush and Change Brightness brush
    * Change Color brush
    * Change Saturation brush
    * Blur/sharpen brush and Fix Red Eye brush
    * Erase Changes brush.

The noise filter has an excellent visual interface as well as a useful help system to guide you through the noise reduction process. It offers some automatic noise profiling, with the ability to make your own. It supports RAW, TIFF, JPEG2000, JPG with support for external PS-plug-ins but the free version cannot itself be used as a PhotoShop plug-in. The free version also has fewer noise reduction options than the paid but excellent results are still possible.

And the other filters in the suite are just as good as the noise reduction filter. So good in fact, that you'll be tempted to use these even if you have Photoshop, Gimp or another image editor as Helicon is quicker to load and easier to use.

NB: This software is fully functional for 30 days, after that it will revert to free mode.

NDNoise is a complete rewrite of a previous product AbsoluteDeNoiser. NDNoise is Java based freeware that works with Windows/Mac and Linux. It is best suited to serious users who are adventuring for the first time into the world of noise reduction software. Very good results are possible but patience and experimentation is required as the help file is minimal and some of the controls are ambiguous. NDNoise is a stand-alone program whose features include:

    * load/save multiple image with the same filter tuning
    * three sliders that allow tuning for basic use : noise removal, dots/spots/lines smoothing, retexturing
    * direct visualization of filtering effect by alternate visualization
    * differential view for filtering control
    * zoom in/out at any level.

TIP: Just remember to use the drop-down-box below Calc to ensure you can visibly see your changes. When you have done your adjustments you can have two ways of viewing them: Fast, which is not very precise or Calc which is slower but more accurate.

 
Related Products and Links

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Quick Selection Guide

Noiseware Community Edition
4.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Results are not bad if done in small stages.
Automatic is a blunt instrument and will definitely ruin your image.
2.6
1.9 MB
Free for private use only
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP/ Vista/ 7/ 8

Open JPEG, PNG, BMP, TIFF (24 and 48 bpp), saved results as a JPEG.

Helicon Filter
4.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
This is not just a noise reduction software, it enables you to adjust and correct your image in many other ways.
For thirty days it is fully functional, but then some of the filters and actions will stop. This doesn't make it any the worst as it's excellent free software.
5.2.4
275 MB
Time limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000/ XP/ Vista/ 7/ 8

From the HeliconSoft website: To get a FREE license to our products, you could submit a tutorial, an article or even an useful tip, that may be of interest to those visiting this site.

For more info: http://www.heliconsoft.com/free_license.html

View the change history here

v5.2.4 released 18 June, 2013

NDNoise
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
It works with Windows, Mac and Linux. Multiple image format support : PNG, JPEG, GIF, ... (prefer lossless PNG compression !)
Takes time to get to know, help files are minimal. Fast noise reduction is not very good so opt for the more precise 'Calc'.
http://ndnoise.free.fr/
http://ndnoise.free.fr/
0.4
870 KB
Free for private use only
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista, Mac OS-X, Linux

You need Java to enable the software to work. http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4.2/download.html

 
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Comments

by ravinder (not verified) on 17. October 2012 - 8:32  (100890)

Thats good advice Mike, unfortunately there are times/situations when it is necessary to use these crutches. I don't have the finances to have a good camera due to circumstances (cheap camera more noise problems), or people may only use a point and shoot and find that they would like to improve an image of a family shot and it maybe necessary on a evening shot when you have to up your ISO. The crutches are there if needed. Mind you although I have only a Fuji 5600 and I have only had to use this once on a shot of a bird of prey tearing apart a dead sheep.

Tony

by Marcos Hardy Eloff (not verified) on 5. November 2011 - 15:52  (82767)

Thanks for the review!!! I use a "cheap" camara a Nikon Coolpix L100. I think I get as much satisfaction with it as many with a more expensive camara. I enjoy using the "extra tools" or "crutches" when I play around with the pictures, they even help me to learn a bit more.
Best regards.
Marcos

by Stephen A. (not verified) on 31. August 2011 - 10:51  (78738)

There is a free version of Magic Photo denoiser http://magicphotoediting.com/downloads/magic-photo-denoiser. It's somewhat limited in controls, but overall result quality is good comparing to others. I like it's easy interface.

by Brett (not verified) on 28. December 2010 - 6:38  (63383)

A vote for Helicon Filter

It's noise reduce looks basic, but has some serious features that I hope others may point me towards alternatives.
Example scene. - a sandy beach with blue sky.
Helicon allows me to de-noise only the blue sky and leaves the sand alone.

nice , easy , quick.

Brett

by Gary Borba (not verified) on 9. December 2010 - 14:00  (62245)

I recommend the Ximagic plugin at

http://www.ximagic.com/d_index.html

Maybe not the easiest to use but it make up for it by having several powerful NR methods.

Gary

by Anonymous on 8. June 2010 - 12:16  (51622)

l am image editor, l need image noise remover soltware

by Anupam on 8. June 2010 - 13:14  (51629)

This article is about noise reduction software. Please try anyone of the above.

by Anonymous on 30. March 2010 - 23:00  (46542)

An update on the free status of Helicon Filter:

Helicon Filter 5 Beta is available. Helicon Filter 4.93.2 is now completely free.

by tony on 30. March 2010 - 23:07  (46544)

Thank you. I shall look into that in the morning and assess is

by tony on 30. March 2010 - 23:11  (46545)

Ah well didn't wait, revision now completed. Thank you again

by Anonymous on 22. November 2009 - 12:20  (37098)

With gimp you can use Gmic software to remove noise..

by Anonymous on 24. July 2009 - 14:07  (25718)

another freeware DenoiseMyImage http://www.adptools.com

by Anonymous on 13. July 2009 - 8:42  (25010)

I am keeping an open mind on this one, Currently using Noise Ninja loaded with their own noise profiles for Canon 5D.

by Anonymous on 3. February 2009 - 1:35  (15186)

Tools or crutches; limitation or boost up. Using iso 3200 on my cheap 50D think I'll choose a boost up with the use of good tools.

by Anonymous on 24. September 2008 - 6:07  (8220)

The absolute best (non-free unfortunately) is NoiseNinja. I've tried everything else (including all mentioned above), and they do not compare. If you couldn't get proper exposure, then it is the only tool to use. There's a free trial I believe.

by tony on 24. September 2008 - 18:18  (8236)

As we only deal with Freeware this is not on the cards.

Tony

by JW on 12. September 2008 - 2:42  (7648)

I've used NeatImage Home version for years and am happy with it. The program gives you a lot of power but you have to be careful to not overdo the corrections . Too much smoothing makes the image look unnatural. It is best to make heavy use of the preview function to compare before and after versions before saving the final file.

btw: one major limitation of the demo version is that it can only save (output) to JPEG format.

by Anonymous on 10. September 2008 - 0:46  (7572)

Have a good camera, a knowlege of film AND digital presentations and you don't need to use the above crutches.

Be smart, be safe, listen to yourself.
Mike Roberts

by D200 (not verified) on 17. October 2011 - 17:35  (81605)

One man's crutch is another man's tool in making a better photograph. Did you forget or not know that Ansel Adams did extensive darkroom manipulation AFTER he made the exposure using crutches like dodging, burning, a microwave oven and probably more?

by Low light shooter (not verified) on 4. September 2011 - 22:22  (79001)

Some of us shoot in extream lighting conditions, so your comment is stupid, "be smart be safe"

by Shane (not verified) on 14. February 2011 - 9:34  (66400)

As someone else said, you need these "crutches" if you are doing certain things, especially rock concerts where the lighting is dim, your people are constantly moving, and the lighting is changing every few seconds.

You can still get some decent pics without using it, but your missing out on tons of extra pictures that can be used after a small adjustment.

by Anonymous on 23. November 2008 - 14:15  (10896)

So you are saying that everyone that uses noise reduction has a bad/cheap camera or/and no knowledge of photography? :)

I guess you never took photo's of a rock concert... Very dark mostly and lots of movement... And we don't use flash. That's not done, it spoils the atmosphere (most of time).. My camera is capable of high iso's and there's a 70-200 f2.8 IS on it.. And some people do not want to spend a few thousand Euro's more for a better picture...

You're right, knowledge and a good camera helps... but not always.

by tony on 10. September 2008 - 6:08  (7577)

Thats good advice Mike, unfortunately there are times/situations when it is necessary to use these crutches. I don't have the finances to have a good camera due to circumstances (cheap camera more noise problems), or people may only use a point and shoot and find that they would like to improve an image of a family shot and it maybe necessary on a evening shot when you have to up your ISO. The crutches are there if needed. Mind you although I have only a Fuji 5600 and I have only had to use this once on a shot of a bird of prey tearing apart a dead sheep.

Tony

by tony on 17. June 2008 - 18:27  (2268)

Neat image is a good software and I have used it thanks for the link.

Tony

by Anonymous on 17. June 2008 - 17:48  (2266)

Neat Image is good. I started back in 35mm film days with the demo version. The demo is pretty much fully featured except that (if I recall correctly) it does not do batch processing and only works with 8/24 bit images and not 16/48 bit images. If you like it you can, as I did, pay some cash to get the enhancements (batch processing and 48 bit TIFF in my case).

http://www.neatimage.com/download.html

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