The 13 Best Noise Reduction Software Options for Photographers

noise reduction software

Image noise can be a nightmare, but it’s nothing you can’t fix in post-processing— well, in most cases. So, to help you recover your noisy pictures, here we will take a close look at the 13 best noise reduction software for photographers.

We all have struggled with noise since our very first days in photography. Many people are so afraid of it that they avoid using high ISO at all costs to minimize the risk of having to deal with it. But, let’s face it: sometimes there is no escape from digital noise, especially in low light conditions.

Fortunately, there are many good tools for image noise reduction, from free and simple alternatives to the most sophisticated programs for experienced professionals. They all have their pros and cons; you just need to find the one that suits you the best. And that is the reason we are here.

However, before we get to the 13 best software options to eliminate noise, let’s talk about some basic stuff you should consider.

Understanding noise in digital photography

noise in photography

First of all, although some people define the term noise as grain, they are two different concepts.

Grain only appears in analog photography, and it is a texture produced by the photosensitive crystals that cover the film. The bigger the crystals, the bigger (and more noticeable) the grain. It is also worth noting that films with larger crystals are more sensitive, so they are associated with very high ISO values.

On the other side, digital noise is an unwanted signal that produces random variations of color and brightness in images. Like grain, it appears mostly when we work with high ISO, as we are “forcing” the pixels of the sensor.

That said, there are two types of noise in digital photography: color noise and luminance noise.

Color noise (also called chromatic or chroma noise) refers to hue variations between pixels. It looks like a kind of colored, unaesthetic grain that is most noticeable in the dark areas of the photo.

In contrast, luminance noise is colorless, and it looks similar to grain. This type of noise is related to image exposure, high ISO numbers, and the size of the pixels.

What does noise reduction software do?

What does noise reduction software do

Simply put, noise reduction software smoothes the photo to reduce the unwanted texture while decolorizing distorted pixels to match the surrounding colors. The only issue is that you might lose some detail during this process.

However, today you can find high-grade noise reduction tools equipped with AI features and advanced algorithms to remove both luminance and color noise while preserving image quality.

Of course, for best results, you must shoot RAW and try to get as much quality as possible in-camera. That aside, you should have realistic expectations and understand that there would be situations in which you will have to live with a bit of noise. After all, there is no magic solution that can fix a bad photo.

13 Best Noise Reduction Software in 2021

Now that we know what causes noise, it’s time to talk about the best noise reduction software for photographers.

Here is a varied list of 13 great picks to suit all budgets— including free online alternatives! Plus, they all offer free trials, so you can test them before making a decision.

Let’s start with one of the most common programs among hobbyists and professionals:

Adobe Lightroom Classic

adobe lightroom classic

Price: various subscription plans from $9.99/month

Compatibility: Windows and Mac

Website: Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is a well-known photo editing software that offers two types of noise reduction (color and luminance) so you can fine-tune all the details you want.

Reducing noise in Lightroom is super easy and effective, and since you probably already have it installed, it’s one of the most convenient options to get noise-free images. You just need to open the Detail panel in the Develop module and use the Noise Reduction sliders until you are satisfied with the results.

In general, Lightroom provides handy tools to deal with general noise and works perfectly for most situations. Yet, it’s quite limited compared to other programs. Luckily, you can always install a noise reduction plugin if you want more advanced features.

Pros:

  • Good noise reduction options.
  • Detail slider to recover some information in the photo.
  • Batch processing.
  • Complete program for a smooth workflow.

Cons:

  • Lightroom noise reduction performance is not as effective as other programs.
  • Requires subscription.
  • Doesn’t allow selective noise removal.

Adobe Photoshop

adobe photoshop

Price: various subscription plans from $9.99/month

Compatibility: Windows and Mac

Website: Adobe Photoshop

Along with Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop is a practical alternative to remove noise if you already use Adobe software. The nice thing about Photoshop is that it allows you to apply noise reduction selectively by creating masks and using RGB channels. On top of that, you can stack several images and use more advanced techniques to reduce noise.

When you open your RAW files in Photoshop, you can first process general noise reduction in Camera Raw exactly as you would do on Lightroom. Then, you can apply a noise reduction filter and play around with other tools to control the amount of noise. To do so, go to Filter > Noise > Reduce noise.

Photoshop allows you to adjust the intensity of the noise reduction filters and it provides pretty decent results. However, as it is best suited for professional photographers, it might be a bit difficult to understand for beginners. Besides, Photoshop is not a dedicated noise reduction software, so it’s best to use plugins for more advanced tools.

Pros:

  • Allows selective noise reduction and more control over your images.
  • Includes countless features for high-end retouching.

Cons:

  • Difficult to learn.
  • Requires subscription.

Topaz DeNoise AI

Topaz DeNoise AI

Price: $79.99

Compatibility: Windows and Mac

Website: Topaz DeNoise

Topaz DeNoise AI is, without a doubt, the best noise reduction software in 2021. It uses artificial intelligence to detect and reduce the noise in your pictures while preserving detail— and the results are outstanding! It works as a stand-alone program or as a noise reduction plugin for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

Overall, Topaz DeNoise AI has a user-friendly interface that allows you to enhance your photos just by moving a few sliders. It is worth mentioning that the Color Noise Reduction slider does an impressive job at eliminating chromatic noise without effort.

If you want to know more about Topaz DeNoise AI and what makes it the best noise reduction software, check our full review here.

Pros:

  • Simple and user-friendly.
  • Complete noise reduction tool.
  • Batch processing.
  • Works as a noise reduction plugin too.

Cons:

  • Expensive for a dedicated noise reduction software.
  • Needs high system requirements for a smooth performance.

Besides Topaz DeNoise AI, Topaz Labs also develops other great photo editing solutions. If you are curious, take a look at our Sharpen AI and Gigapixel AI reviews.

Skylum Luminar

Skylum Luminar

Price: $89

Compatibility: Windows and Mac

Website: Skylum Luminar

Luminar is a great alternative to Lightroom, and it offers a simple noise reduction tool to handle digital noise. Plus, you can apply masks and create layers for selective, non-destructive editing. It works as a stand-alone program or as a plugin for Adobe and Apple products.

To remove noise in Luminar, use the Denoise filter and move the Luminosity and Color sliders. It’s as easy as that.

Pros:

  • Easy to use.
  • Great tools for non-destructive editing and image organization.
  • Cheaper than Lightroom.

Cons:

  • Limited noise reduction features.

By the way, if you are wondering what else you can do with Luminar, read our in-depth Luminar 4 review and download the free trial version!

Nik Dfine

Nik Dfine

Price: $149 for the Nik Collection

Compatibility: Windows and Mac

Website: Nik Dfine

Included in the Nik Collection, Dfine is a noise reduction plugin for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, and DxO PhotoLab. It uses an advanced algorithm to reduce color and luminance noise automatically without losing detail. Moreover, you can apply further manual adjustments and selective noise reduction anywhere in the image.

Pros:

  • Clean interface.
  • Automatic noise reduction works fine.
  • Offers selective noise reduction tools.

Cons:

  • You can’t buy it separately.
  • A bit pricey.

Capture One

Capture One

Price: subscription plans from $19.99/month or perpetual licenses from $199

Compatibility: Windows and Mac

Website: Capture One

Aimed at professional photographers, Capture One is a solid editing program that includes many useful features for image retouching and management.

Capture One noise reduction tools are powerful and easy to use. Its Luminance slider does a superb job eliminating grainy textures, while the Detail and Color sliders recover distorted information. On top of that, there is a Single Pixel slider that tackles hot pixels.

Pros:

  • Several editing tools for professional post-processing.
  • Great noise reduction options.
  • Complete program for a smooth workflow.

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Difficult to learn.

DxO PhotoLab

DxO PhotoLab

Price: $129 for the Essential edition / $199 for the Elite edition

Compatibility: Windows and Mac

Website: DxO PhotoLab

DxO PhotoLab is another Lightroom alternative equipped with very compelling features. In terms of noise reduction software, it uses AI-powered DeepPRIME technology to handle digital noise in one single step. Besides, you also get to tweak all the adjustments you need using its intuitive sliders.

Pros:

  • The Prime Noise Reduction function provides outstanding results.
  • Great editing features.

Cons:

  • Few workflow solutions.
  • Not compatible with third-party plugins.

Photo Ninja

Photo Ninja

Price: $199 for new license / $69 for Noise Ninja to Photo Ninja upgrade

Compatibility: Windows and Mac

Website: Picture Code Photo Ninja

Developed by Picture Code, Photo Ninja is a well-liked program to process RAW files. It emerged as an improvement over the older Noise Ninja, which focused exclusively on noise removal.

For years, Noise Ninja has remained as one of the best noise reduction software on the market. It provides excellent tools to eliminate all kinds of noise and enhance detail in a few clicks. Besides, it is a simple alternative for beginners.

Today, you can enjoy all the denoising tools from Noise Ninja in the newer Photo Ninja package, plus more functions for a complete editing process.

Pros:

  • Excellent noise reduction software with good tools for fine-tuning details.
  • Intuitive and easy to use.

Cons:

  • Can’t buy the traditional Noise Ninja as a separate app or plugin.
  • Lacks advanced editing features.

Noiseware

Noiseware

Price: $79.95

Compatibility: Windows and Mac

Website: Imagenomic Noiseware

Noiseware is a popular noise reduction plugin for Adobe Photoshop. It is fast, effective, and easy to use. One of its main features is that it includes presets to deal with noise in different situations without compromising image quality. Moreover, it has other options for manual adjustments and detail enhancement.

In essence, Noiseware is a solid choice if you would like to invest in a Photoshop plugin instead of a dedicated noise reduction software.

Pros:

  • Quick and easy to use.
  • Includes presets.
  • Provides beautiful results.

Cons:

  • Only available as a noise reduction plugin for Photoshop.
  • A bit pricey.

Neat Image

Neat Image

Price: $39.90 for the Home version / $69.90 for the Pro version

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, and Linux

Website: Neat Image

Neat Image is another great noise reduction software that offers outstanding performance at a reasonable price. It is available as a stand-alone program or as a plugin for Adobe Photoshop.

You can buy Neat Image in two versions: Home and Pro. The Home version supports 8-bit images and has batch processing of up to 100 pictures. It is a nice, affordable choice if you don’t need anything fancy. On the other hand, the Pro version supports 16-bit / 32-bit images, has unlimited batch processing, and it’s licensed for commercial use. Of course, it is a better alternative for professionals.

Neat Image is definitely one of the best software options for noise reduction. It has plenty of functions to give you absolute control over the noise removal process. Nevertheless, it might be overwhelming for inexperienced users.

Pros:

  • One of the best noise reduction software for photographers.
  • Affordable.
  • Wide variety of tools to adjust noise reduction.

Cons:

  • The interface can be confusing for beginners.

WidsMob Denoise

WidsMob Denoise

Price: $35.99 for a lifetime license / $25.99 for a one-year license

Compatibility: Windows and Mac

Website: WidsMob Denoise

In short, WidsMob Denoise is a good choice for those who want a simple, user-friendly solution. It sells as a versatile noise reduction software for smartphones and camcorders, and it supports many image formats, including RAW files.

WidsMob Denoise has intuitive controls to handle chromatic and luminance noise, as well as a Sharpening slider to recover detail. It also has face detection for portraits and provides a few options to soften the face and remove blemishes and wrinkles.

Pros:

  • Intuitive and easy to use.
  • Supports common formats.
  • Batch processing.

Cons:

  • Limited functions to adjust noise reduction.

Imglarger AI Image Denoiser

Imglarger AI Image Denoiser

Price: free

Compatibility: online

Website: Imglarger AI Image Denoiser

If you want a free, quick, one-click solution, Imglarger AI Image Denoiser might be your choice. This online noise reduction software uses artificial intelligence to detect and remove noise from your photos in a matter of seconds. You just have to upload an image, wait, and download the results. It is that simple.

This might not be the best noise reduction software for photographers, but it’s a decent program for the average consumer.

Pros:

  • Free, online, simple software.
  • AI-powered.
  • Automatic noise removal.

Cons:

  • Only supports JPG and PNG images up to 5MB.
  • Doesn’t provide manual adjustments.
  • Not 100% reliable.

Vance AI Image Denoiser

Vance AI Image Denoiser

Price: free for a limited version / paid plans from $9.90 per month

Compatibility: online

Website: Vance AI image denoiser

Vance AI is another online noise reduction software that uses artificial intelligence to denoise pictures automatically. It does an impressive job despite being an online alternative, so it’s worth trying if you don’t have a flexible budget or if your computer can’t handle a heavy program.

This image denoiser is super easy to use and provides outstanding results in a single click. There is a limited free version so you can test the program, but it doesn’t provide many useful tools to get the best out of it. So, if you want to use it regularly, you might want to purchase the basic plan. The paid plans offer batch processing, faster cloud processing speed, and access to more editing tools.

Pros:

  • Simple online noise reduction software.
  • AI-powered.
  • Delivers good results in seconds.

Cons:

  • You have to pay to get the best out of it.
  • Limited option for professionals.

Final words

Final words

Trying to pick the best noise reduction software is not an easy task. As you can see, there are many great options to choose from, so you have to ponder your needs and budget before making a decision.

All in all, Topaz Denoise AI seems like the winner in terms of functionality and value for money. Besides, you can use it as a plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop. So, if you want to invest in dedicated noise reduction software, this is the best choice you will find in the market.

However, remember that all the options in this list offer a free trial version that you can try before buying. Each program has its strengths and limitations, so it is best to take the time to test them for yourself.

Whatever the noise reduction software you pick, make sure it fits your workflow seamlessly. After all, it is not worth spending a fortune on a pro-grade tool if you don’t feel comfortable using it.

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it! And don’t forget to check our Photo Editing section for more helpful guides, software reviews, tutorials, and more.

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