Getting the best out of DeNoise AI

On the forum I see many posts about DeNoise AI not producing expected results. And these can range from inconsistent noise reduction across an image to no apparent noise reduction or even different results using different processing methods such as GPU or CPU/OpenVINO.

As a general rule of thumb I would recommend using manual settings or the AI Clear model if you don’t have access to the original RAW file of the image.

But the optimum way to to remove noise using DeNoise AI is using the DeNoise Model with a RAW file of the image as input. But there are many cases where our workflow does not allow this because, for example, the first step in our process may be using a non-destructive RAW editor such as Lightroom, Capture One, ACD See etc., etc. Or we may prefer the RAW processing in products such as Photoshop (ACR) or Affinity Photo etc.

If your workflow doesn’t allow you to use DeNoise as the first step in processing the RAW files there are some things that will help in getting the best possible noise reduction results consistently. These are:

  1. Do not apply Noise Reduction or Sharpening before exporting the image to process in DeNoise AI. For example, in ACR, Lightroom, Capture One, Affinity Photo turn off the Noise Reduction & Sharpening before developing or exporting the RAW image.

  2. If you are exporting from say Lightroom or Capture One etc., please make sure you choose a lossless format to export. By that I mean a TIF/TIFF, PNG or JPG/JPEG of 100% quality.

To give you an example of the differences here is the same image exported from Capture One and processed in DeNoise AI. The first is a JPG with Noise reduction and Sharpening applied to a file of 50% quality whereas the second is a JPG of 100% quality with Noise Reduction and Sharpening turned off before export. And, as you can see there is a big difference in the result using Auto settings in DeNoise AI (note disregard the Color Noise in the 100% quality image):

JPG exported at 50% quality, with Noise Reduction and Sharpening applied

JPG exported at 100% quality, NO Noise Reduction or Sharpening applied

Note FYI I did not apply manual Chroma noise reduction in this example just to see the difference.

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Thanks- v helpful!

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I am not disagreeing with Don, because I always find his advice clear, useful, accurate, and I always appreciate the time he spends to help me when needed. I’m just offering these remarks as other information which you may find useful.

As another workaround allowing you to use DeNoise as the first step in processing RAW files, let me explain another alternative.

DeNoise, at least for me anyway, is doing such a good job in the latest versions that I’ve arrived at the point when I have many photos to process, I now batch process all my RAW photos through DeNoise as my very first step in processing them.

I’m finding that this is not, in general, harming photos that have no obviously visible noise and in most cases actually even improves them. So I’m not even bothering anymore to waste the considerable time it takes to go through a hundred or more images just to try to search out the noisy ones and process them separately. Consider this: I used this method with the 4300+ photos I came back with from a trip to Italy last September. OK there were actually more but just to simply visually scan through 4300 photos at the rate of one per second would still take 71 minutes. It takes much longer than that to simply determine if an image contains any noise at all, and you could be wrong if you determine there isn’t any.
So, I just batch process them all through, using the DeNoise settings I find I’m use the most, and then I do a quick before and after a visual scan and compare the RAW with the DeNoise processed image to see if there was any unintended mess up on any of the photos. Here’s how I accomplish that----
When I run the images through Denoise, I have the processed images go into a separate folder as a Tiff. I could just as easily send them back to the same folder but I don’t like to take any chances with my RAW files. I open up a window for the Raw images and a separate window for the processed ones, both next to each other on the same monitor even though I do have others. It’s simple to switch to the next image by just clicking the arrow that appears on the right side of each window, or the next image button at the bottom of the window depending on what program you use to display your images. Two simple clicks and I’m able to compare the next RAW and Processed image. Once in a while I’ll find one that isn’t the way I hoped it would turn out and then put the RAW version of that one back into DeNoise and use all the controls available there and make it right.

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Thank you! I think this post finally addresses one of my biggest questions when using Lightroom with DeNoise AI: should I zero out the noise reduction and sharpening sliders? RAW files in Lightroom automatically have the Sharpening Amount set to 40 and Color Noise Reduction set to 25. According to what you are said, I should turn them off (set to zero) before creating a TIFF file to send to DeNoise AI. So that is pretty clear cut.

What isn’t exactly clear to me is what the optimum mode to use when using Lightroom or other non-destructive RAW editor is. My confusion might have to do with there being a DeNoise model and the fact that the software is called DeNoise. You said to use manual settings or the AI Clear model if you don’t use the original RAW but then you go on to say to use DeNoise, don’t apply noise reduction and sharpening, and use 100% quality. My question is: do I turn off noise reduction and sharpening regardless of the model used (DeNoise vs. Clear)? Are you saying to use the AI Clear model if you are going to use Auto and use the manual settings if you are going to use the DeNoise model?

I believe the color noise reduction in DeNoise will only improve, it’s not there yet because desaturation is an issue, so I actually turn on color noise removal before passing to DeNoise.

Where there is a RAW image as a base export a full quality image and "Do not apply Noise Reduction or Sharpening before exporting the image to process in DeNoise AI. "

Where you don’t have access to the original RAW file, i.e. non-RAW cataloged images, then use the AI Clear model or manual settings in the DeNoise AI model.

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I have to agree it is a viable alternative especially for processing a large number of images.

Oh, OK I get it now. When you say “if you don’t have access to the original RAW file” you pretty much mean if you only have jpegs and didn’t shoot in RAW. So if I have a library of RAW files that get directly converted to TIFFs, that would be ideal. That’s what you meant by access to the original RAW file, not actually opening the RAW file directly in DeNoise AI. But that said, the optimum method would have been to open the RAW file directly with DeNoise AI.

Maybe that’s a feature Topaz can add: direct transfer of the RAW file from Lightroom to DeNoise AI. It seems like it is possible because other software (e.g., DxO PhotoLab) lets you do it by going to File–>Plug-in Extras–>Transfer to [DxO PhotoLab 3]. Then again, it’s no different than opening the RAW directly in DeNoise AI and making a TIFF and then importing that TIFF into Lightroom. It’s just that I do basic global adjustments (esp. exposure and white balance) to the RAW file first before sending it to DeNoise AI.

The little experience I have had with processing photos with color noise matches with what you say. It does seem better to set the Color Noise Reduction slider in the RAW converter first. The fact that the Chroma Noise Reduction sliders are outside the Auto adjustments seems to indicate there is no AI involved with that yet.

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i found that if I export image from lightroom with default 25 in color noise reduction and 0 in sharpening, it will have artifact easily with DeNoise model, especially for the human face, lower the color noise slider in lightroom can help to reduce artifact generated by DeNoise model
if i turn off the noise reduction and sharpening in lightroom, and use the AI Clear model, it always produces over softened image
it’s difficult to have a satisfy result with image exported by lightroom

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Note that there is a new release of DeNoise AI with much improved Low Light noise removal and a Masking option to target the noise reduction, greatly improved chroma noise removal also.

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The masking feature of DeNoise AI is quite appealing I must say. The RAW processing for Olympus ORF files is however rather disappointing, to the point of being unusable I am afraid. Lens corrections being totally absent for one thing has a huge impact, especially now that it has become part of the lens design to have PP corrections applied. Then the colors and even overall exposure require significant tweaking. So if one uses Oly RAW, I strongly recommend to process first in Oly Workshop, Olympus proprietary RAW editor to generate a TIF or 100%JPEG as an input to DeNoise AI. It is still up for debate if one should apply Oly Workshop NR or not before DeNoise AI. I have much further testing to do before I draw that conclusion.

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@Roger250 I agree with you on the Olympus ORF raw files. My workflow with these files begins with DxO PhotoLab, including its Prime denoise tool. Then there’s no need for DeNoise AI. I tend to use DeNoise AI as a plugin in Topaz Studio 2 for special situations that may arise.

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Some DxO PL users on DPR swear by: Prime NR --> DeNoise AI

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I own PhotoLab and do not use it because Prime noise reduction on my NEF files is painfully slow, DeNoise is much faster.

Doesn’t PL spawn these processes in the background? If I’m not mistaken? I’ve noticed it’s not super-fast, but not slow enough to where it causes a problem for me (obviously, on my system). I’m not sure if Prime-NR uses the GPU. Anyway, I use both.

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Very helpful. However there are at least two cases where your good advice cannot help us.

1 File is right out of an digital camera, so there is no RAW nor is there a JPEG without sharpening or noise reduction since the camera has done both of these things.

2 Scan of a printed image

Hence it would be very good to have DeNoise AI that was trained specifically for these two types of iamge files.

Thanks