When shooting at high ISO, sometimes you just have to use noise reduction. But which program gives the best results? In his latest video, Michael Shainblum gives you a comprehensive comparison of the two most popular noise reduction tools: Lightroom’s and TopazLabs’ Denoise. He has put these tools to the test to determine which one is best suited for landscape photography, so let’s dive in and see the results.
Before we proceed, Michael gives you all of the high-resolution JPEGs he used for the demo so you can take a look at the details on your own. There’s also a blog post he wrote on the topic where he included the third tool: DXO PureRAW3. You can check out more examples there and see which tool works best from Michael’s experience.
Lightroom Denoise in action
Michael began by using Lightroom Denoise on a Milky Way shot. The tool proved to be simple yet effective, with a single slider ranging from 0 to 100. Generally, a setting of around 50% works well for Milky Way shots, while 30-40% works well for images with less noise. After enhancing the image, he made a comparison between the enhanced version, the original, and the manually noise-reduced version.
The enhanced Lightroom Denoise image showed a significant reduction in noise compared to the original. The image appeared smoother, with great color retention and detail. When compared to the manually noise-reduced version, Lightroom Denoise showcased more noticeable differences, with improved colors and details.
Next, Michael explored the capabilities of TopazLabs Denoise. This tool has a more complex interface, offering various models and customization options. There’s the “compare mode” for a side-by-side comparison of different models such as low light, raw, severe noise, and clear.
Depending on the settings, TopazLabs Denoise gave different results. While the “low light” and “raw” models appeared promising, the “clear” mode blurred out too many details. After applying the auto settings, adjusting the noise reduction to around 40% and adding a touch of “recover original detail” helped maintain texture and prevent excessive blurring.
The verdict: Lightroom or TopazLabs?
From Michael’s tests, Lightroom Denoise delivered better color retention, more details, and smoother denoising. Although TopazLabs performed well, some areas showed compression and over-sharpening. While Michael plans to use TopazLabs for its other functions, Lightroom Denoise is the winner in this comparison.
And what do you think? If you’ve used both of these tools, which one do you think works better?