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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos RAW, Post Processing & Printing 
Thread started 24 May 2011 (Tuesday) 23:35
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My Photoshop action for multi-image noise reduction

 
cptrios
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May 24, 2011 23:35 |  #1

Hi all,

I don't know how interesting this will be to anyone, as most of you are already pretty familiar with this process...but I made a convenient little action for it, so anyone who wants to save themselves a bit of time should feel free to download it!

For those of you not familiar with this NR method,it can be summed up like this: you take two or more identical-as-possible high-ISO shots of the same subject, layer them together in Photoshop, and use Smart Object blending to average away a good deal of their noise (anything that doesn't exist in all of the images disappears). It isn't the most convenient NR method, as it requires several shots (all of the ghosting, etc. rules of HDR apply), but as long as what you're shooting is fairly static, it is very effective and, most importantly, almost completely non-destructive. It's horrible for concerts and action shots, but perfect for low-light landscapes and portraits (provided your subject can sit still). And, of course, the faster your camera's FPS, the better. 7D users should have few problems pulling it off!

Here's an example, made of three combined ISO 3200 shots with shadows pushed just a touch. Before (one shot) on the left, after on the right:

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/png'


As you can see, what it has done is basically knock the noise down at least a full stop, if not more. It obviously hasn't magically eliminated all noise, but in the very least it's allowed us to be much, much less severe with any subsequent traditional NR.

Anyway, instructions are simple:
1. Open your two or more shots in Photoshop
2. Copy and paste all of them into one file, leaving each as a separate layer
3. Select all of said layers
4. Run the action! (I have it set to F12, but you can change that)
5. Unless your shots are PERFECTLY identical, you will most likely have to crop a tiny bit of the edges off to compensate for layer alignment.
6. You won't lose any detail (in fact in most cases you'll gain some), but you may lose just a tad of perceived sharpness. So keep your USM at the ready.

For reference, what this does is auto-align the layers, then combine them into a Smart Object, then set the smart object's blending mode to Mean. Not very complicated!

Note: this was made in Photoshop CS5 on a Mac. I have no idea how it'll play in anything else, so please don't shoot me if it doesn't work for you. In any case, it's not all that difficult to make yourself!

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tonylong
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May 25, 2011 00:32 |  #2

It sounds interesting, but maybe because they are compressed to a for-Web size I can't tell the difference -- maybe because at 60 I can't tell the difference?

Can you post close crops to make the difference obvious?


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cptrios
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May 25, 2011 00:59 |  #3

tonylong wrote in post #12474373 (external link)
It sounds interesting, but maybe because they are compressed to a for-Web size I can't tell the difference -- maybe because at 60 I can't tell the difference?

Can you post close crops to make the difference obvious?

Those are 100% crops! :lol:

Like I said, it's not magic, but it is a very useful, subtle improvement.


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bsmotril
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May 25, 2011 06:57 |  #4

Very obvious difference to my eyes, look at the inscription text and the blocks just above, and to the right of the text. Less noise while retaining all the detail. I'm going to have to try this out too, thanks for sharing.


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René ­ Damkot
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May 25, 2011 08:43 |  #5

This will only work for PSCSx Extended, as regular PSCSx doesn't have stack blending options.


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kirkt
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May 25, 2011 08:48 |  #6

tonylong wrote in post #12474373 (external link)
maybe because at 60 I can't tell the difference?

:lol:

Helluva noise filter Tony.


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Picture ­ North ­ Carolina
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May 25, 2011 09:15 |  #7

tonylong wrote in post #12474373 (external link)
-- maybe because at 60 I can't tell the difference?

LOL! Never thought about that! The most convenient noise filter yet - remove your glasses! :lol: And the greatest thing about it is it's non-destructive to the image! :)

Cptrios,

Thanks for posting the action for all. Your method looks like it works well, but achieving it (two shots) is an inconvenience and for stuff shot in the past, probably an impossibility (when only one exposure exists).

But a thought and a question. What about HDR exposures? Would it work with a set of multiple exposures, say, 1 stop apart? Perhaps in DPP cranking the exposure 1/2 stop up on one, 1/2 stop down on the other and using those two files? Or even just leaving them 1 stop apart? (Assuming, as you say, alignment and ghosting are not an issue).


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D ­ Thompson
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May 25, 2011 09:44 |  #8

René Damkot wrote in post #12475576 (external link)
This will only work for PSCSx Extended, as regular PSCSx doesn't have stack blending options.

lol, no wonder I couldn't remember ever seeing the Mean blending mode.:D


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cptrios
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May 25, 2011 11:06 |  #9

René Damkot wrote in post #12475576 (external link)
This will only work for PSCSx Extended, as regular PSCSx doesn't have stack blending options.

Aw, I didn't know that. Sorry everyone! And thanks for letting me know, René.

Picture North Carolina wrote in post #12475775 (external link)
Thanks for posting the action for all. Your method looks like it works well, but achieving it (two shots) is an inconvenience and for stuff shot in the past, probably an impossibility (when only one exposure exists).

But a thought and a question. What about HDR exposures? Would it work with a set of multiple exposures, say, 1 stop apart? Perhaps in DPP cranking the exposure 1/2 stop up on one, 1/2 stop down on the other and using those two files? Or even just leaving them 1 stop apart? (Assuming, as you say, alignment and ghosting are not an issue).

I know it's not super convenient for past photos (it works OK for me as my lack of confidence in my hand-holding ability leads me to snap two shots in a row whenever I have to take something at slowish shutter speeds), but if you shoot with it in mind you can get some great results. As for HDR...in theory I don't think it'd work, but it's totally worth a try. I'll give it a try when I fish out some exposure-bracketed shots.


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Kolor-Pikker
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May 25, 2011 11:13 |  #10

If you don't have Photoshop fancy edition, you can always use the poor man's method using layers: http://www.cambridgein​colour.com …image-averaging-noise.htm (external link)


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René ­ Damkot
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May 25, 2011 11:29 |  #11

Nice. I'd forgotten about that one ;)


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My Photoshop action for multi-image noise reduction
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