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Author Topic: Which Noise Reduction Software for Film Grain?  (Read 4454 times)
mikeseb
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« on: March 04, 2006, 09:07:10 AM »
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Among the plethora of noise-reduction programs out there (I'm a Mac user), which do you prefer?

I shoot mostly MF film, mostly B&W, and scan with a Nikon 8000; DigitalICE and other built-in scanner solutions don't work on B&W film as you know.

I'm interested in subduing excessive grain in selected images. Searching here, I've found a lot of chat about the various programs, but this wasn't adressed specifically in any depth.

Thanks in advance.
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michael sebastian
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2006, 02:37:59 PM »
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Among the plethora of noise-reduction programs out there (I'm a Mac user), which do you prefer?

I shoot mostly MF film, mostly B&W, and scan with a Nikon 8000; DigitalICE and other built-in scanner solutions don't work on B&W film as you know.

I'm interested in subduing excessive grain in selected images. Searching here, I've found a lot of chat about the various programs, but this wasn't adressed specifically in any depth.

Thanks in advance.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=59516\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Mike, I've been using the plug-in version of Neat Image for this for quite some time now, and have been extremely pleased with the results. I shoot mostly 35MM slide-film, and lately it's been rare that I'm shooting anything slower than ISO200 as well, so grain has been a bit of a concern for me.

Neat Image is great -- I bring an image in out of Flexcolor (w. no scan-stage sharpening applied), auto-profile the image, and then tweak things until I'm satisfied with the level of noise-reduction vs. detail-removal (and to be clear: Neat Image is VERY clever at figuring out which is which).

Generally, I find I'll settle on something that actually does leave a faint impression of film-grain in the image (which I have always been very fond of), but removes some of the 'splotchy' look that the larger clumps of grain can impart. It's entirely subjective of course, and Neat Image will - if you want it to - completely smooth any and all noise right out of an image as well.

Once I've taken care of NR, I get to work cleaning and spotting any of the larger bits of dust and crap that Neat Image has left behind. I find running the NR filter prior to cleaning the scans to be helpful because it has the effect of causing the smaller specs of dust to stand out a bit better vs. when the image is still quite 'noisy'.. I try to get everything I can at this stage.

Then I run a Capture Sharpening pass with PK Sharpener. There's usually a bit of experimentation involved at this point to find the best setting in PKS, but (depending on the image content, of course) I find the 6x6 sharpeners usually work best for me because of how well Neat Image takes care of grain (and this was echoed in the "Near Digital Quality" article that appeared here not long ago). At work, I deal mostly with scanned 60mm B&W originals, and the 4x5 sharpeners are usually just the trick here -- actually, those look so great I think I might have to finally figure out what's wrong with the ol' Rollei

This sharpening step usually exposes a few more pesky dust specks, so I get rid of those too. Then I'll go back to a much earlier history state to make sure things HAVE actually improved on the image -- basically, I want to see a nice decrease in grain, while also gaining just a bit of sharpness in details over my original scan. Meanwhile, I want whatever grain I've decided to leave behind to give the impression that it's sharp. Or.. "correct" -- you know: as if carefully and painstakingly hand-focused through extraordinary enlarging lenses onto a perfectly adjusted grain-focuser     Output sharpening comes later, of course.


Anyway: Neat Image plug-in on the Mac = highly recommended.

I've been really really happy with the results of this process so far. It works wonders on my already noisy 35mm stuff, but we've also had some spectacular prints come back at work from MF originals handled this way. It'll take a bit of fiddling to find some settings in Neat Image that make it do what you want, but I have no doubt you'll like the results..
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2006, 05:00:49 PM »
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Mike, please see my article on all this here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/ndq.shtml

Neat Image Pro plug-in version is the way to go for this, followed by PK Sharpener Pro.

The other most prominent noise-reducing plug-in is Noise Ninja - ideal for digital noise, but not effective for film grain.

Mark
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
mikeseb
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2006, 08:09:23 AM »
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Mike, please see my article on all this here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/ndq.shtml

Neat Image Pro plug-in version is the way to go for this, followed by PK Sharpener Pro.

The other most prominent noise-reducing plug-in is Noise Ninja - ideal for digital noise, but not effective for film grain.

Mark
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Mark, thanks for reminding me. I searched here on "noise" and somehow still managed to overlook your article--which I had read when it first appeared! (My anti-Alzheimer's plug-in is obviously not working.)

Thanks to all.
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michael sebastian
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« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2006, 08:18:26 AM »
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You are most welcome Mike - yup - I know the feeling about the anti-A plug-in - when I'm told here in the house that I was told something two minutes ago that I don't remember being told about..................well, you know how it is.  
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
plugsnpixels
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« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2006, 08:06:12 PM »
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Just last week I did a quick test of all the noise reduction plugs-ins I have on hand (see link to image below). I used a 1:1 detail crop of a 35mm negative film scan, and in my experience it seemed Noise Ninja did the best job removing the grain and other noise.

For each plug-in I tried to balance noise removal with detail retention. Some software worked to a lesser degree than Noise Ninja, some not well at all (ie, Noise Fixer and Noise Buster).

http://www.plugsnpixels.com/misc/noisechart.jpg

Note: Neat Image was just updated today; I still need to install and try it.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2006, 08:06:53 PM by plugsnpixels » Logged

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mikeseb
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2006, 03:26:57 PM »
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Thanks to all who answered. I decided, basically on a coin-toss basis, to go with Neat Image over Noise Ninja.

Preliminary results are promising once I learn how to take off and land!

Now, for that digiback for the Contax. Oops, that's right, Contax is no good any longer....
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michael sebastian
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