Turn that noise down!
When you’ve pushed your camera too far, you get noise in your shots – but Lightroom has a host of tools to help you get rid of it
What is noise? It’s those splotchy uneven tones and random colours that ruin your image quality. Noise is the reason you avoid pushing your ISO. You even bought a tripod to get steady shots at longer shutter speeds, just to avoid bumping it up.
While grain in film looks pleasing and organic, digital noise is far less pleasing. Often situations require us to use less than optimum settings in order to get the shot. Camera technology has much improved, but having to push the image sensor still introduces noise. Noise displays in a few ways. Chroma noise displays as both random-coloured pixels in areas of even colour and as areas of colour differences when the hues should be uniform.
Luminance noise is based on variances in brightness. It shows where areas should be of even tone, but aren’t. Fixing luminance noise is done by blurring, so care needs to be taken.
Pattern noise typically exhibits as a criss-cross based on the sensor. It’s more visible if you push up the exposure on very high ISO shots. Lightroom doesn’t deal with this – but then, few editors do.
With Amount at 0, the splotchiness in the shot is visible. Using the window in Detail, you can see the effect as you make changes. At the default of 25, the chroma noise looks reasonably controlled. We’re not seeing much in the way of noise artefacts. By setting Amount to 100, you can see the full effect of blurring. While there are still edges, they’re quite soft, so it’s not ideal. By reducing Amount to 0, the noise in the image becomes apparent. The blue areas are now mixed with purples and greens.