Lightroom Classic: Needs Better Noise Reduction

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I really like using Lightroom CC Classic for all the great features in one place and ease of use, but it's seriously lagging behind in some important areas like noise reduction.


I recently bought DxO PhotoLab Elite for their "Prime" noise reduction feature, which is really effective. Unlike Lightroom, their algorithm is able to smooth out all the noise without affecting any of the details without much effort on my part. I really wish that Adobe would work on something like this so that the noise reduction and detail retention is as good, if not better than DxO Prime.

Here's a fairly low ISO example shot with a D500 at ISO 320. I recommend following the link to the full-sized image to see what I mean, because I had to downgrade the sample attached here to meet the 2MB max for images.

 https://3.img-dpreview.com/files/p/E~forums/60439284/6b101ea896124175a029ee56600569b7http: //




I know ISO 320 is pretty low and shouldn't have noise, but after adding sharpening in Lightroom CC, it makes the noise much more prominent, which prompts me to use noise reduction, which then degrades the details. It's a lose-lose situation.


In Lightroom CC Classic I had to choose between either a smooth background, or details in the feathers. I could not achieve both at the same time, unless of course I go in there and mask the bird and branch manually and apply noise reduction only to the background. This would take quite a while to do perfectly. It takes seconds in DxO PhotoLab Elite without any masking needed. All I have to do is adjust the slider to as much or as little noise reduction as I want. The difference in higher ISO examples are slightly more dramatic as far as detail retention goes.

Please try to match or even exceed this DxO feature! Would love to not have to go between programs for this. Adobe is supposed to be the leader in photo editing software, but it seems like it's gotten a bit too complacent and fallen behind on some very important features. Noise reduction is extremely useful, especially for crop and micro 4/3rd sensor shooters. 
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JP

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Posted 6 months ago

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Rob Rippengale

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I agree completely that DxO PhotoLab (was recently OpticsPro) has superior noise reduction. I often take an image from Lightroom (CLASSIC) into PhotoLab just for the noise elimination. If PhotoLab had a better catalog interface it would be serious competition. It also has a fantastic haze reduction feature that Lightroom (CLASSIC) struggles to match.

Adobe needs (please!) to concentrate more on improving the program and spend less energy getting people to donate their images to the cloud for the big Machine Learning project. The number of problems being discussed in these pages is astounding.
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JP

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DxO PhotoLab Elite can definitely replace Lightroom for some people. For low light & high ISO stuff, DxO just gives me better results than Lightroom.

I prefer using it for my Nikon D500 files since the D500 produces noisier files than full frame, but I still like using Lightroom Classic for my well-lit D750 files. Once they go over ISO 3200, they go into DxO.
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Alan Novak

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JP DxO Prime is most probably better, but the samples you posted are showing rather very strong oversharpening. So this is more about better sharpening? Also do you use  masking slider? It helps. Or try to play with detail and radius sliders. Personally I find sharpening and noise reduction good enough for my needs.

And another thing, more advanced noise reduction/sharpening would almost certainly have further performance impact on performance. But It could be optional so why not :)
(Edited)
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JP

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Whether they improve the sharpening feature or noise reduction, or both, it would make me happy. DxO is a slouch when it comes to exporting, but I'm willing to be more patient for better results.

I'm mostly satisfied with my Nikon D750 RAW files through Lightroom, but the Nikon D500 can start producing noise as early as ISO400, so if I need to sharpen an image for export, Lightroom tends to add more noise during that process. It's visible even when the image is downsized.

I've been using Lightroom for years and have experimented with all the sliders every which way. Just can't get some of these files to look as good as the DxO export.
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Stephen Cline

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I might be one of just a few but I'm finding that LR Classic's noise reduction is significantly better that what I could do with LR6.  Looking at your images the DxO is definitely the best of the three.  It does look a bit too sharp as the previous poster mentioned but that is something that is in the eye of the artist.  Thanks for your post though - it's helpful in many ways.  

BTW - Does anyone from Adobe monitor these forums?  I never see a post, acknowledgement or "we are working on it" from them.  Kind of leaves me thinking that they aren't following up on anything.
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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> Does anyone from Adobe monitor these forums?

Yes. They don't post on every thread, but every thread is read by staff, as well as many of their "helpers".
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JP

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Lightroom Classic isn't bad at reducing noise, but it's definitely currently not the best at it and could use improvement, especially when adding sharpening.

The image I posted is sharpened quite a bit, but only because when applying light noise reduction, Lightroom softened all the details, which forced me to increase the detail and sharpening, which then created more noise and artifacts. Vicious cycle. That doesn't happen in DxO.

I usually downsize my images to 2500px max so the over-sharpening of the original doesn't show, but the noise usually does if it's high enough. With DxO I wouldn't feel bad cropping into the image at 100%, because the artifacts are minimal.  With Lightroom Classic, no way.
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Rob Rippengale

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Agreed that Classic can usually perform accceptable noise reduction with some careful tweaking, but DxO seems better to me in various situations (when using their Prime NR, not their standard) and it is very easy to adjust. Perhaps an old hand could always do just as well in LR, but then let's see this automated. I enjoy the LR masking slider, with the Alt key showing the mask so easily. Three cheers for LR there. But DxO seems to have something special in noise reduction and dehazing. Sometimes I see what DxO can do and then try to get LR to match it so I can dump the intermediate file.

As for does Adobe read the forums, I'm sure they do but some of these arguments are unwinnable and people might take a casual Adobe statement as an invitation to an in-depth conversation. They don't have enough employees to debate every thread, especially with the latest upgrades and the unnecessary and aggravating name change. I don't want to say CLASSIC, I want to say LIGHTROOM as I have for years.
(Edited)
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JP

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Agreed. I've been using Lightroom for years, but have never been able to achieve better noise reduction + sharpening (without a lot more work) than I have with DxO Prime.
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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The Detail panel Sharpening and Noise Reduction controls are one of LR's most poorly documented (and complex) features. It's understandable that you (and many others) are less than pleased with their adjustment results.
Please try to match or even exceed this DxO feature! Would love to not have to go between programs for this.
If you can upload a DNG export of the original raw file with your settings and full-size DxO edited image file to Dropbox or other file sharing site I'll be glad to give it a try.

Please use the following LR Export settings for creating the DNG copy of the raw file with your Develop adjustments.

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JP

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I appreciate you offering your help. I don't think it comes down to my inability to adjust the sliders properly, but I could be wrong,... and if I was in your position, I too would want to have a go at the RAW file. :-D  Here's the Lightroom DNG:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/54r4lkor4g72qb0/DSC_5080.dng?dl=0 and here's the DxO 16bit TIFF file: https://www.dropbox.com/s/odlnmkq2gtaqsm7/DSC_5080_DxO-1.tif?dl=0
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Alan Novak

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JP To be honest I really don't see a reason to sharpen images that much. I prefer more natural rendering. I would advice to turn it down a bit. But don't get me wrong.

Here is my result at 2500px. With just sharpenig at 35, masking at 40 and luminance NR at 10 anything other at default. Resized with standard screen sharpening.

I don't see any significant noise and sharpness looks good enough to me. There are maybe some slight noise spots in the background (smoothness slider at 100 helps here a bit). Also you definitely won't see any noise on print.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/9xgesn9gjyklelg/DSC_5080.jpg?dl=1
(Edited)
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JP

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It's a personal preference. I simply see room for improvement when it comes to Lightroom Classic. At full size there's definitely a visible difference between these two programs, and even when downsized, the difference is visible (to me). I share my images on the web, not so much in print form. If I were to print them full-sized, I'd be more inclined to print the DxO version, not the Lightroom Classic version.

Now, will most viewers see any difference if I don't point it out? I doubt it. :D Most people are happy,... even thrilled with smart phone photos. I take it to another level, because I spend so much time processing RAW files.
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I finally had a chance to download and try adjusting the DSC_5080.dng file. Your Detail panel settings were pretty close to optimum, but other settings are affecting the image quality when compared to your DxO edit adjustments. The original image file is very low in contrast, color saturation, and sharpness so a bit of a challenge. Here's my results compared to the DxO edits and with no adjustments inside LR Classic. DxO edges out LR slightly on noise reduction and ability to over-sharpen the image, but nothing that would be obvious in a large print or screen resolution Export.



You can download the DNG file with my edits here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/a78v00of7gwf327/DSC_5080_TRS_LRCC_Edits.dng?dl=0

Some editing points:

1) I find the Dehaze control very useful with low contrast images like this one. I have created 0-100 Dehaze presets in 20 unit increments, which allows quickly applying and checking the benefit of using it on certain images. Hopefully Adobe will move this control up into the Basic panel under Presence.

2) The Camera Portrait or Neutral profile seemed better for matching the results in DxO. I used Camera Neutral.

3) 'Remove Chromatic Aberration' in the Lens Profile panel was unchecked, which affects image sharpness. I checked it! I also set the Vignetting
control to 50.

4) I used the HSL panel Hue targeted Adjustment tool on the background to match the overall color balance in the DxO rendering

5) Keep in mind you can apply additional sharpening or noise reduction to specific areas using the  local controls. I did NOT use any in my edits.

Seems like a lot of additional adjusting, but once you know what works it's quick and easy....and you can stay inside LR!
(Edited)
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JP

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Thanks for spending time with it. That's a lot of steps to achieve this result and still not be able to quite match DxO (at original size). :D The branch on the left is most telling. Much noisier in the Lightroom image vs. the DxO Tiff and the feathers on the bird are not as defined. As a wildlife photographer, I value feather details and if I can save a slightly un-sharp image, I'm happy.

 
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There's no question that DxO is doing a better job of noise reduction and sharpening with this particular image type (low contrast, sharpness, and color saturation).  From my experience more typical image files with better image quality respond quite well using LR's Detail panel controls, but obviously not as well here.

The only other suggestion is what has already been mentioned and that is try using lower Sharpening settings. This will reduce visible noise in the image and may produce more than acceptable image quality for screen resized images and most print sizes. Try using different Output Sharpening settings when resizing images. This has a much more dramatic effect on the overall image sharpness and is less likely to produce visible noise in the resized output file.

When you need more than that DxO is your "go-to" solution.
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JP

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Leaving images softer so as not to produce more noise is a compromise I don't have to make with DxO. I'd like that to be a feature in Lightroom Classic as well. :-D

I normally do not increase sharpening as much in Lightroom. Usually I don't have to, and I do use the sharpening feature upon export. It's just not as detail-producing as DxO. I'm happy with most Lightroom Classic exports, but many times it lags behind other lesser-known software, which is a bummer. With all the money Adobe is making, it's hard to believe they don't have the resources to work on such a commonly-used feature.
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Fuji X-Trans sensor camera users have been requesting better sharpening for years. Adobe introduced improved sharpening and noise reduction in PV 2010 and the current Tone controls in PV 2012. No sharpening or noise reduction improvements have been implemented since PV 2010 (June 2010). The Process Versions have been renamed 1 (2003), 2 (2010), 3 (2012), and a new version 4 (No Date) with the local control Range Mask feature, but nothing else added.

Just a guess, but DxO Labs and other developer's patents may be making it difficult for Adobe to implement significant improvements in this area. In addition camera manufacturers keep adding new features such as Canon's Dual-Pixel technology, which require dedicating engineering resources to figure out how to support them. Regardless of the issues LR/ACR sharpening and noise reduction tools are overdue for improvement.
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I prefer things even much less sharpened, especially I don't like the scatter produced by the Detail slider, nor the artificial gray halo by a radius larger than 1.0 along with higher Detail slider values.

Here is a side-by-side of the TS's DNG at the left and my pulled back adjustments at the right:

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Todd Shaner, Champion

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Steve I totally agree with you, but the OP's request was as follows:

"Please try to match or even exceed this DxO feature! Would love to not have to go between programs for this.

I was able to come very close to producing the same sharpness, noise reduction, and tonal rendering with LR Classic as the DxO image file. That said image images shot at higher ISO settings would probably exhibit lower noise in DxO, which is the OP's request.
Lightroom ClassicNeeds Better Noise Reduction

What you see inside LR at 1:1 Zoom view is not what the output will look like. Lowering the Zoom view to 1:2 will get you closer, but still just a guesstimate depending on the final output size and type. Sharpening applied inside LR's Detail panel (capture sharpening) is the first of three possible places sharpening can be applied to the image (Capture, Local, Output). When viewed at 1:1 Zoom on my 25" 2560x1440 monitor the OP's 5568x3712 image file is the equivalent of a 60" x 40" print. Who views a print this large at 18"-24" normal monitor viewing distance? A small amount of noise or softness in the 1:1 Zoom view image will not be apparent at a more normal size and/or viewing distance. In fact when resizing images for screen viewing the Export module Output Sharpening setting has more impact on the image sharpness than the Detail panel settings.


In the final analysis high ISO images that are very heavily cropped or printed at very large size for exhibition purposes will benefit from improvements to LR's Noise Reduction processing. I would love for Adobe to improve the Detail panel image quality, but it will probably require a new process version. With the rollout of LR CC and renamed LR Classic it's pretty clear where Adobe is putting its engineering resources.
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JP

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I did read both those threads and they had a slightly different noise reduction issue. They refer to long exposure noise reduction, which is not the same thing as my problem.

Long exposures often cause weird colored specs in images if in-camera long exposure noise reduction wasn't selected by the user.