Noiseless: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Get the Noise Out of Your Digital Photos

Noiseless from Macphun
Courtesy of Macphun Software

I’ve been using one or more digital cameras for years, ranging from my favorite, a Canon DSLR, to a smartphone, or even our iPad's built-in camera. One thing they all have in common is susceptibility to creating digital noise in low light conditions. Not surprisingly, the Canon fares much better than the smartphone or iPad when it comes to low light photography, but it's not perfect, and since I like taking pictures in the dark (fireflies and distant thunderstorms in the summer, night skies in the winter), noise is always an issue.

But it’s not just nighttime photography; photos shot under other less-than-ideal lighting conditions are also subject to noise (unusually light pixels in dark areas of a scene).

That’s why I was intrigued by Noiseless from Macphun. Noiseless is available in two versions:

Noiseless app, available from the Mac App store 

Noiseless Pro, which is better suited for photographers using digital camera RAW files from their DSLRs.

Both versions are quite effective, but we'll concentrate on Noiseless Pro in this review.

Pro

  • Works as a stand-alone app (standard and pro versions).
  • Plug-in for Adobe apps or Apple’s Aperture app (pro version).
  • Automatic presets make quick work of noise.
  • Presets can be individually adjusted.
  • Full manual adjustments available.
  • Pro version can work with RAW image formats.

Con

  • Standard version doesn't have as many presets.

Getting rid of noise in a digital image can be a nightmare; I’ve mostly just learned to live with it.

Most pro level and some advanced image editing apps include some form of noise reduction capabilities, but for the most part, I find the results of such tools aren't very helpful. Unless you're willing to spend a great deal of time or effort on the task, the results aren't much better than the original image.

Noiseless is designed to do just one thing - fix noise issues - which it does very well. Its real stroke of genius is how easily it achieves these results, without hours of fiddling, or the need to first apprentice with a master of digital image processing.

Using Noiseless

Noiseless opens as a single window, with your image loaded into the center pane. Along the top is a toolbar that allows you to, among other options, open, save, set zoom level, undo and redo, and select presets or manual adjustments. The presets and manual adjustments are where all the action takes place.

Presets display in the far right vertical pane. There are 8 (standard version) or 10 (pro version) presets, ranging from the lightest settings to the most extreme. You select the preset you wish to try, and the results are immediately shown on the central image. The image also contains a divider bar, which you can drag across the image. The left side of the divider is the before, and the right side is the after. The ability to see before and after versions dynamically as you move the slider lets you see how the various presets will affect your image.

Each preset also has a single Amount slider, which you can use to fine-tune the preset noise reduction settings.

Advanced Noise Reduction

If Noiseless only offered presets, I would still find the app quite useful, but Macphun didn’t stop there. You can choose to take complete control of the noiseless settings, fine-tune all of the parameters used to define noise, and replace the noisy pixels with useful information.

Even better, once you create or fine-tune a noise setting, you can save the setting as a custom preset to apply in the future.

Noiseless Results

I was pleasantly surprised at how well Noiseless was able to correct noise issues in a number of images I threw at it, including my rather noisy fireflies images, as well as a few photos taken of our pets relaxing around a winter fire.

This was especially surprising, not because I didn't expect Noiseless to work, but because it didn't take as long to perform noise analysis as I've seen with other noise removal apps. Instead, the presets seem to quickly get you to a workable fix, which can then be fine-tuned, if needed. All in all, I found Noiseless performed well, especially for someone like me, a non-professional photographer hoping for an app that would help produce acceptable results for photos taken in marginal conditions.

Noiseless Pro is $49.99. A demo of Noiseless Pro is available.

See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks

Published: 8/22/2015