How to Reduce Noise in Lightroom
We all know what noise is in our world. In photography, noise is not much different except it's a visual disturbance rather than audio. We tend to refer to noise in an image when there's too much granular disruption leading to loss of detail or color. There are several reasons for why noise occurs, but we'll mostly be discussing what you can do about it using Lightroom.
Higher-quality cameras employ its more advanced technology, processor, and software to help avoid unwanted noise. However, it only goes so far. As you increase ISO, you open the doors to increasing the amount of information in the image. Unfortunately, that can also lead to increased noise or distortion.
Here are some things you can do:
Reduce Noise in Lightroom:
Unfortunately, it's practically impossible to remove all noise completely from an image. You'll need to do the best you can to get a crisper and cleaner picture with noise reduction. It's a tricky and fine balancing act so that you don't overwork your picture which will reduce the quality of the image. Too much noise reduction efforts and you will lose detail and color. You can, however, do some effective noise reduction in the Develop module of Lightroom under Detail.
In Lightroom, the Noise Reduction allows you to reduce noise with its Color and Luminance tools and their respective sliders. Color equates to the color to the granularity while Luminance refers to the granular detail. Thus, one smooths out the color of the grain while the other the grain itself. Just click and slide to adjust each one as you like. The advantage here with Lightroom is the ability to change these individually as needed.
However, Lightroom allows you to get even more detailed within each of these which is to your advantage:
The Luminance tool is broken down into three areas: Detail, Luminance, and Contrast and you can adjust each one. The Detail slider will adapt the threshold of the Luminance slider which focuses on the grain. As you increase the Luminance, the grains will blend together. If you do too much, you lose detail altogether. The Detail slider allows you to retain some of the finer details that the Luminance slider might have removed. Again, it's all a fine dance of balance!
The Contrast slider under the Luminance tool does just what it says. It changes the contrast of each grain fairly similar to contrast.
Within the Color tool, you also have three sections: Color, Detail, & Smoothness. Using the Color slider, you can adjust the grain colors in your image. Careful, because if you add too much, you distort and flatten the color. To change the color per grain in greater detail, use the Detail slider while the Smoothness the transition between colors similar to what the Contrast slider might do but with color instead.
Sharpening for Noise Reduction:
Sometimes, all you need to do is sharpen an image to improve it. Keep in mind that sometimes a little sharpening can get a lot done toward enhancing an image, but it can also add back noise. Try using the Masking slider as a way to add sharpness without eliminating any previous noise reduction efforts. If you increase masking, you decrease the distribution across the image. We recommend you try applying the sharpness only to edges of the subject (people and things) in the image.
A little trick is to press the Alt key while you move the Masking slider to reveal the Sharpening effect with white revealing and black concealing.
Presets for Noise Reduction:
Creating Lightroom Presets for noise reduction is not only useful it's time-saving and smart. You can apply a noise-reducing Lightroom Preset and further adjust if needed. As you become familiar with them and your ISO, you can save settings as a Preset.
The best place to reduce noise for an image is when you're taking the image rather than in post-production. Shoot at the lowest possible ISO and, hopefully, that will suffice. If not, however, post-production using Lightroom can help you reduce any noise. As we have demonstrated, Lightroom offers terrific capability with noise reduction whether you use a Preset or you work individually. Although, we don't know why you wouldn't use a Preset given how much they simplify post-production and save you time.