Night photography, fast moving objects, low lighting and other factors can often force you to increase your camera’s ISO settings in order to obtain proper exposure and focus. Once the image is snapped, you might be deceived as there is no evident noise within the image in your camera’s preview mode. Yet, when transferred to the computer and enlarged the grainy substance becomes more apparent. Luckily there is software out there to help with high ISO noise reduction, such as our plug-in, Topaz DeNoise.

This tutorial is aimed specifically towards initial editors such as Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw, which contain pre-sharpening and noise reduction. We just recommend to turn these settings off as well as black to 0 (which is automatically set at 5) before using DeNoise. Reducing the black slider allows you to see the detail within the image as it brightens it.

Preparing a RAW File for Noise Reduction in Camera RawAdobe Camera Raw

DeNoise contains powerful technology that makes noise reduction easy, resulting in a clean and clear image. Noise reduction is especially important when developing a high quality, large print in which if left uncorrected, will only become more apparent, breaking apart the image at large scale.

Preparing a RAW File for Noise Reduction in Camera RawTopaz DeNoise 5.1 Beta

Best practices point to conducting noise reduction at the beginning of the photo editing workflow before any other adjustments are made (photo adjustments only worsen the noise if it isn’t cleaned up first). But before taking your raw image into DeNoise, there are a few preliminary steps you should first take in Adobe Camera Raw to optimize the noise removal process.

When a raw file is opened in ACR, you may notice that some default settings have already been applied to your image, like sharpening. What sharpening does to your image is opposite of noise reduction; it enhances the edge contrast and texture detail, which also enhances noise. You’ll want to decrease the sharpening and noise sliders to zero under your Detail tab in Camera Raw as shown:

In addition, in your Main Menu, you’ll notice that your “Blacks” slider is automatically set to 5. Reduce the Blacks slider to zero to help bring out details within the shadows. This will allow for a more efficient noise reduction process when the image is brought into DeNoise and you’ll be able to correct the black level within the plug-in later on.

Preparing a RAW File for Noise Reduction in Camera RawA preset can be created from these settings so that you do not have to adjust the sliders every time you enter Camera Raw:

Preparing a RAW File for Noise Reduction in Camera RawFrom this point, it’s a personal preference if you make any other Camera Raw adjustments. Fixing color casts and minor technical fixes can be applied, however you’ll want to conduct noise reduction with DeNoise before any major edits are made (to avoid enhancing the noise artifacts). Once you convert the file into Photoshop you may opt to do major edits there after the image has been cleaned of noise, rather than doing them in Camera Raw while the image still has noise.

I might also add that if you are a Lightroom user only, these settings also pertain to the program and can be reduced to 0 under the Details slider. Within Lightroom you’ll want to expand the Details panel under Develop where there are similar noise and sharpness settings and set them to zero.

Preparing a RAW File for Noise Reduction in Camera RawHere is my workflow for this particular macro image of a flower, which was taken around 7:30-8:00PM with little sunlight to work with (ISO at 3,200…eek!).


1. DeNoise-> RAW strongest with de-banding preset applied. I then reduced the Correct Black Level to 0.15, decreased the Overall Strength to 0.35, increased Recover Detail to 0.45 and increased the Add Grain slider to 0.30 to add back in some detail.

Preparing a RAW File for Noise Reduction in Camera RawAfter DeNoise

2. Clarity-> Macro Collection-> Flower I preset applied, followed by a decrease in the Medium Contrast slider.

Preparing a RAW File for Noise Reduction in Camera RawAfter Clarity Dynamics

3. Clarity-> Overall Hue altered to 0.09, Overall Saturation increased to 0.05, Purple and Magenta Luminance sliders increased to 0.09 each.

Preparing a RAW File for Noise Reduction in Camera RawAfter Clarity HSL

4. ReStyle-> Nature Collection-> Guite Tiger Lily preset applied with an opacity reduced to around 55%.

Preparing a RAW File for Noise Reduction in Camera RawAfter ReStyle

5. Topaz Detail-> Reduce Small Details to 0 to help remove any leftover noise in the background. I then used the Effect Mask to brush out the small detail removal within the flower itself so that detail is not lost there. Press Apply and then increase the Medium and Large Details sliders to around 0.10 each, which will not enhance the noise (too small), but help to bring out the structure within the flower.

Preparing a RAW File for Noise Reduction in Camera RawAfter Detail

From this point I thought the image looked too soft, particularly the flower petals. What I did to correct this was use the Quick Selection tool in Photoshop to select the original purple/pink part of the flower and transfer it over to the edited image, aligning the two to match up.

I then reduced the opacity of the top layer to help blend it into the original image, which assisted in bringing back some of the original detail and texture in the flower without adding in any distracting noise. Here’s my final result:

Preparing a RAW File for Noise Reduction in Camera Raw

Before and After:

Preparing a RAW File for Noise Reduction in Camera RawIf you’re looking to learn more about DeNoise and best practices for noise reduction, check out these tutorials to become better acquainted with the program:

Introduction to Topaz DeNoise 

Mastering DeNoise: Building an Effective and Efficient Workflow, presented by Hal Schmitt 

Topaz DeNoise 5 Banding Noise Tutorial

Quick Tips – DeNoise vs. DeJPEG (extended Q&A session)

DeNoise vs. Adjust’s Noise Tool




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