16 September 2004
Digital Image Noise Filter Software

I like taking digital pictures and spend a lot of time trying to correct image problems in the computer.  I often use noise filtering software to make my pictures look better.  I recently saw a posting on an on-line forum asking about noise filtering software.  This person used Noise Ninja, and I have used two other programs, so I asked him to send me his original and the Noise Ninja version.  I filtered the original using Helicon and Neat Image and present the results below.

I used the following software packages:
  • Neat Image 2.1 from  The free version does the noise filtering but is cumbersome to use because it only works on one file at a time.
  • Helicon Noise Filter from has a similar free version to Neat Image.  The free version produces complete images but is cumbersome to use.
  • Noise Ninja goes a step further with the free version by water marking the image.  This makes the free version unsuitable for all but evaluation use.

The following is a 320 x 200 pixel crop from the image processed by each of the three programs:

Comparison Images
The original image is from a Minolta A1 at 400 ISO.  The noise is especially evident on the dark jacket.

Full Image
Noise Ninja looks like the least amount of filtering.  The jacket is much clearer though there is still some noise present.

Full Image
Helicon does both filtering and sharpening.  I used the default amounts of each to produce this image.  The image is notably cleaner than the Noise Ninja version.

Full Image
Neat images seems to do the most filtering.  However, it seems to go way overboard on this image.  The full picture looks almost surreal - more like a painting than a photo.

Full Image

I only used the default settings in the software.  There are many ways to tweak all these programs to produce different results.  Helicon seems to be fairly simple, offering only an amount of filtering and sharpening.  Neat Image offers far more options, from loading a pre-made camera profile to measusiring the actual noise level within the picture.

Ultimately, the decision on which software to use is subjective, but it seems that all three do reduce noise and can be used to improve pictures.

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