Digital Gem Pro
One of the problems with the smaller digicams is that when you turn up the ISO much above a 100 they are prone to show colour noise and grain in the image. The small sensors and the desire to pack more pixels in essentially create the problem, though some manufacturers do seem to be addressing the problem with built in noise reduction.
The Digital Gem Pro plug-in reduces image noise and grain (for film users) and I applied it to a shot from a small sensor camera that was taken on Auto and therefore with boosted sensitivity and showing signs of noise.
I’ve shown a comparison screen grab in this instance to show the essential difference in the Pro and Standard versions of these Kodak Plug-ins. The non-pro version makes do with just slider controls for Highlight and Shadow noise reduction as well as clarity.
One of the things I don’t like about these noise reduction programs is that unless you control things they have a tendency to make your images rather ‘plasticky’ looking, smoothing over texture and detail. The default setting on the Gem plug-in did just this. However, with a few minutes sorting out the controls it was relatively easy to ‘tone’ things down and the clarity sliders helped in this, sharpening things up somewhat.
The above photo is a 600x400pixel crop from a shot taken with a Canon Ixus at iso 400. Noise and grain is fairly pronounced when the image is enlarged to 100%.
After using the Digital Gem Pro plug-in at is default setting and adjusting slightly the clarity slider to sharpen it a little, much of the colour noise had been reduced to a more acceptable level. I could have increased suppression but in this instance I felt detail was being smoothed over too much. Remember this is a crop and when you see the full image, things do look better.
Generally speaking the Digital Gem Pro version did a pretty good job and with a little time playing with the controls one can soon work out the best settings for a photo. For me though, I don’t think I’d be as happy with just the standard version.
There are also other noise reduction programs on the market which also do a pretty good job. Noise Ninja from www.picturecode.com
sells as a standalone or plugin version and the price ranges from $44.95 to $79.95 for the plug-in versions. Neat Image www.neatimage.com
ranging from $29.90 to $74.90 Both these programs seem to be market leaders and are, it has to be said, more sophisticated as well as cheaper than the Kodak versions.