Some very useful software has come out in the last few years for noise removal, and that has become increasingly important in wildlife photography with the higher ISOs necessitated by some of the popular new slower telephoto lenses.
In the last few years I’ve been happy with Topaz products, currently Denoise AI. But the other day I inadvertently shot a tree detail at ISO 20,000, just using the camera as a monocular to try to see if I had spotted a bird’s nest. It turned out to be an apparently natural mass of lace lichen but just for curiosity I tried Denoise AI on the extremely noisy image. There were some fine strands of lichen hanging down against the sky, and I was surprised to find the default setting of Denoise AI left areas of noise around some of them, even after I tried some tweaks to the amount and sharpening sliders.
The software has tabs for Denoise AI, AI Clear and Low Light. I had heard somewhere that AI Clear was an older algorithm, but I tried it and it did not have the left-over areas of noise. Neither did the Low Light setting.
These left-over noisy areas had been an issue in the past for me with earlier versions of the Topaz product but I hadn’t seen them in quite a while. So now I’ll look more closely and try the other tabs/modes if I encounter the problem.
So I’m just wondering about the experience of others. (I’d post the image but I deleted both the raw file and the .psd.) I always do denoise first thing into PS before any cloning or tonal adjustments might change the distribution of noise, and I try not to do raw adjustments that may boost noise in darker areas.