Noise Reduction – Photomatix Pro
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The newest version of Photomatix Pro, version 4, now offers a very high quality noise reduction option. The previous version of Photomatix Pro only applied noise reduction to the merged 32-bit result, rather than to the source images. With the new version, you have the option of either using the older method, or you can choose to apply noise reduction to the source images, prior to merging them in the software.
You will need to set your noise reduction options when the Preprocessing window pops up. In version 3 your only option was to check the “Reduce Noise” box within the Preprocessing menu. Now with version 4, you first need to check the “Reduce Noise” box, and then choose your noise reduction options. You would first need to choose to either reduce noise on the source images, or on the merged result. If you choose to use noise removal on your source images, you can set the strength of the noise removal, as well as choose to remove noise on all of your bracketed exposures, or only on select exposures.
A common problem in HDR in general is noise in images, and the “Details Enhancer” method of tone mapping only serves to increase this noise. This is largely because it greatly enhances local details. So, if you already have some noise in your image, it will be much more noticeable when tone mapped in this method.
One way to help reduce this noise, is to convert your RAWs into either JEPG’s or TIFFs prior to combining them in Photomatix Pro. If this doesn’t work, then you will need to use some sort of noise removal, specifically the noise removal in Photomatix Pro version 4.
There are some things that can be done prior to combining your exposures into Photomatix Pro, which can greatly reduce or even eliminate noise. The first thing you will need to do is use a very low ISO, preferably ISO 100. You should also make sure that you properly overexpose the scene, so that your brightest image shows shadows in the midtones.
Also, Exposure Fusion may be a better choice over Details Enhancer if a realistic and noise free result is preferable. HDRsoft recommends in particular the “Adjust” fusion method, for achieving good noise reduction in the final image.
For more information, please read my comprehensive HDR tutorial and Photomatix Pro version 4.0 review.