When it comes to low-light photography, the inevitable challenge to excellent pictures is noise. Noise is the commonly-used word to describe visual distortion in digital photography. It usually looks similar to the grain that can be found in film photographs, but if it’s bad enough, it can look like splotches of discoloration. Noise reduction is a big deal for many photographers, and finding a tool that handles that task reliably and powerfully is a real challenge. Macphun, the maker of Snapheal and other quick and simple desktop apps for Mac users, has just released their latest software addition: Noiseless.
Noiseless falls into line with Macphun’s philosophy on software: make an app that’s designed to do one job simply and well. Noiseless is just such an app, designed to remove noise from your photographs. Dedicated noise reduction plugins and the tools built into photo editing software are usually complex and bewildering, forcing you to contend with a big panel of sliders and parameters that sometimes make things worse instead of better.
Noiseless takes a much simpler approach. Instead of a bunch of panels and parameters, you’re presented with presets from Lightest to Extreme. When you load a photograph into the software, Noiseless automatically detects what ISO setting was used on the picture and how much noise might be present, and then selects the setting it thinks will provide the optimal amount of noise reduction. If you still see noisy patterns left behind, you can try one of the stronger settings until you get the “sweet spot.” If you want more fine-tuned controls, you can switch to the Adjust mode and get access to manual tools that set the noise reduction parameters.
To see the results, Noiseless offers several viewing modes. The default mode is a split-screen view with a “wipe” bar you can drag across from left to right. This way, you can see various parts of the image both before and after noise reduction, so you can adjust the settings the way you need to.
Another view option shows two versions of the image side by side: before and after. With this mode, you can see your full photograph before noise reduction and after, so you can get an overall view of what the software is going to do to your image.
Macphun’s Noiseless is available in both Standard and Pro versions from Macphun’s website. The Standard version is available on the Mac App Store, is $17.99 and offers eight different noise reduction presets. Noiseless Pro, available for $49.99 directly from Macphun, gives you two more presets plus the ability to work with RAW image formats and use the software as a plugin for Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, or Apple’s Aperture.