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So I took a picture at a high ISO value in poor light conditions. I can't retake it, the grain effect is bad, I'm aware this will never be a good photo, but I still want to make the best out of it. So, photo-editing software and... then what?

What filters/tools/techniques to apply to maximally reduce the ISO noise and restore the image to maximum clarity?

GIMP preferred, though if you know good techniques that work with other open source software, please share too.

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There's already a question about noise reduction software in general — let's focus this one on the Gimp and other open source / free software. –  mattdm Jun 3 '12 at 12:34

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I'm not sure about GIMP, I use Lightroom 4 and there is this wonderful plugin Noiseware 5. I used it myself and I got good results. Some report Noise Ninja to be a good tool too but I didn't try it myself.

I'm sure that you can do this in GIMP without plugins, a quick googling results that maybe helpful:

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Usually, the blue channel has more noise than the others. So an old trick is applying a slight blur to the blue channel might help.

That said, noise reduction software like Noiseware and Noise Ninja are so far advanced beyond this old trick that you might find it worth your time and money to look into a more automated solution.

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You can always scale down your picture to reduce noise. The scaling operation will average groups of noisy pixels, this cancels some of the noise out. You can do this alone or after you apply other noise reduction techniques.

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