I'm seeing that Lightroom 3 has noise reduction capability, but I'm looking for a good tutorial or other in how to use it practically. Can anyone out there point me to a good tutorial, or provide one here, on how to reduce noise in an image using Lightroom's noise reduction tools? Thanks!

  • 1
    bumped you over 7000 pts :)
    – ravi
    Dec 4 '12 at 4:28

The usual recommendation is to start with removing the color noise.

  • So you would move the color slider until you remove any visible color noise, and not cause any color shift to the photo.
  • Once you are happy with that step you can move to the luminance slider and again adjust it to remove the luminance noise, - you need to remember that when the luminance noise is being removed the image becomes softer, so you need to find a balance between the noise and the image softness/sharpness

Many people use mostly the color noise removal as it removes the noise that is the most typical to digital photography. The noise that is left after that step can be somehow considered as an equivalent of film grain, and it is more acceptable for people used to shot analog

  • And if, after removing color noise, the luminance noise is not "grainy" enough, you could move the luminance NR slider one step too far and then add some grain from the effects palette. Or you could omit the luminance NR and just add grain to hide the noise in plain sight. Depends on the original photo and one's taste, as always. May 25 '11 at 12:53

It looks like all that's needed to be done is raise the luminance noise reduction tool in the details section until the noise is gone. There's minimal increased blur, and overall, it's quite cool. I'm happy:-) Guess I should try experimenting before I go asking a question...

  • Probably true, but ACR/Lightroom noise reduction isn't up there with Topaz Denoise or Noise Ninja. Those are worth a Google and they have trial versions to experiment with.
    – Joanne C
    Jan 9 '11 at 3:24
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    I don't have any experience with either of those packages, but I will say that noise reduction in LR3 is significantly better than it was in LR2. It is very good in the latest version and that improvement alone makes the upgrade from 2 to 3 worth it in my opinion.
    – Daveorama
    Jan 9 '11 at 19:48

When comparing noise in images, make sure you're comparing your final output format. If you're exporting for the web, the reduction in resolution generally eliminates all noise. You'd have to shoot at ISO values beyond those that your camera auto-selects to see noise in screen-sized pictures. If you'll be making prints, make a few test prints. A picture that shows some noise when viewed at 100% on screen may very well look clean when printed on a large desktop printer.

I have the auto-ISO on my D7000 limited to 1600. I never change the noise settings in Lightroom. When viewed at 100%, pictures shot at ISO 1600 have obvious noise. When scaled to fit my full HD monitor or printed on A3 paper, those same ISO 1600 images show no noise.

If your final output does have too much noise, adjusting for color noise and then for luminance noise as kristof explained is the way to go.


In addition to Lightroom's luminance and color noise reduction tools, you can sometimes achieve additional color noise reduction by manually desaturating the color that is specific to the noise in your image. For example: Some image sensors produce a magenta grain under certain conditions. If color noise reduction isn't effective at targeting this grain, you can reduce it by desaturating magenta in your image using the "Saturation" slider under the HSL panel.

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