December 4, 2022


Capturing Magic Moments

The Best Photo Noise Removal Software in 2022

4 min read

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are now everywhere in photography. I recently wrote about whether we should be concerned about AI in photography. My conclusion is that we shouldn’t do that. Today I’m demonstrating the power of AI in the form of a battle, pitting the leading noise reduction software against each other. I went through my raw images to find one particularly noisy shot to work with. Here’s what we work with: Ads

I’ll quickly explain what’s going on here. This is a shot of the Jökulsárlón coast in Iceland. It is better known as the Glacier Lagoon. I took this picture on a moonless night last winter. When I’m looking for the Northern Lights, I take quick shots to help me compose, and that’s exactly what it is. I chose this image because it was taken in the dark and that’s where we often encounter noise in our photos.

The loud photo information

Taken with a Nikon D810 ISO 8000 Aperture: f/2.8 Shutter speed: 0.6 seconds

You can see how much noise there is here when I zoom in:

The contenders for noise reduction

In this fight I use the following software and features:

I open the raw photo directly in any software without any prior editing. Where an automatic feature is available, I will use that.

I now go through each software and end up with a complete side-by-side 100%.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Sensei controls some awesome neural filters, but their neural filter for noise reduction is not available yet. We’ll cover it as this falls, but I’ll be using the Reduce Noise filter for now. When we see the full picture, the difference is barely noticeable. I’m a big fan of Adobe, but they lag behind on noise reduction.

The noise reduction features currently fall under the Filters section of Adobe Photoshop. They are all manual and give us the possibility to change them through slider settings. All other software I used in this comparison was much easier and more effective. We’ll see what happens when the neural filter lands.

Skylum Luminar Neo

The Noiseless RAW feature in Luminar Neo recommended that I use the High preset. The noise reduction took about 45 seconds and the result was pretty good. The expectation with most denoises is that the details will be softened and the pixels will appear “spread out”. That’s not the case at all with Luminar Neo.


The before and after pictures here show some difference on the 100% scale. The difference is much more obvious when we zoom in a lot (bottom of page). Luminar’s silent AI feature is part of their expansion pack. Their subscription model makes the extensions available to users as soon as they are ready to work on their $119 annual plan.

Topaz DeNoise AI

Topaz Labs are probably the most talked about in this lineup. Your ads will appear on all social feeds, and for good reason. Your AI software is powerful and productive. This DeNoise process was simple and intuitive. The software did everything for me and gave a great result, taking a minute and a second to complete the task. This software delivers what it promises, no frills.

I prefer this workplace. The side-by-side view shows a before and after, and the sliders and buttons are easy to see and read. It took a while for the preview to reach 100%.

ON1 NoNoise AI

ON1 NoNoise AI was almost instantaneous, taking three seconds to export the JPEG after clicking the Done button. There were no issues processing the RAW file, and I didn’t have to make any adjustments to the sliders. The preview was instant while the Topaz preview took about twenty seconds to show up. This means a faster and more efficient workflow. Great job ON1.

Another feature of the ON1 NoNoise AI is a Tack Sharp AI option alongside NoNoise AI. This sharpening cleans up much of the blurring that usually occurs in images processed with noise reduction software.

Results (click for high resolution)

If I had to pick a winner, I’d be torn between Luminar Noiseless AI and ON1 NoNoise AI 2023. Topaz isn’t bad though, so it’s really tough. The truth here is that all software evolves. That’s the nature of machine learning – artificial intelligence evolves over time.

What is currently the best option may not be possible in a few months. The same applies to the images that we transfer via the software. High ISO images and low light images can produce different results, and the camera and sensor also make a difference. All software is essentially an ecosystem. Just like when you decide on a camera brand, you are basically “stuck” on it. The same applies here. The good news is that Topaz, Skylum and ON1 all offer a free trial so you can test each software on our own images to see which works best.

Final answer for this fight:

ON1 NoNoise AI scrapes the top spotLuminar Noiseless AI is a very close secondTopaz Denoise AI is a very close third Still I’d use any of them anytime – they’re all really good. Each is constantly evolving, and their respective product ranges are constantly growing as AI is at the forefront of post-processing photographs.

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