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Learn Photography

Photoshop Elements > Noise >

Noise Reduction >

1 - Noise Reduction Introduction

There are four sections.

What's Noise?

(Short Answer)

When you take a photograph, the light reflecting off of the scene becomes pixels.

Noise is pixels that were not in the scene.

The noise pixels degrade the pixels of the scene.

When Is Noise a Problem?

Noise is not the problem it once was, as sensors and software have improved.

You need to know about noise reduction if you're using:

1) An older camera, especially an older point-and-shoot camera.

2) Very high ISO settings, such as 1600 and higher.

3) Long exposures.

What's Noise?

(Long Answer)

Noise in digital photography is somewhat akin to graininess in film.

Noise appears as anomalous specs of:

• Color, which are often green and magenta (pink).

These specs are called color noise.

• White and black.

Luminous noise is the white and black specs.

Example #1

Here's a gray photograph.


Color noise was added below.


Luminous (black-and-white) noise was added below.


Example #2

The photograph on the left was taken at an ISO setting of 200.

The photograph on the right was taken at an ISO setting of 1600.

Note the color change below.

q q
ISO 200 ISO 1600

Compare the enlargements of the photographs below.

q q
ISO 200 ISO 1600

The above photographs were made with an older digital SLR camera.

Newer cameras have far less noise at ISO 1600.

Noise Can Be Good

While noise is often detrimental to a photograph, noise can:

• Add mood.

• Make retouched areas look more natural.

Therefore, sometimes you want to add noise.

Go to Noise Addition and Restore Skin Texture.

Skip Ahead

You can skip the following technical section.

If so, go to Noise Reduction with Photoshop Elements.