One of the new features in Lightroom 3 is Noise reduction. I had lots of questions regarding my post processing workflow and while I try to cover a lot of it during the Photoshop World classes, it used to come down to this:
Import > Crop > Export
Lightroom 3 changed all of that. It is now easy to add GREAT noise reduction to all the images from a shoot at the same time. 99% of my images are now shot with the Nikon D700, a real leader when it comes to high ISO / low noise capability. I have gotten away with not worrying too much about noise and noise reduction but when I started to use and test CS5 and Lightroom 3 I noticed a dramatic improvement in the noise reduction especially in the new Luminance settings. Most of the time when shooting concerts it means shooting at ISO 1600 and above which introduces noise. For those who are not sure what noise is, let me explain: Digital noise is the by-product of amplifying the sensor information so that less light (less information) is needed to get a proper exposure. The more you amplify the signal, the less light is needed. When digital noise is introduced into your image, unwanted color spots appear, especially in darker areas and in places with smooth tones.
In the past I found the noise reduction to hit or miss and each image would need to be tweaked individually in Photoshop or with a plug-in taking way too much time. Now I just add a little luminance noise reduction in Lightroom 3 and the noise is reduced but more importantly the image still retains the detail and sharpness.
Look at the face of Slayers front man to see that the skin looks smoother and there is less ‘noise’ but still great detail. This works great on older cameras as well. I loaded up some images from the Smashing Pumpkins that were shot with a D2x at ISO 800 and ran the new Noise reduction. As you can see from these two 100% crops, the difference is noticeable.
My workflow will now be:
Import > Noise Reduction > Crop > Export