#62 Reducing Unwanted Noise
While there are many reasons to celebrate digital photography, there are also a handful of challenges. One of the most common is dealing with noise in the shadow areas that results from high ISO settings or from low light. The problem with noise is that it contains both brightness and color problems. The good news is that fixing typical types of noise in Lightroom is a snap with the Detail panel (Figure 62a).
To begin the process, zoom the image to 100 percent to see the actual details of the image. Next, click in the preview window to change the zoom of the preview. To change the area of the image revealed in the preview window, either click and drag to reposition the image, or select the zoom level adjustment tool and hover over the image. As you hover over the image, the preview will be updated.
Next, use the Luminance and Color sliders to remove the noise. The Luminance slider controls noise caused by brightness. The Color slider removes noise that results from color artifacts by reducing the color variance.
The first image in Figure 62b was captured with an ISO of 1600 as a test and had excessive noise in the sky. By simply moving the Color and Luminance sliders up to approximately 20, the noise was successfully removed in the bottom image. But as you reduce the noise of the image you also soften the edges. As a result, noise reduction techniques work best in when used in unison with the sharpening controls (which will be discuss in the next technique). In other words, after you reduce the noise, be sure to go back and increase the sharpening to compensate for the softening from the noise reduction.