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Like this article? We recommend Superb Noise Control

Superb Noise Control

The new processing engine does a superb job of controlling the digital noise that can mar low-light images. The most jaw-dropping results come when you combine Lightroom 3 with images taken with a newer camera that handles ISOs of 3,200 or higher. But even shooters with more ordinary cameras will benefit when capturing images in dim settings.

When you zoom in on a noisy section of a photo (see Figure 1) and slide the Luminance or Color control, the effect is immediate and startlingly good (see Figure 2). In Lightroom 3, two new sliders—Detail and Contrast—let you decide how much detail is preserved when you adjust Luminance (see Figure 3). The Color slider also has a new control for adjusting detail. Taken together, these tools give you far more control over noise than Lightroom 2 offered.

Figure 1 Zooming in to a 1:1 view to fix image noise, seen at right as colored blotches.

Figure 2 After working with Lightroom's Luminance and Color slides, the noise all but disappears.

Figure 3 Using the Detail panel's Luminance and Color sliders in tandem fixes virtually any image noise.

If you already use a third-party noise-control tool, such as Noise Ninja, you may be reluctant to abandon it for Lightroom 3. But having noise control baked right into Lightroom 3 makes for a very efficient workflow. For example, as with all of Lightroom's development adjustments, you can easily apply your just-so noise settings to any other photo. That's a tremendous timesaver when you have 400 photos taken at the same high-ISO setting.

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