ON1, a longtime images software program firm situated in Oregon, not too long ago launched its new noise discount software known as NoNoise AI. As a longtime consumer of Topaz Labs DeNoise AI, it solely made sense to pit these two machine-learning-based noise discount applications in opposition to one another and see which one comes out on prime.
Earlier than diving right into a comparability of ON1 NoNoise AI and Topaz Labs DeNoise AI, there are a few issues to level out. First is a listing of seen unfavourable results from photographing with excessive ISOs in order that we could extra carefully study the outcomes under.
- Much less element and fewer sharpness
- Diminished dynamic vary
- Colour shifting and colour fading
- Scorching pixels
- Blotchiness or smearing, normally from in-camera noise discount
Whereas these two purposes primarily goal “digital grain” kind noise, there are different degradations taking place to a picture concurrently because the noise will get worse and, to an extent, I seen each software program purposes making an attempt to repair just a few of those as nicely, so I assumed it was value mentioning.
One other factor to level out is what the “AI” in NoNoise AI or DeNoise AI is doing. The applications aren’t merely discovering hidden particulars already current “behind” the noise and enhancing them. Simplified, the software program is studying your photograph, evaluating it to its huge knowledge library complied from machine studying to acknowledge what one thing ought to appear to be, after which replaces the unique artifacts with clear textures and particulars based mostly on its photo-driven libraries.
In apply, you don’t actually take into consideration this and to the end-user, it does simply appear to be authentic particulars being cleaned up and introduced out as a result of it really works so nicely (more often than not). Nonetheless, organizations just like the Nationwide Audubon Society, which simply hosted the 2021 Pictures Awards Contest, acknowledge the distinction and particularly didn’t permit “AI and machine-learning-based software program used for upscaling, sharpening and important noise discount.” In a way, it may be argued that the ultimate edited photos from AI noise discount software program are composites.
Options and Performance
Shifting into the comparability, I need to first talk about the similarities and variations so far as the structure, instruments, and file dealing with workflow goes for every software.
Opening every program, each have an analogous structure in default settings. The photograph being processed is oriented on the lefthand facet, the principle toolbar panel is on the best, and there are extra info and instruments on the highest and backside.
So far as appears go, ON1 NoNoise AI is by far superior with its minimal use of colour. Topaz Denoise AI however tries its greatest to skew your colour notion by sustaining a blue colour palette all through this system — a giant no-no for the enhancing course of.
Each permit colour adjustments to the preview background colour however, for essentially the most half, that is by no means seen until your zoom is backed out all the way in which and it additionally doesn’t have an effect on the panels surrounding the photograph. ON1 goes a step additional to offer a customizable accent colour, however this makes a minimal distinction to something.
Trying on the important instrument panels, we see a basic similarity in that there are instruments for noise discount and instruments for sharpening.
Topaz Labs has a further AI Mannequin part that has 4 choices: Normal, Clear, Low Mild, Extreme Noise. Normal could be on your common pictures with low to average noise. Clear makes use of an older Topaz Labs noise discount engine and doesn’t depend on AI as a lot, and this mode is nice for instances if you see a variety of inconsistent noise discount and artifacting launched by the AI fashions. Low Mild and Extreme Noise type of sound like they’d be focusing on the identical factor, nevertheless, in case your closing photograph is supposed to have a variety of darkish areas it is likely to be greatest with Low Mild.
Whereas Topaz Labs has one slider for noise discount and one slider for sharpness on the coronary heart of its program, ON1 has three sliders for each and permits for extra refinement, which is enormously appreciated. It’s extra hands-on, but in addition extra time-consuming. Each have Auto toggles that are useful to get a suggestion on the place to begin with the sliders. From my lengthy expertise with Topaz Labs, I do know that typically the Auto suggestion is totally off base, however it normally will velocity up the method.
One of many extra fascinating sliders that exists in ON1 NoNoise AI is the colour instrument (and to make certain, no, this doesn’t act just like the Colour Noise Discount instrument in Topaz Labs). I discussed earlier in my listing of unfavourable results of excessive ISO capturing that color-shifting turns into an issue. Colour noise can provide off a shift within the blacks and different colours get all light and skewed. This good instrument works to deal with that by offsetting these points. Typically in a decrease ISO photograph, the instrument isn’t doing any favors when absolutely lively, however for actually noisy photos it makes an enormous distinction.
For instance, under is a photograph taken with the Sony Alpha 1 at ISO 25,600.
The advised workflow for every program differs in that ON1 NoNoise AI prefers to work off of authentic RAW recordsdata whereas Topaz Labs DeNoise AI is usually set as much as take processed recordsdata. Topaz Labs simply launched model 3.2 which supposedly consists of enhancements to the RAW colour processing, nevertheless from what I might see evaluating v3.1 and v3.2 was a lens profile correction and that’s all. As for ON1, if you attempt to import a non-RAW file, there’s a pop-up message that claims, “outcomes from non-RAW pictures are thought of beta high quality and can enhance quickly.”
Topaz Labs simply wins right here, as it’s extra versatile and leverages applications like Seize One to do a much better job on the RAW processing. ON1’s logic is that noise will get launched throughout the demosaicing stage of RAW processing and subsequently they will get to it on the supply. What’s misplaced, although, is the unimaginable colour processing and RAW-level changes from applications like Seize One which aren’t the identical in any respect after ON1 outputs a transformed DNG.
One different factor to say because it pertains to workflow is that each of those purposes have superior masking skills to manage the place the noise discount is being utilized, nevertheless, solely ON1 may do layering inside the program. This generally is a massive benefit to those that want various localized noise discount and sharpening with out having to take care of going out and in of Adobe Photoshop a number of instances.
One different factor to have a look at is how previews are dealt with. Totally processing the pictures on the finish of the method can take a while, so previews permit customers to get however not excellent instance of what the photograph will appear to be. I discover that ON1 previews are snappy and replace in close to real-time when dragging the sliders. The draw back is that the preview accuracy in comparison with the outputted photograph is barely what I might name “first rate.” Then again, Topaz Labs previews take longer to course of and replace, however the accuracy is near the identical because the outputted photograph.
Since I’m the one doing the processing, right here’s my idealistic end result to remember: I imagine noise discount is a balancing act. Fully wiping the noise away till the photograph is a smeary mess of zero element is simple — any enhancing program can do this. What I aimed for in my testing was attending to the purpose the place the noise was diminished as a lot as doable whereas additionally retaining or enhancing as a lot element as doable within the picture with out getting “crunchy.”
This usually means I like just a little little bit of noise left within the photograph so it doesn’t look plasticky and doesn’t wipe away the wonderful particulars that profit from just a little grain-type noise. Noise current within the outcomes under is just not a sign that the applications can’t obliterate it, it’s a mirrored image of me making an attempt to get the best-looking outcomes whereas toeing the road of unpolluted, but detailed.
Within the instance photos under, I’m utilizing ON1 NoNoise AI model 18.104.22.16885 and Topaz Labs DeNoise AI model 3.2.0.
What I discovered right here was that I used to be in a position to get extra wonderful element out of Topaz Labs with this comparability. Nonetheless, ON1’s Colour slider was in a position to eliminate the excessive ISO colour forged taking place within the picture.
On this comparability, you possibly can see that neither ON1 nor Topaz Labs have any good motive to be touching the RAW recordsdata. Each are wanting sickly when enhancing off the RAW in comparison with Seize One. I say, let the RAW processing be dealt with by the professionals.
Whereas I feel it’s straightforward for the eyes to go for Topaz Labs right here as a result of it’s extra vibrant, relating to noise discount I feel ON1 was in a position to clear extra colour noise within the darkest areas. It’s only a disgrace about its RAW colour processing.
This one left me speechless at how wonderful ON1 NoNoise AI could be. Have a look at all that wonderful element introduced into the deer’s fur whereas nonetheless eradicating the noise. Topaz Labs ended up getting muddy particulars that I wasn’t in a position to finesse into something higher. There are elements the place NoNoise AI will get oversharpened in my view, however with masking and layers inside the appliance, it may be toned down on a neighborhood foundation.
As soon as once more, ON1 is ready to clear the colour noise higher than Topaz Labs. It additionally brings out particulars higher, however it does teeter on being too sharp in some areas. It’s one other spectacular efficiency from the brand new ON1 NoNoise AI when Topaz Labs DeNoise AI has been round for a few years.
It’s Within the Particulars
Right this moment, my winner is Topaz Labs DeNoise AI for being extra versatile in the place I can use it in my workflow whereas getting good outcomes a lot of the time. I discover the RAW colour processing facet of ON1 NoNoise AI to be poor, and it will get worse when Seize One doesn’t play nicely with the transformed DNGs as soon as imported again in in comparison with the digital camera producer’s proprietary RAW file.
That mentioned, apart from some quirks of utilizing ON1 NoNoise AI — like its insistence on at all times defaulting to the annoying split-screen slider and leaping zoom ranges after I didn’t ask it to — I choose its toolset and structure extra. I really feel like I’m actually in a position to hone in on what I have to do to get the perfect outcomes. I feel that when ON1 learns to take care of already-processed RAWs from a superior processor (it’s unusably dangerous if you attempt it proper now) then it should take over as my go-to noise discount software program.