Revive Your Noisy and Underexposed Photos: A Guide to Adobe Lightroom's Denoise Feature

Did you capture a stunning photo, only to discover it's plagued by noise? Whether it's due to high ISO or trying to save an underexposed photo, noisy images can be disappointing. Fortunately, Adobe Lightroom has embraced the AI revolution, offering a game-changing solution through its Denoise feature. In this guide, we'll show you how to harness the power of AI to rescue your noisy photos.


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Why use the Denoise feature vs. manual noise reduction in Adobe Lightroom?

While manual noise reduction in Adobe Lightroom works well for photos with moderate noise levels, it may fall short when tackling more excessive noise. Consider a photo shot at ISO 12,800 – applying manual noise reduction won't miraculously turn it into a noise-free masterpiece. The fundamental quality and detail limitations remain.

On the other hand, embracing Denoise within Adobe Lightroom offers a different experience. It's as if you're reimagining your image, akin to capturing it at a lower ISO setting. With Adobe's AI technology, Denoise goes beyond noise removal – it intelligently bridges data gaps that typically arise during noise reduction. The result? Reduced noise without compromising sharpness, delivering cleaner photos while preserving essential details and quality. Adobe's innovative approach ensures that your photos maintain their character even as noise levels decrease.

With which file formats will Denoise work?

Before we dive into the details, it's essential to mention that the Denoise feature is exclusive to RAW file formats. Unfortunately, it's not compatible with common formats like .jpg or .png.

How to Use Adobe Lightroom's Denoise Feature

Step 1: Import Your Photo

Begin by launching Adobe Lightroom and importing the noisy photo you wish to salvage. After selecting your image, navigate to the Develop tab, where you'll find all the tools for enhancing your photo.

The develop tab in Adobe Lightroom
In the top right hand side of the screen locate the "Develop" in Adobe Lightroom.

Step 2: Access the "Detail" Menu

On the right-hand side of your screen, locate the Detail menu. This menu also includes the option for manual noise reduction and sharpening settings. However, Adobe has recently reimagined noise reduction, moving it to the bottom of this menu and renaming it "Denoise."

The Detail menu in Adobe Lightroom with the Denoise button
The updated "Detail" menu. Notice the new "Denoise"button.

Step 3: Applying Denoise to Your Photo

Click on the "Denoise" button, and an "enhance" menu will appear. Here, you can fine-tune the strength of the Denoise algorithm. Keep in mind that a higher strength setting will remove more noise but may result in some loss of detail and quality. Experiment with the slider to find the right balance for your specific image. Once you're satisfied with the strength setting, click the "enhance" button. Be patient, as your computer will take a moment to generate a new DNG file with reduced noise.

The Enhance menu in Adobe Lightroom
The enhance menu allows you to set an amount for the Denoise feature
Before and after using Denoise in Adobe Lightroom
Before and after using Denoise in Adobe Lightroom. Original photo shot at ISO 6400.

Note: The Denoise feature creates a new DNG file based on your original RAW photo, copying all previous edits to the new file.

Check out how I saved my photo

@jerrytakesphotos How to save a noisy photo? This photo has been in my archive for a while as I found it to be too noisy and dark to use. However @Adobe @Lightroom’s Denoise feature saved it! Go into Lightroom > Detail tab > Denoise. It will take a minute to enhance your photo using AI and will then output a neW DNG file with way less noise! #lightroomtipstricks #lightroomediting #edittipsandtricks #adobelightroomcc #photoeditingtips ♬ kendrick x radiohead - dwells

Pro Tips for Using Adobe Lightroom's Denoise Feature

1. You can apply Denoise to multiple photos at the same time

If you've encountered noisy photos from a large batch, don't fret. You can apply Denoise to multiple images simultaneously. Select all the photos you'd like to enhance, then press the Denoise button. The "enhance" menu will appear, allowing you to apply the same settings to all selected photos. This feature can be a time-saver when dealing with multiple noisy shots.

2. Start with Denoise

When working with a noisy image, it's best to apply the Denoise feature early in your editing process. Why? Because noise reduction can alter the tones and quality of specific regions in your photo. If you've already made adjustments, used the healing tool, or applied masks to your photo, these edits will be transferred to your newly enhanced image. However, there might be some discrepancies, so it's advisable to review and make any necessary touch-ups.

3. Embrace Realism

While noise reduction is a powerful tool, it's essential to remember that a completely noise-free image may not always be your goal. Noise and grain can add character to a photograph, making it feel more authentic. If you find that your photo appears overly smooth or artificial after using Denoise, consider adding a touch of grain in the effects tab. This might sound counterintuitive, but it can help restore the natural texture and feel of your image.

Incorporating the Denoise feature in Adobe Lightroom into your photography workflow can breathe new life into noisy photos and save those precious memories from the grip of grain. Experiment with the feature and discover the right balance between noise reduction and preserving the character of your photographs.