Performance computing certainly matters when it comes to editing high-res digital images. Second perhaps to digital RAW conversion in time-suckiness is the job of noise removal. Picking out pesky grains of noise from a picture is an insanely processor-intensive task, which takes a ton of time.
Imagenomic’s Noiseware Professional Edition promises to be the company’s fastest version yet. Fresh off the multithreaded high we got from PictureCode’s Noise Ninja in April, we had lofty expectations of Noiseware.
To test the relative speed of the two products, we tasked both with removing image noise from a stack of 215 JPEGs shot with a Canon 20D at 1600 ISO. We used both an Athlon 64 FX-60 and a 3.46GHz Pentium 955 Extreme Edition PC for our tests. Both machines had 1GB of RAM in dual-channel mode and a 74GB Western Digital Raptor drive. On the Pentium Extreme Edition, Noiseware just barely edged out Noise Ninja, finishing our batch process in 20 minutes—about a minute faster than Ninja.
Things got more interesting on the Athlon 64 FX-60. While Noise Ninja was slower by just a minute on the Pentium Extreme, Noiseware was a full seven minutes slower on the FX-60 PC. The app is still fast, but Ninja obviously eats it up on Athlon 64.
For quality comparisons, we tasked both apps with cleaning up a candle-lit JPEG image shot at 3200 ISO. Here the two offered comparable results. Indeed we couldn’t say definitively which one produced better improvements—the results for both were pretty stunning. But Noiseware gets the nod for its user interface. Noise Ninja’s cornucopia of switches gets a little overwhelming — it’s a like being dropped into the cockpit of the space shuttle. It’s harder to get lost in Noiseware.
Of course, the best part of Noiseware is that you can use the “community” version for free. The community version doesn’t let you save your output to TIF files, but it does give you basic noise-removal and JPEG support. The professional, stand-alone version of the program costs $49 and supports 16-bit TIF images. The program is also available as a bundle with the stand-alone app and the Photoshop plugin for $79.
Our only major ding against the program is its slower performance on Athlon 64 processors and the lack of prebuilt profiles for existing digital cameras.