Noiseware CE (Community Edition) is a free program that can remove or greatly reduce noise from digital images while keeping the details.
It is different from most image processing software that employ simple methods such as median filters in that it employs a sophisticated yet fast algorithm that uses the “adaptive noise profile capability” and sharpening function to deliver excellent and quick results.
Image noise is a kind of grainy look/degradation that can be found on images which significantly reduces their quality, and is often the result of under-exposure (i.e. not enough light) when the image is taken. The good news is: NoisewareCE can deal with this problem extremely well.
There has been a proliferation of programs that manipulate, fix, sharpen, focus, and perform many other such optimizations and enhancements to images, so much so that when I come across image-fixing programs these days I largely gloss over them unless they have something that stands out.
I am not an expert on image filters and this is somewhat unfamiliar territory, but what drew me to this program was (a) the promise of a sophisticated filtering technology that is apart from what you usually get with most programs, and (b) the image gallery of results displayed on the developer’s website (see here, and here; click on the before and after tags under each picture for a comparison). Also see a couple of before-and-afters that I made myself.
More info on this program:
- How to use: simply load your image and process. Typically the only decision you will need to make is to choose a pre-defined filter from the filters list. Once processed you can save the resulting image, by default it will save under the same name and append “_filtered” to the name.
- Filter pre-sets: include default, landscape, night scene, portrait, film grain effect, and a handful of others. If you do not feel like messing with these, go with the default filter. (Note: the paid version offers the ability to tweak and save custom filters).
- Image comparisons: once processed, you can click on the image to show what it looked like before processing, and depress to see the new version. This can give you an excellent sense of the changes that occurred and the improvement in image quality.
- Formats supported: JPEG, PNG, BMP, and TIFF.
Differences between free and paid versions: there are a number of paid versions of this plus a couple of photoshop plugin
s. Differences include: the ability to processes multiple images in batch in the paid version, a “self learning” noise profile builder tool, the ability to create custom filters, and other minor differences (go here for a comparison). Honestly the only feature that I would want is the batch conversion feature. I might also add that the free edition features a splash screen that feels somewhat like a nag screen, but I’m willing to live with it and it’s really isn’t that annoying.
The verdict: this is a great program and a powerful addition to your arsenal of image-fixing tools. You will be looking at your image collection differently (forgive the pun) knowing that many of the images with blemishes and imperfections can be fixed quickly and easily. This program is especially useful when it comes to portraits/faces, as grainy images tend to accentuate skin imperfections, and NoisewareCE is very effective in cleaning these up.
Version Tested: 2.6
Compatibility: Windows XP/Vista, 256MB RAM, 10MB HDD.