Sharpening and Noise Reduction

Get more information on Photoshop sharpening and Photoshop noise reduction features in this free lesson.

Noise reduction

Some images may have a lot of noise, which causes them to look grainy. You can compensate for this by reducing the image noise, as in the example below:

images demonstrating noise reduction

Understanding noise reduction

When you apply noise reduction, you're actually removing information from the image. As a result, you'll need to use this feature carefully—removing too much noise can result in blurriness and a loss of detail. The goal of noise reduction is not to completely remove all noise from the image; instead, you're just trying to make the image look cleaner and clearer.

As with sharpening, you should always look critically at the image to see if you're getting the results you want. Losing a small amount of detail may be unavoidable when reducing noise, so you'll need to make careful adjustments to find the right balance. It's often better to remove less noise in order to preserve as much detail as possible.

When you use this tool, you'll be able to control many different settings, including:

Drag the slider in the interactive below to adjust the level of noise reduction. Remember, removing too much noise will cause the image to lose detail. Try to find a level that makes the image look clean without losing too much detail.

To apply noise reduction:

  1. Right-click the desired layer, then select Duplicate Layer. You'll apply the noise reduction to this duplicate layer, which will prevent you from accidentally altering the original.
  2. A dialog box will appear. Type a name for the duplicate layer, then click OK. In this example, we'll call it Noise Reduction.
  3. With the new duplicate layer selected, go to Filterright-arrowNoiseright-arrowReduce Noise.
    Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC
  4. A dialog box will appear. Take some time to adjust each setting, following the guidelines above—you can look at the preview window to the left of the sliders to see the effect.
    Screenshot of Adobe Photoshop CC
  5. Click the preview window to toggle the preview off and on. This is an easy way to compare the noise reduction with the original. To view a different part of the image, you can click and drag within the preview window. Note that you'll also see the preview in the main document window.
  6. Continue to adjust the settings until you're satisfied with the results, then click OK. The noise reduction will be applied.

Open the globe_building_fullsize.jpg example file, duplicate the background layer, and apply noise reduction. Adjust the settings to find a balance between noise reduction and a loss of detail.