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Noise Reduction with Camera Raw #1
Frank Schlarmann's picture
by Frank Schlarmann
July 14, 2010 - 12:16pm

Hi folks,

maybe vou’ heard it too. The noise reduction in Lightroom 3 is much better than in Aperture 3. What do you think ?
I am playing around with PS5 and when i am right, the raw processing in Lightroom is the same. Does anyone know a really quick and easy way to open a photo from Aperture 3 in Camera Raw ? I know, that you can open it in PS5 with Camera Raw when the photo is organized by Bridge. But i don`t want to go via Bridge with every single photo. Maybe there is a better way. And do you think Noise Ninja is better/same/worse than any Adobe solution when it comes to noise reduction ? I am really grateful for your thoughts on this.

Thanks in advance,


PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
July 25, 2010 - 10:50pm


To Trevor’s point, all the images in Aperture are already decoded—but I think you understand that. If you want to open a file managed by Aperture into a different RAW decoder, you’ll need to first File > Export > Master… then open that file into Bridge, or whatever, manually. Once decoded, if you wanted to bring it back into Aperture, you’d have to reimport it.

There may be a way to script this (in fact I’d say it’s likely). I have someone dabbling in Applescripts, I’ll ask them to think about it.

As far as the noise reduction goes, while I haven’t seen it myself, I have heard the same as you—that the NR in Lightroom 3 is quite good, and superior to Aperture’s. Naturally as with any software, there will always be features you want in the competition. Heck, I’m a Canon shooter and am drooling over certain Nikon features. Fortunately for you, it’s a lot cheaper (and easier!) to use both products than it is for me :) Clearly there are many features in Aperture that Lightroom doesn’t have, so it really comes down to what you need most!

I have used Nik’s, Noise Ninja, and I think others too, and with care the results can be quite stunning. Most likely have free trials; I encourage you to get those and try them yourself since everyone’s tastes are different.

Personally, if an image I shoot is too noisy, I’ll often go to the “just make it B&W and call it grain!” route ;-)

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Frank Schlarmann's picture
by Frank Schlarmann
July 26, 2010 - 4:46am

Hi and thanx for your thoughts. I know, it sounds, or it is stupid to transfer a pic from one RAW converter to another. I am a Canon shooter too. Unfortunately, my camera is not the 5d Mark2 with it’s very good low light abilities, but the 450d. So, noise is a problem sometimes.
I am aware of all the good plug ins for Aperture. But as far as i understand , they translate the RAW file into a TIFF file too. The great idea is more or less, instead of buying Noise Ninja, Color Efex Pro, Photomatix and other extra software, why not getting PS5. I love Aperture and i will never change, but PS5 is 64 bit and ready, while a lot of the plug ins are not. In my eyes Aperture 3 + PS5 + 27inch iMac would be a team hard to beat. And the 5dmark2+ 50mm 1.2 + 24-70mm 2.8 ++++++++++
I know, i know. It is a sunny morning in Vienna. I `ll better go out and shoot something nice, before ending up at Amazon hitting the BUY button till death.

Again, thanx for your time and your willingness to share your knowledge !!


PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
July 26, 2010 - 6:17pm


My pleasure to help. And I don’t think it’s stupid at all to want to use the best tool available for the job ;-) If you need PS5’s low-noise solution, you need PS5’s low noise solution. End of discussion.

Even if you do the decode in photoshop, it will still get converted to a TIF or PSD file. I suppose you could leave the CR2 file as a smart object layer (or whatever those are called) but once you’ve figured out your decode, that’s probably a tad unnecessary.

Anyway to the original point, if you do have a file that really benefits from the other decoder, then simply export the master, open in PSD’s decoder, save as a TIF or PSD and import back into Aperture—and perhaps stack it with the original RAW file so they stay together. It sounds more tedious than it really will be, I think.

good luck,
-Joseph @ApertureExpert

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Morten Scheel's picture
by Morten Scheel
August 1, 2010 - 7:52am

I’ve written an AppleScript that simply exports your selected master images to the desktop and then opens them in Lightroom 3. Is that what you’re looking for?

Bill Montgomery's picture
by Bill Montgomery
August 2, 2010 - 8:29pm

At least one reviewer, David Girard of ars technica, contends that A3’s noise reduction is superior, at least for high-noise photographs. He compares night shot coversions by A3, Bibble Pro, Capture One Pro, LR2, and LR3. He concludes that Aperture 3’s RAW noise reduction is the best of this group. He writes:

“Lightroom 3 has obviously made huge improvements over version 2 with its noise reduction… [But] Aperture 3’s results are better with sharpness, noise reduction, gradations of tone, color variation, and the richness overall is really exceptional. There are more blips that pop out compared to the Lightroom image, but the overall result is better and more film-like. Lightroom 3 starts to pick up a constant noise when I tried to go that sharp, and I couldn’t push the luma noise reduction any further. I’ve spent years using these types of denoise filters, and Lightroom 3’s noise reduction looks a lot like Noise Ninja to me—it is very good, but when you push it, the color uniformity can look artificial, like a hand-tinted photograph. I’ve had enough experience now with ACR 6 and Lightroom 3 I can say this is where it could use a bit of improvement. It’s very good, but it’s just not as good as Aperture 3’s remarkable high-noise reduction.”

Girard’s review includes links to high-res photos so you can judge for yourself. If you are interested, click on over to ars technica and click on the reviews tab, and chose the Lightroom 3 review. His comparitive look at image noise is on page 5 of the review. There is a similar review of Aperture 3 by Girard on the site.

Trevor Ager's picture
by Trevor Ager
July 14, 2010 - 12:32pm


I can’t comment on the noise reduction as I have never compared it with Lightroom.

As for quick opening of camera RAW files, I am not sure that you understand the Aperture workflow.
You would normally import your RAW files into Aperture which means that all the adjustments you make are carried out on the RAW file. You then have the option to edit with an external editor such as Photoshop and the file will then be exported to that editor either as a TIFF or PSD file depending on your preferences along with any RAW adjustments that you have already made.

Hopefully this will answer the RAW file opening but maybe someone else can comment on the noise reduction.

PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
August 13, 2012 - 7:00pm


Have you read the post “Canon EOS 5D Mk III & 1D X “Highlight Tone Priority” Aperture Problem and Solution”? If you’re seeing serious noise that could be the problem.

Be sure you’re signed up for the mailing list, too — I just pointed this out there as well, as it’s a pretty important issue.

— Have you signed up for the mailing list?

David S's picture
by David S
August 12, 2012 - 10:45am

I’ve been on Aperture since v1. There were many bumps along the road - most for me were performance related. Keeping the library on an SSD with the media referenced on fast drives, and at least 8Gb ram has solved most issued.

The only thing which still bugs me, and I’m not quite sure how to optimize my workflow is aperture’s less than stellar noise reduction tools.

Now with finally getting the 5D3 this week, I have the following to share -
Shot @ ISO 12800, 1.4 50mm wide open in near darkness. RAW+JPG.

The 5D3 produced a much cleaner JPG right out of camera than what I was able to get with Aperture from the RAW. Perhaps this is just me, but I’ve gone out to Topaz or Noise Ninja to clean up anything which Aperture can’t deal with (which happened often with the 7D). My thought is that it would be best to get the first NR pass during the RAW conversion - but Aperture actually sends a tiff out to external editors - so this is actually post RAW processing.

The shot below shows:
1. CR2 opened w/ ACR, NR applied, saved and imported into Aperture.
2. CR2 imported into Aperture, “RAW Fine Tuning (developing)” NR and Noise Reduction tool applied.
3. JPG imported into Aperture (as processed by 5D3) without adjustments.

I’m actually thinking of running everything that requires NR through lightroom, then going into Aperture for lib management and further manipulations. But all this round-tripping sure is a pain, time wise and disk space wise!

Any suggestions?

Perhaps this could be a good topic to go through in the TrainingSeries ?

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