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Making profiles with Neat Image 4

Discussion in 'Retouching and Post Processing' started by MiriamJ, Dec 17, 2005.

  1. Hi,

    Has anyone here tried making their own profiles for Neat Image? I was disappointed with the results, and wanted to show them to you to see if I was being unrealistic in my expectations.

    Here are 2 crops of the same picture at 100% resolution, one before, and one after, using the profile I made for Neat Image. The picture was taken at sunset, ISO 200. This was the noisiest part of the picture. You're looking at a rear window of a pickup truck as seen through the front window.

    Here is before:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    and after:
    View attachment 21031

    My steps to make the profile were to take a picture of the monitor that was displaying the calibration target. I had the focus set to infinity to produce the blur. I brought the RAW photo of the target into Nikon Capture, then converted to TIF. I opened the TIF in Photoshop, opened it with Neat Image and made a profile and saved the profile.

    The picture of the truck was taken in RAW, opened in Nikon Capture, converted using the same settings as I did for the calibration target, saved as a TIF and opened in Photoshop, then opened in Neat Image. I simply loaded the profile I had made, and applied the noise filter settings and saved.

    I saved both before and after TIF's, cropped and saved as .JPG, quality 12.

    I can see a slight improvement, but it just isn't as much as I had anticipated. So, am I doing something wrong, or is there just too much noise for Neat Image to handle automatically using a profile? Should I just be happy with the improvement? :confused: 
  2. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hello Miriam,

    The picture you show should be easy to fix with NeatImage. In your example I would try to build a profile using the picture, with all the grey area in the window it should work fine.

    Perhaps you used some sharpening in NC or in-camera? This would enhance the noise and make it more difficult to remove. Try to use the preview option in NI to see the effects of the different noise reduction actions (you can choose default or advanced options, or create your own setting and use that).

    The default noise reduction setting doesn't always work well, no matter how good the profile is. It's worth experimenting, and the manual gives some guidelines.

    I have also some doubts that shooting the monitor for a test shot works OK.

    In any case, when processing pictures with NI you should watch for the percentage indication at the bottom. A 70% match or lower is not so good. Try to get a better match by profiling the image and fine tune.

    Once you have an 80%+ match, see which setting works best to remove the noise WITHOUT introducing artifacts or blurring details. This can be judged only through preview, to my opinion. Watch several areas - those areas with lots of noise and little detail (like the grey area in the window) and some details.

    I haven't bothered to create my own profiles for my D70 - I use the D70 profiles that came with NI. However, I often profile NI using the image I'm working on, as this gives me better results.
  3. Hello Heiko,

    I should have clarified.

    I went to making my own profile using the Neat Image calibration target because I was trying to improve the results that I got from profiling off of the image. I normally do profile off of the image and it works fine, but I want this one photo extra clean as I plan to blow it up pretty large and print it out for my husband. From the Neat Image help files, they seem to think that making your own profile off of the calibration target is the way to go.

    The monitor idea came from the help files. Whether it works or whether I'm doing it right, I have no idea.:confused: 

    I'm not doing any sharpening until after I'm finished with Neat Image. The match percentage wasn't a problem. Since everything was the same, I was at 100%! :smile:

    I could play around with the manual controls, but, to tell the truth, they looked a bit daunting! :Curved: Are those the settings you were talking about trying?

    Thanks for the help!
  4. Hi Miriam,

    First off, nice to see you again around these parts: I believe we met at the Nikon Talk Forum at DPR in a previous life... Welcome here, you'll enjoy your stay: guaranteed! :smile: :biggrin:

    I tend to use a profile off the image itself (the auto-profile button up on top) and find the results substantially better than with the pre-made camera specific and lighting conditions specific profiles. And, that's as well as it should be, because an image specific profile analyzes the noise in that image, as opposed to a camera profile which is built to remove the average noise from the average image.

    Just my $0.02
  5. Hi Philippe! Good to see you, too. Those were good times at NTF, weren't they? I know I'm going to enjoy it here, too.

    That's a good point, about the profile analyzing the noise in that image.

    Thanks for the info.
  6. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    When you go to the processing screen (I haven't got NI in front of me - am at work now), there are some sliders to optimize the noise reduction. You can also load a specific, preset noise reduction setting (I think it's the option at the top). Try to find one that works best for that image. Then you can fine-tune with the sliders (see if one of the low mid high frequency sliders make any difference). Check the preview to see how it works.

    Sorry I can't be of more help. I'm myself in the process of learning to get the best out of NI.

    I'm still a bit perplexed that this rather easy-looking image (or detail) didn't come out OK.
  7. Miriam...I had no idea a profile could be made by Neat Image. I have this program but never attempted to create one. You did a fine job but if you can, sharpen it some.
  8. Hi Miriam,

    I concur with Heiko, but for a quick simple fix, I tend to use the pre-made filtering settings called "Advanced | Remove only half of weaker noise (keep more details)". That in combination with an image-specific profile usually does a very good job, for my taste at least: you don't get the plastic look, but you do get a substantial reduction, which would have cleaned up your example really nicely.

    I use the plug-in version of NeatImage, so from time to time, I even weaken the NeatImage filtering effect by applying an Edit|Fade in photoshop, immediately after NeatImage, and dialing down the slider, sometimes as low as 33%.
  9. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hello Miriam,

    I usually use the same "Advanced | Remove only half of weaker noise (keep more details)" setting to remove noise, as Philippe described. It's a quick way which gives me the best results.
  10. Melissa, Thanks, I sure will. :) 

    Philippe and Heiko,

    I really appreciate the suggestions. Here's what I did this time: I profiled off the picture, then went to my filter presets and choose remove only half of weaker noise (keep fewer details). Then, while looking at a preview screen, I played with the high, mid and low noise level settings, but I couldn't see the difference, so I left them as they were. The high, mid and low noise reduction amounts were set to 100%, and since I didn't want to lower the noise reduction, I didn't touch those sliders.

    I wasn't aware I could combine presets with profiling. I think it made a substantial difference.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    My first effort:
    View attachment 21033
    Starting with original, then using NI adding preset to profiling on photo:
    View attachment 21034

    Now to go back and play with the original. Thanks very much!
  11. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hello Miriam,

    Looks like this time it worked better. Keep us posted if you find an even better way. There are so many ways to tweak NI that I'm sure I can learn a lot more, and getting samples and suggestions are always helpful.
  12. Hi Miriam,

    Yes, it worked a lot better, but for my taste, this went a little bit too far and gives that somewhat plastic look (there is a loss of detail on the windows and windshield for example). :eek:  :smile:

    That's why I usually go for half of the noise, keeping more details (rather than less), and sometimes also adjust the strength of the filter with Edit|Fade in Photoshop, right after applying the filter in the NI plugin. Of course, your taste may very well be different... and that's fine: I just wanted to give you another way to look at this. Don't worry so much at what is on the screen at 100% magnification. See how you like the pictures when printed. That, or whatever works for you. :wink: :smile: :biggrin:
  13. Thanks, Heiko, I'll post anything I find. :) 

    Philippe, I see what you mean about the plastic look. In this case, this was a shot of my husband's truck meant to be blown up, printed and put on his wall. I know he likes editing that emphasizes how shiny the truck is, so I was anticipating doing some extreme Photoshop, mostly in lab mode, and figured I'd better start as noise free as possible.

    BTW, here's the edit I did after you and Heiko helped me. https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=58462

    But I definately believe in reducing the strength of any filter applied in Photoshop, as needed. As you say, the final decision depends on the end product.

    Thanks again!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
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