Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


Adobe Camera Raw possibly doing something wrong with noise?

Filed under: — adam @ 12:15 pm

I’ve noticed that a lot of my photos have been more noticeably grainy recently. Like this onion stacking shot. (Whether you like this effect or not is not the point.)

At first, I just chalked it up to high ISO and/or exposure compensation. But then I did some informal tests, and found that Breezebrowser Pro (which I switched away from to go to Adobe Camera Raw 3 because ACR is easier to use with my Photoshop workflow) on a few of the RAW files, gave much cleaner and less noisy results, even with noise reduction turned off.

In my limited testing, with the settings I used, images produced from ACR are definitely noisier and more posterized in the noisy areas than the same raw files processed with BB, with the same exposure comp, no sharpening, and noise reduction completely off. Indeed, even the +1.6 images from BB are less noisy than the +1 images from ACR.

I’m not certain that one of the other settings isn’t causing the problem, and I’m somewhat at a loss about how to go about doing an unbiased test. Suggestions are welcomed.

On a related note, turning noise reduction on in BB gives even better results than the BB baseline, where even cranking luminance smoothing and color noise reduction all the way up in ACR seems to have very little effect. Moreover, Photoshop’s reduce noise filter works noticeably better on BB-converted raw images where it seems to do very little on ACR images.

Needless to say, this result is pretty disturbing, and I hope I’ve just done something wrong.

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