Eliminate Visual Noise In Your Image With This Tip

A lack of light is the enemy of any photographer and, in certain situations, it may force you to bump your ISO far higher than you're comfortable with. The resulting visual noise in the image can render it unusable. Unless you follow this tutorial from PiXimperfect, that is.

As Unmesh Dinda shows, using Photoshop’s stacking tools can help you reduce, or even eliminate, all that awful noise and rescue your image.

The key, though, is to recognize during the photographing process that you do not have enough light, and to make sure that you take many photos of your subject. Obviously, using a tripod is the ideal method for taking photos that you are going to later stack, but as Dinda points out, if you are able to stabilize your camera, or even your smartphone, reasonably well by hand, you can still make this work. Photoshop’s powerful alignment tool will allow you to line up images that aren’t precisely the same due to small movements of your hands or body. However, if you change the angle of your lens relative to your subject, it will negate Photoshop’s ability to align the images, so make sure you keep your camera at the same angle. Once inside Photoshop, the process is fairly simple and straightforward using the “mean” stacking tool.

This technique is great for low light situations in which you are unable to use a flash, or even for astrophotography. Have you used image stacking to reduce noise in your images? Drop a comment below and let us know how it worked for you.

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18 Comments

Leigh Miller's picture

Nice trick...limited application and tedious.

Agreed, not useful for the pedestrian photographer who limits their subjects to the unimaginative and mundane.

Eric Crudup's picture

What they wrote is not incorrect. Sounds like you were hurt by their comment for some reason?

His videos are really helpful. But they're so hard to watch when you realize he spends so much time on his hair and facial hair, but still keeps that insane uni-brow.

Rob Davis's picture

I don’t like how superficial it makes me, but all I can see when I watch his videos is unibrow.

user-206807's picture

Unibrow is a must for Indians.

If you knew a little about Indian culture, you would know that, in their popular culture, people believe that men with unibrows will have women who will love them very much, just as for body hair, people say that those with body hair are good people.

In the occidental culture men believe that to attract women they need to have a bigger penis…
Different cultures, different habits…

You all need to take a good look at yourselves. You are coming across as ignorant, rude, racist and completely embarrassing yourselves.

michael andrew's picture

“Stabilize your camera” and also shoot at iso 51,000??? The computational photography era is nauseating.

If you have a tripod you never ever need to do this ever. Iso 64-100 and maybe take a few photos for highlights and shadows.

If you can’t use a tripod then this could potentially help slightly more than nothing, but I’d love to see comparisons of just shooting at the lowest effective iso and some noise reduction applied, I doubt the results will be much different.

Andrew Morse's picture

Depends on the subject in my opinion - I use a very similar technique for landscape astrophotography but re-align all images in photoshop as well. It can make a huge difference and taking a longer exposure wouldn't work without a star tracking mount on the tripod as well. This is the tutorial I used initially - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rydg7JGTAbw&list=PL3blXE7mOZLz4e0_FlSYItcgQSikngJ38&index=3

I've found that the results I get out of this make a very noticeable difference over a single exposure without a star tracker. I do agree though, the application is limited.

Steven Magner's picture

Exactly, I’ve made many a YouTube video myself on this exact practice. Trying to shoot Astro below 1600 ISO is near impossible without star trailing. And with stacking, that sensor is going to heat up quick causing plenty of noise.

Reginald Walton's picture

Couldn't you also just use one photo and rename it a few times and stack that one. That way, you know you have the exact same image for all the photos.

Gion-Andri Derungs's picture

No you can't. The noise is in every picture different. That's the trick for this stack.

William Faucher's picture

Didn't one of your own Editors/Writers here at Fstoppers write an article about exactly this? I believe it was Mads Petter Iversen.

user-206807's picture

Unmesh is stronger than Captain America!

It's a neat concept that comes from astrophoto but it has really limited applications for "real word" photography.
If you have a tripod and enough time to take all the shots to stack together to reduce noise you can just take a single shot at lower ISO, if you are bumping up the ISO it's because you are limited in exposure time by movement (either yours or the subject's), so stacking won't help in that case.
It might be useful if you really need to take a static shot of something dark and you forgot the tripod, apart from that it's basically just useful in astrophotography where the sky moves enough that you can't expose properly in a single shot but not so fast that it gives problems with aligning and stacking.

This guy creates the best video tutorials on the web and while I respect that it's not everyone's style, his teachings are helping many of you. Also, commenting about his looks, which have nothing to do with his great ability to teach easy and complex techniques, it's a reflection of yourselves and not on Unmesh Dinda. We must look at ourselves before we start making fun of others. It's rude and uncalled for more so on this site. Thanks, Unmesh Dinda for keeping me and everyone around the world creating.

Ricardo Consonni's picture

I thought ISO setting was a myth. Northrup showed us the thruth!
Just kidding... Great vid!