Image "noise" is a sad fact of life when taking pictures with digital cameras. Even some of the most advanced cameras create noisy images when shooting in low light. Noise has been called the equivalent of graininess when shooting to film. Most image editing tools include some level of noise reduction, and while the quality has gotten better of late, they still have been less than adequate. Fortunately, there are tools like Imagenomic's Noiseware filter to greatly reduce the impact and appearance of noise in your digital photos.
Noiseware comes in two different methods: a standalone application (Windows) or as a plug-in (Windows & Mac) for popular image editing tools like Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro (and others). The standalone product offers a free basic-functionality Community Edition, as well as Standard and Professional editions. The plug-in comes in Standard and Professional. For this review, I used the Professional plug-in in both PSPXI and Photoshop CS2 under Windows Vista.
Imagenomic's Noiseware is a must-have tool in the digital darkroom.
As part of your image processing workflow, noise reduction should be among the very first (if not THE first step). Getting your foundation correct can make a world of difference when making other adjustments downstream. As such, the convenience of the plug-in version cannot be overstated. With it, you can handle noise reduction from the same tool you'll be performing your other post-processing. With a standalone application, you'll need to load the image twice: once for noise reduction, then save, then once again for processing. However, this is negligible if you make a point of saving the denoised image as a baseline.
Using Noiseware is as simple as opening an image in Photoshop and then selecting Filter >> Imagenomic >> Noiseware Professional (or Standard). The utility's single screen interface appears with several panels loaded with options. At first this can be overwhelming, but taking a few minutes to read the short 36 page manual should allay most of your fears.
To make things even easier, Noiseware also sports what it calls "IntelliProfile" -- a method of learning from the fixes you apply to other images, combined with the EXIF data for camera model and settings. Using this repository of data, Noiseware can make more intelligent adjustments the more you use it. Sadly, this doesn't help your earlier images, except that you can always go back and reprocess them if you're so inclined. For the plug-in, this is listed as only available in Photoshop CS2 and Elements 3.0+.