STOP slammin’ sliders when you reduce noise

It is a common theme when you reduce noise to do the random slider slam.  I get it, heck I did it to.  And why is that?  Well, it is because the sliders have some interesting names that don’t really tell you what they are doing.   Luminance, Luminance Contrast, Color detail, Color Smoothness, they don’t give us a good idea of how they actually work.

Lately, I have been experimenting a lot with the noise reduction capabilities in Adobe Camera Raw (similar to Lightroom).  I found that they are very powerful if you know what you are doing.  On the other hand, if you just do the random slider slam, you may be doing more harm to your images than good.  In most applications, I don’t find myself needing to do much noise reduction, so I have been taking photos that

In most applications, I don’t find myself needing to do much extreme noise reduction so I have never taken the time to really dig deep into the sliders affects.  In the tutorial today you will see that I am using a very boring image to conduct my experiment.  It is not a robust night shot of the milky way or a fantastic landscape.  It is a picture of the view from my office door, but the elements in the photo are very helpful in understanding the Noise reduction sliders.

In this tutorial, I will break down every slider in the noise reduction window, tell you what they do, and even give you some practical tips on what to look for.  In a nutshell, here are of the sliders in layman’s terms.

Noise Reduction Sliders and their meanings in the form of a question:

Throughout the noise reduction process, be sure to use the ALT or Option key to see what the effect will look like in the greyscale.  This makes it easier to see what is happening to the photograph.

Noise Reduction:

  1. Luminance:  How much do you want to smudge or blur the noise?
  2. Luminance Detail:   How much detail do you want int he blurred noise? (setting this too high will compete with your Luminance setting)
  3. Luminance Contrast:  How much depth do you want in your noise? (increasing the contrast will add depth to highlights in the noisy areas)
  4. Color: Do you want to get rid of the green, red, cyan, and ugly dots in your noise?
  5. Color Detail:  How much detail do you want in the noise color?
  6. Color Smoothness: How smooth do you want the color noise to be?  (increasing this to a high amount could blur other colors in your photograph, use lightly)


  1. Amount:  How sharp do you want the whole photo after reducing the noise?
  2. Radius: How far do you want the sharpening to spread in terms of the surrounding area of the sharpened pixel? (the overall growth of the sharpening effect)
  3. Detail:  How much detail do you want to add to the pixels? (this will increase the contrast on a pixel level and ould make artifacts if taken too high)
  4. Masking:  What do you want to be affected by the sharpening?  (Move this up to protect big areas and only sharpen outlines)


Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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