Review: Mini review: Macphun Noiseless Pro 1.0


Macphun makes a whole bunch of quick and simple desktop apps for Mac users, and Macphun Noiseless is its latest release.

Like other Macphun apps it’s designed to do one job simply. It goes on sale at £17.99 for the Standard version available on the Apple App Store and £49.99 for the Pro version bought directly from Macphun website – you can upgrade the Standard version to Pro later. Both will be available from mid-April.

Macphun Noiseless

The Pro version adds the ability to open raw files, brings extra detail controls and comes with plug-in versions for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture.

It’s not exactly a budget buy, then, but Macphun does do bundle deals and offers on its software so it’s worth checking the Macphun website periodically for the latest offers or subscribing to the newsletter.

Besides, you can try it on a free ‘test drive’ at the Macphun Noiseless website and see for yourself ahead of the main launch.

How it works

Noise reduction can be an extremely time-consuming and complex business. There are many dedicated noise-reduction plug-ins on the market already, as well as the noise reduction tools built into photo editing software. You can end up chasing your own tail as you try to reduce noise while preserving fine detail, juggling a whole bunch of sliders and parameters and sometimes ending up worse off that when you started.

Noiseless takes a simpler approach. It offers a select of preset noise reduction settings, from ‘Lightest’ to ‘Extreme’. You can start from the Lightest setting and work up until you see the level of noise reduction you want – the lower settings can still leave some ‘swirly’ patterns behind, while the higher settings can produce an artificially smoothed-over look. You just need to find the ‘sweet spot’.

Macphun Noiseless

Macphun Intensify

You can see the results previewed in the main window. This offers different magnifications, from fit-to-screen through 50%, 100% and 200% – the 100% and 200% views are best for assessing the effect.

There’s a choice of viewing modes too. You can view the corrected image alone, but the real secret to noise reduction is to compare the adjusted image with the original to make sure you’ve got a useful reduction in noise without any loss of definition. For this you can use a side-by side view or a split-screen view with a ‘wipe’ bar you can drag across from left to right. It takes the software a couple of seconds to render the reduced-noise image, but once that’s done the ‘wipe’ bar works instantly in real time.

Macphun Noiseless

If you’ve found the best preset strength but the image still looks a little too smooth, you can reduce the strength of the effect using the ‘Amount’ slider on the preset button. Generally, high ISO images will look more realistic with just a faint noise pattern. This is because high ISOs tend to bring slightly softened image detail too, and a faint noise pattern helps to make them look just a little bit sharper.

If you find yourself using the same presets again and again, you can click the Favorites ‘star’ icon on the right – this adds them to the Favorites panel accessed at the top of the sidebar. Here, you’ll also see a Custom panel, and this is where Noiseless gets a whole lot more advanced.

For many users, the Presets will be enough, but if you want to take full control you can swap to the Adjust mode and change all the noise reduction parameters manually. When you’re happy with the results you can click the ‘Create’ button at the bottom of the Adjust panel to create a Custom noise reduction setting.

Standalone vs plug-in versions

Noiseless Pro can be used as a standalone program or as a plug-in for Photoshop, Elements, Lightroom and Aperture. If you use it in standalone mode it can open both JPEGs and raw files. The problem with JPEGs is that the camera will already have applied one lot of noise reduction, so you’re applying another on top of this using image data that may already have been degraded to some degree. Raw files take a little longer to render but you’re working with all the data captured by the sensor and the results will be better.

If you’re using Noiseless as a plug-in, your image-editing program will be carrying out the raw conversion, so you should check the settings to make sure that it’s not applying any noise reduction of its own during the conversion process.

Performance and verdict

Noiseless does deliver good results quickly, though as with any noise reduction application you need to test out different settings to find the one that gives the best results – there is no single fix for image noise, since the noise characteristics of images can vary widely. Some noise reduction tools carry out a noise analysis first, but Noiseless skips that step and goes straight to its Preset adjustments. To purists, that might sound like an oversimplified approach, but the results are good and, more to the point, easily controllable.

Macphun Noiseless

Macphun Noiseless

The lack of any obvious noise profiling is not necessarily an omission, but there’s also no way to apply selective noise adjustments to specific areas of the image – though you can adjust the strength separately for Highlights, Midtones, Shadows and Details. Noiseless is not designed for in-depth tinkerers, we suspect, but for users who simply want good results fast.

We ran some quick tests with Noiseless against Lightroom’s inbuilt noise reduction tools, DxO Optics Pro’s default noise reduction process, which is one of the best there is right now, and Dfine 2 (Google Nik Collection). DxO Optics Pro does offer an even more effective PRIME denoising option, but this takes a couple of minutes to run for each image, whereas Noiseless is designed primarily for quick and simple fixes.

Macphun Noiseless

Macphun Noiseless

All three yielded much better results than the original JPEG but, to be honest, once some sensible trade-offs had been made with noise reduction versus detail loss in each program, the results were virtually indistinguishable, not least because high ISO shots don’t just bring extra noise – more on this in a moment. It really comes down to user preference, and Noiseless is certainly quick to use and very user-friendly, while the others take a more technical approach.

Keep it simple

Not everyone has high-end software tools like DxO Optics Pro, Lightroom or the Google Nik Collection, of course. If you don’t, then Noiseless could be a very good buy. It’s perfect for users who want to take away image noise without having to learn how it’s done or get sucked into a vortex of sliders and checkboxes.

It’s important to make another point here. Simply reducing noise in a high-ISO shot won’t make it look as sharp and as crisp as a low ISO one. Why? Because (a) sensors resolve less detail at high ISOs, (b) you’re generally shooting at or near the lens’s maximum aperture where its performance is reduced and depth of field is shallow (many objects in the scene may be slightly out of focus) and (c) you’re often shooting at marginal shutter speeds too, so many high-ISO shots will show signs of camera shake.

Macphun Noiseless

That’s the reality. Macphun Noiseless can produce quite remarkable transformations on images where noise is the only issue and the underlying detail is good – but that’s often not the case with high ISO shots. For many high-ISO shots, while they have noise they can look sharp, sort of, but if you take the noise away completely you quickly see that they’re not very sharp at all. The trick then is knowing how much noise to leave in.


Noiseless didn’t prove conclusively better than other noise reduction tools in our tests, but ease of use and simplicity are important too, and this is where it shines. As with any noise reduction tool, you have to tread a tightrope between noise reduction and detail preservation, but here it’s as simple as clicking a preset, dragging a slider and checking the before-and-after preview.