Using Denoise AI with TG-5

This article illustrates the results of using Topaz Denoise AI with TG-5 photographs. All images were captured handheld at the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory. Most were shot using the Microscopic Mode of the Olympus TG-5.

As you view the photographs in this article, it is instructive to review the EXIF data. You’ll find that many of these images were captured handheld at relatively high ISO values, given the size of the 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm) BSI sensor in the TG-5. Some as high as ISO-1600.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

The first three sample images we’ll view were taken with the regular zoom lens on the Olympus TG-5. Given that this camera is basically a semi-automatic point-and-shoot unit (albeit at the higher end), the quality from its tiny 12 MP BSI sensor is surprisingly good.

Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/4.9, 1/125, ISO-800
Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/4.9, 1/100, ISO-1000
Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/4.9, 1/100, ISO-1600

The TG-5 was my first experience using an Olympus product. I was quite surprised with the technology built into the TG-5… which intrigued me about the brand.

Nikon 1 D7100 + Nikkor 105 mm f/2.8 macro, f/8, -1/3 EV, 1/125, ISO-2500

Just to give you an idea on the close focusing distance of the Olympus TG-5, a friend of mine took this image of me photographing an atlas moth.

Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/4.9, 1/80, ISO-1600, microscopic mode

Using the microscopic mode on the Olympus TG-5 is always a lot of fun.

Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/4.9, 1/40, ISO-1600, microscopic mode

It helps to be at a public facility like the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory where the butterflies and moths are used to being around people.

Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/6.3, 1/80, ISO-1600, microscopic mode

This provides opportunities to get in much closer to specific butterflies and capture macro images of live specimen.

Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/6.3, 1/100, ISO-1600, microscopic mode

As you review the various photographs in this article you’ll see what a good job Topaz Denoise AI does to eliminate noise, while still retaining image details. Using Denoise AI with TG-5 files is simple and effective.

Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/6.3, 1/60, ISO-1600, microscopic mode

I’ve added Topaz Denoise AI to the end of my standard post processing approach. Now all of my images get two noise reduction treatments.

Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/4.9, 1/100, ISO-800, microscopic mode

The first is when I begin to process my RAW files using DxO PhotoLab 2 and its PRIME noise reduction. And, the second at the very end of my process with Topaz Denoise AI.

Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/4.9, 1/100, ISO-800, microscopic mode

As I was working on these tiny sensor TG-5 images, especially the ones captured at ISO-1600, I was amazed with what a good job Topaz Denoise AI did with the final image clean-up.

Olympus TG-5 @ 11 mm, efov 61 mm, f/5, 1/60, ISO-1600, microscopic mode

Using Topaz Denoise AI with TG-5 images was a bit of a game changer for me. It really drove home the point that some of the old assumptions that we’ve made in the past about ISO limits with small sensor cameras are simply outdated.

Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/6.3, 1/15, ISO-1600, microscopic mode

I certainly would have no hesitation to shoot my Olympus TG-5 up to and including ISO-1600 on a regular basis. When I have some time I may see if I can push this further.

Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/4.9, 1/100, ISO-1250, microscopic mode

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

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8 thoughts on “Using Denoise AI with TG-5”

  1. This is a very i interesting article. I upgraded from a TG-5 to a TG-6 in March (for not much money) and I switched to DxO Photo Lab 3 from Lightroom this summer. I think they make a great combo. Photolab also does a great job with my Canon images but, unfortunately. can only process jpegs from my Fuji x100S. I actually haven’t cut the cord with Lightroom classic yet because my subscription runs for another 11 months but I basically only use it as a database now.

    I am pretty happy with Photolab and the Prime de- noise, so until about 5 minutes ago, I did not expect to be buying any more software for a while. Now I have something to think about (as often happens when I read your articles).

    What you can get out of the tiny TG-5/6 often amazes me and with the software available today, it only gets better. It is a clear parallel to what Apple and the Android based manufacturers are doing with cell phone cameras.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      One of the things you may consider is exporting a DNG file from PhotoLab 3 into your copy of Lightroom (I export into PhotoShop CS6). It is then very easy to use Topaz Denoise AI as a plug-in from Lightroom.

      I did some experiments from an either/or perspective… i.e. is PRIME or Denoise AI better? This was just silly, limiting thinking on my part. It didn’t take long before I realized that the real power is in using both programs! PRIME on the front end, then Topaz Denoise AI at the end of my process (appreciating that my process is a bit more complicated than most folks, i.e. DxO PhotoLab 2/CS6/Nik Collection).

      As an experiment with the dual noise reduction approach, I went back to the older TG-5 images in this article. As you know, shooting at ISO-1600 with the small sensor in the TG-5/TG-6 can be a challenge. There were quite a few ‘typical’ corrections that I do with images that I could not do with those particular higher ISO TG-5 files. So, I decided to just ‘let ‘er rip’ and did my full blown approach. To be honest the files looked quite bad before I applied Topaz AI. The effect of adding Topaz AI to these ISO-1600 TG-5 files was almost magical. Going forward I will not have any hesitation to shoot at ISO-1600. When time permits I’m going to see if I can push that to ISO-3200. If that works… I’ll keep going higher until I reach the point where the quality fails to meet my needs.

      If you do decide to try Topaz Denoise AI make sure to check the specs on your computer. I needed to upgrade the video card in my computer to run Topaz Denoise AI efficiently. It was worth the hardware investment. You can download a 30 day trial of Denoise AI to test it out.

      Kevin, I totally agree with your assessment about the future with what is happening with software. I think we are on the cusp of a significant shift in photographic technology. Computational photography and AI will redefine photography in the future. It will be to standard digital photography, to what it was to film. The fixation that some folks have on full frame sensors makes no sense to me at all.

      Tom

  2. I’m a bit confused. You use DeNoise at the end of your process. When I went to the Topaz site they suggest using it before doing any other processing. Is there a difference? Does it really matter?

    1. Hi Ronald,

      Thanks for your comment! I think where to use Denoise AI depends on what kind of process you use in post. For folks who do all of their processing in one program, the Topaz suggestion to use their Denoise AI program at the start makes perfect sense. I did some testing with my unorthodox approach and using Denoise AI at the front end was not effective for me. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t work well for you.

      Here are a few details on my approach in post processing…

      I use DxO PhotoLab 2 Elite edition. This software has an excellent noise reduction program called PRIME. I prefer to use DxO PhotoLab 2 as my initial RAW processor as the software has quite effective noise reduction, as well as excellent auto lens corrections based on DxOMark’s lab testing. It also has some features such as DxO Smart Lighting – Spot Weighted, DxO ClearView Plus, and a few other corrections that I find very effective. Once I do some initial corrections to my RAW files with DxO PhotoLab 2, I export a DNG file into Photoshop CS6.

      Once in CS6 I make a range of slider adjustments. I also like using Levels, Brightness, Curves, Hues and a few other adjustments. I also can access the Nik Collection as a PhotoShop Plug-in. I typically use some specific functions found in Viveza 2 and Color Efex Pro 4 as needed on my images.

      After I do those things I now add Topaz Denoise AI at the end of my process. There isn’t that much noise left to be cleaned up, but there is some which Topaz Denoise AI handles wonderfully. The other thing that Topaz Denoise AI does is allow me to tweak sharpening as needed. I’ve found adding Topaz AI at the end makes a noticeable difference to many of my files. Using noise reduction at the front end and the back end of my files does a great job for me… and is better than only using PRIME or Denoise AI only… with my specific approach in post.

      I appreciate that my unorthodox approach may look complicated on the surface, and is something that most people would not want to replicate. It is actually very efficient as I can jump from one specific function to another very quickly. In essence, I cherry-pick the functions I prefer and like using from each program. Most of my files would take less that 4-5 minutes to complete which would include computer processing time.

      Hope this explanation has helped…

      Tom

  3. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for the suggestion to use Denoise AI in addition to DXO Photolab denoise. I had tried using it instead of DXO denoise, and wasn’t getting good results. But the combination definitely adds an extra boost, and made a substantial improvement in an evening owl photo at ISO 6400 from my EM1 Mark II.

    Regards,
    Steve

    1. Hi Steve,

      I’m glad that the combination of Denoise AI and DxO PRIME worked well for you! Many folks have an ‘either/or” orientation to using software. Over the years I’ve found that taking a combination approach and using multiple software programs can leverage the strengths of various programs.

      Tom

  4. Mr. Stirr,
    I am looking for one noise reduction software to use in combination with Lightroom, Is there one you would recommend or is this unrealistic ? Thanks.

    1. Hi Robert,

      Using one program is certainly realistic. Since you are using Lightroom it may make sense to get a trial version of Topaz Denoise AI. That will give you the opportunity to try the program without having to invest any money upfront. It would be prudent to check out your computer specs to see if you may need to upgrade your system.

      I haven’t researched a lot of different noise reduction programs, so I’m not the best person to ask about all of the available options.

      Tom

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