One of the worst curses of modern digital photography is, simply, noise.
There are, indeed, some situations in which its reduction is important, for example in the low-light and astronomical photography.
The noise, however, can sometimes be a valuable and useful ally, especially if you plan to print our images.
Many use an “artificial grain“, also achievable with appropriate plugin, including Google Nik Collection and Realgrain from Imagenomic, which even allow the emulation of films, famous for a vintage effect.
For me, however, a certain amount of natural noise, or graininess artificially induced, have another value, to return a “material” aspect to the press, especially if large.
The very large prints, in fact, are made to be seen from a distance, and the presence of a graininess (obviously controlled) makes them more natural.
Excessive sharpening, sometimes obsessively sought, on the contrary, can make the image too “artificial“.
As in other cases, of course, the use of the noise must be seen as a simple tool, to be used carefully and sparingly, taking several proofs.
Below we show the film emulation tools from Nik Efex Pro Analog and RealGrain from Imagenomic.
A curious note: Imagenomic also markets a great plugin for noise reduction, Noiseware.