ArcSoft Low Light NR Review
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Attention Windows users, the all-in-one photo editor Luminar 2018 is out now and available for just $59/£53 for new users, with big discounts for upgrading users. We rated Luminar as "Highly Recommended". Visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.
ArcSoft Low Light NR is a software program that uses MFNR (Multi-Frame Noise Reduction) technology to create images taken in low light appear as though they have used a low ISO setting by merging hand-held burst images. It also incorporates editing and sharing tools for more of an all-in-one experience. Priced at $79.99, Low Light NR is available for download from the ArcSoft website.
Installation and Use
Low Light NR is installed from the ArcSoft website. You can take advantage of a 15 day free trial before deciding to buy it. The program is Windows 8 compatible and the 10.8Mb file took around 30 minutes to download. We used a 512Mb broadband service and we were running other programs at the time such as what would be a realistic situation.
Once the files were downloaded, installation only took a few seconds. If you already have your activation code, you'll be asked for it at the end of installation along with the registered email you used.
Upon opening Low Light NR, you're faced with a dark grey window. To the left is a list of your folders and drives. You can select your images from here or, if you wish to practice first there's a couple of example shots in the main window.
Once you've selected at least three images, they'll appear as thumbnails in the bottom left corner of the window. Press the blue Start button to the right and let the program start to process the images. The next stage is fine tuning the noise reduction process. A close up of the image appears on screen and is split into before & after so you can compare. You get to adjust the intensity of the noise reduction by using the slider at the bottom of the page. Making large adjustments (from the default setting of 5 to a high NR setting of 9) can take a few minutes. Making smaller adjustments (from the 9 setting, to 8) has little effect on the time taken to make the changes.
After adding or subtracting the amount of noise reduction you'd like to apply, you can either edit the picture, or you can save or share it if you're happy with the results.
Clicking on the Edit button will take you to another section of the program. This will show the entire image. You can still split screen, though, by pressing the B|A button at the bottom of the window.
There are three sections to use in Low Light NR when editing your pictures. They're split into Basic, Tone and Crop & Straighten. The Basic section can control white-balance, brightness, contrast and saturation. It uses sliders to make the adjustments and it seems rudimentary, but you can be satisfied with the results. The Tone section is pretty cool. It will adjust the Highlights and Light along with the Shadows and Dark. It does the job well, which means you don't have to load it into Photoshop after. The final section will allow you to crop and adjust the horizon of the image. Interestingly, instead of a crop and rotate facility, it uses more sliders.
Once you've finished editing, you can either Share to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr. The latter would arguably be the most advantageous to take advantage of the larger file sizes that the photo hosting site will accept. Facebook and Twitter will compress the Hell out of the pictures and ruin all your good work. Of course, you can also save it afterwards.
When saving, you can rename the image, change the file format (only JPEG or TIFF), choose the destination and, blessedly, retain or change the file size & quality.