Nik Dfine 2 Review

April 7, 2011 | Matt Grayson | Software Reviews | |


Dfine 2.0 is the second edition of noise reduction software by Nik software. Building on the initial version, new features include an improved noise reduction engine with automatic profiling, an improved user interface and if you're a Photoshop or Lightroom user, you can enjoy a powerful selective tool, smart filter compatibility and multi-image support. There's also the same U Point technology that we saw in our reviews of HDR Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro software packages. As with those two products, Dfine works as a plug-in for your Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture programs. Nik Dfine 2 costs $99.95 / 99.95 Euros, or $69.95 / 69.95 Euros to upgrade from version one.

There are several different types of noise that can affect your pictures such as salt & pepper, Gaussian (amplifier), uniform, film grain and non-isotropic noise. They're caused by a number of situations such as a high resolution on a comparably small sensor, amplification of the sensor's reaction to light and even heat given from neighbouring pixels. There is some noise that can be useful and is called dither. Useful noise such as acutance which appears to sharpen edges without actually increasing resolution.

Dfine is a relatively small program so downloading only took us a couple of minutes. Unpacking and installation is also fast and easy so you can get editing straight away. The program only works when you have an image open in Photoshop and it is accessed by going to the Filter tab.

It takes a second to open and a further five seconds or so to analyse the picture for noise. Several markers will appear on the picture in the main frame in the centre which are the points that the program has read from.

Nik DfineSplit Screen

In terms of layout, the only real difference between Dfine and the other Nik programs is that there are no options on the left side of the screen. The main pane takes over three quarters of the window which means a smaller window and a less cluttered area. In fact, because of the simplicity of the program, there's little that needs to be put on the actual workspace and your main companion through the process is a loupe in the bottom right of the window. It has a useful split screen to show you the before and after of the reduction and it will follow the mouse pointer wherever it goes on the picture. This split screen can also be applied to the main picture by clicking on the middle icon in the top right where it says views. The left option is the default full screen and the right option splits the picture into separate before and after pictures.

Nik DfineSeparate Screen

There are two steps that Dfine uses in its noise reduction process. Measure is first and it allows the program to determine the amount and type of noise that's present in the picture or a camera and ISO combination. Switching over to the reduce button allows you to see how much noise reduction to use and where to apply it.


There are three ways to measure the noise in the picture; automatic, manual or using a pre-set profile. The automatic setting works pretty well with the majority of pictures and all you have to do is click on the measure noise button. Clicking save will save the profile used for that picture so you can use use it again at a later date. In manual, you get to choose where you want to measure the noise by placing rectangles over areas of the picture you want to read from. Nik recommend placing the rectangles on smooth areas such as sky and featureless walls. Clicking the measure button will measure the noise in that picture and create a profile again for you to save if you want to use it again later.


After measuring the amount of noise in the picture, it's time to reduce it. There are two options for reduction called control points and colour ranges allowing for either global or selective enhancement. Unfortunately, you can only use one method at a time.

Nik DfineLocal Reduction

Using the control points employs Nik's U-Point technology  meaning you can makes noise reduction changes locally but it also allows for global changes too. The slider controls let you change contrast and colour noise. If you decide to use the colour ranges option, this allows you to make adjustments to specific colours which is good for large objects or if you're working on a batch of pictures of the same colour and need a uniform result.

Nik DfineColour Ranges

There are three additional options available for edge preservation, JPEG artefact reduction and debanding. The first option is useful for fine detail subjects because it allows you to balance the noise reduction you apply with detail. JPEG artefact reduction can only be used on JPEGs, obviously, and does exactly what it says on the tin. If your picture is suffering from banding, using the debanding option will help this problem. Make sure you choose between horizontal or vertical banding before making adjustments.

You may remember from the Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 review that you can add the filters to a selective brush and paint the colour onto the picture where you want it. Dfine has a similar feature allowing you to add noise reduction to selective areas of a copy of the picture that's automatically been placed on a new layer. The selective brush option lets you apply noise reduction in two ways as well as remove it in two ways.

Nik DfineSelective Brushes

Entry Tags

software, photoshop, lightroom, application, aperture, program, nik software, noise, nik, reduction, reduce, dfine, Dfine 2 Review, Nik Dfine 2 Review

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Your Comments

8 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 falsafay

Such reviews must include comparisons with competing softwares, like Topaz DeNoise. Either I missed it or it is not there. The review is incomplete!

9:19 pm - Thursday, April 7, 2011

#2 mattgrayson

I see your point but I haven’t tested DeNoise so I can’t say how good or bad it is in comparison. I did mention that this one is no better than any standard noise reduction facilities in, say, Photoshop but I have experience of those systems. I hope that helps. =:O)

11:01 am - Friday, April 8, 2011

#3 falsafay

So what is the point of review. Are you an impartial reviewer or mouthpiece of the industry? I had lot of respect for the PBlog with the expectation of independent critical review. If you are just reproducing the press release and/or guide/manual of the company about a produt, then why do we need to read PBlog?

9:59 pm - Saturday, April 9, 2011

#4 jimmy crackcorn

leave the author alone.  he admitted that he hadn’t tried other products.  the premise of the article is a review of one product.  you knew that going in.

1:52 pm - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

#5 loonlydevil

I think this is really good software.

11:07 am - Wednesday, August 1, 2012

#6 Ted C.

@ falsafay

If you think you know better than the author, how come you’re not the one doing the reviews and writing stuff online?  Stop being a loudmouth complainer, STFU.  And for all we know, you might just be one lousy monkey with a fancy camera who don’t know squat about shooting right and, thus, requires the help of post-processing software to correct the garbage that you pass off as “photography” so get a life.  Go back to photography school and practice.

6:07 am - Sunday, August 25, 2013

#7 Johny Come Lately

Dear Mr Falsafay,

Seems to me that as soon as a personal attack is made against an author (“Are you an impartial reviewer or mouthpiece of the industry?”) then your feedback loses credibility immediately.

May I suggest that you take stock of the way you address others on-line and consider that less invective would serve you better in life?

Surely you can add to the dialogue rather than detract from it.

Hoping you get less stress in your life from this point on. Best of luck.

1:41 am - Friday, October 11, 2013





4:38 am - Monday, November 4, 2013