Dave's Favorites: Clean Up Photos With Noiseware
Digital cameras are light hogs; they always want more! more! more! Try to take a picture in a dark place like a school gym or your living room at night, and your camera complains by speckling your photos with digital noise--random bits of color.
The standard advice for avoiding digital noise is to use a flash to illuminate your subject; to avoid shooting in dark locations; or to use noise reduction software afterwards. The main problem with the last bit of advice is that the software you need costs money--except for Noiseware Community Edition, that is.
Noiseware is a superb noise reduction filter that customizes the way it removes unwanted noise on a picture-by-picture basis, building a custom profile using a sophisticated algorithm. All that might sound pretty complex, but the reality is that noise reduction is essentially a two-click process, and the results are stunning--about the same as what you can achieve with a program like Noise Ninja, which I reviewed a few months ago. Noiseware Community Edition is free, though, which makes it a pretty compelling choice.
You can download a copy of Noiseware Community Edition from the Imagenomic site; scroll down to find the Community Edition offering. At that site you can also read about and purchase commercial versions of Noiseware, which adds features like batch processing multiple photos and TIFF file support. I highly recommend Noiseware, in whatever version you get.