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We propose a new measure, the method noise, to evaluate and compare the performance of digital image denoising methods. We first compute and analyze this method noise for a wide class of denoising algorithms, namely the local smoothing filters. Second, we propose a new algorithm, the nonlocal means (NL-means), based on a nonlocal averaging of all pixels in the image. Finally, we present some experiments comparing the NL-means algorithm and the local smoothing filters.