I invite you to view the larger images of this muscid fly that I shot in the early-ish morning (as evidenced by the lingering morning dew). Can you see a difference between the two versions? My guess is, yes, but only a small one.
The original was post-processed in Nikon viewNX2 and then on to GIMP where things diverged. My main experiment here was to do more extensive denoising of the background. I achieved this using layer masking, essentially separating the fly from most of the rest of the image so as to leave the subject’s original sharpness intact while significantly cleaning up the background. Parts of the fly, most notably the wings, were already well out of focus so they were also denoised. The concern that tactic presented was in transition areas; so using the Blend tool, I created some gradients in the layer mask to (hopefully) smooth those areas out. They did not stand out much and became especially inconsequential when I scaled down the image size. The noise difference overall in the final versions was likewise hard to differentiate, even after sharpening.
Now the one small but (perhaps?) noticeable difference I mentioned is in a secondary, unrelated edit I did. The calypter and the head were overly bright for my tastes, so I created an additional layer and layer mask and used the Multiply blend mode to darken them up. That edit ended up being the more effective one, in my opinion, though I wonder if a larger image, digital or printed, would show a more significant difference in the noise content.