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Thread: Noise - Am I being too picky?

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    IShootPeople's Avatar
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    Noise - Am I being too picky?

    I'm editing pictures for my friend that I took at her wedding and the noise in them is driving me crazy! I can't figure out how people get such BEAUTIFUL crisp pictures with digital. Mine always have such horrible noise throughout the whole shot. I'm assuming it's probably to do with the lighting - admittedly, that's a weak point of mine.

    Here's one. It's not too terrible, but still, it seems noiser than I would expect!
    Specs - 1600 ISO (which I would blame, but even when I use 800, I get a fair bit of noise), Tv 1/100, Av 4.5

    (Link should open to big photo)
    http://kabbottphotography.smugmug.co.../DPP0034-O.jpg


    Edit - I'm having a bit of a moment... What's a good average ISO? I've been using 800. Maybe 400 would be better?

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Hi Kim,

    Noise is caused by many things, mainly high iso, under exposure leading to adjusting it upwards in PP and high sensor temperature (shooting continuous Live View plus a warm ambient).

    It is made more obvious by cropping excessively in PP and will be more visible in areas of even tone.

    So, yes, you could say it is caused by lighting if there isn't enough and you under expose.

    Looking at this, I really don't know what you are worrying about though.

    I don't use an average iso, many like to keep it low (100 or 200), but I shoot wildlife at 400, 800 or 1600 to give me the required shutter speed.

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    IShootPeople's Avatar
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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Thanks, Dave! I guess I still remember my days with film. You got such beautiful, sharp images with film and even as young as I am and so reliant on technology and up with the advances, I guess I can just never get over how much difference there is!

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Quote Originally Posted by IShootPeople View Post
    Thanks, Dave! I guess I still remember my days with film. You got such beautiful, sharp images with film and even as young as I am and so reliant on technology and up with the advances, I guess I can just never get over how much difference there is!
    Yes but remember what the iso of the film was?
    Probably double figures, not four digits!

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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Kim, I went through exactly the same doubt when I moved from film. I still think film is superior but here's a few things to try.

    I looked and don't find your example all that noisy. If as you say, your shots are always bad I'd recommend you try two things. First, make sure your screen properties are set for the native resolution. As you may already know, that's the maximum number of pixels you can select in your monitor settings. I normally have my monitor set for what is best for surfing the web. I have to change it if I'm looking critically at prints. If you can't tell or don't still have a manual, look one up on the web. 2nd, from your film background you are used to seeing prints. The average monitor is about the worst place to make these judgements from. Get some of your digital shots printed at a reputable photo shop. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

    Good luck and let us know how you make out.

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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Hmmm, does the noise show up in a print? (Andrew has already pointed this out, but I think is bears repeating).

    Noise is easy to find in a digital image, especially when one zooms in.

    Did anyone ever look at a film image this critically?

    Glenn

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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Kim that will print perfectly and no noise will be visible. Even viewed at 100% on screen it isn bad and that is a totally unrealistic way to judge an image that (certainly in this case) is going to end up as a 9x6" print in an album.

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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Hi Kim,

    High ISOs don't "cause noise" per se; high ISOs cause a drop in dynamic range (about 1 stop per doubling of ISO) and what that means is the valuable data gets pushed closer and closer to the noise floor. So to avoid (or minimise noise) it becomes VITAL that you push the exposure as close to over-exposure as you can get away with. In a purely reflective scene (bride in white dress standing next to groom in black suit in the sun) you only need about 4 stops of dynamic range (OK, a couple more for shadow detail you might want to reveal) - but most cameras will under-expose this type of scene by around 1 to 2 stops (in this case under exposure being defined as being the "gap" between how your highlights are recorded and what the sensor is capable of) The scene may look normally exposed in terms of how it looks on the review screen, but you really have to push the exposure right up to the point of clipping, and then drag the black point back down in post-processing. If you do it right (and it IS a balancing act) then you'll be able to shoot at about 3200 ISO and get about the same noise as you're currently getting at about 800 ISO.

    The other thing to remember is that prints only have about a 4 stop dynamic range - and shadow noise that you can see on your screen whilst pixel peeping (a) is usually too small to be seen in all but the biggest print, and (b) usually doesn't show due to the limited dynamic range of paper.

    In other words - with a shot like you have - you can pretty much print it any size you like, and not have to worry about noise. Additionally, the bigger the print, the greater the viewing distance - and the less that the human eye can resolve the noise.

    Only photographers worry about noise And they worry far far far far too much about it.

    PS: Not sure if this is a deliberate processing choice or not, but you've got the white balance set quite high on the warm side in that image.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 17th April 2012 at 07:17 AM.

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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Thank you all so much for your responses! I guess because 99% of my work is now on the computer, I get very caught up in how it looks on screen. I do agree that computer monitors make some of the worst ways to view images! Color, contrast and resolution are all so different from one monitor to another that it can make me a bit nuts trying to make these look the best they can!

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Only photographers worry about noise And they worry far far far far too much about it.
    Very true!!!

    PS: Not sure if this is a deliberate processing choice or not, but you've got the white balance set quite high on the warm side in that image.
    Yes, that one was only through the first round of editing. I'm doing last minute edits now and final adjustments to white balance is on that list. Thanks for the reminder though! I've been staring at these for so long that I might have forgotten to do that!

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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Quote Originally Posted by IShootPeople View Post
    Thank you all so much for your responses! I guess because 99% of my work is now on the computer, I get very caught up in how it looks on screen. I do agree that computer monitors make some of the worst ways to view images! Color, contrast and resolution are all so different from one monitor to another that it can make me a bit nuts trying to make these look the best they can!
    If you're serious about image preparation, pretty much the very first thing you need to get is a monitor calibration & profiling solution. There are several out there - Personally, I use a Spyder III Studio.

    Yes, that one was only through the first round of editing. I'm doing last minute edits now and final adjustments to white balance is on that list. Thanks for the reminder though! I've been staring at these for so long that I might have forgotten to do that!
    White balance should be pretty much the first thing you do -- especially if you're shooting RAW. It's important to get it adjusted before it pops out of the RAW converter; after that, you lose a LOT more information when it's done.

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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Looking at your example I can't see what you're worried about.

    Have a look at this example...

    Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Crop

    Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Taken at 4500 ISO...
    Last edited by darkslide; 18th April 2012 at 11:26 AM. Reason: Add image

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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    If you're serious about image preparation, pretty much the very first thing you need to get is a monitor calibration & profiling solution. There are several out there - Personally, I use a Spyder III Studio.
    I've always known that different monitors have different settings, but I guess it somehow never dawned on me just how much the settings could affect things! I will definitely look into calibrating. I'm using a Macbook and the native monitor settings did not have much that I could see.


    White balance should be pretty much the first thing you do -- especially if you're shooting RAW. It's important to get it adjusted before it pops out of the RAW converter; after that, you lose a LOT more information when it's done.
    The odd thing is that I did adjust the white balance first, but when I looked at them again, I realized just how warm they were!

    Here are the "finished" pictures. At least one group of them. I still have ceremony pictures and candid shots to finish editing.

    http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/22364...5981&k=FFd8g7p
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 18th April 2012 at 04:40 PM.

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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Quote Originally Posted by darkslide View Post
    Looking at your example I can't see what you're worried about.

    Have a look at this example...

    Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Crop

    Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Taken at 4500 ISO...
    Now that does make me feel better!

    Though I must admit, I'm a bit more amused by the guy in the halter top and skirt... And eyepatch?

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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Quote Originally Posted by IShootPeople View Post
    Here are the "finished" pictures. At least one group of them. I still have ceremony pictures and candid shots to finish editing.

    http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/22364...5981&k=FFd8g7p
    Hi Kim,

    I just had a quick look. Whitebalance looks fine, but most have slightly flat midtones (if you adjust the brightness control, you should see the midtones - especially the wood - "pop" into life a lot more).

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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    Quote Originally Posted by IShootPeople View Post
    Now that does make me feel better!

    Though I must admit, I'm a bit more amused by the guy in the halter top and skirt... And eyepatch?
    Why do you think I took the picture!! Seriously, it was a great group - though strangely, he was the most serious of all of them!

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    Re: Noise - Am I being too picky?

    I normally use ISO 200 on my Nikon D90, but nerev worried if I need to raise the ISO. However, even at 200ISO I will make use of Topaz DeNoise, it is brilliant at removing any noise. Sometimes I cannot tell the difference after I have used it on 200ISO.
    Ron

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