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Thread: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

  1. #1
    arith's Avatar
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    Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    I tried to see how good my camera is at security; this is the best I can manage hand held 1/8 sec f2.8 1600 iso through curtains.

    Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso
    Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Is the noise normally this bad or is it a fault with my camera?

    Can it be cleaned up better with better software?

    I was doing this hours ago when a picture frame fell on my pc; and it has taken hours to fix, if it is fixed.

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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Hi Arith,

    Noise is a complicated beast. The #1 enemy is under-exposure, mind you, at 1/8th you really can't go much lower without a tripod or some kind of support.

    Pretty hard to evaluate noise in shots here unless they're 100% crops (ie "actual pixels) as any down-sampling also reduces noise, making the whole exercise futile).

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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Arith,
    I've just started a course online and the following is taken from an assignment I have to do. Thought it might be helpful to get to know your camera. Interesting that the tutor asks me to place camera on a tripod in the low light Part C (might be significant)...

    Part B
    Select a scene that has a good range of tonal values from deep shadows to bright highlights. Use a normal lens with the aperture set at around f/ 8 and the camera in aperture priority mode or manual mode if not available. Set the camera to its highest pixel resolution if available. Select the lowest ISO setting available and make a correct exposure.

    Now make a series of photographs of the same scene by increasing the ISO in 2x increments (and adjusting the shutter speed if in Manual Mode) to maintain the correct exposure; for example ISO 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 etc. Go as far as you can until you run out of ISO.

    Now import these images into the computer and enlarge each one to 200 or 300% enlargement. Write an explanation of what changes take place in the image as the ISO is increased. Pay particular attention to the shadows. What is the optimum ISO for your camera?

    Part C
    Repeat part B this time choosing a dark subject with little contrast. Perhaps indoors with the lights off during the day. Aim to be shooting at shutter speeds of between 1 and 30 seconds. You will need to support the camera on a tripod or chair or something solid to prevent camera shake at slow speeds. Note any differences to the image quality from those found in part B. Summarise your findings
    .

    Have fun

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    I didn't know that reducing size reduces noise but I suppose it's obvious. Cheers Colin.

    The tripod is useful but I thought if I put my camera away on high settings then if something kicks of at Christmas like it usually does could I take a photo; I've got 3200 iso but don't like to use it because it might blow up my camera.

    Looks like I can't but I'm very interested in the exercise Hans and I've seen others I didn't think of; all of them helping me understand my camera. Which can't be a bad thing.

    Cheers.

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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Hi Hans,

    From a landscape perspective, the biggest issue with high ISO settings is the significantly reduced dynamic range. Noise will also increase, but it's really not a significant issue with modern cameras in "real world" prints (ie prints of the entire image -- not 100%+ magnifications in Photoshop).

  6. #6

    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    IMO, banding (I consider it a form of noise) is the worse artifact of high ISO, followed by dynamic range and random noise.

    What are your thoughts on banding and how the heck do I remove them?

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    IMO, banding (I consider it a form of noise) is the worse artifact of high ISO, followed by dynamic range and random noise.

    What are your thoughts on banding and how the heck do I remove them?
    Hi Blazing Fire,

    I think we need to see an example from you, I don't believe I get banding noise.
    Which camera are you using?

    The (sort of) vertical bands above (in Arith's photos) I took to be relections of the curtains in the window glass, as they are illuminated by the street lamps. Ths I assume this isn't what you're talking about, it just reminded you of it?

    Hi Arith,

    Yes, it can be reduced by Software, check this out:
    Neat Image, a simple workflow

    Neat Image really can be as simple as four mouse clicks.
    It can be used standalone if you don't already have a compatible image editor it can link to as a plug in.

    Also (sorry, I can't remember), if you are shooting RAW and using ACR5.x in Elements 6/7/8, Lightroom 2.x or CS3/CS4, the noise reduction in that is worth 'turning up'.

    It won't 'blow up', honest!

    One more thought, on AF, not sure if the AF on Canon 10D has a focus assist light, but that may draw attention to you.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 24th December 2009 at 05:44 PM. Reason: add version numbers to improve accuracy of advice

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    I thought of the focus assist light Dave; and turned it off. Cheers for the Neat image.

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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    IMO, banding (I consider it a form of noise) is the worse artifact of high ISO, followed by dynamic range and random noise.

    What are your thoughts on banding and how the heck do I remove them?
    I suspect that any banding probably comes from having to stretch a tonal range too far in post processing - usually when trying to compensate for the reduced dynamic range or compensate for a significant degree of under-exposure.

    At high ISO settings exposure is far more critical in wide-dynamic range scenes ... if you under-expose by, say, 2 stops (not particularly noticeable to the human eye and easy to do) you've just thrown away a full 3/4 of the information that you could have captured, and when compensating in post-processing - for a high ISO shot where your "safety margins" are already vastly reduced - you'll often get banding.

  10. #10

    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Blazing Fire,

    I think we need to see an example from you, I don't believe I get banding noise.
    Which camera are you using?

    The (sort of) vertical bands above (in Arith's photos) I took to be relections of the curtains in the window glass, as they are illuminated by the street lamps. Ths I assume this isn't what you're talking about, it just reminded you of it?

    Cheers,
    I will do so shortly. Frankly, it's hard to get banding on my D700. You need to push the ISO to >4000 and shoot a scene with bright spots of light. Even then, the banding is barely visibly. I'm just nitpicking .

    Yes, the curtain fabric reminded me of banding noise.

    I suspect that any banding probably comes from having to stretch a tonal range too far in post processing - usually when trying to compensate for the reduced dynamic range or compensate for a significant degree of under-exposure.

    At high ISO settings exposure is far more critical in wide-dynamic range scenes ... if you under-expose by, say, 2 stops (not particularly noticeable to the human eye and easy to do) you've just thrown away a full 3/4 of the information that you could have captured, and when compensating in post-processing - for a high ISO shot where your "safety margins" are already vastly reduced - you'll often get banding.
    Thanks for your reply Colin!

    How do I prevent underexposure? I make it a point to have my histogram exposed to the right without having to blow the highlights. Is that all I can do?

    PS: I always think of exposure as the hardest thing get right because there is no perfect exposure.

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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post

    How do I prevent underexposure? I make it a point to have my histogram exposed to the right without having to blow the highlights. Is that all I can do?
    It really depends on the dynamic range of the scene. In an extreme contrast scene - eg

    Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    The highlights are going to blow anyway (to a lesser or greater degree), so in essence in situations like this you "expose for the mid-tones" and the histogram will have a spike at the end (if you expose for the highlights in a scene like this then the midtones will be down around the noise floor).

    Conversely, if you have a very flat scene (ie a low dynamic range scene) then exposing to the right can make it difficult to get the mid-tones right (I know that that doesn't sound right, but that's just the way it is) - however it's not a big big big issue, and it's still better to err on the side of over-exposure than under-exposure for those types of scene.

    For a medium dynamic range scene exposing to the right is good (which is probably the most common type of scene anyway).

    Another thing you can do to reduce noise is to stack multiple exposures. If you have a base ISO of 200 and you want to shoot at 3200 then if you stack 16 3200 ISO shots and average them then the resultant will be similar to what you would have got at ISO 200.

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Cor; I think this place is fantastic. Where else can you get such an expert answer based on experience, I am gobsmacked except where Colin says stacking multiple images; waste of time in my opinion. If you have a really really good tripod and nothing moves; why not do HDR?

    So I want to know why or if averaging is better than HDR.

    Well it is Christmas and I would like to wish our and we are privileged; experts Dave and Colin a happy Christmas and new year, and I mean it.

    Ta

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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Quote Originally Posted by arith View Post
    Cor; I think this place is fantastic. Where else can you get such an expert answer based on experience, I am gobsmacked except where Colin says stacking multiple images; waste of time in my opinion. If you have a really really good tripod and nothing moves; why not do HDR?
    With HDR you take a bracket of images at different exposures so that you can deal with a scene that has a dynamic range that greater than the camera can handle in a single exposure.

    With stacking they're all the same exposure - it just averages the noise out.

    Different technique for a different situation

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Quote Originally Posted by arith View Post
    ~

    Well it is Christmas and I would like to wish our and we are privileged; experts Dave and Colin a happy Christmas and new year, and I mean it.

    ~
    Thank you Arith, I would argue over the use of the word "expert" and my name in the same sentence, but hey, its Christmas

    Seasonal greetings to all members,

  15. #15

    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    It really depends on the dynamic range of the scene. In an extreme contrast scene - eg

    Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    The highlights are going to blow anyway (to a lesser or greater degree), so in essence in situations like this you "expose for the mid-tones" and the histogram will have a spike at the end (if you expose for the highlights in a scene like this then the midtones will be down around the noise floor).

    Conversely, if you have a very flat scene (ie a low dynamic range scene) then exposing to the right can make it difficult to get the mid-tones right (I know that that doesn't sound right, but that's just the way it is) - however it's not a big big big issue, and it's still better to err on the side of over-exposure than under-exposure for those types of scene.

    For a medium dynamic range scene exposing to the right is good (which is probably the most common type of scene anyway).

    Another thing you can do to reduce noise is to stack multiple exposures. If you have a base ISO of 200 and you want to shoot at 3200 then if you stack 16 3200 ISO shots and average them then the resultant will be similar to what you would have got at ISO 200.
    Thanks once again for your advice! Greatly appreciated.

    May I know why I should stack multiple exposures when I can just shoot 1 low-iso shot? If I'm not mistaken, the multiple exposures need to be alligned rather well which means a tripod is required. A low-iso shot in the dark also requires a tripod. To my thinking, the latter requires less work while giving similar results.

    @David, I can't seem to reproduce banding on my D700. I vaguely remembered seeing banding in one of my shots but I guess it was my imagination, or that banding occurs very rarely. Anyway, I'll post a 100% crop of my lighted chirstmas tree to see if banding is visible to you.

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Quote Originally Posted by arith View Post
    I tried to see how good my camera is at security; this is the best I can manage hand held 1/8 sec f2.8 1600 iso through curtains.

    Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso
    Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    Is the noise normally this bad or is it a fault with my camera?

    Can it be cleaned up better with better software?

    I was doing this hours ago when a picture frame fell on my pc; and it has taken hours to fix, if it is fixed.
    Arith,

    I was reviewing your post and it looks like you are using your camera for security and shot through a curtain. A few questions, 1) I'm not familiar with the Canon 10D but does it have an infrared sensor which would be very visible at night? 2) Are you using iso 1600 to compensate for a non flash photo? 3) See the attachment of a photo shot under almost the same conditions (through a curtain at (S) 1600, 18mm lense on a Nikon D60.

    security-3.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 30th December 2009 at 12:16 PM. Reason: add image inline

  17. #17

    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    This is 6400iso. No post processing done. Donwload the file for exif data.

    crop.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 30th December 2009 at 12:17 PM.

  18. #18

    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    This is a larger crop. Also 6400ISO.

    dsc_8313.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 30th December 2009 at 12:18 PM.

  19. #19

    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    This is the entire image.

    dsc_8313_01.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 30th December 2009 at 12:18 PM.

  20. #20
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Is this the best you can expect from 1600 iso

    1) I'm not familiar with the Canon 10D but does it have an infrared sensor which would be very visible at night? 2) Are you using iso 1600 to compensate for a non flash photo? 3) See the attachment of a photo shot under almost the same conditions (through a curtain at (S) 1600, 18mm lens on a Nikon D60.
    It has an infra red sensor on the ext flash only; I just had the idea I could put my camera away on high iso settings and the if trouble kicks off I can take a snap but wouldn't like to attract attention.

    A few Christmas's ago I phoned the police because four men were fighting in the middle of the road; the police expected me to give a running commentary and phoned me back when I hung up.

    Four became fifty and a full scale riot, the police did not turn up until it was all over and dispersed; but I did get some numbers off cars used to pick up the injured.

    If my house gets damaged I would like to have evidence of the culprits because they will just get away with it otherwise.

    But now I thought it only happens around Christmas so maybe it is not worth the hassle.

    Cheers for the photo.

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