I know that sentence seems crazy...but I did a shoot with a mate the other day indoors. It was dimly lit (not drastic) but he cranked his Canon 5D Mrk II up to 2000 and 2500 and got great clean shots. I had mine at 1250 and got a bucket load of noise (even lower than that)...so somethings drastically wrong...
Anyone got any advice? Please!!!! This is embarrassing - can't get beaten by a Canon!!
How did you "enhance the light"? If you brightened the image because it looked underexposed, thatt's a good way to accentuate noise. The D3 produces remarkably clean images at the ISOs you were at, but there are definitely ways to undo that in post-processing.
This doesn't sound right at all. Could you possibly post a couple of examples from that particular shoot? If you keep the EXIF data intact, we will be better able to diagnose the problem, as we can see what camera settings were used.
Did either of you have any in-camera noise reduction enabled?
An example from the Cannon with EXIF date would also be useful to compare camera settings used in the shoot.
I routinely shoot in low light, this was the main reason for my move to FX, and I am constantly amazed at the clean images at 3200 and higher without in-camera noise reduction.
The EXIF isn't intact (try saving as a jpeg rather than using Save for Web) and the size is too small for us to see anything. Try showing a small crop of a section of the original troublesome image at a ISO 1250, and let us know exactly how you post-processed it (raw conversion settings). We'll try to help.
Thanks Rick...you've actually helped already! I'm now thinking it wasn't the ISO - rather it was I had the ISO too low and I suffered camera blur. In tying to get rid of the camera blur by sharpening I may have over sharpened etc and caused the noise...
Unfortunately, it's only the partial EXIF data, rather than the full blown type, and I'm now away from the computer I have that includes apps to view the more detailed info. One thing that's clear is that you're shooting a long shutter speed for a handheld shot: 1/20 sec. It's very difficult to avoid blur unless you're on a tripod. Other tips: check your camera's histogram and make sure it's not pushed dramatically to the left, with a significant gap on the right. An image like that will force you to make processing changes that will exacerbate the noise. If you top it off with a lot of sharpening, it's a recipe for a noisy image, even from a great camera like the D3.
Other tips: if you're converting the image in Photoshop's ACR raw converter, use some luminance noise reduction once you get up to ISO 2000 - play with settings from 10-50 depending on the ISO. In addition, use the right kind of sharpening. For a shot like this, I'd use an intensity of around 30-35, a radius of about 1.0-1.2, a Detail setting of 25 or so, and a masking value of 60. That will accentuate shapes, but not make the noise look worse. The masking slider is the key one as it will suppress sharpening in areas where there's no detail. It avoids the problem of sharpening noise inadvertantly.
if you're converting the image in Photoshop's ACR >raw converter, use some luminance noise reduction once you get >up to ISO 2000 - play with settings from 10-50 depending on >the ISO. In addition, use the right kind of sharpening. For >a shot like this, I'd use an intensity of around 30-35, a >radius of about 1.0-1.2, a Detail setting of 25 or so, and a >masking value of 60. That will accentuate shapes, but not >make the noise look worse. The masking slider is the key one >as it will suppress sharpening in areas where there's no >detail. It avoids the problem of sharpening noise >inadvertantly.
Rick do you use the Clarity slider in the RAW processor?
Yes, I use it, but not for higher ISO shots. It's another form of sharpening, and the controls in the Detail section of ACR are better at handling the higher ISO stuff.
Where the Clarity slider is wonderful is when you're shooting landscapes or city shots. It really adds some punch to the image and reduces haze. I generally keep it in the 20-30 range for those types of images.
>Did either of you have any in-camera noise reduction enabled? >
This wouldn't matter for two reasons: 1) in-camera noise reduction on the D3 doesn't cut in until ISO 2000 (which tells you something about the D3's noise levels), and 2) the images were raw images processed in Photoshop rather than NX, so in-camera noise reduction settings would have been ignored.
Mel, It's not always as simple as "just getting exposure right".
This is where I really noticed the issue. I had a backlit farrier swinging a hammer, so I wanted a highish shutter speed. The bit I wanted to get right was the smoke rising off the hoof. So I decided ISO 3200 was right. I never saw noise at that ISO on my then new D3. I shot raw.
But look at the noise in the shadow. A little flash fill-in would have fixed it, but I did not have a flash with me, and I did not think of the problem at the time.
Thu 09-Apr-09 12:18 AM | edited Thu 09-Apr-09 12:21 AM by MellyK
Ah that's interesting Ed. Some of the shots I took also had strong backlight. They're in a pub. By way of explanation my project is this: Some of you may know Victoria Australia was recently decimated in parts by some horrific bushfires. I am working with a town (as a volunteer) to document their 'rise from the ashes'. It means I take a lot of environmental portraits in a very low lit pub (bar). As the nature of the shoot is highly sensitive, I am not keen on setting up masses of lights. This town has 95% of it's homes destroyed and a number of residents lost their lives. So any advice would be welcome. Here's a couple of shots so far-but it gives you some context.
Rick do you selectively reduce noise? Eg just the background. Do you use the marque tool in this instance? My noise reduction plug in is great but there are so many sliders & options it can be a bit intimidating.
I didn't finesse that one much at all. I simply used its default setting and then bumped up "Luminance Detail Protection" a bit until I thought it had a reasonable balance of detail vs. noise reduction. If I wanted to selectively reduce the noise, the most likely I'd do it is by applying Noiseware to a duplicate layer, adding a mask, and then painting in where I wanted it with a brush. There are lots of ways to do it, though.
Thank you for stirring me out of my lethargy and thinking more about noise reduction than just "move the sliders a bit".
And thank you Mel for starting this thread off.
I bought Noiseware and tried this straight out of the box. I still don't know what I am doing, but this is the right hand and hip pocket of the farrier in my earlier shot, as displayed by Noiseware on the before/after screen. It is a screen grab, so it has lost a little. (It did not start off with any quality, but it is a tiny part of the whole shot).
I am thrilled with the result. It will be great on less serious noise, especially when I know what I am doing.
Another part of the noise equation is shutter speed. The longer that shutter's open the more noise you're going to get. Sometimes you actually can reduce noise by increasing the ISO and shutter speed, but whether or not that's going to work depends on the scene and the situation.
This is Nikonians at its finest. Some great advice. To avoid excessive noise at high ISOs I keep in mind a few guidelines. Firstly I never ever increase the exposure in ACR. Not a fraction. Secondly, I never use anything that that increases the exposure by stealth, such as filters, D-Lighting, Shadow/Highlights, Vibrance, saturation etc. Thirdly, get the colour temperature right in camera, don't try pulling blues out of a very yellow exposure, you just get noise. I suspect these all come from the same problem of signal to noise ratio; in the deep dark shadows the light that you want is so close to the background noise of the sensor that when you boost it you are feeding the demon noise with the same nourishment. The fourth I almost forgot because it is permanently welded into my D3, always shoot in 14 bit not 12 bit. This makes a visible difference in the shadows. My fifth rule is to remove noise before sharpening. My sixth is be very selective about how you add noise reduction, I mask and spray the most noise reduction where I do not need the most detail. I never blanket the image with noise reduction. Similarly with sharpening. for high ISO I use no sharpening in the camera, none at ACR capture and then selectively watching for noise. Often I will paint the sharpening on at 800% with the brush on my Cintiq following the edges.
Lastly (must be around tenth guideline)is I do not get too hung up about noise ("hey, is that from the guy with TEN high ISO guidelines?") Look at the awesome picture of the blacksmith, if any noise was present it either did not matter as the subject was so arresting or actually added to the feel.
Great advice, thanks Ian. Yep this thread and everyone who's contributed has been unbelievably helpful. Especially Rick who emailed me outside of here. Can't say how much I appreciate it. I have the bushfire survivor's easter egg hunt tomorrow! Hopefully I can do them justice!