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Old Mar 29, 2010, 8:00 PM   #1
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Default Limiting noise in high ISO/low light shots

I'll be shooting martial arts for fun in a few weeks. This will be held in a high school gym.

I figure high ISO and no flash will yield noisy images. Are there settings on my E-620 that can be tweaked to limit the noise in the images?

My first thoughts are:
1. Noise filter
2. Gradation

I'll probably be shooting with, gasp, my 70-300mm...
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Old Mar 29, 2010, 9:41 PM   #2
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How's the lighting in the gym? That'll be a big factor. A few weeks ago I went with a friend to shoot at a girl's high school basketball game. The gym was in a new high school with lighting as good as I have ever seen in a high school gym and, using the E30 and 50-200 f2.8-3.5 SWD I was shooting ISO 3200 to get 1/640 second with the lens wide open.

Are you shooting in JPEG capture? If so, I would definitely turn the noise filter to standard. Hopefully you'll have a match or two before who you are going to see is up so you can play with the exposure/metering/gradation. I would experiment with both regular and low gradation, maybe set your lens wide open and see what shutter speed the camera selects. I've never shot martial arts and figure it takes a pretty high speed to completely freeze the faster action and a lot of how much luck you have will be dependant on the lighting quality.

How far back are you going to have to sit? If I could get close enough, the one lens available in Olympus mount I would want to have for low light sports shooting is the Sigma 50mm f1.4 HSM. A 100mm effective field of view, SWD-type AF motor and f1.4 speed is about as good as it'd get.

Last edited by Greg Chappell; Mar 29, 2010 at 10:36 PM.
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 7:50 AM   #3
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Greg,

- I have no chance to go before hand and test out some settings
- I have no idea where I'll be sitting
- I only have the 70-300mm and 14-42mm kit lens at my disposal. I haven't purchased the 12-60mm I want to get yet. I don't have the means to get the Sigma either, which would be a pretty slick lens.
- I also have no idea what sort of action I'll be seeing either. I think there will be some actual contact fighting. Not sure.

This is just an one off, for fun and for a friend. They see the 70-300mm with a lens hood and they think it's a pro/top quality lens... LOL!

As for the Sigma, this it?
http://www.henrys.ca/732-SIGMA-50MM-...UR-THIRDS.aspx

Plus, if you were shooting ISO 3200 on your E30, its sure to suck on my E-620 as with ISO 800, I find it quite noisy already - most particularly skin tones (ie faces).
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 10:05 AM   #4
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The Sigma lens you linked above is the one I was talking about.

I would just do a lot of experimenting. The E620's JPEG engine does put the hammer down compared to the E30 in that it has a much more aggressive tone curve. The colors and contrast are both more intense than the E30. Olympus has the E620 set up to produce a much more "finished" JPEG out of the camera, which can mean a faster track to clipping highlights under certain conditions.

Play with both the normal and low gradation settings to get an idea of how it works. Is the friend competing? If so, hopefully there will be a match or two where you can experiment and find a setting that works best for the available lighting and shoot his match with the those best settings.
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 11:47 AM   #5
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I might be able to have access to the gym for 5 minutes the day before. The buddy isn't competing unfortunately as he's helping to organize the local event with his club.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Chappell View Post
I would just do a lot of experimenting. The E620's JPEG engine does put the hammer down compared to the E30 in that it has a much more aggressive tone curve. The colors and contrast are both more intense than the E30. Olympus has the E620 set up to produce a much more "finished" JPEG out of the camera, which can mean a faster track to clipping highlights under certain conditions.
Maybe this is what I witnessed during the weekend when I was at the zoo. I'll see if I can't start another thread on the subject. Either that or it was due to the aperture being opened to the max, the shutter speed being very high (1/4000 and blinking in the viewfinder)? But saturation levels seem to be way up there and noise was present, even at ISO 200.
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 12:02 PM   #6
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One critical fact - regardless of the camera it is critical to get your exposure correct IN CAMERA. And by exposure I mean exposure for FACES not gis. faces in the replay lcd should look just as bright as if you were using flash or outdoors. Resist the urge to say "they're a bit dark but I can fix that in the computer".

Shoot a manual exposure - adjusted to expose properly for faces. If everything is in the center of the gym floor there shouldn't be much of an issue. But if events push towards the ends of the gyms you start running out of overhead lights and the ends can end up a full stop lower exposure than the center.

If you shoot jpeg, set a custom WB. In most modern HS gyms the lights overlap enough to get a decent 'average' light temperature. Just make sure that when you take your custom WB shot you do so with a shutter speed around 1/60. This will allow the lights to cycle during the shot - giving you an average color temperature.
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 12:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TekiusFanatikus View Post
....Maybe this is what I witnessed during the weekend when I was at the zoo. I'll see if I can't start another thread on the subject. Either that or it was due to the aperture being opened to the max, the shutter speed being very high (1/4000 and blinking in the viewfinder)? But saturation levels seem to be way up there and noise was present, even at ISO 200.

TekiusFanatikus

When you see that (blinking shutter speed in viewfinder at 1/4000 second), that means your settings are exceeding what the camera is capable of for proper exposure.

The fastest shutter speed your E-620 is capable of is 1/4000 second. So, by trying to shoot at f/2.8 using Av (Aperture Value, a.k.a., Aperture Priority) mode in very bright light, you were causing overexposed images, because the camera needed shutter speeds faster than 1/4000 second in order to give you a properly exposed image. ;-)

At ISO 100 and f/2.8, you may need shutter speeds as fast as 1/4000 second in bright sunlight (and in some lighting, you may need even faster shutter speeds).

At ISO 200, you're going to get overexposed images at f/2.8 in very bright sunlight, because your camera is not capable of shutter speeds faster than 1/4000 second (hence the blinking shutter speed in your viewfinder, designed to serve as a warning that your settings are exceeding the capabilities of the camera).
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 12:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TekiusFanatikus View Post
Maybe this is what I witnessed during the weekend when I was at the zoo. I'll see if I can't start another thread on the subject. Either that or it was due to the aperture being opened to the max, the shutter speed being very high (1/4000 and blinking in the viewfinder)? But saturation levels seem to be way up there and noise was present, even at ISO 200.
When the shutter hits the top speed like 1/4000 second and starts to blink, that means the camera has run out of shutter speeds, so it cannot expose the scene correctly and you most likely wind up with overexposed images and often blown highlights as a result. The way you fix that is to either set the ISO to a lower value, or keep the ISO set where it's at and use a progressively smaller aperture until the 1/4000 setting stops blinking or the camera starts selecting lower speeds.
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 12:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
If you shoot jpeg, set a custom WB. In most modern HS gyms the lights overlap enough to get a decent 'average' light temperature. Just make sure that when you take your custom WB shot you do so with a shutter speed around 1/60. This will allow the lights to cycle during the shot - giving you an average color temperature.
I am going to try this Wednesday night at the Dallas Star's NHL game. I always wait until the lights go up just before faceoff to manually set the white balance, but always do the testing using the exposure I use for game action, which is quite a bit faster than 1/60 second and I inevitably always have several files where I have to tweek the color balance in ACR.

Thanks!
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 12:14 PM   #10
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JimC and Greg, thanks for the clarification. It's pretty much what I thought and glad to know what caused those pictures to look like they did. I wish that it would have dawned on me at that instant to have me change my settings.

Last edited by TekiusFanatikus; Mar 30, 2010 at 12:18 PM.
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