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Old Sep 7, 2010, 9:52 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 7,370
Default How do you feel about "noise"

Image noise is probably one of the most common topics of discussion. Just about everyone mentions "noise" when talking about a camera, whether in a positive or negative way. Then there is the "common" knowledge that high noise is caused by high number of MP combined with small sensors. Over the years, P&S sensors haven't become much larger. I have 5+ year old cameras with sensor size of 1/2.33", which today seems to be pretty standard (up from just 1/2.5"). Of course there's always a brand/model here and there with larger sensor sizes (1/1.6") but they are definitely the minority. So, it looks like if any improvement over high ISO noise is to be made, it will come from the image processor rather than the increase in sensor size. Thus, we are now dealing with code and not physics.

Interestingly enough, after I got into the m4/3 system, I started shooting with a variety of MF lenses as well as participating in m4/3 dedicated forums and one thing I have noticed is the fact that m4/3 shooters seem to have a lot more tolerance for "noise" than everybody else. Why? Noise is still noise. Whether you get it from your brand new Panasonic FZ100 or from your GF1 with a vintage lens mounted on it, it's irrelevant...or it should be (I used the Panasonic models as examples because Panasonic tends to be one of the worst brands when it comes to controlling high ISO noise). However, I think that due to so many limitations involved when combining new and old technologies together, people look at the results with different eyes. What a combo can accomplish is much more important than the noise you get on your images and consequently, the perception is changing. Today high ISO noise does not bother me nearly as much as it did a year ago. I don't particularly like it but images I used to trash because of it, now I save. Do I see a trend with regards to this perception? Humm, hard to say but if there is one, for sure camera manufacturers are the greatest beneficiaries of all.

So, my question do you feel about "noise"?

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