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Old Nov 13, 2007, 5:35 AM   #1
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Hi,

I'm considering buying upgrading my camera to a S5 IS. I have heard so many praises for it.

However, I have read from some websites that it has slight noise problems when using a high ISO. Can I just confirm with those who use the S5 if this problem really exists?

Thanks for your help in advance
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Old Nov 13, 2007, 6:15 AM   #2
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Of course, it's going to have "slight noise problems" at higher ISO speeds.

I'd probably consider it more than slight. ;-)

But, the same thing is going to apply to other models in it's market niche.

You can't expect clean images at higher ISO speeds from a camera with a sensor this small with some many pixels crammed in. That's just physics. When you try to use the highest ISO speed settings on this type of camera, you're going to get high noise and/or significant loss of detail from noise reduction (some manufacturers just blur it away to keep the noise down).

These types of cameras use very small sensors, with millions of individual photosites. The more pixels you add (and manufacturers are still engaging in a megapixel race), the smaller the surface area is for each individual photosite. As a result, a more light is required to generate a signal that's strong enough to be above the noise floor generated by the electronics. When you increase ISO speed, you amplify this weak signal, including the noise, especially when you have a lot of shadow areas in an image (underexposed parts don't get as much light for the same shutter speed, so noise tends to be higher).

Using a higher ISO speed on most non-DSLR cameras models is like trying to turn up the volume on a weak radio station. Only, intead of static, hum and hiss, you get image noise.

The trend I'm seeing now is more and more cameras are adding higher ISO speed settings. That's mostly a marketing thing from my perspective. If one manufacturer adds ISO 800 and 1600, the others tend to follow, whether or not you can get good image quality with those settings.

Heck, Sony and Olympus recently started adding an ISO 3200 setting to some of their UltraZoom models. It's so bad it's useless even for small prints from my perspective. But, someone comparing specs is probably going to look at that and think that a Sony DSC-H9 or H7 has ISO 3200, yet a Canon S5 IS only has ISO 1600. Just because you have an ISO 3200 setting doesn't mean you want to use it. ;-) It's a pointless setting from my perspective since you just end up with grainy mush. ISO 1600 isn't much better on these little cameras. They are best used at lower ISO speed settings.

Steve has high ISO speed samples in the S5 IS review. Anything over about ISO 400 is best used for small prints (and I wouldn't use over about ISO 200 in most conditions for optimum quality, especially if you need larger print or viewing sizes). But, sometimes noise is better than motion blur. So, higher ISO speed settings can come in handy, despite the noise levels.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2007_...anon_s5is.html

There are also some good software tools to help clean it up. Check out these for examples:

http://www.neatimage.com
http://www.imagenomic.com


If you have a need to use higher ISO speeds often, look at DSLR models. They have much larger sensors and tend to do much better as ISO speeds are increased. But, they're not noise free at their highest ISO speed settings either.

The same thing applies to film, too. Shoot some ISO 1600 color film and make sure to get a CD with the prints. See how clean those images look. They'll be pretty grainy if you view them at a larger size. ;-) We've gotten to a point where the noise levels from newer DSLR models at similar ISO speeds exceeds the quality you can get from color film now (comparing 35mm type color negative film).

But, you've got a very tiny sensor in an ultrazoom type cameras (that's how they can give you so much focal range in such a tiny package). The same thing applies to other non-DSLR type cameras. They have tiny sensors. Higher noise levels (and/or loss of detail from noise reduction) as ISO speeds are is one of the tradeoffs you have to make if you want a smaller camera.

Move up to one of the entry level DSLR models if you want to do better (but, you'll need a larger and heaver camera, with much larger lenses for the same focal range and brightness).

Any choice is going to be a compromise. Unless you're trying to use a camera often in low light without a flash for non-stationary subjects (where you may need higher ISO speeds to prevent motion blur), you may not care about using higher ISO speeds. The benefits of a smaller camera (size, weight, focal range, cost, etc.) will often outweigh any negative aspects of a smaller sensor, if you're using the camera in better lighting and/or using a flash.

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Old Nov 13, 2007, 6:55 AM   #3
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JimC wrote:
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Of course, it's going to have "slight noise problems" at higher ISO speeds.

I'd probably consider it more than slight. ;-)

But, the same thing is going to apply to other models in it's market niche.

You can't expect clean images at higher ISO speeds from a camera with a sensor this small with some many pixels crammed in. That's just physics. When you try to use the highest ISO speed settings on this type of camera, you're going to get high noise and/or significant loss of detail from noise reduction (some manufacturers just blur it away to keep the noise down).

These types of cameras use very small sensors, with millions of individual photosites. The more pixels you add (and manufacturers are still engaging in a megapixel race), the smaller the surface area is for each individual photosite. As a result, a more light is required to generate a signal that's strong enough to be above the noise floor generated by the electronics. When you increase ISO speed, you amplify this weak signal, including the noise, especially when you have a lot of shadow areas in an image (underexposed parts don't get as much light for the same shutter speed, so noise tends to be higher).

Using a higher ISO speed on most non-DSLR cameras models is like trying to turn up the volume on a weak radio station. Only, intead of static, hum and hiss, you get image noise.

The trend I'm seeing now is more and more cameras are adding higher ISO speed settings. That's mostly a marketing thing from my perspective. If one manufacturer adds ISO 800 and 1600, the others tend to follow, whether or not you can get good image quality with those settings.

Heck, Sony and Olympus recently started adding an ISO 3200 setting to some of their UltraZoom models. It's so bad it's useless even for small prints from my perspective. But, someone comparing specs is probably going to look at that and think that a Sony DSC-H9 or H7 has ISO 3200, yet a Canon S5 IS only has ISO 1600. Just because you have an ISO 3200 setting doesn't mean you want to use it. ;-) It's a pointless setting from my perspective since you just end up with grainy mush. ISO 1600 isn't much better on these little cameras. They are best used at lower ISO speed settings.

Steve has high ISO speed samples in the S5 IS review. Anything over about ISO 400 is best used for small prints (and I wouldn't use over about ISO 200 in most conditions for optimum quality, especially if you need larger print or viewing sizes). But, sometimes noise is better than motion blur. So, higher ISO speed settings can come in handy, despite the noise levels.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2007_...anon_s5is.html

There are also some good software tools to help clean it up. Check out these for examples:

http://www.neatimage.com
http://www.imagenomic.com


If you have a need to use higher ISO speeds often, look at DSLR models. They have much larger sensors and tend to do much better as ISO speeds are increased. But, they're not noise free at their highest ISO speed settings either.

The same thing applies to film, too. Shoot some ISO 1600 color film and make sure to get a CD with the prints. See how clean those images look. They'll be pretty grainy if you view them at a larger size. ;-) We've gotten to a point where the noise levels from newer DSLR models at similar ISO speeds exceeds the quality you can get from color film now (comparing 35mm type color negative film).

But, you've got a very tiny sensor in an ultrazoom type cameras (that's how they can give you so much focal range in such a tiny package). The same thing applies to other non-DSLR type cameras. They have tiny sensors. Higher noise levels (and/or loss of detail from noise reduction) as ISO speeds are is one of the tradeoffs you have to make if you want a smaller camera.

Move up to one of the entry level DSLR models if you want to do better (but, you'll need a larger and heaver camera, with much larger lenses for the same focal range and brightness).

Any choice is going to be a compromise. Unless you're trying to use a camera often in low light without a flash for non-stationary subjects (where you may need higher ISO speeds to prevent motion blur), you may not care about using higher ISO speeds. The benefits of a smaller camera (size, weight, focal range, cost, etc.) will often outweigh any negative aspects of a smaller sensor, if you're using the camera in better lighting and/or using a flash.
So basically, the camera would be good to use as long as the ISO doesn't go above 400, right? But it can be said that the problem is less severe than that of the new Sony H7 and H9,right?

With regards to your post, you mentioned the Sony H7. If you don't mind, can you give me your perspective whether the H7 or S5 is a better buy?
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Old Nov 13, 2007, 7:12 AM   #4
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I don't think there is a lot of difference between the noise levels between the newer Canon and Sony UltraZoom models.

Outdoors in daylight, or indoors with flash, you're probably not going to need to use the higher ISO speed settings anyway. ;-)

I'd start a new thread in our What Camera Should I Buy Forum if you want some input from members on the pros and cons of these models. You'll probably find a few threads there already from members trying to decide between them.

Make sure to read the review conclusion sections for models you consider, too. That's where Steve goes into things like performance (startup times, cycle times between photos, photos in a burst before a slowdown, etc.), and makes comments on things like noise and image quality with and without a flash.

No one choice is going to be perfect for all users, and you tend to have some tradeoffs with any of them (for example, a lens design with a less ambitious focal range from wide to long tends to have fewer image quality issues like Chromatic Aberrations, distortion, etc.). But, if you need the longer focal range, then you may consider those tradeoffs acceptable.

I'd also look at the sample images with your own eyes and see which one you think does better, in the conditions you plan to use a camera in more often.

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Old Nov 13, 2007, 7:19 AM   #5
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JimC wrote:
Quote:
I don't think there is a lot of difference between the noise levels between the newer Canon and Sony UltraZoom models.

Outdoors in daylight, or indoors with flash, you're probably not going to need to use the higher ISO speed settings anyway. ;-)

I'd start a new thread in our What Camera Should I Buy Forum if you want some input from members on the pros and cons of these models. You'll probably find a few threads there already from members trying to decide between them.

Make sure to read the review conclusion sections for models you consider, too. That's where Steve goes into things like performance (startup times, cycle times between photos, photos in a burst before a slowdown, etc.), and makes comments on things like noise and image quality with and without a flash.

No one choice is going to be perfect for all users, and you tend to have some tradeoffs with any of them (for example, a lens design with a less ambitious focal range from wide to long tends to have fewer image quality issues like Chromatic Aberrations, distortion, etc.). But, if you need the longer focal range, then you may consider those tradeoffs acceptable.

I'd also look at the sample images with your own eyes and see which one you think does better, in the conditions you plan to use a camera in more often.
Alright....thank you so much for your assistance. i've actually read it already, but still ain't sure. Thanks once again.
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Old Nov 13, 2007, 9:21 AM   #6
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I'd also like to add that the S5 ISfeatures optical image stabilization, which will also allow you to use a lower ISO setting and still capture sharp images at slower shutter speeds.



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Old Nov 13, 2007, 7:38 PM   #7
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absoulately it has noise problems, you have to use is low iso speeds ( 80 or 100) above iso 100 you can easily have noise problems but definately it takes detailed pictures, actually thats why it has more noise comparing to sony dsc h7-h9. my previous cam was dsc h7, nice cam, clearly less noise than canon produces but cant produce detailed pics like canon does, thats why i gave it back to sony store.For noises, you can use some programs like admin said, they really work great, now my pics. like in the magazines.

Regards
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Old Nov 14, 2007, 6:13 PM   #8
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Simply put... all the of the super zooms are goning to have the ISO problem as the senor is too small. You can only acheive good ISO with the SLR's that have the larger sensor. ISO is just a marketing ploy for those who don't know and hoping the large numbers will get them to buy "thier" brand camera.

Me, I don't use anything over 100 ISO. The same applies to the megapixel war... you can only get so much on the smaller super zoom chip. I don't think anyone needs over 6megapixels as who is going to blow them past 8x10 unless your a pro and a pro will buy a SLR.
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