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Old Apr 26, 2005, 5:06 PM   #1
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With my Z3 I noticed innight shot or with low light a strange diagonal noise in dark areas. More is visible at high ISO but also a low ISO. The attachment is a crop of a photo shot in P-mode 80 ISO 1/160 sec. F 4.0. In night shot with 200 ISO is more visible.

Anyone have this problem ?

Any solution or suggestion ?

Thanks.
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Old May 3, 2005, 11:31 AM   #2
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Many cameras will produce noise in low-light.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"I use a program called "Neat Image" to filter noise - it is VERY good.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Here's your image filtered with one pass.


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Old May 3, 2005, 12:45 PM   #3
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Noise is generally worse in underexposed areas of an image (sincea primary cause is not enough light hitting the smaller photosites, requiring more amplification of the signal for equivalent ISO sensitivity, adding noise). If you don't have enough light, turning up the ISO speed on a digital camera is like turning up the volume on a weak radio station. Instead of static and hiss, you get image noise.

Any small sensored camera is going to have a certain amount of noise. Increasing ISO speed increases noise. CCD temperature can also have an impact. So, you should get less noise with a cool camera versus a hot one.

Exposure length also impacts noise (it's worse as exposure lengths increase). In camera Noise reduction generally helps with hot pixels for longer exposures, but generally doesn't help much with noise (with most cameras).

Third party products like Neat Image , Noiseware , and Noise Ninja are generally preferred to reduce it's appearance when higher ISO speeds and larger viewing sizes need to be combined.

The Z3 did have an unusal noise pattern in some cases, and Konica-Minolta released a firmware upgrade to improve it. Depending on when your model was manufactured, it may or may not have the newer firmware.

But, I'm not sure it made any signficant improvement anyway, and I don't really see any objectionable noise to speak of in your crop. Noise is something that you'll see with virtually any smaller sensored camera model (just like you'll see more grain with higher ISO speed film). You just don't normally examine film images at the sizes you look at 100% crops from your digital images on screen.

You can downloadthe firmware updatefrom here:

Konica-Minolta Z3 Software and Firmware Download Links

Corrected problem details: 1. The horizontal line noise that appears along the top of an image. 2. Delay in the built-in clock 3. System error appears or operation of switches is not accepted when capturing continuously. 4. The card capacity decreases if the 1GB SD memory card is formatted. (No problem with a card of 512MB or less.)


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Old May 4, 2005, 3:51 AM   #4
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Thanks for yours replies.

I have already upgraded the firmware from V1.01 to 1.02. The issue with diagonal noise is only in low light and night. With 50 ISO I don't have this problem.

I have downloaded and installed NeatImage. I think it's the only solution for night shot. Now I am in dubt if is better to lock iso to 50 for daylight and 100 for low light or leave sensitivity to auto. Any suggestion ?

Thanks


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Old May 4, 2005, 7:02 AM   #5
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GianGigi wrote:
Quote:
Thanks for yours replies.

I have already upgraded the firmware from V1.01 to 1.02. The issue with diagonal noise is only in low light and night. With 50 ISO I don't have this problem.

I have downloaded and installed NeatImage. I think it's the only solution for night shot. Now I am in dubt if is better to lock iso to 50 for daylight and 100 for low light or leave sensitivity to auto. Any suggestion ?

Yes... Only use higher ISO speeds if you need faster shutter speeds or increased flash range.

Use a tripod and keep ISO speed set low for non-stationary subjects in low light.

If you need increased flash range (each time you double the ISO speed, the flash range increases by 1.4x), then you may want to consider buying an external flash. The flash range on this model is relatively weak anyway (it was rated using Auto ISO, which most likely increases to around ISO200 in low light). At lower ISO speeds, the range will be shorter.

Again,noise is a common problem with digital cameras using smaller sensors (which the ultrazoom models do).

If you must use higher ISO speeds, the noise reduction products mentioned above are your best bet.

If you need a camera capable of shooting at higher ISO speeds with lower noise, a DSLR model is your best bet (these have dramatically larger sensors and have available ISO speeds up to 1600 or higher).

But, even these will have noise (it's just much lower for any given ISO speed compared to cameras using smaller sensors), and you'll need a bright lens to go with one (which adds size, weight and cost, especially since you'll need a much larger lens for any given 35mm equivalent focal length and lens brightness)

It would be nice if we could have a compact model with the focal range of the Z3, with the noise performance of a DSLR, but technology just hasn't progressed that far (yet). ;-)

It's a matter of physics. The sensors are smaller in a compact digital camera model, which also lets you use much shorter focal length lenses for any given 35mm equivalent focal length. For example, the lens on your Z3 has a focal range of 5.93-69.9mm to give it a 35mm equivalent focal range of approximately 35-420mm.

But, because of the smaller sensor, the photosites for each pixel are very small. As a result, it takes more light to generate a strong enough signal, and more amplifcation of the signal is required for equivalent ISO speed sensitivity. This adds noise.

A larger sensor (as used in a DSLR) has much larger photosites for each pixel. Because of the larger surface area, more photons hit the photosites, generating a better signal.

But, that means longer focal length lenses for any given 35mm equivalent focal length, which adds size, weight and cost. You'd spend much, much more money on lenses for a DSLR to get you to the focal range you have with the Z3, than the Z3 itself costs, and you'd have a much larger and heavier solution.

As technology stands now, you can't really "have your cake and eat it to". Sensor design just hasn't progressed to that point yet.

Now, some compact digital cameras are better with noise than others. The Z3 is not one of the better ones. But, you'll see complaints about using higher ISO speeds with any of the smaller sensored cameras like the Z3. The difference in noise performance really isn't that significant between models using the same sensor (and the Z3 appears to use a Panasonic sensor, which is shared by most of the ultrazoom models in it's class).

Buying a digital camera is a compromise. In order to have a compact, ultrazoom model, you'll need to learn to live with noise (or keep ISO speeds set low). But, Noise Reduction Products can help significantly. Also, viewing and print sizes make a big difference. At most viewing/print sizes, you're probably not going to notice the noise, provided you don't increase ISO speeds too much, and make sure to properly expose the images (using Noise Reduction Software when needed to reduce it's appearance).

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