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Old Dec 1, 2004, 10:02 AM   #1
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NOTE: this is a bit of a ramble - but the salient points are 1) new FZ1 owner 2) lots of noise in low light pictures. 3) sample pics showing the problem will be posted this evening.

Now for the rant:

I just purchased an FZ1K over eBay, and it arrived yesterday. (Now before you ask I will post pictures - I just need to get to a different computer, so will happen this evening). My problem is with picture noise - I knew that the camera was a little noisy for indoor pictures and a little bit for outdoor pictures. But what I have found is that for almost all pictures (though haven't done any at full sunlight) the noise is at unacceptable levels - really flatens the image out. I would guess part of the problem is that my first digital camera was an Epson PhotoPC 800Z and that (though SLOW) was amazing for low light conditions - never saw any noise in any photo taken with it. I then progressed to an Olympus Stylus 400 - though it is very small and fast the pictures tend to be fuzzy and have some amount of noise. I got the FZ1 thinking that the fuzzyness would go away (it has) and that being a lower megapixel count and the same as the Epson - it would have much less noise. I was surprised to find that it had much more....

oh - I did check the iso - the pictures have all been at ISO200 or ISO100. Also, I did upgrade the firmware to make this an FZ1v2 thinking that it may help - it didn't.

Any help to fix? Thanks much in advance!

Laurie


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Old Dec 1, 2004, 11:49 AM   #2
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Hello eirual, Welcome to the forums. You have certainly come to the right place for help. There are quite a few FZ1/v2 owners here, me being one of them. I tried to use my FZ1 at a wedding and found it to be hard to get a clean picture inside the church. The flash is weak. I did see a picture of a party that Nick T took. He used a after market flash and that picture looked really nice. I think that you will find that after you take the camera outside it will really came alive. The pictures are beautiful. Funny thing is that taking a picture of the moon shows little or no noise. Maybe it's just that I'm shooting a bright subject. I'm new to the FZ1 so I might be off on this. I hope our FZ1 guru Nick Trop will chime in on this.
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Old Dec 1, 2004, 12:40 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum, Laurie. The fz1 is not a particularly good indoor/lowlight camera. If you are taking shots without a flash, dontuse the zoomand, as Fox indicated, the onboard fz1 flash is quite anemic anyway so dont expect much from that either. The use of an external slave flashcan help considerably. Choices include the Vivitar df120 and df200 and the Phoenix d91 and d92. The fz1 is a great outdoor camera. I take 99% of my shots outdoors and am very happy with the results.

Fred
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Old Dec 1, 2004, 1:01 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info - I have been looking at getting a Digital Slave flash to help with indoor shots.

Last night I tried some photos of the neighborhood christmas light displays - with disappointing results. Any insight on how I can improve a pre-post processing picture and reduce noise would be greatly appreciated. I wassurprised by how bad the noise was with the camera- I had obviously not set my expectation low enough prior to getting the camera.

Thanks again.

Laurie

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Old Dec 1, 2004, 1:33 PM   #5
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eirual wrote:
Quote:
Any insight on how I can improve a pre-post processing picture and reduce noise would be greatly appreciated.
Make sure you don't underexpose (noise tends to be worse in underexposed area of an image), and use a good tool to reduce it later. For PP, try these:

Noiseware: http://www.imagenomic.com (they have a free version that works quite well). I'd start out with the defaults, and then try bumping up sharpness a couple of notches).

Neat Image: http://www.neatimage.com (a very popular tool)

Noise Ninja: http://www.picturecode.com


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Old Dec 1, 2004, 3:50 PM   #6
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Greets Laurie...

This is my second digital and have seen lots of digital images on posts. I would rate this camera's noisiness at around average. I've also read many reviews - just about all from professionals and users, and noise doesn't really seem to be cited as a major problem. I really can't say that I've seen much noise indoors at ISO 100... Point being, if it's really, really bad perhaps there's something wrong with the camera. Hard to say without seeing a sample. Even at ISO 200, I consider it acceptable, and not noticable at all in prints.

For indoor pictures, I always use a Vivitar DF200, a slave flash unit, mounted on the camera with an L-bracket, and get excellent results. If you're a stickler for noise - and perhaps I'm not (I've always accepted that 400+ speed film will have a little grain, and this doesn't detract too much from the image to me...), and there's nothing wrong with the camera, perhaps it simply isn't the right model for you. Also, I almost always do some post work in PS, though I've found it uncessary in most cases to use Neat Image unless it's the rare iso 400 shot.

I like to take indoor candids with natural light... for that I use a 35mm film camera with ISO 400 film. There's really no "one size fits all" camera.

Nick
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Old Dec 1, 2004, 7:27 PM   #7
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Here is the sample photos showing what I was talking about:

All were done at night, using flash and the default settings.

http://www.speakeasy.org/~lab/images...c/P1000027.JPG
http://www.speakeasy.org/~lab/images...c/P1000029.JPG
http://www.speakeasy.org/~lab/images...c/P1000033.JPG

Am I expecting too much? The Epson800Z - though slow - never showed this level of noise (neither does the Olympus)

Lauriue
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Old Dec 1, 2004, 8:10 PM   #8
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What setting are you using, iso, f values, shutter speed? The first shot looks pretty bad but I would guess that it was taken at iso 400.
I long exposure time will also cause this problem. The photos are pretty bad examples though as apart from the last one there isnt really anything in the image.
I would suggest lowering the iso and try some shots indoors for a better comparison.

Cheers

Treemonkey
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Old Dec 1, 2004, 8:15 PM   #9
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P1000029.JPG - taken at ISO100 - picture of trees
f2.8
shutter speed 1/30
P1000027.JPG - taken at ISO400 - random outdoor picture
f2.8
shutter speed 1/8
P1000033.JPG - taken at ISO100 - picture of a hydrant
f2.8
shutter speed 1/30

(info from the EXIF in the picture)

I actually never adjusted the ISO these are the settings that are automatically selected.
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Old Dec 1, 2004, 8:29 PM   #10
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eirual wrote:
Quote:
Here is the sample photos showing what I was talking about:

All were done at night, using flash and the default settings.

http://www.speakeasy.org/~lab/images...c/P1000027.JPG
http://www.speakeasy.org/~lab/images...c/P1000029.JPG
http://www.speakeasy.org/~lab/images...c/P1000033.JPG

Am I expecting too much? The Epson800Z - though slow - never showed this level of noise (neither does the Olympus)

Lauriue
Lauriue:

The first photo (P1000027.jpg) was taken at ISO 400, 1/8 second exposure, f/2.8with the flash turned off. This is why it's so noisy.

If you're going to take a photo outside at night of subjects outside of the flash range (with your flash turned off), you really need a tripod, keeping the camera set to lower ISO speeds. Because of the huge difference in the light levels between the lights in the image and the background, you'll also need to decide what portions of the image you want properly exposed for this type of shot (a digital camera will have a limited dynamic range with very uneven lighting like you'll find at night in some scenarios like the one you were shooting).

So, I'd suggest experimenting with the exposure somefor this type of shot (you'll either have overexposed areas around the light to get better exposure in the rest of the scene, or the rest of the area underexposed to get better exposure around the light). I can't tell what your intended subject actually was for this one.

The second photo (P1000029.jpg) was taken with flash, so the cameraused a faster (1/30 second) shutter speed with the ISO speedset to 100. But, there was nothing within the flash Range (so the entire photo is underexposed, as I'd expect it to be).

If you use the flash in low light, you musttake photos of something that's within the flash range if you don't want a dark photo (or at least use the Night Portrait Flash mode to help get better background illumination if you do have a subject within the flash range -- preferrably with a tripod and a non-moving subject if you do it this way).

The third photo looks about the way I'd expect a photo of a fire hydrant to look at night at close range with flash (well illuminated subject, dark background due the the very low light levels).


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