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Old Nov 4, 2008, 9:25 PM   #1
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I was trying to get this photo without the flash, so I used a higher ISO and slower shutter speed, but wow it is noisy. What are some things that I can do in photoshop to atleast improve the photo? Any help would be great.
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Old Nov 4, 2008, 10:21 PM   #2
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I took a look at it, and didn't think that the noise was all that bad (it has some but not as much as some other cameras have at ISO 1600). There were a couple of other things that I noticed about it, though.

Were you using a tripod? The reason I ask is that it looks rather soft to me and wondered if you were really hand-holding a 1/8 sec shot with approximately 56mm. If so, then it's not surprising its soft (more amazing that it doesn't have more camera shake). Also, is the lens wide open? The exif reader I'm using doesn't specify lenses, just that it was taken at f4. If that's wide open, that might have been the contributing factor to the softness.

Next thing I noticed was the white balance - that can be easily corrected (I tried it in Lightroom and it helps the picture quite a bit).

As far as noise, I've used Neat Image in the past and liked it. It's a separate program but one version comes with a Photoshop plug-in and it's really easy to use. Now that I've switched computer platforms I'm thinking of switching to Noise Ninja because its supposed to be more flexible, but it also looks more complicated to use. I've always had better results using a dedicated noise reduction program/plug-in than I have with CS2's noise reduction (don't know if CS3 or 4 is better than CS2).

If it were mine, I'd download one of the trial versions of a noise reduction program like Neat Image or Noise Ninja for the noise, but be very conservative when you use the program - your picture is a bit soft to begin with and noise reduction programs will take out some of detail with the noise, possibly making it softer than you might like. Then I'd change the white balance (try Photoshop's auto levels - I used to use that often when I had CS2. I can't try it because I've changed platforms and haven't yet bought the correct version of Photoshop). Or use Lightroom - it did a very nice job when I tried it.

You can then try sharpening it a bit, to get a bit sharper picture and compensate for using the noise reduction program. I used LR's sharpening tools (in LR2 they are much better than they had been in the original version) but didn't particularly liked what it came up with.
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Old Nov 5, 2008, 9:12 AM   #3
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Josh....
Mtngal covered all the points of your shot and suggested some good things to try, so I won't repeat any of what she suggested...I did play with the picture and removed some saturation and bumped up the contrast...I am not a real fan of orangeish skin colors...I tried a bit of sharpen as well, but your shot is to soft to show much sharpening...Downsizing did help some though...My edit was a quick fix and I am suretaking more time with it than I did would help more...I do like the photo...Good composition and your crop is right on....
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Old Nov 5, 2008, 11:00 AM   #4
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Thanks for all of your help. I will mess with it this evening and see if I can get some better results. I am just getting used to this camera so maybe next time i will just get a better shot.
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Old Nov 5, 2008, 3:20 PM   #5
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Try shooting with a smaller aperture (larger f number, like f5.6 or f8 ) for sharper pictures if your lens's max aperture is f4 (not as big of a¬*deal if you are using a lens that is an f2.8 or faster - they are probably pretty sharp by f4), but that will mean using a tripod or other means to stabilize the lens because your shutter speed will be that much slower.¬* See if that would make any difference with this same pose (I do like the picture, not sure I said that before).

Play around with changing the white balance - try to set a custom white balance.¬* It's a very useful tool and I'd highly recommend learning how to set one early on with a new camera.¬* I still don't know half of the things my camera can do, but I really try to find something new every month or two¬*and practice it.¬* Then it will be second nature later on.

The best thing about digital cameras - it doesn't cost anything to experiment.¬* Have fun playing around, trying new things, reading the manual a couple of times and then putting what you read into practice.
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Old Nov 5, 2008, 5:14 PM   #6
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Hm,
that's a hard one. I toyed around a bit, but as always when working on very noisy images getting details while at the same time removing noise or at least staying at the same noise level is nearly impossible. I did a wild guess on WB and worked with a combo of sharpening/detail works followed by noise removal. After several stages any more "sharpening" only destroyed things, the last "acceptable" result then was resized for forum use, again detail and noise reduction works and that's it. Base line - if you really put a lot of effort into it, and I mean hours(!), there is a chance to repair the image to some degree.

I'd really suggest you try to take another shot, watch lighting, use the right WB (maybe even custom WB), take several shots if you don't trust the setup / the AF, whatever. Stop down your lens at least 1-2 f-stops and go for a shutter speed of 1/100s or faster if possible - your image has normal "out of focus / lens wide open" blur AND motion blur (some areas), I am really astonished how it turned out so good for 1/8s.

As for ISO1600 and the noise... there is no general rule like "don't use ISO1600". Some shots will be unusuable with high ISO while others look just great. If you HAVE to shoot ISO1600 and(!) JPEG, try to find a camera setting with low saturation and high contrast, which still gives acceptable color reproduction and overall image feeling. I did a test some time ago which showed that this combo haslower noise levels than a low contrast/high saturation shot of the same scene.

Anyway, here is my try, maybe you like it...

Regards,
Th.

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Old Nov 5, 2008, 5:17 PM   #7
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To better show the WB changes, noise level and details I copied a small part of the original image on top of the processed one and merged layers - kind of a "before/after" comparison.

BTW - It would be helpful to have access to the RAW file (if there is one), color correction and detail works as well as highlight/shadows etc. are way better to handle with a RAW.

Also with RAW you can do a nice trick... underexpose the shotby -1, maybe even -2 and then correct this in the RAW converter Use low ISO numbers (like 100 or 200) for this... at the end you'll getbetter detail at a comparable noise level.

Also if the camera's AF has a hard time getting focus - use manual focus!

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Old Nov 5, 2008, 7:20 PM   #8
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My feeling about the picture was that it had too much saturation. So I opened it up using Photoshop Elements 2 and first reduced the saturation considerably.

Then I looked at the eyes & brightened the highlights in the eyes.

Then I applied Unsharp Mask to the entire picture.

Then I put the entire picture through Neat Image.

I did this twice - once working from your original sized image & once working from your original that I'd reduced to 1024 wide.

I think the 1024 wide image came out better & with less noise, but of course it's not as big a picture.


Here it is -
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Old Nov 5, 2008, 7:27 PM   #9
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Wow!!! I am amazed at the amount of time and effort you guys are giving this. Thanks so much for all the tips and ideas. This last one is amazing, compared to the original. Wow.
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Old Nov 6, 2008, 2:53 PM   #10
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Ok, since you like the desaturated versions better, here is another attempt. I couldn't convince myself to remove all the noise (used Noiseware Community Edition this time) as sharpness/details vanished all too fast.

Maybe one could mix and match the heavily denoised and the sharpened images and by adjusting layers bring back some texture (some denoising programs work that way, too). Anyway... everything else was said... have fun and happy snapping.

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