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Old Nov 16, 2008, 12:45 PM   #11
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I would suggest that you consider getting a used Minolta 50mm f/1.7 for available light shooting. It is available on eBay for about $100, and will get you started. There are a lot of good Minoltafast primes that work on Sony dSLRs, and the 50/1.7 is a good way to get started.

I think that getting the best possible original image will provide superior results over anything that can be done in post processing. While I have no doubt that one of the applications JimC mentioned will cure excessive noise, a large aperture will prevent noise from occuring. Prevention is better than a cure.
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Old Nov 16, 2008, 12:48 PM   #12
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Welcome to the forums Zeek.

My guess is that the majority of shooters go with JPEG (8 bit). Even if you shoot raw and convert to a 16 Bit TIFF, you'll probably still want to convert to an 8 bit JPEG for most common uses (posting samples on the web, etc.). 16 Bit gives more latitude for post processing, until you save to a more commonly used format.

I typically shoot raw + jpeg. That way, I can use the JPEG if it's good enough for what I want to do with a photo, and still have the raw file if I need to do any editing for best results (exposure, white balance, etc.).

I'm probably not a good person to ask about favorite NR tools, since I tend to use Linux a lot more than Windows (even though I've got Windows XP Pro and Vista installed on different PCs). Heck, I don't think I've booted into Windows for anything in over a week now. So, I'll tend to use software that runs on both Linux and Windows.

Lately, I've been using Bibble Pro more than most others (since it supports Windows and Linux), and it supports Noise Ninja. I also use a variety of other products for raw conversion and light NR (for example, digiKam, showFoto, Raw Therapee) under Linux.

I'd download the trials for commonly used products and give them a spin. Most of them have either free or trial versions you can download to see how you like them.

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Old Nov 16, 2008, 1:23 PM   #13
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TCav wrote:
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While I have no doubt that one of the applications JimC mentioned will cure excessive noise, a large aperture will prevent noise from occuring.
Not if lighting is not good enough and you're shooting non-stationary subjects. It's not uncommon for me to shoot at ISO 3200 or ISO 4000 in very low light conditions (for example, live music in some of the clubs around here), even when using a brighter prime (just to get my shutter speeds up to between 1/20 and 1/40 second). That means I have to wait until movement stops to get many keepers without motion blur.

In some of the dimmer restaurant bar areas with live music (without any stage lighting at all), I'm lucky to get 1/10 second at ISO 3200 and f/2 (meaning a lot of blurry photos). You really need much faster shutter speeds for a higher percentage of keepers in those types of conditions. Sure, I could get an f/1.4 lens (I use a 28mm f/2, 50mm f/1.7 or 100mm f/2 most of the time in low light). But, shutter speeds would still be too slow for many usable photos in lighting that dim (not to mention that most lenses like that are going to be a bit soft wide open at f/1.4, and depth of field is going to be very shallow).

You have to take lighting, subject type, speed and direction of subject movement, how much you're filling the frame, depth of field needed, viewing/print sizes, desired quality, and much more into consideration. I'd prefer to shoot at around ISO 25,600 in some locations if I could get away with it. But, the results would be virtually unusable if I tried to push an exposure that much from my A700 (and it's max in camera setting is ISO 6400).

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Prevention is better than a cure
Sure, but that's not always possible in very low light, especially when shooting non-stationary subjects and you're asked not to use a flash. ;-)

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Old Nov 16, 2008, 8:43 PM   #14
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Thanks so much... greatly appreciate the input.

I had an idea that 8bit was fairly standard but needed a bit of validation. For what i'm doing right now it's fine.

Having only been in the DSLR game for a short time, i'm still a bit torn as to shoot RAW or JPG. I do like to do a bit of PP but don't want to have to be forced to do it for every single shot. Right now in the few very informal, personal tests i've done, it's just not worth the extra disc (card) space to shoot RAW. If i was shooting $$ shots for other people for $$... different story.

I'm playing with some of the 3rd party NR software now. Tho i do tend to follow the basic advice of TCav... in photography as in music recording... it's best to get the shot to begin with and not have to try to "fix it in the mix" so to speak. But... not withstanding... JimC's comments about sometimes having no choice but to fix it later... points all well taken... and that's where the NR software comes in.

I'm saving for some good lenses. These A300 kit kenses are pretty dang good to get started with... but obviously lack in many ways. But damn... i thought glass would have maybe gotten a bit more reasonably priced over the years but it is quite the opposite... it's gotten Way More Expensive! Youch! I'll maybe poke around for a nice Minolta 50mm prime...


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Old Nov 22, 2008, 9:36 AM   #15
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One more NR question, long exp NR. If using an external program mentioned in this thread, should this be off?

Was taking some night tripod pics of the brooklyn bridge and I had it on but did not turn it off to compare pics.
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Old Nov 22, 2008, 10:04 AM   #16
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Raistlin_01 wrote:
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One more NR question, long exp NR. If using an external program mentioned in this thread, should this be off?

Was taking some night tripod pics of the brooklyn bridge and I had it on but did not turn it off to compare pics.
Why not try both and compare.It doesn't have to be the bridge , it can be anything not moving. That way you'll have a better understanding of what the in-camera long exp NR does to your shots.
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Old Nov 22, 2008, 12:22 PM   #17
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I just did some comparison shots myself.

A) RAW with all camera NR off

B) RAW with all camera NR on

C) RAW-->LightRoom 2 NR

D)RAW-->TIFF-->Neat Image-->JPG

Shots were very low light, 3200, 1/8th at f/5.6, 200mm. A300, 55-200 kit lens.

Results: I see almost NO perceptible diff between the RAW shots. With camera NR on or off, i sure can't see a difference. Maybe the results would vary at lower ISO.

The effectivness of the LightRoom 2 NR is very minimal. It does make a perceptible change but is very limited. I'm a bit disappointed because i love LR2 for all else.

Now, the Neat Image results... Wow... stunning. Despite its limited JPG output (demo version) the NR it accomplishes is very impressive.

I found all 3 of the 3rd party NR pkgs i tried very similar. Neat Image is every bit as good as any of them if not better and costs way less.



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Old Nov 22, 2008, 12:35 PM   #18
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Just one other question... while we're on the subject of camera NR off/on... What about DRO? Shooting raw, do you guys have DRO on or off?


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Old Nov 22, 2008, 4:28 PM   #19
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DRO on or off does not matterwith raw.
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Old Nov 22, 2008, 4:44 PM   #20
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lomitamike wrote:
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DRO on or off does not matterwith raw.
Ah yes... of course. Is my understanding correct that the only data saved in RAW is ISO, shutter and aperature... and anything else is only saved in EXIF tags?


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