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Old Nov 13, 2008, 9:57 PM   #1
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I am just beginning to use my A300 and have been using it indoors without flash using 800, 1600 and 3200 and not sure how I feel about the noise. Obviously the higher the worse it is.

Just wondering how you feel about the higher ISO performance and if you have any tips to help make it better. I would love to not have to go over 800 but depending on indoor lighting the 1600 is needed.

I remember reading that the high iso noise reduction only works on 1600 and 3200, is that true? If so would using 1600 instead 800 actually be better because of this noise reduction?

Trying to keep the shutter speed at 1/30 indoor at a decent aperature with the least amount of noise is my goal. I was in a church for a christening and tried using 400 but the shutter speed was too slow, then moved to 800 and it was much better. Was at the Met in NY going from 1600 to 3200 taking non flash photo's and wasn't too happy with the noise on some pics. This is all a learning curve for me, so bear with me.

Thanks
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Old Nov 14, 2008, 6:43 AM   #2
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How much noise (or loss of detail from noise reduction) you find to be acceptable is subjective. You also need to take viewing/print sizes into consideration (as noise or loss of detail from noise reduction won't be as noticeable at smaller viewing and print sizes).

Proper exposure will help with noise. I'd make sure to turn DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization) off when shooting at higher ISO speeds, too. That's because DRO will try to brighten the shadow areas, increasing noise levels. If you brighten an image later, you get more noise, just as if you used an even higher ISO speed to begin with (and that's the impact DRO will sometimes have). That's also why proper exposure is important (noise is going to be worse in underexposed areas of an image).

You can also use third party tools to help out. Here are some popular choices:

Noise Ninja

Noiseware

Neat Image

A brighter lens (with wider available apertures, represented by smaller f/stop numbers) can help, too. That way, you don't need to increase ISO speeds as much for the same shutter speeds. Most of the time if I'm shooting in low light without a flash, I'll use a brighter prime (for example, a 28mm f/2, 50mm f/1.7, or 100mm f/2).


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Old Nov 14, 2008, 6:52 AM   #3
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P.S.

You may also want to try shooting raw and see if you can get better results, leaving the camera's noise reduction turned off. Bibble has Noise Reduction using Noise Ninja Technology built in:

http://bibblelabs.com/

I'd also take a look at the new DXO Optics Pro (version 5.3). It looks like they've made some major breakthroughs in reducing noise at the raw level.

See more about the new noise reduction algorithms in version 5.3 here, including comparisons with Nikon Capture NX (which is pretty good for noise reduction) and Adobe Camera Raw:

http://www.dxo.com/intl/photo/dxo_op...rsion/high_iso

Both Bibble and DXO Optics Pro have full functional trial versions you can download to see how they work with your images.


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Old Nov 14, 2008, 11:44 AM   #4
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Raistlin_01 wrote:
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I am just beginning to use my A300 and have been using it indoors without flash ...
That's 'Available Light' photography, and you're not going to get good results with the kit lens. I use ISO 800 with shutter speeds of 1/30 or faster with either my Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 (a great replacement for the kit lens, IMHO) or my Minolta 50mm f/1.7 (available used for ~$100.) The kit lens just doesn't have a maximum aperture large enough to do what you want.
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Old Nov 14, 2008, 12:20 PM   #5
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Thanks JimC, awesome tip about turning DRO off at higher ISO's, I don't think I would have realized to do that. Thanks for the info about the software, I will check them out. So if shooting in RAW I should turn OFF the high ISO noise reduction in the camera? So I guess that is more for JPEG's?

As for exposure I would of course have to try the settings out to see which direction to go is better under the available light. Pictures would primarliy be for 4x6 or 5x7 (not often) and for viewing on the computer or web photo site.

TCav, I have the Sigma 17-70 F 2.8-4.5 (if you recall). So definately an improvement from the kit lens. I just think I need some more practice with figuring out the right ISO/Aperature/Shutter speeds, and of course depending on available light there are nearly limitless posibilities.
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Old Nov 14, 2008, 1:03 PM   #6
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Raistlin_01 wrote:
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So if shooting in RAW I should turn OFF the high ISO noise reduction in the camera?
I would. The camera's built in noise reduction is not as good as you can achieve using other tools later.

By using some of the software I've mentioned, you can get a better balance between noise reduction and retained detail later, dialing in more or less NR as needed for a given photo. For best results with that approach, don't let the camera apply any (turn NR off).

Quote:
So I guess that is more for JPEG's?
Sony is applying rather heavy Noise Reduction to both the JPEG and RAW files if it's turned on in the camera. I'd suggest shooting with it turned off if you plan on shooting raw and post processing your images using good tools that will allow you to retain more detail when reducing noise levels. Again, it's all subjective (you may decide that it's easier to use straight from the camera jpeg images at smaller print sizes and let the camera's NR handle it). But, for better results, I'd try shooting with it turned off. Then, use good software tools to help reduce it later.


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Old Nov 14, 2008, 1:16 PM   #7
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Raistlin_01 wrote:
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TCav, I have the Sigma 17-70 F 2.8-4.5 (if you recall). So definately an improvement from the kit lens. I just think I need some more practice with figuring out the right ISO/Aperature/Shutter speeds, and of course depending on available light there are nearly limitless posibilities.
Yes, the 17-70's f/2.8-4.5 is an improvement over the kit lens' f/3.5-5.6, but only by about 2/3 f-stop. For available light photography with the Sigma, you're going to open some drapes, remove some lampshades, etc., to get shutter speeds high enough to use an ISO of 800 or less.

Noise is an unfortunate consequence of higher ISO, and that isn't likely to change very much. The only way to avoid it is to use slower shutter speeds, larger apertures, or more light.
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Old Nov 14, 2008, 1:58 PM   #8
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One other piece of advice for available light shooting - expose to the right. This means you want your exposure such that the histogram is slightly shifted to the right. Noise is MUCH more prominant in shadows. And, if you have an underexposed shot that you adjust in post processing it REALLY brings out the noise. From a noise standpoint, you'll get better results if you have a slightly overexposed shot adjusted down. Of course, that means slower shutter speeds. Everything is a trade-off.

But, regardless of camera, the best way to defeat noise is to have a shot exposed properly or slightly overexposed. And, as Jim mentioned shooting RAW and performing your own noise reduction rather than letting the camera do it.
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Old Nov 14, 2008, 3:59 PM   #9
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Very good, thanks for all the advice. I am still new at learning the functions/settings of my new DSLR, never mind figuring out a new software to help with noise.I did a photo workshop at the Met in NYC with someone anddid a lot oflow light shooting and using the controls to over/under expose an image. I think I learned the exposure controls well and now just need to learn (from experience) when to under/over expose a shot.

I am going to have to pick a software and learn how to use it so that when I have photo's from a low light situation I can apply the NR techniques of the software well. Sounds like the software will do a better job of NR than the Sony.

Thanks again for the advice
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Old Nov 16, 2008, 12:05 PM   #10
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Hello to everyone... new guy here.

I'm very interested in this discussion as i love doing available light. I'm an old film guy getting back into the game... the new game of DSLR. I'm a computer tech by trade so understanding that aspect of things is no problem. As it applies to digital photography, however, i sometimes feel the "generation gap"

A few questions if you don't mind:

- Of the three 3rd party NR software listed... is there a favorite among you? In checking them out i see they all seem to do a pretty good job.

- Are 16bit images very common? I understand the technicalities of why they would be better... but how common are they in daily DSLR life? Is it strictly up to the camera to produce them?

I'm shooting an A300 with the 2 kit lenses... and for now is serving me very well. I will eventually start looking at fast primes and (extremely pricey) fast zooms for better available light shooting. I found the comments about shooting raw with DRO and NR shut off very interesting and will be experimenting with that.

Thanks to all and pleased to meet you.


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