Noise at lower iso

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by nirok, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. nirok

    nirok Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 7, 2014
    Hey, I'am shooting a lot of raw and I always see some noise (very little) at iso 200, I can't seem to find the balance between the sharpning and the noise reduction... I shoot some JPEG the other day saw no noise and my photos... any tips? what am I doing worng?
  2. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Being a slightly smaller sensor format there will be some noise at base ISO, especially if you do a lot of heavy pushing of exposure. The JPEG will probably have noise filtering applied to it, you have to apply it for RAWs yourself.

    That aside, you should always be sharpening selectively for the initial RAW development - increase the mask setting in ACR/LR to only sharpen real details, not noise. You can also use adjustment masks to only sharpen the areas you want without adding noise to the overall inage by sharpening everything.
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  3. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    The reason you're seeing noise in RAW shots and weren't seeing it in JPEGs is probably because in the conversion from RAW to JPEG which the camera makes, it applies some noise reduction. No noise reduction is applied to RAW files, you have to do it yourself. When you first open a RAW file in your processing software it will always have more noise than a straight out of camera JPEG with noise reduction already applied.

    As for finding the balance between sharpening and noise reduction, it would be a lot easier for someone to offer advice if you told us what processing software you're using. Different applications offer different controls and options.

    As a general rule however, increasing sharpening tends to increase noise regardless of what software you use, and noise tends to be worse in the shadows. Noise also increases at higher ISO settings. In Lightroom, which is what I use, decreasing the radius tends to sharpen noise and make it more obvious as can increasing the detail setting so with noisy images I tend to use a slightly higher radius setting and reduce my detail setting.
  4. Hypilein

    Hypilein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 18, 2015
    I recently saw one of Scott Kelby's Foto Critique's and he made a comment that I thought was really quite on point. He said, that there is very rarely an image where noise kills the shot and that he had rather a noisy shot than one that was blurred by noise reduction. Only other Photographer's care about noise, but when I show pictures to friends who are not into Photography they look at the image, not the noise. There are shots, that are just not good enough in terms of noise, but I have found that noise reduction is rarely a solution for those.

    At Base ISO you should really not have any critical noise, so just leave the noise reduction alone and heed the advice on the sharpening mask.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
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  5. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Are you converting the files in Lightroom?

    Lightroom applies sharpening at 25 by default. This will tend to bring out noise if you're really looking for it at 100%. I don't mind it myself, as I find M4/3 noise to be quite "filmic" so I usually leave it as it is.
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  6. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    One thing I do hate to say though, the new 16mp sensors are noiser/grainier at base iso than the older 12mp ones. At least thats how everything appears to me after upgrading from my original GF1. Don't get me wrong, everything above base is is much better, and so is the rest of the camera... just the darned base iso...
  7. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    ^^ This is the main cause. Try putting the mask up to around 40 under the details panel too.
  8. nirok

    nirok Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 7, 2014
    Thank you guys, I am using lightroom... does lightroom already applies some shrapning on every file?
  9. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Yes, it will by default, but it's the same setting whether it's for a 1 in sensor camera or medium format so won't be appropriate for everything. What you want to do is to set the import default for your specific camera serial number to something more sensible.
  10. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    That's fine as far as it goes, and it answers the question from nirok that you responded to but his original question was about noise and so it's also worth noting that LR does not apply any noise reduction by default. Since sharpening can actually make noise more noticeable, the noise you see on opening an image in LR may actually appear worse in some cases because of the default sharpening applied.

    I'll differ with wijang about modifying the LR defaults to include "more sensible" sharpening based on your camera. Hs definitely right in saying that the defaults aren't appropriate for everything but the simple fact is that anything you substitute as a default setting isn't going to be appropriate for everything either so worrying about defaults for sharpening doesn't make sense to me, just like worrying about defaults for the Basic Panel settings doesn't make sense to me. You're going to end up changing whatever the default settings are anyway, no matter what defaults you choose.

    LR comes with 2 sharpening presets, one for "landscapes" and one for "portraits". They're actually very reasonable starting points, and better for the types of images they're intended for than the default settings. I think it's easier just to start with one of the presets and just work from there. I find the radius settings in those presets are actually very good for the kind of images they're intended for and the detail slider settings are quite reasonable also. The amount and masking settings need to be set on an image by image basis anyway so it's not worth worrying about default settings for them anyway. With noise reduction the only setting you normally need to worry about is the luminance setting and you can usually leave the rest of the defaults untouched.

    I just don't think sharpening defaults save any significant amount of time over applying one of the presets and then fine tuning the Amount and Masking slider settings given that you're probably going to want to modify the settings anyway whatever defaults you set. If I really want to save time and not bother overly about sharpening I'll just select one of the 2 presets and leave it at that anyway. If you do want to change the defaults then I'd suggest simply setting the default seeing to whichever one of those 2 presets is better suited to most of your photos.
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  11. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    I'd agree with that. For shots at lower ISOs and not too much pushing I leave it at my new default but for many others I'd be adjusting them anyway.

    The reason I changed the defaults for my cameras is that I never found the default settings even close to appropriate, so wanted a starting point closer to what I'd ultimately like. An important distinction is that I'm using Adobe ACR, which doesn't have the same sharpening presets that LR does. With LR if you have more appropriate defaults or presets, that would probably be more convenient to start with.
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  12. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    In that case, allow me to share :)

    The Sharpen-Faces settings are Amount 35, Radius 1.4, Detail 15, and Masking 60. The Sharpen-Scenics settings are Amount 40, Radius 0.8. Detail 35 and masking 0.

    My understanding, which comes from Jeff Schewe's book 'The Digital Negative" is that the Lightroom/ACR sharpening and noise reduction controls come from work done by Bruce Fraser and a company called PixelGenius. Fraser has since died but Schewe was one of his partners and continues to do some work with the LR team and the preset settings came from him. For some reason they weren't included in ACR. It's easy enough to make your own presets with those settings.
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