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Tips for keeping sharpness at higher ISOs?

Discussion in 'Creative Corner' started by dulaney22, Oct 17, 2010.

  1. dulaney22

    dulaney22 Mu-43 Regular

    106
    Aug 18, 2010
    I've noticed that shooting 1600 on my E-P1 with the 20mm Panny allows for what I consider sharp enough images. You might not want to blow them up to poster size, but they look good on my screen at 8x10 size. Other than having a fast lens, what tips, if any, can you give for keeping the images reasonably sharp at higher ISOs? I understand that the inherent noise will necessarily soften the image, but am wondering if folks get good results bumping the EV value, using slower shutter speeds, etc.?
     
  2. brnmatsumoto

    brnmatsumoto Mu-43 Regular

    92
    Jul 18, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    If you have the software, I would save the files in RAW format and, depending on the programs available to you, use the noise reduction software in the software package and perhaps consider getting third party software specifically designed to remove noise. I use a program called Noise Ninja and I understand there is one called Neat Image Image that does a good job. It buys me a little extra sharpness.

    Brian
     
  3. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Shoot RAW, and keep the camera as steady as possible. Even with IS, camera movement is an issue, which is only exacerbated if you want to print or view larger. Use a tripod, or gorilla pod or set the camera on a bean bag. Also, consider using the self- timer: some claim there is less shake this way.

    I would also say that as always it's useful to make many images, using different mixes of technique, and then examine them carefully. You'll discover what works best for you.
     
  4. dulaney22

    dulaney22 Mu-43 Regular

    106
    Aug 18, 2010
    I'm shooting RAW. Heck, early on I shot the RAW+JPEG and thought the RAW output looked better . . . certainly a lot more correctable. Anyway, I've seen several references to Noise Ninja, so I'll certainly give it a shot. What works best for me is putting the 20mm on. LOL!!
     
  5. LisaO

    LisaO Mu-43 Top Veteran

    798
    Mar 18, 2010
    New York Metro Area
    Lisa
    Also consider Lightroom, 3 in addition to file management, lens correction and lots of other things it does quite a good job of noise reduction.
     
  6. brnmatsumoto

    brnmatsumoto Mu-43 Regular

    92
    Jul 18, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I envy your lens selection--but I have to make do with what I have and you know how slow the supplied zoom is on the G2::frown: the third party noise suppression software works for me. Noise Ninja has been on my computer for years--and I use it as a plug-in with Photoshop CS4. Since I switched to Aperture, I have been working with Neat Image's plug-in. As someone pointed out, Lightroom as well as Photoshop, and Aperture have noise suppression commands as well. They work nicely on RAW files, but I think the Noise Ninja and Neat Image do a bit better and they work well with my workflow. Besides, you can buy Windows versions of these software as standalone programs. Neat Image has an enthusiastic following.

    Good luck on your low light endeavors!

    Brian
     
  7. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    I agree - the noise control in LR3 is excellent - much better than LR3
     
  8. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Some cameras work ok with lower ISO + Underexposure the primary subject by 1 - 2EV + push in post + some sort of noise suppression. Its kinda counter to what most people recommend and it doesn't work well with all cameras (I tested/experimented prior to real world use). The idea is to maintain proper DOF and a fast enough shutter; both of which play into "sharpness" while maintaining dynamic range which tends to also suffer at higher ISO. Then push exposure in post till the primary subject(s) are fine and leave it up to the noise suppression software to take care of the noise that creeps into the shadows/dark areas where there is usually less important details anyways. How much noise creeps into the shadows, how well the software can suppress it, and if the final outcome is to your liking is why experimentation is important.

    Its important that the subjects are not so underexposed that the noise starts to muddy up the details where it counts. I also found that it is important to have proper profiles (in my case noise ninja) created for the underexposure of that particular camera.
     
  9. feppe

    feppe Mu-43 Regular

    It's not only counter to recommendations, but to laws of physics. Digital cameras perform best when exposed to the right, and under-exposing by any amount only serves to increase noise in shadows.

    The only time where I can see this improving results is if you're at the threshold of hand-holdable exposure times, and underexposing would yield sharper pictures due to less camera shake.
     
  10. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer


    Usually the response I get...

    All I'll say (to avoid a long drawn out flamewar) is experiment... you've got nothing to loose.



    To expose to the right in really tough lighting....

    * More light (not always possible)
    * Higher ISO (depending on camera... can be unusable)
    * Slower shutter speed (blur due to subject or hand movement)
    * Open up the lens (fighting shallow DOF and not all lenses work well wide open)

    or

    * You can give preference to shutter speed/DOF (which equates to better sharpness) and work the noise that creeps up in the shadows.

    Its a personal choice.

    Noise is not uniform... it creeps up in the shadows (as you mentioned) but not necessarily on the lit subject. If you are careful, you can still minimize the noise on subjects. If you take the time, you be aggressive with noise suppression in the shadows if the details are not important (burn unimportant areas to all black if you wish).... just as long as the details and sharpness are maintained on the subject.


    My point exactly... (hence the OP's request for "keeping sharpness")

    NOTE ... I'm not saying to use this technique as standard practice. Its always best to get proper exposure. But when faced with the last ditch effort to obtain a usable image, you now not only have the choice of higher ISO, wider aperture and slower shutter, you can now also consider underexposure as well. Just as long as you know what you are getting into.
     
  11. feppe

    feppe Mu-43 Regular

    Agree with everything you said, and your last sentence is the most important one.

    As a thumb rule I'd recommend ETTR, unless it produces unattractive or unreachable ISO/aperture/exposure combination, at which point extreme measures are needed, most of which you covered :)  I'd add tripod which was mentioned earlier to the mix, although it's not always feasible.
     
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