We do love the new sensors that have the incredible ability to shoot in near complete darkness. Once the Nikon D3s hit the scene, it was a scramble for everyone else to catch up.
Now they keep one upping themselves, and we took a D7000 with us to SXSW festival this year to give it a workout.
Of course, there are some music venues that you have to take full advantage of the camera’s low light capabilities, and you pay for that with digital noise.
Don’t get us wrong, though. Much better to have the right shutter speed and f/stop with grain, than to not get the shot at all, or get a substandard one.
And when you are working with a longer lens, even with VR, your chance of getting some blur requires a minimum shutter speed. For our long lenses we go min 1/250- 1/320 of a sec..Your chances of a higher ISO are pretty good, and with that comes noise. Crisp noise, but noise.
So, you got the shot in RAW (you did shoot RAW, right?) and you are about to do some post work. Where do you go?
We use Adobe Lightroom, not just for asset management, where it totally rules, but there are so many tools in that one program that you will be uploading your work in no time, with the look you need and imagined when you took the shot.
Let’s talk noise for our purposes on this post.
Suzanna Hoffs of the Bangles still looks beautiful. No question. The high ISO we used and the spotlights does grab every nook and cranny and put it square into the RAW file.
Maybe not as apparent in this small post, but on a monitor, very clear. Too clear.
And there is no reason not to take the curse off of the grain, get some noise reduction, and be kinder to Suzanna.
Here you see the module in Lightroom, with a before and after, using the sliders to adjust the grain or noise factor. This is the best noise reduction plug-in we’ve see in Lightroom so far, and it rivals Noise Ninja in our opinion. (yes, we have some sharpening pre-sets. just the way we flow it.)
The adjusted version, below:
It’s subtle here, and you can go in and do more retouching if you like, but this function takes care of the immediate needs. After this, you are doing some digital surgery. Honestly, we don’t think there is a need.
If you swing the sliders all the way to end , there is a creamy smooth look to the skin, that is a bit unnatural for our tastes.
We kept the dramatic visual difference in the middle for a reason: when you blow these files up, you’ll see the diff and want every tool at your disposal.
In an online situation, each case is slightly different, and the degrees to which you change is subjective.
As someone who has shoot Tri-X and pushed it to it’s limits, did a 2 step Diafine B&W film developer to tighten the grain as much as possible, sharp grain is fine. Better sharp, than soft and mushy. less grain.
If you have the choice, sometimes less is good.