Noise, Should you worry about it?

Should you worry about noise?

The answer is yes and no, read on to find out why.

I have started shooting images in manual mode with my camera’s iso set to ‘iso auto’.  Why am I doing this? Because, rather than being forced to choose between aperture priority mode or shutter priority mode, I get to choose both my aperture and shutter speed combo letting the camera set the iso for me.

Of course, it is still good to work on the principle that the lower the iso the better the quality of the image as there is less noise. However, if you have a pro-consumer camera or better and the right post-processing software, then you will be surprised at what you can achieve.

I wanted to test the capability of the sensor of my camera and DxO Prime noise reduction. Take a look at the three images below.

But before you do check out my exposure

I am using my cameras highest iso setting.

The first image is an out of the camera JPEG, processed in camera with standard settings, the second image is my unprocessed RAW file, take note of the noise in the RAW unprocessed file. The last image is my RAW file, processed in DxO labs and output as a JPEG.

Given the high iso and poor lighting conditions, the JPEG is an acceptable shot. The camera’s sensor and processor did a good job.


But the image can be improved greatly by switching to shooting in RAW and post-processing the image. (I actually shot JPEG and RAW together).

The RAW file contains a lot of noise

RAW file unprocessed

The final image was processed using DxO’s prime noise reduction setting. I also boosted the saturation, vibrancy and applied local sharpening to the eyes.

JPEG from RAW file DxO Labs

Let’s compare the camera’s JPEG to the JPEG output from the RAW file using DxO Labs.

As you can see, the difference between the in-camera JPEG and the JPEG output from the RAW file is quite a change.

I wanted to see if I could get more from the JPEG file, but after trying, I decided that the limitations of working with the JPEG,  in terms of post-processing, meant I could not improve much on the original file, so I did not post it here.

So, if you are only shooting JPEG and not RAW  and you have poor lighting conditions then you need to worry about or at least consider the effects of noise on your image. If you are shooting in RAW and have a good RAW processor then noise might be a lesser consideration.

Things I learnt from this exercise

  1.  The limitations of my camera’s ability to produce good JPEGS in poor lighting conditions and where noise is an issue when shooting at high iso ratings.
  2. The ability of my camera’s sensor to capture a good RAW file to work with.
  3. The power of DxO Labs prime noise reduction technology.
  4.  Not to be frightened of using high iso settings if it means I get my shot!

I always use DxO Labs as my main RAW processor and JPEG editor because of the science behind the software and its automatic corrections that can be applied to both JPEG and RAW files.

The three files together.

So why don’t you try shooting in manual mode with auto iso and see how you get on.


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