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04-16-2011, 12:58 AM   #1
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Basic RAW shooting advise - ISO noise.

Sorry if this sounds too basic.
Can someone explain me in few words what is the best strategy shooting in RAW with K-5 when higher ISO is needed. Whenever I have to shoot ISO 400 and up I see fair share of noise builds up - the higher I go the more noise I get.
So is it just the matter of PP the RAW reducing noise. Or is it better to try to keep the ISO low and play with stopping down (+/-) as much possible while shooting. Or shoot under exposed and correct it in PP.
I have tested and tested but I am confused still. I bet lot of this depends of circumstances but maybe these is some general approach that is the best.
I tried to make sense of *ISOless sensor* talk, but this becomes too technical for me to grasp the essence of it.

04-16-2011, 01:40 AM   #2
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Probably depends a lot on the raw converter you use. Anyhow, I've noticed when shooting at higher ISO (say 800 and up) it is best not to underexpose. Have done a few tests and seen that I get less noise when shooting correctly exposed at 3200 than when pushing the exposure up in PP from 800 or 1600.

So for a simple answer, try to keep the exposure correct if you want as little noise as possible on higher ISO pics.
04-16-2011, 02:21 AM   #3
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If you're exposure is off, its best to push the histogram to the right. Its much easier to bring it back in post processing than it is to push it right.

You shouldn't be getting noise at 400 though. You shouldn't really be getting that much at 3200 either.
04-16-2011, 02:44 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by vanakaru Quote
Sorry if this sounds too basic.
Can someone explain me in few words what is the best strategy shooting in RAW with K-5 when higher ISO is needed. Whenever I have to shoot ISO 400 and up I see fair share of noise builds up - the higher I go the more noise I get.
So is it just the matter of PP the RAW reducing noise. Or is it better to try to keep the ISO low and play with stopping down (+/-) as much possible while shooting. Or shoot under exposed and correct it in PP.
I have tested and tested but I am confused still. I bet lot of this depends of circumstances but maybe these is some general approach that is the best.
I tried to make sense of *ISOless sensor* talk, but this becomes too technical for me to grasp the essence of it.
The higher you go, the more noise you get, that's not unusual.
I'll go direct. My best strategy:
  • Use Adobe Lightroom, create presets to reduce noise for anything beyond ISO 1600.
  • Expose to the right (i.e. do not underexpose), if need to save highlight then use the Highlight correction functionality of the camera.
  • Turn on NR, it helps keep shutter speed low so that ISO is kept low as well.
  • Do not pixel peep at 100% unless necessary.


04-16-2011, 03:14 AM   #5
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I'd say #1 is to use a fast enough shutter speed that you don't get blur from camera shake or subject motion. And using a close-to wide open aperture is a good idea if it suits your subject and composition. With a higher quality Pentax lens (such as a prime or a constant aperture zoom) 1/3 to 2/3 stop from wide open is usually still nice IQ.

Then use good Noise Reduction software in PP - Topaz Denoise is a good example of this (and their whole suite is worth considering). You may still lose some detail with higher ISO, but it doesn't have to be too bad with, for example, ISO 10,000 or less.
04-16-2011, 04:27 AM   #6
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I should have mentioned that I use Photoshop CS5 RAW converter and I can get reduced noise pretty well. I just thought I should not get it much in first place with this super sensor.
DSims, this is exactly where my concern is. I do not want any motion caused blur when shooting hand held thus need to use as fast shutter as possible.
Noise is the most problematic when shooting wide open hunting for great bokeh. At least that is the project I shoot for right now. I use old manual lenses some Japanese some Russian.
So I will look into Topaz as well after I have digested the information given here and shall play some more.
04-16-2011, 07:46 AM   #7
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Your CS5 noise reduction is just fine for most of your K5 situations. Go ahead and try the Topaz for their 30 day trial but you may find that it isn't that great of an improvement over what you already have.

ISO 20,000 (CS5 ACR)



ISO 12,800



Unless your scene IS to the right (exposure-wise) I would forget about ETTR and expose for the middle.

04-16-2011, 08:00 AM   #8
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You've described quite a few conditions in your initial post and so I don't think it would be possible to address them all in one comment.
However... in a nutshell, the general idea, when shooting raw is to shoot with as low ISO as possible(whenever possible) and work with the files afterward.

However, as you yourself may have noticed, there are so many factors that can come into play, that it may seem impossible to address them all.
Though one simple formular, is to aim for as high as shutter speed as possible whilst maintaining as low an ISO sensitivity as possible - confused yet?

Anyways, on the issue of noise, I think you've hit it on the nail.
And that is where we'd shoot RAW and deal with noise in post processing(development stages) afterward.
And with today's tools(Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom), there is little that can't be negotiated in terms of noise reduction.
And things only seem to get better with every developing version of software we see. And so RAW seems to be a very good investment.

PS. I've seen ISO51200 from the K-5 that can were every-bit as impressive as ISO3200 ones

K-5, RAW/DNG, RPP, Topaz Denoise 5, ISO51200

Image courtesy of dgais


Last edited by JohnBee; 04-16-2011 at 09:20 PM.
04-16-2011, 08:50 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by vanakaru Quote
Sorry if this sounds too basic.
Can someone explain me in few words what is the best strategy shooting in RAW with K-5 when higher ISO is needed. Whenever I have to shoot ISO 400 and up I see fair share of noise builds up - the higher I go the more noise I get.
So is it just the matter of PP the RAW reducing noise. Or is it better to try to keep the ISO low and play with stopping down (+/-) as much possible while shooting. Or shoot under exposed and correct it in PP.
I have tested and tested but I am confused still. I bet lot of this depends of circumstances but maybe these is some general approach that is the best.
I tried to make sense of *ISOless sensor* talk, but this becomes too technical for me to grasp the essence of it.
If you are seeing noticeable noise from the K-5 at ISO 400 then something wrong. Are you viewing the files at 200%?
Even the K-7 produces good files at 400 when properly exposed.
04-16-2011, 09:22 PM   #10
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Dang! I just erceived a notice from dgais that the file I posted was actually a 12800 image.

I've since updated with the proper image/sensitivity. - thx
04-17-2011, 02:49 AM   #11
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Another example of ISO 12800 with proper exposure and Topaz Denoise.
QuoteQuote:
Exposure 0.02 sec (1/50)
Aperture f/8.0
Focal Length 35 mm
ISO Speed 12800

04-17-2011, 08:09 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by testdasi Quote
Another example of ISO 12800 with proper exposure and Topaz Denoise.
Looks great!
Have you considered posting this in the high ISO forum?
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