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10-10-2012, 03:42 AM   #1
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Where did my chroma noise go?!

Hello all!

I recently described my experience with my k5 and its dislodged lens-release button - thanks to a tip from ChrisA in here, I sent the camera directly to Johnson's Photopia in the UK, and had a very speedy and efficient warranty repair.

On top of reattaching the lens button, they also gave my camera a thorough cleaning, and updated the firmware.

And now the weird part: I have had some challenging photo assignments recently in low light conditions, so I have been shooting quite a lot at iso 3200 and iso 6400. Usually, it takes a bit of clean up, particularly for chroma noise, but after noise reduction the photos are usable. Now, yesterday I took some industrial poultry production illustrations. Light conditions were horrible, and the facilities were extremely dusty. I shot everything at iso 3200.

I haven't post-processed yet, but I took a first look at the results yesterday, and I have to say I am confused. There is as good as no chroma noise at all in the photos! It IS just a first impression, but it did look real, the difference was quite significant.

I can't remember which firmware version I had, but I know I upgraded at least twice since getting my camera, so looking at the firmware releases I would have said that I had everything but the GPS-related update. Certainly noone said anything about better noise handling? And would that even be possible, since I shoot raw and don't post process in camera at all?

Maybe I'm just... I don't know, imagining things? I certainly feel lucky - so if it IS just a placebo-effect I probably shouldn't even bring it up in here. But I can't help asking: Did anyone else experience a quality improvement after a firmware update? :-)

10-10-2012, 04:15 AM   #2
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Did you shoot JPEG? If yes, NR at high iso settings may have been cranked up in the menu. I never noticed any changes in chroma noise on my K-5 between firmware updates and I diligently keep firmware updated at all times.

But it's a good thing, either one of two things happened: NR was cranked up in the menu and you do not see any noticeable loss loss or smearing of detail - keep that setting from now on. Or somehow your camera was re calibrated during the repair as a matter of procedure leading to these better results. In both case, you win!
10-10-2012, 04:32 AM   #3
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Hi newmikey,

No, I only ever shoot raw, which is the main thing that puzzles me: I would have thought the amount of noise was an inherent property of the image chip itself. But then, I really don't know much about how the signal from the chip is being processed before ending up in the raw file. Maybe, like you say, they somehow calibrated the camera.

I will try to get around to posting an image from this poultry facility taken before and after the warranty service, with no noise reduction applied - I do think the difference is real.

Of course you are right, even if I don't figure out what happens I should just be happy. And I am. I just can't help trying to figure it out...
10-10-2012, 04:51 AM   #4
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If you've lost your chroma noise, I can give you some of mine
Try IS0 8000 or more if you are missing it in the meantime.

But seriously, at ISO 3200 there usually isn't a lot of it around anyhow.

10-10-2012, 04:55 AM   #5
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Yeah, one of the features of the sensor in the K-5 is that most of the noise at reasonable ISO levels is luma, and quite pretty too. I usually only shoot B&W at more than ISO3200.
10-10-2012, 06:24 AM   #6
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Any changes in your RAW application between the two assignments?

Also, you can look for the firmware versions in your files by using PhotoME...
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