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02-13-2016, 09:04 AM   #1
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Noise at low ISO's?

I am a recent owner of the Ricoh GR and am still trying to find its sweet spot. My feeling is that I'm getting quite a lot of noise in my images despite shooting at a low ISO. The first two were shot at 320, the second two at 400. Any wisdom appreciated thank you!

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02-13-2016, 09:13 AM   #2
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I don't see any noise at all.
Try posting a 100% crop of an area that you think is noisey.
02-13-2016, 09:14 AM   #3
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It depends on how aggressive your processing parameters are. Contrast and sharpening bring out noise, especially if sharpening is used across the entire image indiscriminately.
02-13-2016, 09:27 AM   #4
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Thank you for your quick replies. I find that I have to bump up the exposure in Lightroom for many of my GR images - not sure if this would bring out noise...
Here is a crop from the 2nd image.



---------- Post added 02-13-16 at 09:31 AM ----------

And from the final image



02-13-2016, 09:35 AM   #5
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I had a look at the full size photos on your photobucket link... honestly, to me, that's a very good noise performance for ISO 320 - 400. You will get *some* noise at these ISOs, but what I see is at a very low level. As Digitalis says, the final outcome will be dependent on your contrast and sharpening - as well as noise reduction. Did you shoot RAW or JPEG? And what, if anything, did you do in post-processing, and with what software? You can easily get rid of this tiny amount of noise in Lightroom, whether via noise reduction or masking of the sharpening process (or a combination of the two) - but I'd be tempted to leave it, as you're getting great detail here.
02-13-2016, 09:39 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by millmeister Quote
I find that I have to bump up the exposure in Lightroom for many of my GR images - not sure if this would bring out noise...
Yes, it will. An underexposed picture lightened in post will be noisier than a properly exposed one.
If you're adding additional sharpening in PP, make that the last step before export.
02-13-2016, 09:45 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by millmeister Quote
Thank you for your quick replies. I find that I have to bump up the exposure in Lightroom for many of my GR images - not sure if this would bring out noise...
Here is a crop from the 2nd image.



---------- Post added 02-13-16 at 09:31 AM ----------

And from the final image
OK, I see it a little clearer now. Again, I think this is a low level of noise... pixel-peeping at 100%, it's noticeable, but at even 50% viewing size, it's irrelevant.

My preset for all photos imported into Lightroom is as follows:

Sharpening:

Amount 50
Radius 0.7
Detail 25
Masking 50

Noise Reduction:

Luminance 25
Detail 75
Contrast 0

Color 25
Detail 50
Smoothness 50

If it's a low ISO shot, I will usually tweak the Noise Reduction Luminance down - sometimes all the way to zero. I rarely go above 25, choosing to keep a good level of detail and accept whatever noise is still present. If it's a fairly noisy shot, I will tweak the Masking up to where only the very outlines of objects are being sharpened - which could mean a setting of 80 - 90.

With these settings, the size I can realistically view or print an image at is then dictated by any remaining noise, and whether-or-not it is appropriate to the image in question.

With your images, note that if you are accepting default sharpening settings, Lightroom applies an Amount of 25 with Masking at 0 - which means everything is indiscriminately sharpened, including noise. Setting the Masking to 50 or 60 will reduce this effect significantly, and may be all you need to do to reduce what little noise you're seeing.

Hope this helps.
02-13-2016, 10:08 AM - 1 Like   #8
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400 is not exactly low ISO, a fact obscured by the outrageously (and unusably) high ISOs available on modern cameras. That said, I agree with the above posters in finding the noise on the above images to be low.

Bumping exposure in LR is tantamount to increasing sensor gain ex post facto, so it will always increase apparent noise levels.

02-13-2016, 10:34 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Just a comparative example for you. See the two attachments below, taken with the Pentax K3 at ISO 400 in RAW - slightly underexposed then bumped up in Lightroom, as you've done with your shots. The first picture is a 100% crop of an image with default sharpening, no masking, no luminance noise reduction. Although the noise is quite fine in structure, it's very visible. The second picture is the same image, with the settings I mentioned above. Now, you can still see a very, very insignificant amount of noise (some of which is actually JPEG compression artefacts), but it's more than acceptable and ensures there's little or no loss of detail. The point of the example is to show you how your GR is performing against a K3
Attached Images
   
02-13-2016, 10:49 AM - 2 Likes   #10
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Wow, that is a lot? You should try to underexpose ISO400 color film and see that noise!
Joking aside, expose to the right in the histogram to minimize noise, but your picks still look very good to me.
02-13-2016, 11:06 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
OK, I see it a little clearer now. Again, I think this is a low level of noise... pixel-peeping at 100%, it's noticeable, but at even 50% viewing size, it's irrelevant.

My preset for all photos imported into Lightroom is as follows:

Sharpening:

Amount 50
Radius 0.7
Detail 25
Masking 50

Noise Reduction:

Luminance 25
Detail 75
Contrast 0

Color 25
Detail 50
Smoothness 50

If it's a low ISO shot, I will usually tweak the Noise Reduction Luminance down - sometimes all the way to zero. I rarely go above 25, choosing to keep a good level of detail and accept whatever noise is still present. If it's a fairly noisy shot, I will tweak the Masking up to where only the very outlines of objects are being sharpened - which could mean a setting of 80 - 90.

With these settings, the size I can realistically view or print an image at is then dictated by any remaining noise, and whether-or-not it is appropriate to the image in question.

With your images, note that if you are accepting default sharpening settings, Lightroom applies an Amount of 25 with Masking at 0 - which means everything is indiscriminately sharpened, including noise. Setting the Masking to 50 or 60 will reduce this effect significantly, and may be all you need to do to reduce what little noise you're seeing.

Hope this helps.
These were shot in RAW. I did some post-processing in Lightroom.
To be honest I haven't spent much time experimenting with the Detail settings in Lightroom. Below are the settings I used for the attached images. Thank you for your suggestions - this has given me a much better idea of what I should be doing...

02-13-2016, 11:12 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parallax Quote
Yes, it will. An underexposed picture lightened in post will be noisier than a properly exposed one.
If you're adding additional sharpening in PP, make that the last step before export.
Thanks. I think I will have to be a bit more generous with the exposure compensation in future. Am I right in saying that the GR has a reputation for underexposing?

---------- Post added 02-13-16 at 11:14 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by VisualDarkness Quote
Wow, that is a lot? You should try to underexpose ISO400 color film and see that noise!
Joking aside, expose to the right in the histogram to minimize noise, but your picks still look very good to me.
Thanks, that's reassuring

---------- Post added 02-13-16 at 11:22 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Just a comparative example for you. See the two attachments below, taken with the Pentax K3 at ISO 400 in RAW - slightly underexposed then bumped up in Lightroom, as you've done with your shots. The first picture is a 100% crop of an image with default sharpening, no masking, no luminance noise reduction. Although the noise is quite fine in structure, it's very visible. The second picture is the same image, with the settings I mentioned above. Now, you can still see a very, very insignificant amount of noise (some of which is actually JPEG compression artefacts), but it's more than acceptable and ensures there's little or no loss of detail. The point of the example is to show you how your GR is performing against a K3
That's quite a difference! I will start experimenting with these settings (specifically masking).
02-13-2016, 11:29 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parallax Quote
Yes, it will. An underexposed picture lightened in post will be noisier than a properly exposed one. If you're adding additional sharpening in PP, make that the last step before export.
Read up on ETTR. Basically it means that you need to adjust the camera exposure compensation (or manual exposure) to bias to the right as much as you can without blowing out important highlights. The camera will by itself select a 'safe' exposure when possible which in many cases is a little underexposed. The thinking being that you can pull those shadows up in post. Which is true but you will have noise. To minimize the noise you need an exposure that gives you the best data, not what the camera thinks is safe.

Also, 320 iso and 400 iso are not IMHO low. 100 is low. 200 is sort of OK. Above that you are into the high range as far as I'm concerned. Not everyone agrees with me on that though
02-13-2016, 11:35 AM   #14
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I think one may have noise at 100 or lower..it's light and if you make too much of the sharpening and local contrast it will shows up
02-13-2016, 01:12 PM   #15
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Image quality is highly dependent on the signal to noise ratio. The noise is inherent in the sensor and circuitry of the camera and the signal is light that comes through the lens. The more signal you have without clipping the higher will be your signal to noise ratio. If you find yourself having to push the exposure in post processing you are also pushing the noise. Pay attention to your histogram and keep it as much to the right as you can without clipping the highlights. While it's true that it's better to underexpose than overexpose, it is better yet to expose properly. Also keep your iso as low as you can. In most cameras the "native" iso is 100 and anything higher is achieved by amplifying the signal which... you guessed it... also amplifies the noise. Don't be afraid of higher iso if you really need it but do keep it as close to 100 as you can. ISO 400 and under can be readily cleaned up in Lightroom without serious loss of detail but the truth is that *any* noise reduction will have some effect on the final image. As with everything, it's a tradeoff and you just have to balance the factors to get the best you can out of what you have. Your results will always be better if you start with a better image in the first place.
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