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03-04-2010, 08:37 AM   #1
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Noisy high iso images are useful

I've seen a few discusions here and on other forums about how extremely high iso photos aren't useful becouse of the low quality such as images taken at 102,000 (or whatever that high iso number is on the new canon and nikon models are). Today I saw an article about a police officer who died on the job and the image was obviously shot at an extremely high iso, but my point is that these iso levels are usefull for certain things. This image obviously needed it and I'm sure we all agree that a noisy image is better than no image.

Drept politimann (48) etterlater seg kone og tre barn - VG Nett

Yes the image looks terrible, but at least we got an image. Sure, it doesn't look good, but it's nice to have the option, and that's why I love the high iso ability of the k-x which I intend to purchase soon.

03-04-2010, 08:50 AM   #2
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A some sort of discussion has been done here at the forums about megapixels, type of camera, etc.
It was I think about photojournalism.
I said that it didn't matter what type of camera or photo you had because what was important was the image.
Even if shot by a phone cam or a video taken by a phone cam and you where the only witness, then that footage or image is important no matter how crappy the image or the video is. It doesn't even matter if it is of low pixels or AVI or MP4 and not HD.
Here is also a link of high ISO images here in the forums not only of the K-x but of the other models of the Pentax DSLR: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/64295-pentax-high-...post-here.html
03-04-2010, 09:09 AM   #3
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High ISO shots do have their uses as this news photo proves. I think a lot of the pro/con discusssion involves personel choice over what an individual photographer considers acceptable. I think those of us who are older and shot film for many years are less likely to be upset over noise in high ISO shots. I have read comments on several occasions that any shots over ISO 400 on the K10D are not usable but I regularly shoot at ISO 800 and 1600 and am satisfied with the results. I think my results are far better than most high ISO, low light film shots I ever got.
03-04-2010, 11:06 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by alehel Quote
I've seen a few discusions here and on other forums about how extremely high iso photos aren't useful becouse of the low quality such as images taken at 102,000 (or whatever that high iso number is on the new canon and nikon models are). Today I saw an article about a police officer who died on the job and the image was obviously shot at an extremely high iso, but my point is that these iso levels are usefull for certain things. This image obviously needed it and I'm sure we all agree that a noisy image is better than no image.

Drept politimann (48) etterlater seg kone og tre barn - VG Nett

Yes the image looks terrible, but at least we got an image. Sure, it doesn't look good, but it's nice to have the option, and that's why I love the high iso ability of the k-x which I intend to purchase soon.
Noise can be corrected with post processing. Although the noise is very bad for the photo you referred to, i took the time to do the correction, see how it turned out below.

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03-04-2010, 12:33 PM   #5
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I'm all for noise reduction usually but in this case I think the noisy version is better. Such heavy noise reduction leaves the image looking almost like a painting which IMO doesn't look right in a news picture.
03-04-2010, 12:53 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ovim Quote
I'm all for noise reduction usually but in this case I think the noisy version is better. Such heavy noise reduction leaves the image looking almost like a painting which IMO doesn't look right in a news picture.
If you tried to print the uncleaned image on a web or offset press, you would get mud because of the screen--and usually very coarse for newspaper.

BTW:

Is there anything about this photo that's supposed to be dramatic, or is it just here as an example of noise?
03-04-2010, 11:29 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
If you tried to print the uncleaned image on a web or offset press, you would get mud because of the screen--and usually very coarse for newspaper.
I didn't know that, live and learn.
03-05-2010, 04:25 AM   #8
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And what about a partial cleaning, getting rid of the banding?

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03-05-2010, 04:48 AM   #9
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Much better (imo), how did you do that?
03-05-2010, 05:47 AM   #10
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Nik Dfine. It's the only one (that I know) that can cope with banding; there's a specific vertical/horizontal debanding option.
03-06-2010, 04:51 AM   #11
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I see, might be worth looking into. Thanks.
03-06-2010, 02:11 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex00 Quote
Noise can be corrected with post processing. Although the noise is very bad for the photo you referred to, i took the time to do the correction, see how it turned out below.
Nice job, you made it look like a Monet.
03-06-2010, 05:29 PM   #13
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Yeah this is an interesting topic that comes up from time to time.

In my opinion, content is king. 'Image quality' (read sharpness etc) is second. That's why people still look and wonder at Cartier-Bresson's shots - even if the 'quality', by today's standards, is pretty rubbish. The shots are still amazing.

It's certainly useful to have the option of ultra-high ISO compared to not having the option.

In the photojournalism sphere, I've seen most of Reuters etc rules for post-processing, can't remember anything regarding noise reduction, but I'd be surprised if there's any allowed by reputable pj outlets.

Here'a thing I posted ages ago somewhere:

Just flicking through some news websites and came across a good example of image quality in news photography being secondary to getting the photo at all.

Tiny crop, horribly out of focus, intense purple fringing - but it's the only known shot of Mullah Omar so it makes the CNN lead story: Official: Pakistan can help broker U.S.-Taliban talks - CNN.com . Of course, it would be better if it was a clear, crisp shot. But then I don't think whoever took the photo would still be around. Also, if it was a clear shot it'd probably be on every news website and in every paper. But my point is that an image with clearly terrible IQ can still be the lead photo.

Does anyone else have examples of similar? I seem to remember some amazing blurry ones from the Mumbai attacks. I really only posted this because I was reading a post (from several years ago now) where someone said Robert Capa's Falling Man wasn't so great because the contrast wasn't quite right. Wonder what they'd say about the D-Day pictures.


I don't quite agree on this (I like Ansel Adams, even though I'm not big on landscapes), but it was reputedly a quote from Elliot Erwitt on the 'Ansel Adams versus Robert Frank' argument:

"Quality doesn't mean deep blacks and whatever tonal range. That's not quality, that's a kind of quality. The pictures of Robert Frank might strike someone as being sloppy--the tone range isn't right and things like that--but they're far superior to the pictures of Ansel Adams with regard to quality, because the quality of Ansel Adams, if I may say so, is essentially the quality of a postcard. But the quality of Robert Frank is a quality that has something to do with what he's doing, what his mind is. It's not balancing out the sky to the sand and so forth. It's got to do with intention."

"Good photography is not about 'Zone Printing' or any other Ansel Adams nonsense. It's just about seeing. You either see, or you don't see. The rest is academic. Photography is simply a function of noticing things. Nothing more."
03-06-2010, 07:12 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex00 Quote
Noise can be corrected with post processing. Although the noise is very bad for the photo you referred to, i took the time to do the correction, see how it turned out below.
There is such a thing as too much . Looks like water colors on second image. Then again, even a crappy shot is better than no shot.

Cheers, Mike.

Last edited by Ex Finn.; 03-06-2010 at 07:47 PM.
03-06-2010, 08:00 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by CWyatt Quote
... a quote from Elliot Erwitt on the 'Ansel Adams versus Robert Frank' argument:
...
"Good photography is not about 'Zone Printing' or any other Ansel Adams nonsense. It's just about seeing. You either see, or you don't see. The rest is academic. Photography is simply a function of noticing things. Nothing more."
You just prompted me to pull out the book PRIVATE EXPERIENCE: Elliott Erwitt. I leaf through and see some of the most famous photos of the mid-20th century, iconic photos of Bucky Fuller in a chopper, Jackie Kennedy at JFK's funeral, Pablo Casals fiddling, Nixon poking a finger into Khruschev, a marching black GI sticking his tongue out at the camera. There are landscapes and roomscapes shot with view cameras, clear as a bell. But most of the people pictures are pushed 35mm Tri-X, grainy, blurry, and compelling as hell. Even the nudist camp pictures are noisy, and that doesn't matter at all. Erwitt noticed people, SAW people, saw and recorded their actions. High resolution? Crisp sharpness? Pedantic details? Who cares -- too much detail can distract you from what's important. All that's needed is just enough detail to tell the story. The rest is superfluous, unless (or even if) you're shooting postcards or calendars or catalogs. The rule: f/8 and be there, eyes wide open.

BTW: Let me recommend the 1974 series of magazine-size picture books, PETERSEN'S MASTERS OF CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY. I don't know if there were more than the four I have. Besides Erwitt, they are: PHOTO ESSAY: Paul Fusco & Will McBride; PHOTOJOURNALISM: Mary Ellen Mark & Annie Leibovitz; and PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: Bert Stern. Each NSFW volume contains a technical appendix that discusses the making of many of the shots. These are treasure troves of information, and hella great pictures.

Last edited by RioRico; 03-06-2010 at 08:06 PM.
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