Exercise- Your tolerance for noise

Find a picture situation that fulfills the following criteria:-

– Daylight indoors

– A combination of sharp detail and textureless areas, with some textureless area in shadow.

Set the camera on a tripod. Start by taking a series of identical photographs, changing the ISO setting from one to the next. Cover the whole range of ISO settings available on your camera.

I used my 50mm lens for this exercise, and used my camera’s full range of ISO settings; right from ISO 100 to 12800! I used natural light that was streaming in from a window directly in front of my scene. It was a cloudy day so the lighting was flat and diffused- making for little shadows. I set up two teddies for detail, and used the wallpaper as the textureless area (as we have no plain white walls!). The teddy’s shadows worked in achieving the textureless shadow area required. Below is the original image. However, to see and compare the noise more accurately, I cropped the images, as seen in the later images.

IMG_4010 (2)

Image 1- ISO 200. At this low ISO setting, there is no noticible noise in this image, and the photo appears perfectly clear. It is ideal to stick to low ISO settings from 100-400 for maximum detail and clearer images.

IMG_4010 (2) ISO 200

Image 2- ISO 400. There was slight image blur in this photo, as I really needed a higher ISO indoors in order to get a higher shutter speed. I currently cannot find my tripod- otherwise I could have solved this problem. Regarding the image noise- there is still none visible to the human eye.

IMG_4012 (2) ISO 400

Image 3- ISO 800. The shadow areas are beginning to pick up a little noise at ISO 800, but not enough to take away from the overall quality of the image just yet.

IMG_4018 (3).jpg ISO 800

Image 4- ISO 1600. I was now able to get the image a lot more in focus due to the higher ISO- showing the benefits of using a high ISO for indoor shooting. The shadowed area is getting increasingly noisy in this shot, and there is a slight grainy value to the wallpaper- but again, nothing major just yet.

IMG_4019 (3).jpg ISO 1600

Image 5- ISO 3200. This is about the height of my camera’s acceptable ISO capabilities. There is now a lot of noise in the shadowed area, and there is a thin layer of noise throughout the whole image which certainly takes away from the quality of the photo. I would not use this ISO setting- as I feel the quality of this image is unacceptable.

IMG_4024 (3).jpg ISO 3200

Image 6- ISO 6400. The noise appears to have doubled along with the ISO in this image! The image is extremely grainy and the detail we’ve seen of the bears from the previous five images is now ruined by the noise throughout the image.

IMG_4025 (3).jpg ISO 6400

Image 7- ISO 12800. I personally don’t think this image is any worse than the previous. The noise is still very prominent, and has ruined the quality of the image- however, it is no worse than the ISO of 6400.

IMG_4028 (3).jpg ISO 12800

This exercise has shown me that my camera’s ISO capabilities for good quality and detailed images reaches up to ISO 1600. However, I do acknowledge that it is always best to use the lowest ISO possible to prevent any sort of noise entering the image. A way to prevent having to use a high ISO setting is to set up appropriate photographic lighting for your indoor photoshoot (something that I aim to get in the next six months or so!)

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