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Photography Question 
Scott J. Chalmers

Are There Cons to Noise Reduction?

I do a lot of photography at high ISOs, therefore I turn the noise reduction feature onto high on my D80. Can I leave it on all the time? Or does this have side effects? Thanks!

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4/4/2008 2:59:27 PM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
Side effects of noise reduction may include loss of detail. Noise reduction generally happens as a result of what is really blurring, so you are bound to compromise detail in noise reduction by any automated process (computers just perform calculations, they don't see the images after all). I would keep noise reduction for when you are sure you really need it, and likely you will do just as well or better to wait till post-processing.

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4/4/2008 5:25:46 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Hello Scott,
In-camera NR in its most simplest form is essentially a gaussian blur on steroids. (i.e) It (tries) to "smooth" the image noise while leaving contrasting edges unmolested. The software used to do this is marginally acceptable depending on various external inputs. How bad is the noise? What ISO? What subject matter? What kind of noise etc.? All digital noise are not created equal.
Personally, I am not a fan of in-camera NR. 1) It slows down frame rates and processing time from shot to shot. 2) It takes all control away from the photographer. 3) It employs NR over the ENTIRE image! Yikes!
I prefer using post production to control noise. Some programs are far superior doing this compared to in-camera processing and give the photographer far more control.
As technology advances, so does NR in sensor design. The Nikon D300 can shoot at ISO 1600 with little NR required with a well-lit subject. My older D70 would NEVER shoot acceptably at that ISO no matter how much NR I applied.
To answer your question: If you feel the need to process noise in-camera, then no; I would not leave NR on all the time ... only when needed.
All the best

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4/4/2008 5:31:15 PM

Ben LindoPhotography   I'm not 100% sure about the Nikon D80, But I think Nikon calls it HIGH ISO noise reduction right? It has smart noise reduction which only comes into effect when it needs it at 800 ISO or above. So I think it should be FINE to keep it on all the time if you feel you'll forget to change it back and forth and if you like noise reduction on your high iso photos.

Why not do a test, see if you can notice any difference shooting at 200 or 400 ISO with noise reduction on and off. ;)

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4/8/2008 1:16:44 PM

Ben LindoPhotography   I wouldn't say its a gaussian blur on steroids. It does smooth out some fine details (as well as noise).

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4/8/2008 1:18:36 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005

Noise reduction IS gaussian blur..The "on steroids" cliche' is a way of saying the bettrer NR programs do a somewhat better job of it by isolating the blue channel.

Overall, it is best to leave it off and take care of it with post processing.


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4/8/2008 1:44:44 PM

Scott J. Chalmers   Loads of good advice there, I have taken so low ISO shots there and have been disapointed by the close up detail suggesting that the noise reduction has kick in and messed it a little.....I've got a gig to photograph this week - I shall try both and see what happenns

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4/8/2008 1:54:51 PM

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