Noise apps = higher ISO settings?

mcasan

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Before the days of powerful noise reduction software (NoNoise, DeNoise..etc.). There was a limit you would push you camera’s ISO setting to give you max shutter speed for shooting sports, wildlife…etc. With the new noise reduction software apps, how much further are you pushing your camera ISO because you think or know that the noise app can mitigate the extra noise?

For example, if you would set your auto IOS to a max of 1600, do you now set auto to 3200 or 6400?
 
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how much further are you pushing your camera ISO

I think the first question is how noisy your sensor/camera is, as the ISO increases, even before considering denoise software.

My shooting style is to manually set the shutter and aperture and let the ISO float. I was not satisfied with the noise level of my D5300 at ISO 6400. I opted to move to a full-frame D750. It has less noise at 6400 and I feel I can shoot with a higher ISO even though the specs say they have the same base ISO range. Here's a good video showing the difference in shots with the same ISO between the D5300 and D750.

So, there upper end will depend on the sensor/camera and how much noise you are willing to live with depending on the use of the photo.

Now, after giving you my opinion, I'm looking forward to what the experts say ;)
 
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?

For example, if you would set your auto IOS to a max of 1600, do you now set auto to 3200 or 6400?
I don’t use 3rd party noise reduction software.

My first digital camera was a Pentax. ISO 800 was pushing its limits. Older versions of Lightroom needed help with noise reduction. Jump ahead to today. I shoot with a 48mp Nikon mirror less camera. ISO 1600 is the starting point if it is not a bright sunny day. ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 are almost noise free and can be handled without a 3rd party noise tool.


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I mostly stopped using noise reduction years ago, more because I felt the tradeoff was not worth it. But kept it as a tool.

Now with a 61mp Sony, I have yet to use any noise reduction. Part of the reason I made the jump away from Classic is after testing the latest Topaz with the large files I no longer feel a need for it, the sensors are just so good for my level of shooting.

Tim (not a pro)

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I don't really know how to answer you as so much depends on your camera and sensor, along with the subject and the lighting. I kind of know where you are going with the question, but I don't think there is an easy answer. I shoot a Canon 90D, which has improved noise over much of its ISO range. But the noise I see at a given ISO will be larger than what Cletus sees at the same ISO.
I have tested my camera and lenses on good test targets for color and sharpness over a range of settings and light. I have also tested much of the latest noise reduction software on these test photos as well as on actual field shots. I know what to expect.
And when I have auto ISO set, I always look to see what ISO the camera is shooting. I might readjust shooting parameters if I don't like it.
Today, I use LR Classic and Topaz DeNoise AI - dependent upon the photo, ISO, and how I will eventually show and use it. For my "best" photos taken at ISO's of 800 or more I will generally use Topaz DeNoise, but I am always watching out for artifacts and loss of detail or color.

So, I have not changed my camera's auto ISO max, but I will many times shoot at higher ISOs than I did a few years & cameras ago.
That includes subjects like birds in flight where I will sometimes push shutter speed and ISO to combos I didn't use before.
 
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Don’t increase the ISO. Google for “ISO invariance” to understand what to do and why.
 
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Don’t increase the ISO. Google for “ISO invariance” to understand what to do and why.

Thanks for pointing out ISO invariance. That explains what I have been experiencing in my high end Nikon cameras for some time.

I shoot in manual mode with a fixed ISO, and adjust the shutter speed and f-stop to get the exposure that I seek. DoF is sometimes important and very small f-stop values are sometimes required. Only then will I adjust the ISO to get the f-stop I need.

For me, ISO does not need to vary in camera and can be compensated for exposure by changing the shutter speed or f-stop. Post processing corrects the exposure if needed.

I can see when shooting JPEG that in camera ISO settings can be important since the output product is fixed in the camera.


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Don’t increase the ISO. Google for “ISO invariance” to understand what to do and why.
"ISO Invariance" is definitely a subject which causes "Mr. Gumby my brain hurts". I'd forgotten about it (hate headaches) but decided to dive into it once again more for more own education on letting the ISO float.

I found this article to be very useful "ISO Invariance Explained" (I have no idea how accurate the author is). In particular these points:
  • "If your camera sensor is perfectly ISO invariant, there is no penalty in noise if you brighten a photo in post-production rather than increasing your ISO in-camera. They are functionally the same. No cameras are perfectly ISO invariant starting from base ISO; however, some are quite close, and many cameras become ISO invariant starting at a high enough ISO value (once the camera begins to “simulate” ISO values)."
  • "The simulated high-ISO values in your camera also only perform digital amplification of the highest “real” ISO on your camera. They simply multiply the binary number, just like your post-processing software does."
  • "If you need to use ISO 12,800 in order to get a photo that has proper brightness, but the highest real / native ISO on your camera (the last one with any additional analog amplification) is ISO 3200, it is better to use ISO 3200 and brighten the image later. There is no penalty, and you will get more dynamic range".
Further research on "Native ISO" led me to this article "ISO Chart: Everything You Need to Know About ISO".
  • "The native ISO is the range of ISO values that uses amplification to enhance the light information gathered by your sensor."
  • "To achieve ISO values beyond your native ISO range, your camera uses post-processing to simulate or extrapolate what your image would look like at the extended ISO values."
So, in relation to my cameras:
Note, both use the Nikon Expeed 4 processor

So then, why in the video I referenced above, was the D5300 so much "noiser" than the D750? Some of it has to do with a cropped sensor versus a full frame. In this article "Digital Camera Database - Nikon D750 vs. Nikon D5300", it clearly shows how much bigger the FX is over the DX. More importantly, this introduces:
  • "Pixel pitch tells you the distance from the center of one pixel (photosite) to the center of the next. It tells you how close the pixels are to each other. The bigger the pixel pitch, the further apart they are and the bigger each pixel is. Bigger pixels tend to have better signal to noise ratio and greater dynamic range."
So, "The Nikon D750 is a 24-megapixel full-frame camera. So its individual pixels are physically larger, and therefore much more sensitive to light than a 24-megapixel crop-sensor camera like a Canon Rebel T6 or Nikon D3300 [or D5300]."

In relation to the OP original question of
With the new noise reduction software apps, how much further are you pushing your camera ISO because you think or know that the noise app can mitigate the extra noise?

For example, if you would set your auto IOS to a max of 1600, do you now set auto to 3200 or 6400?

I still think it's a matter of sensor/camera and understanding native ISO range. There are some cameras that are considered "ISO invariant" but for those aren't, testing and understanding your camera's native ISO range will determine where and when you need denoise tools IMHO.
 

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......

I shoot in manual mode with a fixed ISO, and adjust the shutter speed and f-stop to get the exposure that I seek. DoF is sometimes important and very small f-stop values are sometimes required. Only then will I adjust the ISO to get the f-stop I need.

For me, ISO does not need to vary in camera and can be compensated for exposure by changing the shutter speed or f-stop. Post processing corrects the exposure if needed.

...
The important takeaway from the "ISO Invariance" discussion for me is that an underexposure of a couple of stops is fine. LR can easily correct that and the inherent noise is less than in a "properly exposed" shot.

Two of the important shooting subjects that this effects for me are birds in flight, including hummingbirds, and hand held macros of bees & bugs on wild flowers.
Here, the drivers are shutter speed to stop the wings, and DOF. For bif, I am generally at a minimum of 1/2000 sec. And I need fast focus so I'll often use auto ISO.
But in answer to the OP's original question, I have not increased my auto ISO max. I'll take a smaller ISO as the noise reduction software is better than last year. For these handheld macros fast shutter speed and apertures of f/16 or smaller drive a high ISO; but again, I don't "properly expose" with ISO and I will accept a lower exposure which I can correct with LR. I am perfectly happy to trade off 1/3000 sec or f/22 for an underexposed shot I can correct well. I hope this makes sense.
If I shot these at ISO 100, I wouldn't get enough light in to auto focus, and the photo would be underexposed by so much that I could not recover anything.
 
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Two of the important shooting subjects that this effects for me are birds in flight, including hummingbirds, and hand held macros of bees & bugs on wild flowers.
Here, the drivers are shutter speed to stop the wings, and DOF. For bif, I am generally at a minimum of 1/2000 sec. And I need fast focus so I'll often use auto ISO. …
For the same subjects, I shoot Manual with a set ISO. Like you BIFs get a shutter speed of 1/2000s and the f-stop is adjusted to bring the subject into approximately the correct exposure.
The DoF on macro shots is often 2-4 mm and a 25mm dragonfly 3/4 pose only will get part of the animal in focus even using a very small aperture.


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The most important thing to remember about using ISO invariance is that it increases the effective dynamic range. Let’s say that a proper exposure of a scene would be 1/125 sec, F4 and ISO 6400. If you use the fact that your camera is ISO invariant from ISO 1600 onwards (assuming it is) and so you shoot at 1/125 sec, F4 and ISO 1600 (and correct for this underexposure in Lightroom), then you create two extra stops of headroom in your highlights before they’ll blow out.
 
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The most important thing to remember about using ISO invariance is that it increases the effective dynamic range. Let’s say that a proper exposure of a scene would be 1/125 sec, F4 and ISO 6400. If you use the fact that your camera is ISO invariant from ISO 1600 onwards (assuming it is) and so you shoot at 1/125 sec, F4 and ISO 1600 (and correct for this underexposure in Lightroom), then you create two extra stops of headroom in your highlights before they’ll blow out.

This was exactly my post processing experience that I did not have a good explanation for until you brought up ISO invariance.


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I'm also confused.

If I utilise the ideas behind ISO invariance and bring up the lightness in Lightroom, say, I gain dynamic range without noise penalty.

If I ETTR and bring the lightness down in Lightroom, I gain the benefits of an increase in real exposure and I think reduced noise.

Which to use when?
 
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I'm also confused.

If I utilise the ideas behind ISO invariance and bring up the lightness in Lightroom, say, I gain dynamic range without noise penalty.

If I ETTR and bring the lightness down in Lightroom, I gain the benefits of an increase in real exposure and I think reduced noise.

Which to use when?
ETTR is of benefit in situations where you can use a normal, base ISO value. No camera is ISO invariant at base ISO. Using ISO invariance (which you could call ‘Exposure To The Left’) is only of benefit in situations where you would normally use a much higher ISO value, and where there are also highlights that could easily blow out. In practise that means that you use this for night photography.
 

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ETTR is of benefit in situations where you can use a normal, base ISO value. No camera is ISO invariant at base ISO. Using ISO invariance (which you could call ‘Exposure To The Left’) is only of benefit in situations where you would normally use a much higher ISO value, and where there are also highlights that could easily blow out. In practise that means that you use this for night photography.

Johan - this has been a fascinating discussion. And I think I have understood it. Your "Exposure to the left" is a great summation. I am pretty sure that I can use this in many situations for my birds in flight as well as for some insect macros. I'll go back and check some older photos.

This would be a wonderful educational topic for the more experienced members of my small community photo club. If you run across a good ppt presentation that I could present I would be most grateful.
Thanks again.
 
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I'm still confused about using expose-to-the-left. Do you do this when the required ISO setting for an image is:
  • In range of the native ISO
  • In the extend/extrapolated ISO's
  • Only if your camera is ISO Invariant.
 
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I'm still confused about using expose-to-the-left. Do you do this when the required ISO setting for an image is:
  • In range of the native ISO
  • In the extend/extrapolated ISO's
  • Only if your camera is ISO Invariant.
Pretty much every camera is ISO-invariant at some point. For older cameras it may well be the highest non-extended ISO value, for modern cameras it may be quite a bit lower than that. The trick is to find out what that point is. Then you can use ETTL as soon as you would otherwise go over that point.

Finding out is not that difficult. What you need to do is the following: set up a shoot that is correctly exposed with your highest non-extended ISO value, so for example ISO 6400. Let's say that you'll find that 1/60 sec, F5.6 and ISO 6400 is the correct exposure for this scene. Set the shutter speed and aperture to these values manually. Now make a series of exposures where you lower the ISO speed one stop each time, so in this example you shoot the following series:

1/60 sec, F5.6, 6400 ISO (i.e. correctly exposed)
1/60 sec, F5.6, 3200 ISO (i.e. one stop underexposed)
1/60 sec, F5.6, 1600 ISO (i.e. two stops underexposed)
1/60 sec, F5.6, 800 ISO (i.e. three stops underexposed)
1/60 sec, F5.6, 400 ISO (i.e. four stops underexposed)

Load these images in Lightroom, select them all with the 6400 ISO shot as 'most selected' image and then choose 'Photo - Develop Settings - Match Total Exposures'. Lightroom will now correct the underexposed images by setting the exposure to +1, +2, +3 and +4, meaning all images will be identical as far as the exposure is concerned. Now zoom in to 1:1 and compare the four underexposed images with the first image. Look at the noise level. If your camera is ISO-invariant at say 1600 ISO, then you will see no noticeable difference between photo 1 (6400 ISO) and 3 (1600 ISO, +2 stops corrected in Lightroom), but you will see that photo 4 (800 ISO, +3 stops corrected in Lightroom) is getting worse than photo 1. The example below may be a little difficult to judge because I could not post it at full size, but if you look carefully you will probably agree that ISO-invariance of this camera is reached at 1600 ISO.

So now that I know that this camera starts to be ISO-invariant at 1600 ISO, I will use 1600 ISO (and underexpose) in all cases where I would normally need to use a higher value to get the correct exposure.

ISO-invariancetest.jpg
 
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I'm still confused about using expose-to-the-left. Do you do this when the required ISO setting for an image is:
  • In range of the native ISO
  • In the extend/extrapolated ISO's
  • Only if your camera is ISO Invariant.

I haven’t used ETTR for many years. I think it might have been valid with fixed ISO/ASA film, but for years with a manual mode I have been fixing the ISO setting, I have been using exposure settings to slightly under expose (ETTL)


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I haven’t used ETTR for many years. I think it might have been valid with fixed ISO/ASA film, but for years with a manual mode I have been fixing the ISO setting, I have been using exposure settings to slightly under expose (ETTL)
Clee, I think you misunderstand what ETTR is. It has nothing to do with (and is not applicable for) film photography. It is an exposure technique for digital, based on the fact that digital sensors are linear.
 

mcasan

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I wonder if invariance is in, at least part, a function of sensor size, pixel size, and pixel density on the sensor.
 
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I wonder if invariance is in, at least part, a function of sensor size, pixel size, and pixel density on the sensor.
Pixel size may play. But at the end of the day, it is about the sensor design.
If you look at the photons to photos website you will see for my Sony A7R4, that it effectively has a dual gain system for ISO. Base is 100, you then see a decrease in dynamic range as amplification takes place until 320 when it is reset. So for my camera i really should only use two values for ISO; 100 or 320. However practical comes into play also. When the EV gets below about -3 the auto focus does not work very well. So in that case for the autofocus to work I need to raise the ISO beyond 320, even though the camera will never do as good a job as Lr.

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Clee, I think you misunderstand what ETTR is. It has nothing to do with (and is not applicable for) film photography. It is an exposure technique for digital, based on the fact that digital sensors are linear.

I think I understood the principle. I never understood the reasoning. ETTR was to push the Exposure curve to the right instead of a normal Bell shaped curve. Now that I think about it, there were no histograms with film. So, in that sense, you are correct. ETTR never worked for me shooting RAW. I always got better results if I under exposed slightly and corrected shadows in Post.


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ETTR dates back to the original digital cameras I think. And many of them has narrow ranges, so in a typical sunny image it was better to blow out the sky and get the details from the shadows.

I personally never did it, by the time I really started to look at photography as a real hobby the cameras had passed that stage, and I got better images ETTL.

Tim

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