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Monday, June 23, 2008

The Battle Between Noise & Sharpness

Shooting at high ISOs and tweaking sharpness in an image can introduce excessive noise. Balancing these two aesthetic elements is an art.


Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

Figure 7a

Tokyo Night Scene
This Nikon Electronic Format (NEF) RAW image was made using a Nikon D70 in 2004 and edited with Capture NX in 2008—an example of how early RAW images can benefit from the newest software technology (Figure 5). The night view's lighting presented the challenge of wide dynamic range and varying areas of noise. When it was taken, I wanted to keep the look of available light, so I didn't consider using fill-flash.

I applied Unsharp Mask over the entire image and used the -Brush to exclude the effect from selected prominent dark and monochromatic areas. The selective application of Unsharp Mask enabled me to minimize the appearance of noise in the shadows and in the larger monochromatic areas. For brighter areas and areas with more detail, moderate noise is hardly visible. The red areas in this frame indicate the areas brushed with the -Brush (Figure 6). Brightness was slightly reduced for the final image (Figure 7 and 7a).

When digital and RAW images were introduced, the fanfare proclaimed that as digital improved, you'd be able to apply new technology to your older RAW images. The promise has been kept, nearly 100 percent, with added benefits of applying new technology tools to TIFF and JPEG files. Take advantage of the newest software to reap maximum benefits.


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