Help in PP - How to preserve detail but eliminate noise? - NEX3

Started Sep 22, 2011 | Discussions thread
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txabi
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Help in PP - How to preserve detail but eliminate noise? - NEX3
Sep 22, 2011

I'm having a little "trouble" with my NEX3 images. I say "trouble" because it's really not a big deal, my NEX3 images look spectacular compared to my old Nikon D60, Sigma dp1, dp2 or Canon Xsi. However, noise is the only little nag I can point out in my NEX3 which, if I could fix, everything would be perfect.

Look, for example, at the following shot - I like taking pics of my meals to share with friends:

Now, as great as the image looks - very detailed, nice exposure balance, rich colors - if you look at, for example, the upper right corner, you'll notice the following:

Pretty noisy, right? Now, I doubt that I'm pushing the NEX's excellent sensor's low light ability, as you can see the scene is pretty well lit (it's lunchtime, 2pm). So I'm thinking this is my way or processing the RAW, since, although I have been doing it for 4 years, I'm nowhere near pro-level, I'd say I do a decent job yet not perfect by any means.

The way I usually PP my RAWs in CS5 is to a) apply lens corrections, b) do basic EV tuning - normally leaving black levels at 5 so that the final image remains contrasty and finally apply sharpening/NR. These are my usual settings for the latter:

The yellow values are the ones I change: as you can see, I increase the default CS5 values as follows:

SHARPENING Amount - from 25 to 75
SHARPENING Detail - from 25 to 50
NOISE REDUCTION Luminance - from 0 to 25

This method produces images that are a) richly detailed and b) pleasing - to my eye, at least. However I can always notice that little bit of grain that I'd love gone. When I fiddle with more NR settings, I usually end up with something that looks softer and I don't like it, thus sticking to my noisier/more detailed combination.

Of course I know this is the normal tradeoff, +sharpening = +detail/+noise, +NR = -detail/-noise. However I ask you, DPR community, might anybody suggest some other settings that could yield better results than my current PP process?

Thanks in advance!!

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