K-7 High ISO NR (pics)

Started Jun 28, 2009 | Discussions thread
wy2lam Veteran Member • Posts: 3,330
Re: Detail is not 'signal'

Joe Barnhart wrote:

I did not say "signal" I said DETAIL. The fact is that the sensors used in different brands of camera have very similar basic noise characteristics. The noise is dictated largely by the physics of the device -- light-gathering size of the pixel, bulk material properties, etc. The difference in the way cameras look is largely due to post-processing of the sensor data.

In photographic sense, the signal is the detail. "Details" that don't come from signal is not meaningful, because they'd be made up, not real. Like that Genuine Fractal POS software does.

The difference in ways images look also has to do with sensor and circuit design. Micro focusing lenses, insulating material, EM interference are just a few factors that can affect how much noise there is in the final image, before post-processing is even involved. I guess you should already know this, being an MSEE no less.

Those cameras which opt for "lowest noise" do so at the expense of smoothing detail -- edges or (usually) textures. That is what gives some people the buttery smooth images they lust for. I do not like the buttery smooth approach as it leads to images that look plastic and fake (to me).

Some cameras do. And they are not very likeable. But it's not the same as saying "details and noise go up and down together". That is the notion I'm not ready to entertain unless the context is solely confined as a trade-off of de-noise post-processing.

A shot taken at ISO 1600 or 3200 better damn well have some noise because the algorithm to remove only noise while leaving all image detail in place DOES NOT EXIST.

Again, a low-noise image does not necessarily attribute to algorithms. The desire to have clean ISO 3200 image is not heading into a wrong direction, as long as noise-removal calculations are not involved.

Again, if you want to see what a noisy image looks like just look at a piece of FILM push-processed to ISO 1600. Photographers who complain about the noise of APS-C at those speeds will be horrified to see the noise of film when exposed at a similar speed.

Hey, we're shooting digital here. 35mm film is a thing of the distant past. It's like saying Model T can go 30 km/h therefore we should be happy the 2009 car I sell you can go at 70 km/h, but not 100.

Looking backwards should not be used to hinder progress.

(P.S. I know all about S/N. I hold an MSEE from Berkeley and I've worked in test and measurement my whole career.)


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