Noise vs Texture (SORRY!)

Started Nov 13, 2002 | Discussions thread
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rhubarb Junior Member • Posts: 39
Noise vs Texture (SORRY!)

Sorry sorry sorry - yes another noise thread.
This is a copy of a posting I made in the Minolta forum over at Steve's Digicam.

There is a thread there called "Noise, Noise, Noise" ( http://www.stevesforums.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=18408#18408 ) that despite being full of the usual arguments, and emotive distractions, has one clear question raised succinctly by a poster called Sanpete:

Does the Minolta Dimage7HI produce more noise than its 5mp competitors (Sony and Nikon) for the same amount of texture or detail? Is the extra noise really a trade off for texture made in the in-camera post processing software - or is this a myth?

I don't own a digital camera. But I am going to buy a 7hi.

I am aware of the noise issue and, even if I assume the worst - that the Minolta produces more visible noise than the Sony and Nikon competitors without corresponding gains in detail - I am still going to buy it because of the other advantages it has over the competition.

My posting is full of stipulations because, yes I have most of the other postings on noise in this forum, and I don't want a repeat of these others.

I believe that I will probably not be bothered by noise, that I won't notice it when I print, that I'll be happy with the tradeoff of having a nice light camera versus a perfect but heavy and expensive DSLR (I don't want a DSLR).

But ...

I would like to get to the bottom of this noise issue. So for the purpose of this posting, assume that I don't care about whether it will really matter to me. Let's just discuss the objective facts.

Until now I have pretty much believed the often reported (in this dpreview Minolta Talk forum) point that since the CCDs are the same, the higher noise levels on the Minolta were due to less post processing in the camera. But as Sanpete points out, where is the evidence of this? There is definite evidence of the fact that there is more noise (yes including evidence from Phil Askey - and many others), but I have seen no evidence of better detail or texture.

So let me stipulate:

1. When I say below "this is not the point" I mean that the preceding stipulation is not the point the particular question raised in this, my posting. I do not mean that this is not the point of the camera, of owning a digital camera or a Minolta. Nor do I mean that this is not a relevant issue to others. I just mean "Please don't reply by arguing this point" - there are plenty of other threads in this forum that do that - and I have read them.

2. Sure I'll probably be happy with my camera like other owners - this is not the point.

3. Sure when I print the pictures I'll probably find the noise neglible or invisible - or maybe I won't - this is not the point.

4. Sure the camera is better than the competition - or maybe it isn't - this is not the point.

5. Sure it is a fact of life/law of physics/state of current electronic technology that small 5mp CCDs produce noise and will never be the same as big CCD DSLRs (and of course there are advantages - like smaller lighter zoom lenses) - this is not the point.

6. Sure noise can be reduced/removed with Photoshop and other tools - this is not the point.

So my question is:

1. Does the Minolta 7xx produce more noise in the image than its 5mp prosumer competitors without a corresponding gain in detail?

2. Put another way: If I were to take the same picture with the Minolta, the Sony and the Nikon (all having the same CCD), under noise producing conditions (eg lots of sky in low light), with all the settings absolutely optimal for this picture for each camera (ISO 100, raw, or whatever), and I were to post-process this picture with the best software available such that the noise level in each image is as close as possible to that of the image which has the least noise to begin with (this probably means reducing noise in the Minolta image to equal the other images - but lets not make assumptions) THEN would the Minolta image have THE SAME, BETTER or WORSE detail/texture than the others.

This is a thought experiment, and would take a lot of setting up in perfect conditions to compare properly. And I'm talking about comparing on the screen - I don't care if the noise or texture is noticable in a print. For the purpose of this test, I just want to know if it's there.

But if the so called "noise for texture" argument is a fact then the answer should be "THE SAME". If it is indeed a myth, the answer should be "WORSE".

If it is worse, then given that they have the same CCD and are governed by the same laws of physics, Minolta should be able to produce a less noisy camera in line with the competition.

3 And, most importantly, as Sanpete keeps asking, does anyone have ANY EVIDENCE OF THIS one way or the other.

Sorry to repeat this - this posting is way too verbose already - but please don't reply if your response involves one of the stipulations above.

E.g. don't tell me to stop worrying, or that I'll be happy, or that I'll be happier with another camera, or that I should save my money, or that I won't notice it, etc etc etc. Please, just the facts ma'am.

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