Noticable white/colored pixel question

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willduncanphoto New Member • Posts: 2
Noticable white/colored pixel question

I came from a journalism background. I've never done very heavy post-processing to my photographs that wasn't exposure recover when I messed something up. I try to get everything as close to correct in-camera as possible.

I'm fairly software savvy but far from a jedi in raw processing practices.

So right now I'm stumped, either I have two totally messed up sensors, or I'm pixel peeping too much and need to stop thinking, or I've done something terribly wrong in the software and have no clue how to undo it or what I need to learn about NR settings.

Recently I noticed a lot of white pixels in the blacks/shadows of my images. For awhile I thought they were just some weird way LR processed NEF files in a recent update because I never noticed them on my 850 back in the day or at lower ISOs.

But on a client shoot last weekend there was a large number of these white pixels in a few frames that I could see without zooming in at all. Usually the noise at high ISOs is pretty clean and pleasing and the blacks are super pure. I love grain black and white images, but when the blacks stopped being clean, I started to worry.

So I did the worst thing I could do, I started pixel peeping and doing tests. Looking at old files, new files, shooting black frames, turning NR and color NR on/off.

What I found was that if I disable all forms of Noise Reduction defaults, either LR or C1, those white pixels are colored noise reduction, and I have TONS of colored pixels in my frames. And by tons, I mean many thousands and thousands. I've never once touched NR in software, if it's been on by default my whole life, I was very unaware. I thought NR was disabled in RAW files, but I never looked into it.

At lower ISOs the blacks/shadows mostly appear to be clean, but if you're more than a stop or two off of the exposure, and use slide adjustments, they start to show up. At 3200 they become really visible and 1 stop adjustment REALLY visible. If you do any exposure adjustments on a higher ISO frame, they begin to interrupt the beautify grain that I love nikon for.

I have this happening on a D850 and a Z6.

I take relatively good care of my gear aside from heavy usage, I rarely shoot exposures longer than 1/15. I use ISO 3200 for documentary work a lot, and I do my best to not push up to 6400 when I don't have to cause even though camera gear is amazing today, I the dynamic range starts to decrease and I dont like the colors in the skin tones much under modern LED lighting.

Is there a level of NR on by default in software that's always covered this up? or are my sensors slowly just getting worse and worse or I just never noticed cause I didnt zoom ALL the way in? have high ISOs always done this?Is there always tons of colored pixels in frames that the software removes in RAW conversions?

Anyways, that's my venting ramble of a vague and open ended question.


Nikon D850 Nikon Z6
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