D300 High ISO Pics...

Started Jun 10, 2008 | Discussions
Jan Anne Offereins Regular Member • Posts: 253
D300 High ISO Pics...

I was at the local zoo last weekend and there I found a cooperative meerkat to test the D300 on the different ISO settings. When I checked the NEF's in Aperture I wasn't impressed and quickly choose ISO 1600 as the max for zoolife shots.

After playing with Capture NX2 the last couple of days I processed the same images again and I was first amazed and ended up being stunned at the results.

ISO 3200:

ISO 6400:

100% crop of the ISO 6400 pic:

The funny thing is that I also used a 1.7TC on the 70-200VR set at 340mm, so even after using a TC and shooting at ISO 6400 there is still sharpness in the picture:-)

Are these pics as sharp as the ones shot at normal ISO's; no but sharp enough IMHO....

I love the 1.7TC on the 70-200VR btw (Pelican checking a fly on his beek):

Looking at the results I think Capture NX2 will be replacing Aperture as my main pp tool of choice and ViewNX for browsing.

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Jake Loves Good Glass Senior Member • Posts: 1,434
Question...

What exactly did you do with these photos in PP? Just curious as these results are amazing.
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Marker Senior Member • Posts: 1,102
Yeah, question

Very impressive. I'm new to Capture NX (original version). What do you do to them in PP that makes them so good and how do you do it? Can it be done on my version also?
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TrekSF6 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,090
Re: D300 High ISO Pics...

Interesting. Very good quality indeed.

I would just like to know what NX2 did so differently from NX that you would get completely different results.
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momonyc Regular Member • Posts: 408
yes, please share your pp work flow...(nt)
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FoolyCooly Veteran Member • Posts: 3,484
Re: D300 High ISO Pics...

3200 and 6400! Impressive... looks like I'll be giving Capture NX2 a go.

Daniel Bliss Senior Member • Posts: 1,904
Re: Question...

Note the OP's reference to Capture NX. NX, as clunky as it is, is AWESOME for getting rid of chroma noise from NEF files; it makes using the D200 in low light realistic, never mind the D300. You simply don't need noise reduction software in the picture, although I suppose it can help make the image even better.

That said, those 6400 results are sensational. I'm curious as to whether there is anything else in the mix beside NX.

Vera Veteran Member • Posts: 8,796
WOW this forum just gets better and better. n.t.
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jfriend00 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,494
Re: D300 High ISO Pics...

In order to evaluate any high ISO pic, we have to see how it was originally exposed. If you don't have a high dynamic range image and most of the interesting detail is in the highlights and you expose to the right (which gives the sensor more light and requires either a larger aperture or a slower shutter speed), then you can get great shots from very high ISO. An expose-to-the-right ISO 3200 shot might be very similar to a normal exposure at ISO 1600 in both light to the sensor and results.

The pelican shot works because all interesting detail is in the bright third of the image. That shot is an easier subject for a high ISO shot. The opposite kind of subject where most important detail is in the shadows would be one of the more difficult shots.

The meerkat does have a little detail around the eye in the shadow areas and that's the one place you see noise in the 100% crop, but it does look good.

Again, evaluation of ISO requires knowing a little more about how the shot was exposed to know whether it's a pushed ISO 3200 shot, an average ISO 3200 shot or an expose to the right ISO 3200 shot that got some extra exposure.

I histogram of the RAW file before any settings were changed is probably the easiest way to know which of these this is.

I'm not criticizing the shots in any way - they are cool. I'm just reserving judgement on ISO 3200 results until I know a little more about how they were exposed. I also know that I was shooting a play performance at ISO 800 Saturday night with my D300 and I got significantly more noise than this in some shots, so it can't be all that the camera just does this every time.
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OP Jan Anne Offereins Regular Member • Posts: 253
My Workflow with NX2...

Sorry for the late reply, I went to bed after posting:-)

To start with these images are shot in lossless compressed 12-bit NEF with the noise reduction set to low and PC to standard. The subject was standing at ca 1,5 meters away, in other words really close for an 340mm (200+1.7TC) setup. I used the spot meter for the best exposure and f/9 to get some more DOF.

In short, I reviewed the pics in ViewNX, gave them 1 star scores if i liked them, opened NX2 and started editing the selected pics.

The funny thing is I didn't do much actually, the ISO 3200 pic is pretty much untouched with only the "Highlight Protection" set to 23 and cropped for better composition.

With the ISO 6400 pic I did the following (all from the default editing list):

  • Camera Settings> Noise Reduction:

  • Method: Better Quality

  • Edge Noise Reduction: On

  • Quick Fix:

  • Exposure Compensation: -0.33

  • Contrast: 4

  • Highlight Protection: 10

  • Saturation: 9

  • Crop

So no magic tricks here, just a good exposure and some basic pp work...

I never played with the old NX longer then a few hours btw so I can not really compare as my pp was done in Apple Aperture for the last two years, up till now that is;-)

The Pelican was shot at ISO 400 btw, just added it to show what the 70-200 combo could do with the 1.7TC @ f/7.1 (wide open not so sharp).

More settings can be found on the link below....

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DavidH Senior Member • Posts: 2,104
Re: My Workflow with NX2...

Jan Anne,

Are you using Aperture 2 or the original Aperture?

Curious, because they work somewhat differently.

You won't be alone switching to NX2; we are beginning to see that Nikon is winning many of us back (those who choose other programs primarily). There may be some revisions in NX2, before the trial period expires. I believe Thom Hogan uses a Mac also.

I have Macs and PC's and will explore if NX2 has any partiality in how it works on either platform.
Adobe favors the PC in my basic experimenting.

Thanks for sharing and that Meerkat was a good model,

David H

Dave Santora Senior Member • Posts: 2,552
Any chance we can have the originals?

First off, WOW! impressive results to say the least. By a large margin the best high ISO shots I have ever seen from the D300 (as good as some D3 high ISO shtos for sure).

I would like to see how I can make them look in Lightroom (as this is my workflow). It would be great if you donate the actual NEF files for some playing around.

Thanks!
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Sergey_Green
Sergey_Green Forum Pro • Posts: 11,958
Very much acceptable!

For this ISOs they do look mighty good! I never even tried to shoot above 800.

Also, thanks for the work-flow. It is good to see what others do and how at the end it all works out. Your results are very good.

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OP Jan Anne Offereins Regular Member • Posts: 253
Re: My Workflow with NX2...

DavidH wrote:

Jan Anne,

Are you using Aperture 2 or the original Aperture?

The latest 2.1 version.

You won't be alone switching to NX2; we are beginning to see that
Nikon is winning many of us back (those who choose other programs
primarily).

It's all a little premature but this looks like a one two punch from Nikon, problem one was with the NEF colors that Aperture could not retrieve:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1039&message=28041116

Number two is of course the topic of this thread, I expect punch number three to be around the corner with a total knockout for Aperture....

There may be some revisions in NX2, before the trial
period expires.

More speed would be nice:-)

Thanks for sharing and that Meerkat was a good model,

David H

Just sharing knowledge based on my own experience (instead of repeating someone elses;-) ).

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OP Jan Anne Offereins Regular Member • Posts: 253
Aperture vs NX2 ISO 6400 Pics...

Here is a crop of the same picture processed in Aperture with default noise reduction:

And the one posted before and processed with NX2:

The NX2 version has no chroma noise (green noise in this case), very little luminance noise and is way sharper.

I could up the NR in Aperture but this would only lead to a softer picture with a plastic look, not a pretty sight...

I also played with some D200 files and it looks like NX2 is doing a better job there as well compared to Aperture + NoiseNinja.... Next time in the zoo I'll shoot some D200 high ISO portraits and do a D200 vs D300 compare, just for fun;-)

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Holmes375
Holmes375 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,798
Re: Aperture vs NX2 ISO 6400 Pics...

Are you using in-camera NR or applying the NR in post?
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Dave Santora Senior Member • Posts: 2,552
The NX also has much darker blacks

I have found this is one way that it appears to have less noise in the shadows.

It appears to be more accurate also.
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Oliver reid Regular Member • Posts: 453
Re: D300 High ISO Pics...

Please post the original raw file of the Meerkat. I'd like to see how it does with Lightroom

OP Jan Anne Offereins Regular Member • Posts: 253
Re: Aperture vs NX2 ISO 6400 Pics...

As I shoot NEF I think this is done in pp by NX using the settings from the camera, these settings are easally overwritten btw.

Jpg and TIF are processed completely in camera though...

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OP Jan Anne Offereins Regular Member • Posts: 253
Re: The NX also has much darker blacks

True, when I rase the blacks in Aperture the noise seems to be less but never becomes as clean as the NX2 version.

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