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Old Jul 25, 2013, 10:03 PM   #1
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Noisy indoor light photos

I have a Canon G12 http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/profes.../powershot_g12

Using auto ISO, my pictures come out a bit noisy with indoor lighting (mix of incandescent and LED bulbs) at f/2.8. I have tried manually setting ISO 800 or 1200 and same thing. Not using the flash.

Outdoors or next to a bright window, no problem.

I usually use Av (aperture priority) mode at f/2.8, but nothing I've tried in fully auto or program has changed this. It actually has a setting for incandescent light, but I think all that does is set a high ISO and change the white balance.

Is this a limitation of the camera's sensor size, or is there something else I should try? For taking pictures of people, should they be as close to an overhead light as possible? Because that still isn't helping.
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Old Jul 26, 2013, 06:15 AM   #2
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If there is not much light then most cameras will struggle. Also, the cameras with smaller sensors have a harder time. If you are using the largest apeture and the slowest shutter speed (not not too slow to avoid movement) and the ISO is still too high then you need to add light. If all the lights in the room are already on then you need to bring in more. Some options are higher wattage bulbs in the room, LED panels, flash. Your camera has a flash, have you tried that? Also I think that it can take an external flash, these will give more power and depending on the model give the options to bounce the light, which gives better illumination.
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Old Jul 26, 2013, 09:51 AM   #3
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Those small sensor cameras need lots of light to avoid objectionable noise. They also have more limited dynamic range and exhibit more blown highlights.
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Old Jul 26, 2013, 11:17 AM   #4
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In short, yes, it's a limitation of the camera's small sensor. It sounds like you're doing all the right things by setting your ISO manually and using the widest aperture possible. Unfortunately low light / high iso performance is related to how efficient a given sensor is, and the small ones simply can't compare to larger sensors with larger photosites.

On the bright side, your G12 does have a hot shoe, so with a set of radio triggers and a cheap manual flash you can use it for all kinds of awesome off-camera lighting work!
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Old Jul 26, 2013, 11:26 AM   #5
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As has been mentioned before you have to remember that noise shows up more in the shadows than the highlights and I assume you inside shots have a larger variation in lighting than the outside shots which will probably have flatter lighting.

I have sometimes found that shooting at a higher ISO will actually give me a cleaner image as I am capturing a better exposed image.
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Old Jul 26, 2013, 04:29 PM   #6
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Most probably a limitation of your sensor. Though, how bad is the noise? Is it when looking at it when zoomed in 100% on your computer or is it noticeable at a smaller size like you would print it or share it on a screen (presuming you don't want large prints). My t2i starts showing noise at ISO 800/1600. But it typically is good enough for most viewing conditions.

A quick tip sometimes is to take black and white shots when shooting at high ISO, the noise becomes much less obvious and distracting. Especially if you're shooting in mixed lighting (different colour temperature from the ambient lights) it can greatly help the picture provided it fits your style.

Another thing to keep in mind if you do post processing to your pictures is that the dynamic range of the sensor lowers as you raise the ISO. So be careful with your exposure and get it as close as possible in camera rather than fixing exposure in post. Speaking of post, you can do some noise removal with software after the fact. It'll help if you shoot raw images. Also, sometimes darkening the shadows can make the noise less apparent.
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Old Jul 27, 2013, 08:32 AM   #7
Mike in Kansas
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  1. Shoot RAW
  2. Expose to the right and lower exposure in post

This may give you more latitude in your processing and also reduce shadow noise. I have found in some situations that by overexposing by 1 stop by raising ISO will result in cleaner shadows when dropping exposure back down in post processing.
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Old Jul 31, 2013, 03:21 AM   #8
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Thanks for the tips everyone. It may be time to upgrade after all.
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