Chromatic noise and why it matters?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by wheelhot, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Hi everyone,

    Well I was reading through some camera reviews (boredom) and one of the user says, the reason why he chose Nikon over Canon is because of the Chromatic noise that is present in Canon camera. I went back and check some photo result taken by Nikon and Canon DSLRs and notice that he is right, at higher ISO, eventhough Nikon loses some detail compared to Canon, but there is almost no presence of chromatic noise.

    So it makes me wonder, how significance is chromatic noise to a photo? and I'm quite sure this can be fixed, but how complicated is it (as in to fix it), and how bad will it affect the photo?

    Sorry if this question sounds noobish but I'm new to the world of digital photography (last time I don't know all this terms, just know of this problems) so please enlighten me :)

  2. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    It's about the `character of the noise': there isn't just `one noise' but several different types: luminance noise and chromatic noise. Luminance noise affects all three colors in the same way while chromatic noise is noise where different colors `flare up' -- which is more visible.

    Nikon and Canon have taken different philosophies to noise reductions. Nikon usually suppresses chromatic noise (color noise) more strongly than Canon -- which is more pleasant to the eye, but reduces sharpness more. People tend to say that Nikon's noise looks more `film grain-like,' but it's also a matter of taste (who says film noise is better than digital noise? ;)).

    Whether noise is significant, that's up to you. Most dslrs these days produce pictures with very low noise and even though you can measure differences, up to about ISO 400, there is no difference in practical terms.
  3. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    First off, you're quite right: virtually every test that I've seen shows that images from Canons have far more chroma noise than those from Nikons. I find chroma noise to be far more objectionable than luminance noise (which is a lot like film grain to me), but it's not something that can't be dealt with with some post-processing NR.

    Even amongst cameras from the same manufacturer, there can be different approaches to noise. I've seen images from a Canon 1DmkII that have the same amount of of noise as those from a 20D or 30D (cameras of the same vintage) at a given ISO, but the rentention of detail in the 1DmkII images is much better. Thus, the 1DmkII has the better noise performance, because even if NR is then applied, the final product from the 1D will have better overall IQ.

    My approach to noise is this: avoid it if you can by always shooting at the lowest possible ISO**, but don't worry about it so much that you don't get the shot; modern NR algorithms (think Noise Ninja or Noiseware) are excellent, and most noise can be removed...but a moment can never be recaptured. If you've got a 50 f/1.4 lens and the scene calls for f/1.4, 1/50s, ISO3200 (which is pretty dim light), then take the shot at ISO3200; don't go to ISO1600, 1/25s just to avoid noise, unless you've got the hands of a surgeon and can get steady images at 1/25s (which I can't).

    Basically, don't worry about noise.

    ** - except on Canon cameras that offer an ISO 50 setting, which is lower noise, at the cost of lower dynamic range
  4. wheelhot thread starter macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Okay, thanks for the tip cause now I'm reconsidering again between the 1000D and the D60.

    I'm very erm....noisy when it comes to noise, hate my pictures when I notice noise. Don't know why, well one of it is cause of I'm using PnS and it will have very bad noise when there is no proper lighting (this is the reason why I want a DSLR).

    I'm taking ChrisA advice which is consider the system rather then the body only cause you will be replacing the body after a few years (5 years+).

    This is what I do, I'm a nature lover (lol), I mountain bike, I love scenery, I love taking close up photos (this is the reason of me leaning toward the 1000D, cause my dad has a EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens, but he also has a Tamron SP AF90 f/2.8 for Nikon), oh yea and I somehow end up taking photos where there is lack of proper light source and having flash will ruin it (dinner events and some outdoor photos, fireworks and etc).

    I don't know much about lens groups and which brand is superior in which group so I do hope someone will enlighten me :D

    My bday is this Nov so my dad might get me my very own DSLR.
  5. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    For fireworks, I agree; flash is inappropriate.

    However, if you are getting a "flash" look on other shots, you are almost certainly using flash incorrectly. I very frequently use fill flash for outdoor portraits and indoor events; it's all in how you use the flash. See here for a fantastic set of tutorials on flash photography.

    Both Canon and Nikon make excellent lenses. You wont go wrong with either system. I shoot Canon because I have a large investment in Canon glass, but Nikon is also excellent.
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    If you shoot JPG format then you have to depend on the in-camera noise reduction system. But if you shoot raw format then you can do this in software.. Pretty much, the same software can be used with either Nikon or Canon.

    Also there are differences between models of one brand of SLRs and this model to model difference is as great as the Nikon to Canon difference. It's like saying "GM cars are faster then Fords." You can't make such generalizations.

    You can use flash for almost all subjects that are reasonably close without ruining the shot. The trick is to avoid at all costs making a directly aimed flash the main light. This gives two options (a) Using flash only as a fill, or secondary light source and (b) not directly aiming the flash. Applied to your subjects outdoor flash can fill in shadows and reduce contrast to what the camera can actually record and at dinner aim the flash at a spot on the ceiling or wall. That illuminated spot then acts as the primary light source. You can control lighting direction my moving the aim point or the flash around.

    How to determine a "good" lens? Just look at the number of digits in the price tag. Price seems to match the mass of the glass in the lens and "more is better". Every f-stop seems to require a doubling or more of the mass of the glass.
  7. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    Wrong thread – sorry. Good thread, nonetheless :p
  8. wheelhot thread starter macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    aah okay, thanks. Glad to hear that chromatic noise can be fixed :)

    Now I need to decide, more detail or less detail at higher ISO.

    Canon seem to capture more detail compared to Nikon at higher ISO but introduced Chromatic noise whereas Nikon has no chromatic noise at higher ISO but the image lose quite a lot of detail (and people say it looks film grain?)

    For Canon I know the L lens is the best choice, I wonder what is the best lens family for Nikon?

    So far I'm leaning toward the 1000D, cause it has much more features then the D60 which I will be able to play with :), of course I will decide when I actually test the camera but in terms of feature, the 1000D beats D60 features hands down, oh yeah and Canon has worldwide warranty right? How about Nikon?. Now I need to see how will the photo quality effects me, how does the camera feel and anything else I need to consider before choosing my camera (I'm a research geek before I end up owning something)?

    and both company has a very interesting history which will make it hard to decide.

    Nikon used to be a lens company and Canon will build the body for it, now since both of them is making their own lens and body, its interesting to check their history again cause, Nikon has the expertise in making lens, whereas Canon has the expertise in making camera body, with everything moving towards more digital, I guess Canon has an advantage in this since they make a lot of electronic stuffs. Sony history on the other hand is similar to Canon :)

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