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Noisy images on a Nikon D850?


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Just back from photographing a lake at sunset, and I'm worried that the images are looking noisy in the shadows. I was shooting at ISO 640, which on a Nikon D850 I would expect to be fine? Where am I going wrong? Ia it worth trying software to remove the noise? Or is it just that the files are so big that when viewed at 100% it shows up with loads of noise? Please someone explain to me what to do / what I should have done in idiot's terms! Thank you! I don't want to risk failing when I upload... 

 

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I use a Nikon 610 (rather than the D850). For a static shot, such as a lake at sunset, I would be using a tripod rather than bumping up the ISO. It's an ingrained habit for me, though I'm sure other folk will have different ideas...

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1 hour ago, Fiona said:

Just back from photographing a lake at sunset, and I'm worried that the images are looking noisy in the shadows. I was shooting at ISO 640, which on a Nikon D850 I would expect to be fine? Where am I going wrong? Ia it worth trying software to remove the noise? Or is it just that the files are so big that when viewed at 100% it shows up with loads of noise? Please someone explain to me what to do / what I should have done in idiot's terms! Thank you! I don't want to risk failing when I upload... 

 

Firstly you should always judge your images at 100%. Anything less is a fudge. 

 

If you are getting serious luminosity noise at ISO640 on a D850 then you are probably heavily underexposing for the shadows and opening them up too much. But your question about should I be using software begs the question "are you not using software as a matter of course?" Do you mean you are using a D850 to shoot JPEGs?

 

If you give a bit more details about your workflow then it would be easier to offer advice. For what it's worth, I have the Lightroom/ACR default Color Noise reduction always on for the D850 and I start applying a bit of Luminosity Noise Reduction from ISO 400 up. Judicious noise reduction allows me to get very decent shots up to ISO1600 and usable shots up to ISO6400. 

Edited by MDM
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I use the D850 and at ISO 640, there should not be objectionable noise.  But when I have shot in high ISOs, I have reduced the noise in the Adobe RAW file converter.  I think it works well.  I have had plenty of photos published well above ISO 640.

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I think deep shadows / blacks will look noisy at that iso especially at 100% (I also use a Nikon 850). Personally I try not to go above iso 400 for stock shots but that's just my preference.

I'd use the noise reduction in photoshop as a starting point to see if you can smooth it out. Reducing the texture slider and a slight increase in clarity might help too.

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2 hours ago, MDM said:

Firstly you should always judge your images at 100%. Anything less is a fudge. 

 

If you are getting serious luminosity noise at ISO640 on a D850 then you are probably heavily underexposing for the shadows and opening them up too much. But your question about should I be using software begs the question "are you not using software as a matter of course?" Do you mean you are using a D850 to shoot JPEGs?

 

If you give a bit more details about your workflow then it would be easier to offer advice. For what it's worth, I have the Lightroom/ACR default Color Noise reduction always on for the D850 and I start applying a bit of Luminosity Noise Reduction from ISO 400 up. Judicious noise reduction allows me to get very decent shots up to ISO1600 and usable shots up to ISO6400. 

So, I thought I was exposing so as to get enough detail in the highlights without blowing the highlights. And then  I am using Lightroom and shooting raw. I clean up in Photoshop. I was referring to software like noise ninja. Let me know what you think. 

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3 hours ago, John Morrison said:

I use a Nikon 610 (rather than the D850). For a static shot, such as a lake at sunset, I would be using a tripod rather than bumping up the ISO. It's an ingrained habit for me, though I'm sure other folk will have different ideas...

I am dreadful with tripods! Also, what's the point of using a D850 if you don't take advantage of its high isos? 

 

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34 minutes ago, Fiona said:

So, I thought I was exposing so as to get enough detail in the highlights without blowing the highlights. And then  I am using Lightroom and shooting raw. I clean up in Photoshop. I was referring to software like noise ninja. Let me know what you think. 

 

I never use anything but Lightroom for noise reduction. The trick is to balance the noise reduction with any sharpening and it is definitely best to do it in the raw file. Downsizing after you have done your cleaning in Photoshop should help a lot to reduce noise. Because the file sizes are so large, you have loads of room for downsizing as you only need a file of 3000x2000 pixels for Alamy.

 

Edited by MDM
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19 minutes ago, Fiona said:

So, I thought I was exposing so as to get enough detail in the highlights without blowing the highlights. And then  I am using Lightroom and shooting raw. I clean up in Photoshop. I was referring to software like noise ninja. Let me know what you think. 

 

If I have a major noise problem, I use DxO's PhotoLab 4's Deep Prime.  Most noise can be managed in Lightroom Classic. 

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28 minutes ago, Fiona said:

I am dreadful with tripods! Also, what's the point of using a D850 if you don't take advantage of its high isos? 

 


Conversely, what is the point in using a D850 if you don't take advantage of the amazing noise free sensor, the amount of detail and the dynamic range at ISO 64. As you increase the ISO, you lose detail, get less dynamic range and higher noise.

 

My rule of thumb is to use the lowest ISO possible, taking aperture and shutter speed into account. I am less likely to be carrying a tripod around these days shooting landscapes but I would definitely want one for sunsets if possible. I use high ISO up to 6400 max when I have to, as in shooting a wedding in a dark church or venue, when I can't use additional lighting. The quality is definitely more than sufficient for that but image quality does suffer compared to lower ISOs. However, I have never had a complaint from a client about noise (or image quality in general). 

 

So basically the D850 can do almost anything - it is the best DSLR ever made in my opinion. It can be used for action, landscapes, low light - whatever so take advantage of everything. It is a massive improvement on the D810 and an even more massive improvement on the D800E or D800,

 

EDIT - someone gave you a red arrow for your question which seems strange so I just gave it a like as I think that was unfair.

Edited by MDM
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Try not to underexpose at higher ISO as that does tend to induce excess noise. Better to slightly overexpose then pull it back in post process.

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7 hours ago, Sultanpepa said:

Try not to underexpose at higher ISO as that does tend to induce excess noise. Better to slightly overexpose then pull it back in post process.

What’s your technique for getting the exposure right when you are shooting into the sun.?I don’t want to blow the highlights bit I want enough detail to bring the shadows up in post. At the moment I look at the histogram and make sure neither end is going off the grid and there’s plenty of info in the middle. Clearly not the right strategy! 

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45 minutes ago, Fiona said:

What’s your technique for getting the exposure right when you are shooting into the sun.?I don’t want to blow the highlights bit I want enough detail to bring the shadows up in post. At the moment I look at the histogram and make sure neither end is going off the grid and there’s plenty of info in the middle. Clearly not the right strategy! 

 

Hi Fiona,

First off, I'm a complete ignoramus about the capabilities of the D850, so maybe take the following with a pinch of salt! However, easiest thing to do would be to shoot bracketed exposures and find the best image when you get home. But if you're doing a shot looking directly at the setting sun, unless you can get it partly obscured by clouds or e.g. a tree, I wouldn't think any camera has sufficient dynamic range to correctly expose for the sun and the landscape in a single shot (I stand ready to be corrected by the Forum here!!). So you could do this with a tripod and multiple different exposures and then recombine in Photoshop. At the very least, use a tripod, or rest the camera on something, because the amount of available light won't be enough to hand hold, as you said above, you needed to up the ISO. Plus, if you use a tripod, you can increase the F-number to F13 or F16 and get that starburst effect on the sun.

Steve

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2 minutes ago, Steve F said:

 

Hi Fiona,

First off, I'm a complete ignoramus about the capabilities of the D850, so maybe take the following with a pinch of salt! However, easiest thing to do would be to shoot bracketed exposures and find the best image when you get home. But if you're doing a shot looking directly at the setting sun, unless you can get it partly obscured by clouds or e.g. a tree, I wouldn't think any camera has sufficient dynamic range to correctly expose for the sun and the landscape in a single shot (I stand ready to be corrected by the Forum here!!). So you could do this with a tripod and multiple different exposures and then recombine in Photoshop. At the very least, use a tripod, or rest the camera on something, because the amount of available light won't be enough to hand hold, as you said above, you needed to up the ISO. Plus, if you use a tripod, you can increase the F-number to F13 or F16 and get that starburst effect on the sun.

Steve

Oh I didn't know that about f16 giving a starburst effect! Thank you! 

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I know nothing about Nikons, but I submit up to 3200 from an older sensor (A58) so I would be surprised if an image at 640 had noisy shadows unless underexposed. At 3200 it is quite critical, maybe only a stop or two under and it falls apart. I assume you have tried a bit of NR in LR.

Just another thought- looking at your collection, to my eye you seem to open up your shadows quite a bit. The images are fine but could that be tripping you up with these sunset images with a lot of shadow? You do mention bringing up your shadow detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Fiona said:

What’s your technique for getting the exposure right when you are shooting into the sun.?I don’t want to blow the highlights bit I want enough detail to bring the shadows up in post. At the moment I look at the histogram and make sure neither end is going off the grid and there’s plenty of info in the middle. Clearly not the right strategy! 

 

Basically I take lots of shots, not bracketing as such but starting close to the lowest (darkest) exposure taken by metering from the sun itself and opening up by three or four stops from there taking a shot at each setting. I always use manual exposure mode (needless to say) for full control. 

 

I then tend to use the best one of those as I find that combining later (with or without HDR) is generally unnecessary with the truly amazing sensor on the D850 (and similar full frame Nikons as well as some Sonys I believe as they use the same or similar sensor). I only shoot directly into the sun for sunsets when the sun is dimmed sufficiently to not cause significant (or any) flare (so just above the horizon or dimmed by clouds). I always use a tripod for sunsets and typically use f11 at lowest possible ISO (64 on the D850). Typically something maybe two or three stops above the darkest exposure (taken from the dimmed sun) will work but there is no golden rule. Using low ISO ensures you can get back shadow detail with minimal noise. 

 

I never use the camera histogram as it is derived from a JPEG. I do use the raw histogram in Lightroom though. I would rather concentrate on shooting than worrying about an exact exposure as the camera is so good it can deal with most situations so having a range of exposures is key.

 

This only relates to shooting sunsets (and very rare sunrises), not shooting into the light in general which requires a different strategy.

 

Finally I should add that there is a great health benefit to using a mirrorless camera (such as the Z6 or 7 and relatives) for sunsets and the like as you can safely use the electronic viewfinder. Blindness in later life is not ideal.

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, spacecadet said:

I know nothing about Nikons, but I submit up to 3200 from an older sensor (A58) so I would be surprised if an image at 640 had noisy shadows unless underexposed. At 3200 it is quite critical, maybe only a stop or two under and it falls apart. I assume you have tried a bit of NR in LR.

Just another thought- looking at your collection, to my eye you seem to open up your shadows quite a bit. The images are fine but could that be tripping you up with these sunset images with a lot of shadow? You do mention bringing up your shadow detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That sounds right. How do you get your shadows perfectly exposed when shooting into the sun? 

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Try a graded neutral density filter? 

 

Alamy has over 5 million photos tagged "sunset."  Quick impression is that if the sun is in the frame, you're not going to get much in the way of shadow details and might be better served working with silhouettes rather than trying to get shadow details.  The human eye can see more dynamic range than cameras, so if you can't see shadow detail looking at a scene with the sun at the horizon, then the camera isn't going to be able to either.

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1 hour ago, Fiona said:

How do you get your shadows perfectly exposed when shooting into the sun? 

As Miz says, I'm not sure you do. My point was that you seem to have a style of opening up shadows.. I probably do it rather less.

If you have noisy shadows they're almost certainly underexposed.

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Edited by spacecadet
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On 27/04/2021 at 22:21, MDM said:


Conversely, what is the point in using a D850 if you don't take advantage of the amazing noise free sensor, the amount of detail and the dynamic range at ISO 64. As you increase the ISO, you lose detail, get less dynamic range and higher noise.

 

My rule of thumb is to use the lowest ISO possible, taking aperture and shutter speed into account. I am less likely to be carrying a tripod around these days shooting landscapes but I would definitely want one for sunsets if possible. I use high ISO up to 6400 max when I have to, as in shooting a wedding in a dark church or venue, when I can't use additional lighting. The quality is definitely more than sufficient for that but image quality does suffer compared to lower ISOs. However, I have never had a complaint from a client about noise (or image quality in general). 

 

So basically the D850 can do almost anything - it is the best DSLR ever made in my opinion. It can be used for action, landscapes, low light - whatever so take advantage of everything. It is a massive improvement on the D810 and an even more massive improvement on the D800E or D800,

 

EDIT - someone gave you a red arrow for your question which seems strange so I just gave it a like as I think that was unfair.

Michael, My wife and I both have D850s she has the 24-70 2.8G ED lens which is now getting heavy for her to use, I just wondered what lens you used or suggest that is lighter but as sharp. Cheers Nigel

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2 hours ago, Nigel Kirby said:

Michael, My wife and I both have D850s she has the 24-70 2.8G ED lens which is now getting heavy for her to use, I just wondered what lens you used or suggest that is lighter but as sharp. Cheers Nigel


That’s a difficult one Nigel as the pro quality 24-70 zooms from Nikon are very heavy but top quality lenses are essential with the large sensor. I did have a Tamron 24-70 (not the current one) but the quality was not good enough across the frame on the D850. I don’t know what the current ones are like or the Sigmas but I expect there would not be a huge weight advantage. I have used primes but there is the hassle of changing lenses which she may not want. 

 

The weight problem is why I got a Z7 a couple of years ago which is now my main carry round camera, with the 24-70 f4 so-called kit lens (possible the best kit lens in the world). So if the weight is a real problem, then perhaps a Z6 with the 24-70 f4 (around 1950 new at the moment from Grays of Westminster) and trade in or sell her existing kit if necessary. That is an amazing price for such a quality piece of kit. The combined weight is just over 1kg so extremely light but very robust. If she doesn’t need the large sensor, then the image quality is superb from the Z6. I would advise anyone to go for the whole kit including adaptor for F lenses at the time of purchase as it is much more expensive to buy them separately. 
 

So I have a foot in both camps at the moment. I love the D850. It is almost perfect and I still use it for low light work or anything where I need fast tracking. I haven’t shot a wedding in a while for obvious reasons but hopefully will be back in action in June and then it will be the camera of choice. I rarely take it out for a walk any more but I definitely won’t be selling it. 

Edited by MDM
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16 minutes ago, MDM said:

The weight problem is why I got a Z7 a couple of years ago which is now my main carry round camera, with the 24-70 f4 so-called kit lens (possible the best kit lens in the world).

 

Can’t agree more. I have the 24-70 f2.8 VR lens on a D850 and 24-70 f4 lens on a Z7 which I’m using more and more for press work. Much prefer the latter, the Z f4 lens is a revelation.

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5 minutes ago, Malcolm Park said:

 

Can’t agree more. I have the 24-70 f2.8 VR lens on a D850 and 24-70 f4 lens on a Z7 which I’m using more and more for press work. Much prefer the latter, the Z f4 lens is a revelation.

 

Yes definitely except I should say that the very corners are a bit soft on the one I have. But it is bitingly sharp edge to edge if you leave out the corners and there is plenty of cropping space with the Z7. It would be much less noticeable on the Z6 because of the smaller sensor. I don't know if this is a general issue but it has not been a problem. 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Michael for your sound advice, as soon as its possible we will go to Grays and sort out a Z6/ Z7 Kit.

Regards

Nigel

Edited by Nigel Kirby
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