Image Noise: 3 simple ways to prevent distortion in-camera

Image Noise: 3 simple ways to prevent distortion in-camera

Ever wondered what image noise really is and how you can prevent it? In this tutorial we show you three simple ways to keep distortion at bay.

Image Noise: 3 simple ways to prevent distortion in-camera

Image by Mark Hamblin. ‘Before’ image inset.

In photography terms, ‘noise’ refers to visual distortion in a digital image that appears as speckles or grains, or even smudges of colour when viewed close-up.

It is usually most noticeable in areas of uniform colour especially in darker areas of the picture. Noise occurs as a result of using a high ISO setting or shooting in low light. Some cameras are better at dealing with noise than others, because of the size of the sensor.

At comparable ISO settings, smaller sensors, such as those found in smartphones and small compacts, will produce a lot more noise than cameras with a full-frame sensor.

How to control image noise in-camera

How to control image noise in-camera: use a low ISO

Set a low ISO
Set the lowest ISO possible depending on the type of light. The lower the ISO, the less noise you’ll see on your images. Take a series of shots at different ISO settings and check the levels of noise. Use a tripod for static subjects when using a low ISO setting and slow shutter speed.


How to control image noise in-camera: expose for shadows

Expose for the shadows
Noise is most apparent in dark areas of an image, especially if you lighten shadows later in Photoshop. You can lighten images at the shooting stage by dialling in plus (+) exposure compensation. Check that the histogram is as far to the right as possible without blowing the whites.


How to control image noise in-camera: use noise reduction

Use noise reduction
Many cameras have a menu setting that reduces noise when the ISO is set above a certain level. It’s a good idea to turn this on. For raw shooters, you can apply noise reduction to your image in your raw-editing software. Similarly, in Photoshop you can go to Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise.


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