General discussion

Digital Camera Noise (ISO 100,200,...)


Are you going to test cameras on "Noise"?
The Noise is one of the MOST IMPORTANT features, it would be nice to know it.


ISO Noise
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Reply to: Digital Camera Noise (ISO 100,200,...)
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This is not the review staff's channel.

But your question only raises more questions. Many camera's noise vary with lighting so rather than ask about noise can you find a standardized test method?

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Camera noise

This is obviously important in low light photography. Many popular review sites including will give you high ISO photo comparisons of different similar category cameras.

DXO labs also developed the DXO Mark to rate digital camera sensor performance, and you can click on the high ISO tab to view their ratings of the noise:

However you should not blindly rely on these objective testings. In real life use, there are many factors that can cause variations of noise level in your photos. These are several things that one should consider if noise is a main concern:

1. It is pretty much a no brainer that a D-SLR will have much lower noise than a compact (in today's technology). No matter how much advertising is deployed, no one should believe that the best low noise compact will even be comparable to a similarly priced entry level D-SLR. You don't need a test for this. If you want low noise, you should consider D-SLR and give up the compact form factor.
2. It is critical to get the right exposure when you shoot in low light. Post-processing adjustment of exposure (ie you made a mistake on the exposure) usually will amplify and worsen the noise. Use external light to reduce noise. Even if you have the Nikon D3s, you are not foolproof for noise. You can still get horrible noise if you don't get the right lighting and exposure (ie, if you don't know what you are doing).
3. Your histogram can be a useful guide for exposure.
4. Use the largest aperture on the camera (for compacts, and try not to zoom in) or the brightest lens (for D-SLR), and the lowest possible ISO. Don't rely on Auto mode or Auto ISO.

It is easy to read reviews and buy the camera with the best high ISO performance (but that alone will not guarantee you noise-free photos). However if you want your photo to have as little noise as possible, then learning the skills and techniques of photography is going to help you more than reading reviews of the cameras.

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