Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Truth About Digital Noise & How We Should Deal With It

Some time ago I was working on a photo I took of our family dog to probably have it printed in a large format and hang it on my studio wall. As I was editing it in Darktable, all was coming along fine until I came to the “denoising” stage. This photo was actually taken at ISO 1600 in plain daylight. I know, many of you would say I don't know what I'm doing shooting at such high ISO's in the middle of the day, well, I used the tele on my Canon at its max (720mm/35mm-equiv) and I truly don't have the steadiest grip in the world, so I just wanted to make sure I had a sharp image, and we all know that a sharper and noisier image is far better than a blurry or underexposed one, I also wanted to make sure my histogram had a “healthy” look, so it seemed easy for me to just increase the ISO sensitivity. Now, Darktable has amazing denoising capabilities, actually, I think they are better than many of the other RAW developing programs I have used before since it has many different types and can be used as combinations with multiple instances on any channel you want, you can even profile your camera if you wish. Anyway, tired of trying different denoising algorithms and not feeling satisfied by getting a nice "ultra clean" result, I decided to call it off making me wonder if it should just go straight to the trash and forget about it, it was a difficult photo to denoise and I really wanted to keep the hair details to the best.