Too much grain!!!!

Hi Moose - Long time since I wrote you. I'm having a terrible time with grain in my photos. I shoot with a Nikon D3100... ISO is set 100, noise reduction is off. I am having particular problem with long exposure still-lifes. I can run the photos through Dfine 2 but it isn't much help... any thoughts?


  • Hi, @wavecaller. I'm not Moose obviously, but you might get his attention better if you use the "at" symbol before his name, which will give him an email notification of the thread. I think he might be able to analyze a picture if you send him the file.

    In the meantime, shooting blind, I would suggest a couple of things.

    First of all, you'll usually get more noise from longer exposures, in part owing to heat buildup in the sensor, and sensitivity to "shot noise," which is inherent in the image, not the process. If there's any way to shorten the exposure, I'd try it. This includes even possibly upping the ISO, to compare results, because although higher ISO = higher noise, the shorter exposure might outweigh it. If you're shooting on a tripod, it's easy enough to try the same shot in various ISO settings and race them.

    Second, noise loves underexposure and will roar out loud when you lift shadows. If your scene does not have highlights to blow out, consider overexposing it, and lowering it in post. The brighter your image, the less noise, and when you reduce the brightness in post, you turn down the noise at the same time. Shoot as far to the bright side as you can without sacrificing pertinent highlights.

    You might get some improvement by setting noise reduction on. Some of the effect is going to be only for JPG, but some will be for the Raw image on long exposures, because the noise reduction actually takes a second exposure with the shutter closed, and subtracts the noise in that from the first exposure. It's annoying since it doubles exposure time, but if you're at leisure in your shots it might be worth a try.

    Finally, what you get for noise from a Raw image may depend some on how the program you're using processes noise, and you should remember too that sometimes one can get hung up on noise that shows in a 100 percent blowup that will not show in a real world printed result. You might try other programs and see if the results are different.
  • Thank you Bruto - as always great info!
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