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Camera sensors as film


discreetphoton e2
10 3.5k 20 United Kingdom
22 Jul 2010 2:33PM
When someone has said that they are not happy with noise in images, and wish to replace a camera, some people will often tell them that they need to replace all of their lenses for faster ones, and that their camera isn't the problem. It's the lenses, or the photographer.

In the days of film, appearance of grain would have people recommending different types of film. No-one would tell you to buy faster lenses.
Nowadays, when you buy a camera, you are effectively buying in to a single type of film for the lifetime of it's use. You have a specific range of speeds (albeit a much wider range than they single-value of film), with a specific contrast range and general appearance. So why do we get such strange reactions when someone says they don't like what they are getting?

Does anyone else view their camera sensor as a type of "film"? Has digital post-processing rendered this view obsolete?

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Toonman 7 1.4k 2 England
22 Jul 2010 2:46PM
I have recently sold my two 4/3rds cameras bescause of noise issues (and other things). Noise to me should not be visible in modern DSLR's up to and including ISO800. My Olympus E600 and Panasonic G1 had a poor noise performance at ISO800. I was told on an Olympus forum that putting a good quality lens on would improve it....it didn't.
cameracat 11 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
22 Jul 2010 5:10PM

Quote:Noise to me should not be visible in modern DSLR's up to and including ISO800


Its not a problem on my D700 or the D3 and D3s or D3X, You need to go well beyond ISO 1250 before it starts to show, Even then your need to be viewing at 100%, At print size you would be pushed to notice it.

Same goes for my other halfs Canon 5D MkII.

Lens will make little or no difference to the level of noise in an image, This is purely down to the sensor and the " Photosites " that its made up of.

Basic concept is that larger photosites require less amplification to produce an image, Than smaller photosites, The more amplification applied to the signal from the photosite, The more noise your going to get.

Hence " Full Frame " sensors with larger photosites, Produce cleaner images at a given ISO, Than thier " Crop Frame " Counterparts " .

It also explains why sensors of the same size but fewer photosites ( aka Less Mega Pixels ) Generally produce cleaner images than those with a higher pixel count.

It also explains why the noise becomes worse at higher ISO figures, Because the amount of amplification is ( for want of a better term ) " Turned Up " to make the sensor more sensitive to the available light conditions.

Though technology is advancing all the time, So the amount of difference is getting closer in all the above terms.

No I don't view my cameras sensor as a film type, I sometimes think of the ISO settings as a volume control though......Smile

Wink
theorderingone 10 2.4k United Kingdom
23 Jul 2010 9:41AM
A bit of noise never hurt anyone IMO. Those who shot film will remember how grainy even ASA400 speed film could be.

Obviously for many applications less noise can be desirable. A faster lens should allow you to select a lower ISO for the conditions, which is why people probably recommend them.

I think because digital images tend to end up being viewed at 100% on a computer screen, people have become less tolerant of noise or grain in their images. Many images people describe as too noisy would still make a good print in many cases.
User_Removed 8 2.1k 7 England
23 Jul 2010 9:52AM

Quote:Those who shot film will remember how grainy even ASA400 speed film could be


I do and love it, but do you think that film grain is different to digital noise? It just looks different particularly on prints I think. I do think we have become very obsessed with "perfect" images now.
JamesGarfield 5 915 4 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2010 10:07AM

Quote: I do think we have become very obsessed with "perfect" images now.


Agreed, I have spent some time recently looking at pictures that used to pass as proffessional pictures such as old album cover pics, ad campaigns, portrait pics etc and whilst they are still great pics and classic examples many of the pics that appear in the EPZ gallery are better IMPO but having said that some do tend to lack something. Maybe we have gone a step to far with post processing and have taken some of the realism out of them. It's been discussed many times so I won't go down that route again but maybe the search for perfection has made us lose some of the reality in what we're producing?
23 Jul 2010 10:31AM
A lens isn't going to make any difference to the noise levels at a set ISO but surely if you have a lens that you can confidently increase the aperture on over and above your current lens you can then use a lower ISO rating on the camera to avoid the noise.
keith selmes 11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2010 12:49PM
Yes, if you have a faster lens you can use a lower ISO with less grain.
That used to be more true with film, as changing the film for less grain would likely mean going to slower film. I would have used ISO 100 film on 35mm if possible, but often needed ISO 400.
In doesn't make such a difference with DSLR or even M43, but I suppose it could still be an issue.
discreetphoton e2
10 3.5k 20 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2010 4:16PM
How about the actual characteristics of the grain or noise? In a full colour image, I'd rarely go above 1000 ISO on my D300 (which is still higher than anyone would regular dare to tread with film). However, I saw very quickly that a monochrome shooting mode would allow me to get beautiful effects straight out of the camera, right up to 2500 ISO. The characteristics give a very natural film grain effect. This is not at all like the noise that was apparent in my first camera, which would break down at 400 ISO.

I've found that there is no more noise in my D300 than there is in my D80, but the way it is handled is entirely different, and allows for an overall image appearance that is entirely different, as well as changing the way I choose certain settings. Technically, there is only a two stop difference in the range of the two cameras, but I'd say it's more like four stops in practical use. That's much more significant than simply changing to a faster lens.
Toonman 7 1.4k 2 England
23 Jul 2010 4:32PM
That's why the D300 costs a lot more than the D80. They say it's the picture not the camera but, a good camera certainly helps. Wink

I have just purchased a Samsung NX10 after several attempts at getting a Panasonic Lumix G1 to work or even focus correctly. The difference in noise over the G1 is a fair bit. The smaller four thirds sensor is not as good as the larger Samsung Cmos sensor by some way.
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
23 Jul 2010 8:30PM

Quote:In the days of film, appearance of grain would have people recommending different types of film. No-one would tell you to buy faster lenses


Yes they would Smile


Quote:Does anyone else view their camera sensor as a type of "film"?


Not Me


Quote:Has digital post-processing rendered this view obsolete?


Has not come close, maybe if a sensor came along that could mimic the effect of light, silver crystals, etc, etc then things might change.


Quote:I do and love it, but do you think that film grain is different to digital noise? It just looks different particularly on prints I think. I do think we have become very obsessed with "perfect" images now


Film grain and noise grain are worlds apart, I still love viewing silver prints and prefer these to digital.


Quote:I'd rarely go above 1000 ISO on my D300 (which is still higher than anyone would regular dare to tread with film


I just love fast film and would regularly use 1600 ISO or higher.
NEWMANP e2
6 1.6k 574 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2010 8:37PM
i can remenber buying Scotch 1000 asa to get grain as big as footballs, anyone else remember. and pushing ektachrome 400 to 1000asa or you could by Orwochrome or something like orriblechrome 100 which looked about the same.
pHIL
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
23 Jul 2010 8:50PM
I can remember going out and shooting fast film on bright days for the effect, who does this with digital ? Smile


Quote:albeit a much wider range than they single-value of film), with a specific contrast range and general appearance


Only if you used a mini labs, some of us had our own darkrooms and could play to our hearts content Smile
discreetphoton e2
10 3.5k 20 United Kingdom
23 Jul 2010 9:29PM
Glad to hear that POV Paul, I actually prefer looking at film-based prints, there's a texture that's lacking in digital. One of my favourite macro photographers, Thomas Marent, frequently uses film with grain you could park a bus on. It just seems to enhance the natural textures of his subjects.


Quote:Quote:Has digital post-processing rendered this view obsolete?
Has not come close, maybe if a sensor came along that could mimic the effect of light, silver crystals, etc, etc then things might change.


Think I should clarify this though, as I meant something slightly different here:

With digital post-processing being seen as an intrinsic part of digital photography, does it matter what the image looks like straight from the camera?
23 Jul 2010 10:59PM

Quote:
With digital post-processing being seen as an intrinsic part of digital photography, does it matter what the image looks like straight from the camera?



Well I would say it does as you can't put back something that isn't there in the first place, if you try to get rid of noise in post processing you also loose sharpness and detail in the shadows.

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