Digital noise is just one of those things. It doesn’t discriminate against new learners and experienced photographers. It actually affects everyone who owns a camera at some stage, let alone a photographer who captures images on a professional level, but it does pose a bit of an issue if you’re a wedding photographer, who needs every shot to be on its best form. After all, you’re being paid to produce flawless images of someone’s big day, so digital noise is rather a nuisance, but there are some things that you can do to reduce noise in your images. It’s all about knowing how to avoid images with digital noise and how to correct digital noise in pre-existing photographs. This article should be pretty useful to anyone who owns a camera, so carry on reading to help yourself out...
What Is Digital Noise? - Digital noise is a random variation of brightness/ color, which presents itself across an image. Digital noise is a pretty vast term and can apply itself to more than just pictures taken from a camera, but that’s the sector we’re focusing on today. In simple terms, digital noise within an image is random pretty much just random pixels scattered all over the photo, but something so simple can take a photo from great quality, to poor quality. Digital noise is commonly referred to as digital grain or picture grain in film and photography. Annoyingly, picture grain degrades photo quality.
How Does Digital Noise Occur? - Digital noise usually occurs when you take low light photos. The obvious examples would be photographs taken of a night time or in very dim lit areas. The other causes of picture grain can actually be due to having your camera set on a low shutter speed or on a high sensitivity mode. These settings can be altered within your camera, but sometimes it isn’t quite as easy to prevent picture grain, but the best way to prevent it from taking over your images, is to understand it. So, we’re going to take you through the different types of digital noise first of all:
Low Lighting: When shooting in a particularly dark scene, picture grain will occur. The amount of light is measured by each pixel. When the light intensity is very low it can become too close to the level of noise naturally found in the CCD. In such cases, some pixels will appear as noise. This is purely because the noise level measured is significantly close to or higher than the actual light intensity. So, this is the science behind the grain per say.
Slow Shutter Speed: when the camera shutter is kept open for a long time, more noise will be introduced to the photo, which is definitely not something that you want. A slow shutter speed translates to the CCD integrating more light per pixel. Although, at the same time the CCD is also “accumulating” noise. So, it’s basically just noise upon noise, which is going to result in a poor image! It’s for this reason mentioned above that in slow shutter speed photos some pixels will appear as noise. The amount of noise integrated is significantly close to or higher than the actual light measured.
High Sensitivity Mode: In general, high sensitivity in digital photography is implemented by mechanisms that result in amplification. The CCD amplifies the measurements it takes. However, there is no way to just amplify the actual photo light that falls on the CCD pixels instead the noise and the actual light are both amplified. The result is that the CCD becomes sensitive not only to light but also to its own noise. When too much amplification is applied some pixels will appear as noise.
Can Digital Noise Be Prevented? - It’s important to understand that certain things can help to prevent digital noise (like adjusting the camera settings we’ve mentioned), but nothing can prevent it ultimately. Annoying we know, but like we’ve discussed, there are a few steps that you can take to decrease the likelihood of producing an image with a lot of noise.
TOP TIP: Some cameras include a built-in feature called “noise reduction”. Noise reduction is A software that can identify the noise pixels and remove them from your images before you click that shutter. If you do not have a built-in noise reduction feature within your camera, you can use a PC software that removes digital noise. To find out more information about possible noise reduction software's that you could purchase or download, surf the web to find out what tools you can use!
Digital Noise Overview - Like we mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, digital noise does not pick on certain types of photographers. In can in fact be a bit of a nuisance to anyone with a camera! For most photographers' digital noise is not a practical problem even in low light scenarios usually digital noise is minimal and can be significantly reduced by simply turning on your camera’s noise reduction feature. For professional photographers who shoot in more extreme conditions digital noise can present a real problem and can be dealt with using a combination of optimizing the camera settings and removing noise with professional software.
Photo + editing credit: All images in this blog post edited by the team here at Weddit and photographed by Lukas Griffin. To get started with our wedding photo editing service, you can create an account here.