I'd say you got some good mileage out of those Raw files!
Check out our Raw Conversion thread for some great work done by hundreds of POTNers:
FreeLearningLife wrote in post #13985561
WOW! This thread is so helpful and full of info.
I went to a party this weekend and shot in raw & jpeg.
I was able to save some pictures by editing the raw shots. Some turned out really grainy once I edited them, but I haven't had any time to really sit down and look-the noise might be because my ISO was set high-I didn't have much time to catch shots because my youngest son was taking a lot of my time-I'd just point and shoot hope some of them took! LOL
Well, shooting in low light calls for higher ISOs, which "amplifies" the collected light but also digital noise. In darker areas less light is collected, but the level of noise is the same so when the darker areas get amplified the noise shows up. So yes, the high amplification of a high ISO brings up the visible noise. The best approach is to get the best possible exposure using your aperture and shutter speed, and then to use the ISO that will give you the best level of brightness for those settings without blowing highlights.
But then, in your Raw processing software (or later in a photo editor) you can then apply noise reduction to help with the noise. That will be especially helpful in a dark image like your first one where boosting the underexposed shot will show a lot of noise if you had a higher ISO to start with.
So, is the software that came with the camera really good? Should I install it? I didn't because I have photoshop elements. Is there a reason to install the software that came with the camera in addition to elements?
The Canon Raw processing software Digital Photo Professional (DPP) is quite capable, especially for a "free" application, and I'd say that it has some good features that the Elements Raw processor lacks and so would recommend that you install it and give it a go!
You will hear a lot of talk here about Lightroom (as well as Aperture for Macs) and yes, their Raw processors have great capabilities that go beyond Elements and DPP, but at a price, and they have expanded features that do well for pros and "serious" amateurs who have a volume of photos to work with but for now get your skills up with DPP and Elements and take your time to explore the options!