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Thread started 11 Aug 2011 (Thursday) 20:41
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Mini-Review: Trying To Get the Most out of the 7D High ISO Images

 
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Aug 11, 2011 20:41 |  #1

Okay, I have been requested to create a post that reviews how to process the high ISO images of the 7D (same techniques would apply to the 60D, T2i, T3i, etc). I have been PM'd as well on what I do to get decent quality back out of my high ISO shots.

There are many here that are as proficient, or even more so, with high ISO shots, so I hope they all step in and share their techniques as well. I only hope that this thread stays on track with people asking questions and sharing techniques, and we don't have others that feel like they have to derail it with other camera bodies, or how bad they think the 7D is. Let's have just one thread where it remains constructive, please. :)

I concentrated on ISO 6400 with this example. I took two different scenes, both low light, and took exactly 2 different shots of each. I then manufactured 2 possible scenarios others may be going through, then the 3rd scenario being what I personally do:

1) There are those that just use JPG images out of the camera, and they may just not know much about how to set up the camera, so they pretty much leave stock settings, like the standard picture style, high ISO NR set to disabled, and they try to center the exposure meter at 0. They then take the JPGs, and sharpen them, maybe saturate them a bit, and I will show what that result looks like.

2) Then there are those that are a bit more daring, and will shoot raw, but leave the camera set up the same way. They can now edit the raw, by sharpening, saturation, and playing with contrast. I will show that that result may look like.

3) Finally, there are others that really post process, and also set up their camera for a bit more success out of the gate. There are many ways to skin this proverbial cat. My recipe is as follows for ISO 6400 shots:

- Raw
- EC of +2/3 (I use this for 6400+, and +1/3 for 3200)
- Picture style that has uses landscape as the basis, but contrast down a notch, and sharpness down 2 notches
- High ISO NR set to standard
- Use DPP to tweak saturation and exposure back down 2/3 as needed, etc.
- Convert to JPG and open in CS3
- Quick Noiseware run, actually quite minimal NR levels, very conservative
- a bit of added contrast and saturation
- USM, not quite as aggressive as Canon calls out, 150/.4/1 are the settings I use

For those times I don't shoot this way, I have 3 different actions I have developed, from which I pick one that fits the noise levels I see, and I run it. The results are pretty good, almost as good as what I outline above.

There are obviously other variations and levels of expertise in the middle of these 3 methods of use, but I don't have enough time and energy to go through them. I hope you learn some new tricks. I am of the opinion that DPP produces some of the best JPG results from the raw, but others have had tremendous success with ACR/LR3 as well.

Okay to get this rolling, here is scenario #1 and a 100% crop...


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Aug 11, 2011 20:42 |  #2

Scenario #2 - same shot as #1, but in raw, using DPP to process the image


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Aug 11, 2011 20:42 |  #3

This is how I almost always shoot high ISO with the 7D, so this is scenario #3. Please go to the OP to see what my settings are and what I do for post processing.


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Aug 11, 2011 20:42 |  #4

A different example, again for scenario #1 (JPG OOC with minimal post processing)


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Aug 11, 2011 20:43 |  #5

2nd example, scenario #2 (raw only processing)


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Aug 11, 2011 20:43 |  #6

Scenario #3, the way TeamSpeed does it.... :) (shot with ETTR with in-camera settings affecting raw, plus additional post processing)


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Aug 11, 2011 20:53 |  #7

Now for my summary of the results....

You can take the JPG out of the camera, then slightly post process, and all you really do is sharpen the noise, so at least remove the noise conservatively, and then sharpen.

You can take the raw and raise the sharpening, etc, and the results, IMO, actually looks a little worse.

What I do is shoot to the right at the higher ISOs (if you go left, it gets much uglier more quickly), I bring the exposure back down 2/3, add a little saturation, leave sharpening way down, and I have DPP honor the standard high ISO NR value. Then I use a little Noiseware, add contrast, then sharpen. I keep sharpening down in-camera or in DPP, so that I can sharpen later once all other work is done.

This works for me and produces very clean images for what I shoot. I hope you are able to try different twists to this! If you do, and you like the results, please post your before and afters. :)

I have owned a 7D for almost 2 years, and this is the result of shooting literally thousands of shots at ISO 3200 or higher. I also have a 1D4, and the process for that camera is a bit different, but the same basic steps.

Some of my personal high ISO examples, from 2 different 7D bodies:

ISO 12800: http://teamspeed.smugm​ug.com …4#1407937497_BT​wFqrq-O-LB (external link)
ISO 6400: http://teamspeed.smugm​ug.com …4#1404254904_Qs​r6V2H-O-LB (external link)
ISO 6400: http://teamspeed.smugm​ug.com …BAT4#689863912_​kXTwW-O-LB (external link)
ISO 3200: http://teamspeed.smugm​ug.com …4#1417659086_FB​tRjN5-O-LB (external link)
ISO 3200: http://teamspeed.smugm​ug.com …4#1421260857_rV​wkJSR-O-LB (external link)


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Aug 11, 2011 21:36 |  #8

Thank you sir, subscribed.



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Aug 11, 2011 21:37 |  #9

Very nice jobs!


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Aug 11, 2011 21:38 |  #10

Great article - thanks for taking the time to put it together and share your expertise.




  
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Aug 11, 2011 21:44 |  #11

Thank you, I hope it helps someone. This also helps show why web-sized images don't show the entire "picture" when everyone posts their high ISO examples from any format. One thing I wouldn't mind doing, if I can find poster print coupons, would be to do this same test, but send all 3 results to be printed. It would be interesting to see how these methods print out to something that large. I doubt very little difference would be seen at normal viewing distances even on a 20x30. ;)


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Aug 11, 2011 21:50 |  #12

Isn't this just ETTR and proper Raw noise reduction? ETTR has a place but high-ISO shooting isn't one that comes to mind. Granted, that does solve a lot of my shadow-noise issues. When I'm up at 6400 I'm starved for shutter speed, and adding 2/3rds stop (more than 50% slower shutter) EC isn't exactly helping.


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Aug 11, 2011 21:54 |  #13

Sp1207 wrote in post #12920121 (external link)
Isn't this just ETTR and proper Raw noise reduction? ETTR has a place but high-ISO shooting isn't one that comes to mind. Granted, that does solve a lot of my shadow-noise issues. When I'm up at 6400 I'm starved for shutter speed, and adding 2/3rds stop (more than 50% slower shutter) EC isn't exactly helping.

It is not just the 2/3 EC. I keep sharpness down as well, and just do minor tweaking in DPP. Then with Noiseware inside CS3 for a final clean up, and then contrast/saturation/sh​arpening. Sharpening is last.

If you are starved at ISO 6400 for shutter, then go to 12800. Same steps will work, and I personally believe your results will look a bit better than if you shoot left at ISO 6400.

Finally, there are many that just don't know the proper steps. They pick up the 7D, shoot it like they shoot other cameras, and then just don't do the proper post processing. There are too many people that have provided less than stellar high ISO shots from the 7D and are very disappointed/disillusi​oned. I fully expect there are those that have already read this thread, and can point out that they fall into scenario 1 or scenario 2. This shows what happens if you are diligent with exposure and do proper post-steps.


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Aug 11, 2011 22:03 |  #14

I'll try with my T2i as soon as get home :)
Hate to shoot JPG again in the name of better photos BTW ;)


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Aug 11, 2011 22:06 |  #15

x_tan wrote in post #12920183 (external link)
I'll try with my T2i as soon as get home :)
Hate to shoot JPG again in the name of better photos BTW ;)

I only shoot raw. I learned my lesson back years ago when I first needed to fix some shots, and not having the raw basically left me with few keepers. I hope I clarified scenario #3 above.


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