Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

No Noise is Good Noise

Rainbow Falls, Watkins Glen SP, NY

Rainbow Falls, Watkins Glen SP, NY

I just returned from a very short visit to New York’s Finger Lakes region (I had a doctor’s appointment down there and it seemed like a good opportunity to visit a few of the outstanding state parks in the area).  We managed to “hit” Taughannock Falls, Buttermilk Falls, Robert Treman, and Watkins Glen state parks.  In case I haven’t mentioned it recently, these places are under-advertised and under-appreciated within the state.  On any given day, you’re more likely to see people who don’t live in NY than people who do.  That’s too bad, because some of them are real gems.

But I digress.  What I really wanted to comment on concerns one of the strengths, I think, of the Canon 5D Mark II.  And that is it’s performance at high ISO’s.  I am genuinely impressed, to put it mildly.

The image above was taken at one of my favorite spots in Watkins Glen SP called Rainbow Falls.   I’ve posted images of it previously as well, so forgive me if this looks very familiar.

On this particular visit, however, I was unable to use my tripod (I need an L – bracket that fits the battery grip for the 5D MK II  – the bracket on the old 5D doesn’t fit).  Anyway, it meant that everything would be “handheld”.  Which further meant that I needed exposure times that were at least 1/20 second for the lens I was using.  Well, for spots like this one that include deep shadows, the only hope was to use a high ISO.

For this image, that meant going to ISO 3200.  On my old 5D, I’d tried 3200 a couple of times but always had to deal with at least a little noise, especially in the shadows.  So I was a little nervous about pushing it that much, but I really had no choice.

I can find no noise in this photograph.  None.  I’ve looked at it at the pixel level and I’ve printed it.  There just isn’t any there.  As I said, I’m really, really impressed.

Actually, I’ve made very few adjustments to this image.  I added a little “fill light” to unblock some of the deep shadows and I pushed the “clarity” slider just a bit, but little else.  I made no contrast adjustments, no luminosity adjustments, and no saturation adjustments.  Fundamentally, it’s what came out of the camera.

Have I mentioned that I’m impressed?


2 Responses to “No Noise is Good Noise”

  1. Andreas Manessinger

    Paul, I can see a time, not too much ahead, maybe ten years, maybe fifteen, when the concept of noise will be met with incomprehension by newcomers. What oh what will we talk about then? Damn it, we’ll be back to discussing lenses 🙂

    Glad you’re glad with your camera. You truly have a reason.


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