Let There Be Light (without noise artifacts)

Freestyle, wide-open, peak of the summer play: Hotel Floyd Thursday Music

My photographer’s self is about to rise from a summer sleep–a not uncommon torpor that comes from too much heat, too much green and a general lethargy that overcomes me at certain combinations of heat and humidity.

I am going to revisit the notion of 1) moving up in the Nikon DSLR series, or 2) selling what I have to reduce the guilt from the costs of switching to Canon.

My chief dissatisfaction with Nikon is the low-light high-ISO color noise above ISO 400. This really limits the kinds of places I can shoot successfully. I’d be happy with a bigger and brighter LCD screen. And the potential for video would be a nice possible avenue into which to move that is not possible now.

I cleared my summer-dormant 2GB memory card of a dozen shots from the Hotel Floyd music (Windfall) last week, and here’s one pleasant and recurrent scene from that setting–the play of small children in the outdoor amphitheater–sometimes completely oblivious to the music, and other times, so revved up by it they can barely contain themselves.

I really should have shot this kind of action image at 800 and a faster shutter speed, but dang that color noise.

Am I just posturing here, or will I go by Larry’s and take a look at his Nikon 300 and 700 to see if they will solve my “issues” or will I just whine and my D200 stay in the bag for indoor shots or when the sun begins to fade?

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Larry says his D700 is excellent re: high ISO noise. It’s also over $2K. I have a D90 and despite its claims, there is high ISO noise. I find a good noise removal software plug in on a layer which allows you to erase effect as needed works for me…until I stop having to buy mowers et al and can treat myself. As for the video…the D90 takes it, but limited. Don’t know how the Canons compare. Too bad lenses are all so brand specific!

  2. I think this photo is fine as it expresses motion in a subtle and not offensive fashion. Just one of those subjective things.

  3. Yep, after dinking in photoshop it was acceptable for web use. I’d have been happier with a wider aperture for more depth at the higher shutter speed (I think I was shooting 125th second and panning as the kids ran by.)

  4. I love my Nikon D300; very little noise at high ISO. Read the review on dpreview.com. Here are some of the reviewers conclusions:
    â– Very good resolution and detail without looking over-processed, even up to ISO 1600
    â– Better balanced noise reduction than most; more chroma NR, less luminance NR
    â– High ISO 3200 perfectly usable (if slightly softer due to NR), ISO 6400 usable for small output
    â– Highly configurable Auto ISO function (can set maximum ISO and minimum shutter speed)
    â– Conservative approach to image processing (slightly lower sharpening) helps to avoid ‘digital’ artifacts
    â– Excellent dynamic range from ISO 200 – 800 (good highlight ‘reach’), typical at ISO 1600
    I think the current model is D300s
    I bought just the body, since I already had a good Nikon lens, and so I thought the prize was reasonable. I know it will last me for years and years.

  5. Fred: My comment does not concern cameras; it would be more appropriate for one of your earlier posts — but I thought you would appreciate it, anyway.

    W.H. Hudson wrote, among other books, “A Traveller in Little Things,” published in 1921. He relates the comment of a young boy from London, who was visiting the countryside: “How full of sound the country is! Now in London we can’t hear the sound because of the noises.”

    True then, and even more so now.

  6. Thanks, Hilke, I’m comparing D300, D300s and D700 this week. I’ll have some Nikon items to sell to soften the blow a bit–probably my D70 and 18-70mm kit lens, 80-200 f2.8 Nikkon lens (this is good glass!), Nikkon 2x telextender plus a few smaller items like a D70 battery and battery charger.

    I’ve never sold on eBay but am guessing that’s the way to go.

    Yvonne, I’ll be able to share the whole “letter home from the country” soon after it goes to print in the NRV Land Trust newsletter. And am considering expanding on this theme of nurturing a “land ethic” and relationship to nature from an early age and throughout generations in a family devoted to their land and community.