Bring the Noise
AI-assisted de-noise software means you can confidently shoot at higher ISO settings
I didn’t pay much attention when the first AI-based de-noising apps started to appear. It just didn’t seem like a problem that affected me. I try to be deliberate about my shooting settings and if a scene was too dark, requiring really high ISO values, I just assumed that I wouldn’t get a good shot and didn’t try.
I was seeing a tool that fixes a specific problem, but not looking at the larger picture. As part of my interest and research into AI and ML photo technologies, I started using DxO PureRAW 2 on some dark and noisy images, which I wrote about in an earlier column. I then tried out ON1 NoNoise AI and Topaz DeNoise AI by throwing a few older photos at them.
Holy stochasticity! What a difference.
Now, you may yawn and think, “Gee, Jeff, software can fix stuff. Wow.” But for me the revelation wasn’t that AI can do a better job of dealing with noise than traditional tools. Instead it has freed me as a photographer to push ISO higher in difficult/darker situations and get the shot I want. Noise doesn’t have to be a limiting factor if you know that your tools can deal with it well.
It’s a technological change that can affect artistic intent.
This comes up fairly often in the podcasts I co-host, PhotoActive and Photocombobulate. Yes, we all want to try to “get it right in-camera,” but in some situations that’s difficult or impossible. When you photograph a landscape and underexpose the foreground to avoid blowing out the sky, you’re doing that with the knowledge that any image-editing software can expose that detail easily for a more balanced photo.
And now, the same is true of noise. Crank that ISO and bring the noise, knowing you can deal with it later.
Here’s the column: Bring on the noise: How to save high ISO files deemed ‘too noisy’
In the last email, I asked if you could take a moment to write a comment on the Smarter Image column, not realizing that there was no comment field! I’m not seeing commenting features anywhere on the site, so I’m guessing perhaps the tool was turned off or broken. Thanks to those of you who wanted to comment but couldn’t.
I also mentioned the photo-sharing site Glass as a great alternative to Instagram. They’re celebrating their first year with Glass Anywhere, the ability to get an account without requiring an Apple sign up. If you use this link, you can get the first year for $20. Glass is customer-funded with a yearly subscription, which means no “Recommended for you” or sponsored garbage like in Instagram and Facebook. If you do sign up, add me at glass.photo/jeff-carlson.