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Tuesday, March 1, 2005

It's Not Just Megapixels

Image quality in a digital camera is affected by much more than how many pixels fit its sensor

1.Watch your exposure; underexposure will increase noise.
2.Use lower ISO settings.
3.Don't oversharpen areas that emphasize noise, such as sky
and out-of-focus areas (try focusing different parts of the image separately).
4.Increase the threshold level of Unsharp Mask to between 3 and
10 to reduce the effect of sharpening on noise.
5.Sharpen different parts of the photo separately; if noise starts
to become too strong, sharpen that area less (or not at all).
6.Avoid overbrightening dark areas; that will boost noise a lot.
7.Shoot JPEG with compact digital cameras because more noise processing algorithms are used to create those files.

It's important to note that noise isn't all bad. It can be an interesting or creative element of the right scene. Columnist Bob Krist, for example, likes its affect on certain travel scenes, especially when combined with a warming filter or warm white-balance setting. Noise also is an old Photoshop trick used to make soft photos look sharper. If you add noise to a less-than-sharp photo, the viewer sees sharp noise and is tricked into thinking the photo is sharper than it is.

The PCPhoto-Guide to Digital SLRs by editor Rob Sheppard is now in bookstores. His intermediate Photoshop tape, Enlightened Photography: Photoshop by Example, can be found at www.rsphotovideos.com.


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