The Canon EOS D30 produces extremely low noise images at ISO 100 and 200. At ISO 400 they are still remarkably noise free. But at ISO 800 and 1600 the noise starts to become quite objectionable.
Fred Miranda has produced two Photoshop Actions (X) that go a long way to solving this problem. These Actions are available from Fred’s web site and are available for US $4.50 each or both together for $7.00.
(X)In Photoshop an ACTION is a set of routines, essentially a script, that combines and automates a number of steps that one would otherwise do manually (if one knew which ones to do).
The question is, do these Actions work, and are they worth the price?
Dawn — Muskoka, Ontario. August, 2001
Photographed with Canon EOS D30 and 100~400mm IS Lens. Various aperture and shutter speeds were used with ISO varying from 100 to 1600. This frame and the variations shown below were shot within a minute or two of each other from a boat on Lake Muskoka in northern Ontario, about 20 minutes before sunrise on a late August morning.
The frame above was shot at ISO 100 and was taken at 1/180 sec @ f/3.5. The focal length was 130mm. The shutter speed was needed because the boat I was shooting from was rocking in the water. The photograph was taken in RAW mode.
Immediately below you’ll see two enlarged frames. They, as well as the others on this page are all at Photoshop’s 100%, Actual Pixels resolution. The only processing applied has been setting Black and White points and a moderate amount of USM. (No USM was applied to the isoR processed frames, as this Action already contains some USM.)
The first is of the ISO 100 frame; the photograph seen above. The second is of a frame shot at ISO 200. As you can see there is essentially no visible increase in noise (grain), but a modest increase in contrast is visible, most noticeably in the highlights of the clouds.
The ISO 400 frame below these first two again shows only a bit more of an increase in noise but quite a bit more of an increase in contrast.
ISO 100 ISO 200
The ISO 800 Action
The frame on the left below was processed as all the others from a RAW file. Black and White points were set. No USM was applied as the Action contains USM. The frame on the right was processed with the ISO 800 Action.
ISO 800 ISO 800 Processed with isoR
As you can see the Action can’t do anything about the continuing increase in contrast as the sensitivity is increased, but it does a very nice job of reducing the noise buildup. I would now apply a bit more USM at this stage to increase edge sharpness a touch. Just be aware that you can’t add back all the sharpness that the process removes. It largely becomes a trade-off between noise and edge sharpness. But in terms of noise the processed ISO 800 frame is almost comparable to a normal ISO 400 frame.
The ISO 1600 Action
ISO 1600 ISO 1600 Processed with isoR
This is most impressive. The noise at ISO 1600 is quite noticeable but the Action has largely eliminated it. Even with the limitations of a web display the difference is quite apparent.
Simply put, for $7.00 these two Actions are must have’s in the software library of anyone shooting at high ISO ratings with a D30. It’s as simple as that. They are available for download from Fred’s Miranda’s web site.
Other D30 Information and Reviews
If you are new to this site you may be interested in reading the large number of additional reviews and commentaries on the Canon D30 to be found here. My featured review as featured in the Mar/Apr 2001 issue of Photo Techniques magazine is also online.
Finally, a full review of the D30 and an on-location shoot and print review can be found in Issue #1 of The Video Journal.