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I shoot in RAW and post-process in Aperture where needed.

Does the in-camera noise-reduction do anything that I can't do in Aperture or other post-processing software? It seems to add a bit of time to the camera's saving process, and I wonder if I can just defer it to my computer, if/when I decide I need some noise reduction.

(I know that the long-exposure NR feature shoots another dark frame, which is something that can't be done after the fact. But they are individual settings on my Pentax.)

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Related: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/4116/… But that thread fails to distinguish raw vs. JPEG (in either the question or answers), and refers to a Nikon, not Pentax. –  coneslayer Apr 20 '11 at 16:02
    
I really try not to exceed 400-800 in gain on my Kx - If you can prevent high-gain noise in the first place, that's your best option. Some shots you won't be able to remove unwanted noise without being rather destructive to the picture. Either way, @jrista below is spot-on. –  65Fbef05 Apr 20 '11 at 16:05
    
Depending on the Pentax you're using, turning off long-exposure NR may not be possible (it was not on the K20D and K-7, but is on the K-5). Drove me nuts... I pretty much couldn't wait for the K-5 just to dump this restriction and Pentax would have lost me of that still stayed an issue. –  John Cavan Apr 20 '11 at 16:07

1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

If you shoot in RAW, the in-camera noise reduction probably does not take effect, and if it did, it is really reducing the value of RAW on your camera. When you shoot RAW, you really just want the original output from the sensor with as few modifications applied as possible...none at best. You have far more control over noise during post processing, and far better algorithms at your fingertips to combat that noise with the more powerful software you can run on your computer.

I would recommend you keep your RAW images as bare-bones and neutral as possible, giving you maximum capability in post processing. Noise reduction, highlight tone curves, and other such features should generally be disabled when shooting RAW. Additionally, its normally (but not always, sometimes you may wish to choose alternatives) best to use AWB and the standard or neutral tone curve/picture setting of your camera to produce as "original" an output image as you can.

Dark frames are a slightly different matter than your average noise reduction. They can be useful when you are doing very long exposures, such as during astrophotography. You should enable Long-Exposure NR/Dark Frames on an as-needed basis when the shoot actually calls for it.

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This DPReview post forums.dpreview.com/forums/… claims, as you say, that the high-ISO NR setting only affects JPEG processing not raw, but that there's a compulsory raw NR that occurs for ISO 3200+, independent of the setting. I wish the manufacturers would provide reliable technical information about things like this, instead of leaving it to the Internet to reverse-engineer. –  coneslayer Apr 20 '11 at 16:07
    
Aye, when it comes to Pentax, their hardware image processor does some pretty superb and always-on noise processing. In some conversations with some other avid Pentax users from our community, it seems Pentax had the misfortune of using some pretty noisy sensors in the past, which has lead to them developing algorithms to combat it and remain competitive. That has left them with some of todays best noise performers on the market. I wouldn't worry about that compulsory NR in Pentax DSLR's, as it is pretty high quality deconvolution. –  jrista Apr 20 '11 at 21:50
    
Thanks, just the confirmation I was looking for. –  Henry Jackson Apr 21 '11 at 18:50

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