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I've got a Canon EOS4000D and regularly shoot photography for my wife's church. I use a Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 and a Sigma 50-200 f/4-5.6 dc os hsm.

The problem I'm having is it's quite fast paced, lots of movement and generally low light. The 4000D has garbage noise at higher ISO, so anything over 800 is very noticeable in my experience, with 800 being acceptable. Shooting wide open at F2.8 often gives too shallow DOF and using the Sigma is often out of the question unless they're almost stationary.

What can I do?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you run it through Topaz De Noise AI in post? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2022 at 13:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Usually other people do not care about noise. They care about the content of the pictures. For example, Cappa’s Omaha Beach photographs. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 21, 2022 at 16:43

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You can't beat physics - there's only so much light in the scene, so you're going to have to compromise on something. Despite lots of references to the exposure triangle there are in fact four things you can compromise on:

  1. Shutter speed
  2. Aperture
  3. ISO
  4. Adding light to the scene - i.e. a flash

For artistic reasons, you've decided you don't want to compromise on shutter speed or aperture, which is absolutely fine and reasonable - but it does mean you've got to compromise on either ISO or flash.

The cheap option for ISO is just to accept that you have more noise in your photos than you'd ideally like; in my experience, you'll find that "normal people" are much more tolerant of noise in photos than "us photographers". The expensive option for ISO is to buy a new camera with better high ISO performance; a modern camera will probably give you at least 3 stops more latitude to work with. While answers on this site is often somewhat scathing about gearheads thinking that the newest shiniest camera will make them a better photographer, this is one of the cases where you have identified a specific problem which a new shiny camera will improve.

The other option is to use a flash; only you can say whether that's an option which is acceptable to your church and its congregation, but doing so would change the set of options to you immensely.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is the only real answer to the problem. If a flash is not an option, then a camera upgrade is the most natural choice. Preferably a full frame with better ISO performance. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2022 at 14:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AbdulNQuraishi I suspect a modern crop camera would be enough for the OP's needs; I deliberately avoided suggesting full frame because that brings its own set of complications around (effective) focal length. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Sep 22, 2022 at 14:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AbdulNQuraishi, full frame tends to only has a 1EV improvement over APS-C with high ISO noise performance. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Sep 28, 2022 at 19:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer, especially like "normal people" are much more tolerant of noise in photos than "us photographers". It doesn't say anything about post processing though. Aren't there also options there? Especially if downgrading resolution a bit is acceptable? \$\endgroup\$
    – Orbit
    Oct 4, 2022 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Orbit I was assuming post-processing was already happening. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Oct 4, 2022 at 15:07
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My first recommendation would be: to use flash.

Shoot it to the ceiling. Unless the place is a humungous cathedral, the overall spill of light will help you one or two stops, the light will look natural.

If you are like an "official photographer" you can talk to the people in charge that you need to use a flash to improve the quality of the images.


If you, for some reason can not use a flash, lower noise and better low light performance are, in my opinion, the strongest reason to upgrade a camera body.


You can also use software to reduce the noise on your images to some degree. Just remember to shoot in raw so you can get the best results.

Lightroom has a decent noise reduction. Topaz denoise or Neat Image are some options. There are also free software that can help you with it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I do use a flash but it can be temperamental to get right. Not sure if it's because I'm inexperienced with using a flash but I struggle to bounce of the ceiling. The unit we're in used to be a fancy pushbike shop so they had black slats hanging down from the actual ceiling (also black). As for sorting in Post, I use Afinity Photo (because I can't justify a subscription at the moment) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 26, 2022 at 10:35
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There are four possibilities, here.

I've got a Canon EOS 4000D [T100] and regularly shoot photography for my wife's church. I use a Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 and a Sigma 50-200 f/4-5.6 dc os hsm.

You could upgrade your body or switch to Canon's newer EOS R system. The sensor upgrade might get you 1/2-1 stop or so on high ISO noise improvement. But probably wouldn't be worth it for the expense.

You can also upgrade your glass: that 50-200 is not well suited for indoor shooting; you could consider swapping out the 50-200/4.5-5.6 slow lens for a fast prime (e.g. an 85mm f/1.8 or 100 f/2) or go really expensive and get a 70-200/2.8. While thinner DoF is something you'd struggle with, you can grab 4x the light at f/2.8 than you can at f/5.6.

The problem I'm having is it's quite fast paced, lots of movement and generally low light. The 4000D has garbage noise at higher ISO, so anything over 800 is very noticeable in my experience, with 800 being acceptable.

You could post-process for noise or just live with it. And also examine how you're exposing in lower light. Noise isn't just based on the ISO setting; it can also depend on how much signal (how well exposed) your image is. Noise is always more prevalent in darker regions of the image (less signal), so underexposing at iso 800 might look noisier than exposing properly at iso 1600. A lot of newbs assume that the lower the ISO the less noise they'll get so they minimize the ISO setting and accidentally underexpose.

Shooting wide open at F2.8 often gives too shallow DOF and using the Sigma is often out of the question unless they're almost stationary.

And... you can also use flash.

I do use a flash but it can be temperamental to get right.

Experience and study may help with that and how to use TTL (or M) to your best advantage. I highly recommend going to Neil van Niekerk's Tangents website to learn the basics of on-camera bounce flash. But generally? You probably have to use higher ISO settings with flash to light up larger space so your bounced flash is more fill than main illumination.

This is just me, but you paid the big bucks for a big sensor so you could use the high ISO settings; might as well use them.

Not sure if it's because I'm inexperienced with using a flash but I struggle to bounce [off] the ceiling. The unit we're in used to be a fancy pushbike shop so they had black slats hanging down from the actual ceiling (also black)...

The ceiling may be problematic; it also may not be. And you can bounce off walls as well as ceilings. It's all about choosing the right angles anyhow.

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