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Is in-camera high-ISO noise reduction worthwhile?

Should this be done using image processing software like Photoshop or the built in function of the camera ?

It seems a program like Photoshop would use a much better algorithm than what would be available in the camera, or does the camera do something else before taking the image?

Isn't the logic here the same as the logic for digital zoom (usefull only when shooting in a compressed format, as the zoom is done before compressing)? Or is there something else?

Related questions:

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ photo.stackexchange.com/questions/11120/… \$\endgroup\$
    – asalamon74
    Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 17:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I know what are the rules here(I'm not new to SE, just to photo.SE) and I didn't know about this question (I couldn't find it). I don't mind, if this question is closed, as it looks like a duplicate. But downvotes? Anyway, thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 8:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've just added the link to the similar question. The downvote comes from somebody else. \$\endgroup\$
    – asalamon74
    Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 8:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure, I didn't think that it's you or whoever. I was just surprised. Also, now I see, that the other question is more about RAW (and only RAW) and I haven't specified anything here, so it's about RAW and JPEG( or other compressed file format) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 8:46

1 Answer 1


It should be done in post-processing. You have absolute control of the noise-reduction parameters at that point and can rethink a setting if it smears your image too much. It's best to shoot in RAW and postpone what decisions you can until you get into Lightroom or Photoshop or [insert tool of choice here].

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Some qualifications are needed here. For instance--as an example of the "something else" the camera will perform--you can't do long exposure noise reduction after the fact: the camera has to obtain the baseline at the time of the shot. \$\endgroup\$
    – whuber
    Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 18:01
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @whuber - You can take a dark frame right after the exposure and manually do it in post processing. Its pretty much what your camera does. Very common in astrophotography. \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 20:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @rf Good point: that gives you better control over the adjustment, too. \$\endgroup\$
    – whuber
    Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 20:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're right about qualifications. I don't do much extremely long exposure work -- certainly not astrophotography. However, the general use case for noise reduction is the same as for photography: Keeping sensor noise acceptable as you increase the sensitivity. For that set of cases, Adobe (ACR/Lightroom), Aperture, Capture One, Noise Ninja... they are all (IMO) superior to what you get with in-camera processing. And, if you don't like the results or settings, you can change them up. That's the beauty of leaving it until post. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve Ross
    Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ One problem with this approach is that you have absolute need to adjust all other parameters too if you didn't already shoot always in RAW. Sometimes good adjusted in-camera-controls already produce the best compromise of contrasts, curves and denoising: I struggle once in a while to meet the in-camera-look with RawTherapee/CS4 while denoising is not much better and thus would change the word to "It could be done ..." \$\endgroup\$
    – Leonidas
    Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 3:48

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