I took a lot of photos during a family get-together and I really liked many of them. My girlfriend then edited the photos to make them look better. The photos looked GREAT on her iMac monitor but when we viewed them on my monitor (which had higher brightness) we were shocked to see that every photo was suffering hard from grainy texture. This is mostly due to the high ISO on the camera at the time of taking the photos (dimly lit room) but also part due to my girlfriend increasing the sharpness on every photo because it looked as if we could afford it easily on her monitor.

Are they simply ruined or can they be saved? She didn't save the photoshop files so we can't simply take the sharpness down.

Take a look: http://imgur.com/a/JJ21r

You'll see what I mean if you fullscreen them.

  • 2
    'Ruined' doesn't have a technical definition for ISO noise, so its not a good fit for us. That said, they're totally fine unless you're pixel peeping. I wouldn't be upset with the ISO noise at all.
    – rfusca
    Apr 2 '14 at 17:52
  • Noise is mostly alright. However, in every second group shot, only one person is in focus. I probably would have increased the ISO even more, to allow for a smaller aperture.
    – mivilar
    Apr 2 '14 at 19:56
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    Runined?!? You captured the moment in time in a photograph, did you not!? If you are trying to capture images for a contest then yes maybe you ruined the shots. If you want to capture the moment for your family to enjoy for years, you are worried about an issue that does not exist.
    – dpollitt
    Apr 2 '14 at 23:08

These are not bad IMO. The color is a bit over saturated and dark, but I didn't see any objectionable grain on my calibrated display. Remember, if they print these, the effective resolution may not be the same as viewing them full screen on a large display, so what you see in a blown up image may be invisible in the print. If, at the print size, you don't like the visible grain, just run a de-noise plugin on them. You will just need to be careful with the settings so that details are not lost.


I would agree they are not bad... They are some things in post that she could do to take them to the next level but before you do anything you need to calibrate all of your monitors. In post for example there are quite a few pictures that I would adjust the brightness (increase) and saturation (lower) of the red, yellow, and orange channels. As far as grain they are fine unless you are planning on doing large prints (over 8x10").


it looks to me like you shot direct to jpeg and has high iso NR on, or applied some NR in post and stored in jpeg with too much compression on. Yes, it is caused by noise on the dark areas (black suits look the worst, but you could have avoided the funny texture if you shot raw and didnt do NR and stores in high quality jpegs (80-100%). it would look noisy in the blacks but a lot prettier. I much prefer grains than the artifacts caused by noise reduction and compression


Do you really have to assign blame? Those are the photos you have. You can delete them and forget the fiasco entirely or keep them as a reminder of one or more of the following:

  1. High ISO image-noise.
  2. Poor performance of the camera at high ISO.
  3. Inadequate choice by the photographer to increase ISO instead of something else such as a brighter aperture or adding off-camera lighting.
  4. Insufficient illumination in the venue.
  5. A family event.

The choice is yours but I know what I would do. There was probably someone there taking photos with their cell-phone who wishes their images came out looking as nice as yours :)


They look OK on my (calibrated) monitor. Some are a bit noisy (especially the larger-group ones with dark areas in the photo) but certainly not ruined. Such issues as there are probably aren't easily fixable on a JPEG file unfortunately.


"ISO" doesn't ruin anything, noise may. "ISO" is just a nomer for the sensitivity settings of your sensor, and an acronym for the International Standards Organisation.
Higher sensitivity settings tend to create more noisy images than those taken at lower settings with the same sensor and under the same conditions but that's as far as it goes.
No shot is "ruined" that serves its purpose. You could have used lower sensivity and longer shutter times and have got similar noise levels and more motion blur, which would be less preferable, would it?

So it's not the "ISO" causing your problems but your sensor design and your decision (forced or otherwise) to shoot in conditions with less light than that sensor can comfortably cope with and still yield a low noise image.


If you have taken these photos and have them in the raw format, there are a few things you can do.

  1. In lightroom/photoshop apply noise remover. It will make a difference. Don't over do it, as it will actually make people look plastic.
  2. Convert them to black and white, and play with colour correction and noice removal until clean.

  3. if you are not sure of how to use either of the above go to photorelive dot com. Costs a few bucks per image, but they can professionally touch up the images. I use them a bit when I am behind with work.

If you are just having these images for yourself, and want to print them to a reasonably small print then I would not bother. you will probably not even see the grain.

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