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I just bought a Nikon D3200. My first DSLR. Am using a 50mm f1.8D Nikkor lens. Now, at ISO 200, I took a few test shots and though the images look fine on the small screen, as soon as I view them on my laptop, immediately I feel the pictures to be a touch grainy. And on zooming in 1:3, the grains become very prominent. Now, I am very new to this, so I dont understand if that is noise, or is that just supposed to be so. I have uploaded a small portion of the picture. To me, the background seems noisy. The exposure for this was 1/60th of a second at f/1.8. And the face was out of focus. Yeah, it is manual focus on D3200, so I'm having a hard time focusing. but that's another issue. So, my question is, is this noise? Or am I just over obsessing? And if it is noise, what is causing it? Is the sensor faulty?

Photograph is unedited. Straight from the chip.

This is a part of the whole picture. It is out of focus. but is that noise in the background?

  • If the image is a JPEG, it has been processed in the camera and will have artifacts from that and the compression process. – Blrfl Aug 30 '15 at 10:21
  • No, it is a NEF file which I exported as jpeg in lightroom. But did not edit at all. This is a 100% crop of the original. Is the noise in the middle part of the background acceptable at ISO 200? Just that, I just switched from p&s to dslr, read a lot, bought a 50mm 1.8 for bokeh. So, was expecting better quality than this. – Samrat Dutta Aug 30 '15 at 17:11
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    For something that was shot with a dense DX sensor, I don't see anything objectionable in what you posted. It's also a very good bet that the default settings applied by LR aren't ideal for what your camera produces, so you're doing the image a disservice by just going with them. Raw files include all of the camera's warts and require processing before they look good. Your point-and-shoot did a lot of the for you; this requires some work. – Blrfl Aug 30 '15 at 18:06
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Three things are unavoidable in life: death, taxes and noise :)

There is always noise. It is just more visible in low light. Higher ISO have even more noise because their signal is amplified. So shooting at lower ISO, like you did, is better but that does not mean no noise.

To improve further what you need is more light. That gives more signal relative to the noise, so it will be less apparent. This is also why a larger sensor will help. Each pixel, simply because it is larger will collect more light for the same scene, when shot at the same aperture.

  • so e.g. a D610 should be a noticeable improvement? I saw a few comparisons and they are a little better but not that 1000$. maybe the autofocus works better in low light condition – fubo Aug 31 '15 at 5:53
  • @fubo - Yes, the D610 is considerably better. It's not about noise alone. By having less noise, the D610 has a clearly superior dynamic-range. – Itai Aug 31 '15 at 13:04

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