What is Noise in Photography (and How Can You Avoid It)?
“Noise” is a grainy-looking texture in photos that may look like tiny specks or itty bitty colored pixels. Noise can distort details and ruin your photographs, making them look low-quality. If you’re shooting in low light and your ISO is too high, you may get noise in your photos.
The obvious solution to combat noise would be to adjust your ISO to get rid of the noise, right? While that’s true, that means you have to tweak some of your other settings to compensate. That’s why I like to increase ISO as a very last resort for brightening up photos.
Let’s talk about your options for avoiding noise.
Decrease shutter speed
First, you can try decreasing your shutter speed. A quick reminder about Shutter Speed 101: shutter speed measures how long your camera’s shutter is open in seconds or fractions of a second.
So, when you decrease your shutter speed, you’re letting the shutter stay open longer, and you’re bringing more light into your photo.
Keep in mind that the lower your shutter speed number, the more likely it is your shot may turn out blurry from camera shake. Anything under a shutter speed of 1/100 usually means I have to use a tripod so that my photos still come out clear.
Your second option is to decrease your aperture, or f/stop. The aperture on your camera controls the amount of light that can pass through a lens at your chosen shutter speed.
I’ve talked about f/stop before in my tips for shooting flatlays blog. Don’t forget that the lower your f/stop number, the shallower your depth of field, and the blurrier your background will be (but the object close to your camera will be in focus).
You can decrease your aperture to let in more light and avoid noise, but that means more of your shot will be blurry. If you want everything in focus with a large depth of field, you need a different option to avoid noise.
My preferred hack for avoiding noise? Adding lights! When you add lights, you don’t have to deal with depth of field changes by messing with your f/stop, nor do you have to bring out your tripod to compensate for a lower shutter speed and possible blurriness.
I have a strobe light and a continuous light in my studio. I use the strobe for still photography and the continuous light for video. Try out a few different light options to see which ones work for you!
Learn more about camera settings and gear
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