Noise reduction — everyone has an opinion. Some photographers want to see a clean smooth image while others prefer a natural grain. Whichever camp you fall into, the Canon 7D is flexible enough to accommodate.
The Canon 7D has 4-different levels of in-camera Noise Reduction. If you are like most people, you probably have left the setting at the factory default “Standard”. But, I was curious about the effects of the other settings. Would there really be that big a difference?
I took a series of photos using the 7D and 17-55mm EF-S lens at 24mm. To be sure that I had sufficient digital noise, I used ISO6400. The camera was mounted on a tripod and the focus did not change throughout the series. Each image was shot as 18meg Raw file and processed in Canon’s DPP using the camera’s settings. All photos were taken with f/4.0 and 1/125 shutter with available light. The only variable was the Noise Reduction settings. I used the area indicated above in red for comparison as full-sized crops.
The Noise Reduction setting is just another tag in the Raw file. The Raw file is written without regard to the 7D’s noise reduction setting. I confirmed this with Canon. As a result, you can change the setting in DPP with no impact on the original Raw file.
Purist may prefer the Noise Reduction set to Off so that they can fuss with it in post. However, the Standard setting is actually very good. It seems to be a variable setting based on camera settings and the available light. I have made my choice.
Next up – comparing how Capture One 5 Pro and Lightroom 3 Beta 2 handle the same images. The results will surprise you … they sure surprised me!