Adobe finally released Lightroom 3 today, after an extensive beta testing period during which we were shown tantalising glimpses of the new features. However, by far the most impressive of the added goodies is the improved noise reduction. I’ve included some examples below.
This photo was taken at ISO 3200 on my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, shortly after I bought it, as part of a series of photos of Borough Market in London. All the photos in the set were taken at the same ISO, which allowed me to capture much of the activity and goods on sale without having to use flash.
Here is a 100% crop of the same shot with no noise reduction applied (all sliders set to zero); for ISO 3200 it’s pretty good, showing off the low-light capabilities the 5DII is famous for.
After applying noise reduction, the chroma noise has all but vanished, and only a hint of luminance noise remains, with (in my opinion) suggestions of film grain.
The full photo, after noise reduction has been applied. It’s hard to tell the difference at this size, so here’s an example of an ISO 6400 shot that has been adjusted with Lightroom 3:
The chroma noise, even at this smaller size, is obvious, especially in the cloud and on the right-hand illuminated tree at the bottom of the picture.
The difference here is plain. A huge improvement over the original.
I now feel I can more confidently use ISO 6400 more on my camera now; technically it does go up to ISO 25,600 but I would have to try that out in Lightroom before deciding whether it’s a realistic option.
I went to Cambridge yesterday, primarily to hand over my old 5D to its new owner, but also to take some photos with the new Mark II while allowing my friend to try out his new toy at the same time. The vibrant colours of the market were a good source of photos, but we were both rather disappointed by the attitude of the university staff. Whilst I was framing a photo (hand-held, I should add) outside Kings College Chapel, I was told we weren’t allowed to use tripods on the university grounds. I pointed out I wasn’t using the tripod, but as it was standing next to me, that counted as ‘using’ it apparently. When I asked why not, all we got was ‘it’s the rules’.
Something similar has happened to me before, next to the London Eye, where I concede that using a tripod could be construed as an obstruction given how busy it is there, but as we were pretty much the only people outside the chapel I can’t for the life of me understand why such a restriction would be in place. Of course we both left the grounds immediately, pondering the increasingly suspicious attitude of people towards photographers in general.
Anyway if you want to see the pictures I did manage to take, with or without a tripod, look no further.
I’m thoroughly enjoying getting to know the new camera, and in conjunction with Sigma’s increasingly impressive 105mm EX-DG Macro I am getting some very pleasing results. Here is a set of pictures taken at lunch time today at London’s famous Borough Market, a food market selling fresh, high-quality and expensive food. Every single picture in this set was taken at ISO 3200, and the colours you see are just as the camera recorded them.
After returning from the shoot I had a message from Jacobs that my new battery grip had arrived. So, with today’s release of the Camera Raw update for OS X, I now have everything in place for a complete EOS 5D Mark II workflow. All I need is to take some more pictures…