There was a lovely moon rise over Tokyo this evening and, usually, when that is the case, I drag out the beast and take shots like this; but, as I’ve got a cold and am feeling rather under the weather, I thought I’d test my little PowerShot S95 for a shot of the moon and the city.
As much as I love the little S95 for its f/2.0, its full manual functionality, and its RAW file option, point-and-shoots always disappoint for night shots and there’s one main reason: NOISE.
Before I go any further, I should add that there are many situations when I absolutely love noise in a shot (usually black and white and usually for added atmosphere), but, when shooting “standard” shots (like the one below), I have much less tolerance.
The shot below is ISO 1600 f/4 with no processing other than the RAW to jpg conversion. In this smaller size, the noise is not so noticeable; but, if you click on the image for the larger version, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Of course, the easy solution is to just run the image through some noise reduction software. However, I assume that the majority of people who use point-and-shoots as their main camera would not own dedicated noise reduction software – it’s only an “easy solution” if you have the tools. Below is the same photo after running it through Imagenomic’s Noiseware Photoshop plugin (just the standard “night scene” setting).
If you’re just sharing your photos digitally (Facebook, etc.) the noise is not such a problem, but, for me, because I’m used to using a DSLR with much better noise control, the noise always disappoints. I’m not giving up on the PowerShot S95 though: I really love it and I’m sure I can find some sweet spot in the settings that will make this less of an issue. It’s great to always have a small camera in my bag, night or day. I was walking over the Kachidoki bridge the other night and, remembering it was in my bag, stopped to take this shot: