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Is Noise in Photos Always Bad?


Is noise in photos always bad? It might seem like a rhetorical question with an obvious and universal answer: yes. But landscape photographer and YouTuber James Popsys begs to differ in an opinion video that will no doubt spark some debate.

Popsys shoots with a Micro Four Thirds system, and he’s often asked about the noise performance. But this video is not about defending Micro Four Thirds or comparing sensor sizes. He does shoot these things with his MFT system, but admits that a larger sensor camera would, in all likelihood, produce cleaner images in the same situations. What he wants to do in this video is start a dialogue about digital noise, and whether or not it’s always a negative.

He argues that it’s not. That noise can actually add something to certain images. As with his video about the 5 Most Overused Landscape Photography Techniques, his issue isn’t so much that many people will disagree with him. He just doesn’t want people to avoid nose by default, simply because they’ve been told its bad without forming their own opinion about the way it affects their images.

“Photographers miss shots because they don’t want to raise the ISO, or they get blurry shots because they don’t want to raise the ISO,” he says, “and increasingly, I’m curious as to whether or not people agree with me that noise actually is not a big deal.”

Feel free to let him know your thoughts in the comments. For our part, we agree with Reddit user whyisthesky, who replied to Popsys video by writing, “You shouldn’t sacrifice the meaning of the image just to reduce noise, but noise itself is a defect so ‘noise=bad’ isn’t that far off.”

(via Reddit)