Card Photography Series #2: Part 3: Noise!

Hey you guys! Thanks so much for  all of your feedback on the ISO, aperture and shutter speed tutorial — really does mean so much! So glad it’s helping, yay!

Cardcrazed (Karen G) left this great comment about ISO and noise:

Hello Lisa.. I re-learned some things I had forgotten over the years with this tutorial.. I never realized that the ISO in digital was different than the in film. I thought that the ISO in digital meant that the sensor would be more sensitive to the light, rather than adding more noise. I now need some sunshine to play with the aperture setting on my Canon camera.

Yep, it’s true that ISO in digital means that the sensor is more sensative to light so you can use a faster shutter speed and handhold shots instead of using a tripod, but the tradeoff is that there’s more noise. Several of you asked what “noise” is, too. So, I thought I’d take some pictures to show you using these business cards that I picked up at the awesome Renegade Craft Fair last weekend. (That was s so fun! Can’t wait to share the goodies I got! But, that’s for another post.)

I used my point and shoot camera for this one, because the more expensive the camera, the better the sensor and the less noisy it is (that’s one of the key things that you get when you purchase a top-of-the-line digital SLR). I took the photo on the kitchen table when the sun was barely shining in the window — you’d notice the noise even more in lower light. I only changed the ISO settings between the shots — nothing else.

Noise is most noticeable in dark and light areas of the photo. So, let’s have a closer look at Mr. Moose there! Here he is at ISO 1600:

See all the little dots of different colors in the moose, on the white paper, and on the table? That’s noise.

Now let’s have a look at Mr. Moose at ISO 100:

There’s still a little bit of noise here, but it’s so much better, isn’t it?

The differences would have been even more pronounced if I’d have compared ISO 80 and ISO 3200, but I chose ISO 100 and ISO 1600 since they’re more common.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have a noisy photo than miss a shot! So, I crank up the ISO when I need to. But with card photography we can usually control this better with lighting and using a tripod so that you can have longer shutter speeds. And, you usually don’t notice noise as much if you use the whole photo straight out of the camera. But, usually in card photography we crop the photo around the card.

Sure hope that helps explain noise, just let me know if you have any more q’s.

Mr. Moose and I wish you a happy day, and lotsa fun playing with ISO, aperture, and shutter speeds. :)

5 Replies to “Card Photography Series #2: Part 3: Noise!”

  1. Wow – Lisa, you make it all so clear. I still can’t believe that you are doing all of this for us. I wanna make some NOISE for you for all you do! Thanks ever so much.

  2. Tell Mr. Moose thanks for his voluntary participation in the tutorial!

  3. […] was so great seeing your experiments with ISO, aperture, and shutter speed for the Card Photography Series. Got a bunch of questions from you too — keep them coming, I may not always be able to, but […]

  4. Oh my goodness Lisa, the difference is unbelievable! I’ve just checked my camera and the ISO is at auto so I’ll change it to 50 tomorrow to test it out – it’s too dim here now to take photos. I forgot to mention on the first part of this tutorial that I’d love advise on any type of card – unfortunately no matter what shape or size, I can manage to make it wonky!

  5. Thanks the pictures help so much. Nicole

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