Canon EOS 50D High ISO Noise Reduction
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The Canon EOS 50D offers four different High ISO Noise Reduction settings: Disable, Low, Standard (the default) and High.
To compare their effect, we photographed our High ISO Noise composition throughout the 50D's sensitivity range, at each of the Noise Reduction settings. Canon doesn't state at what sensitivity the High ISO Noise Reduction kicks-in, so our sequence starts at the lowest 100 ISO.
The entire composition can be seen in the image left, and the crops are taken from an area in the very middle of the image.
The image above was taken with the Canon EOS 50D at a sensitivity of 100 ISO, using the EF-S 18-200mm IS kit lens at 18mm f8; the original Large Fine JPEG file measured 3.94MB. Note these images were taken on a different day to those on our previous High ISO Noise pages and at a slightly wider focal length.
Pixel peepers may notice a small increase in background textures at 400 ISO in the sample with noise reduction disabled, but the bigger differences start at 800 ISO. It's still subtle, but the Low and Disabled noise reduction settings exhibit more obvious patterns compared to the Standard and especially the Strong settings.
This becomes clearer at 1600 and 3200 ISO where the Standard and again especially the Strong settings are smearing out visible noise (and some fine detail) from the Low and Disabled settings.
The story continues at 6400 ISO, and as before 12800 ISO looks terrible regardless of the noise reduction setting.
At 1600, 3200 and 6400 ISO, we'd say the default Standard noise reduction setting is a little over-zealous and if you're willing to accept greater visible noise, the Low setting is preferable in terms of recorded detail. Those who like to apply their own noise reduction in software later may prefer to shoot with it Disabled in-camera. The Strong setting is a step too far for all but the most noise-averse.
Now let's have a look at some more real-life examples including several low-light indoor compositions in our Canon EOS 50D sample images gallery.