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The Impact of Noise in Photography: How to Reduce It

Noise is something that every photographer has to deal with. It can come in quite a few forms, but photo noise is the most common type of noise found in photos. Photo noise typically manifests itself as speckles or grainy textures on an image, and it can be caused by different things – some not so obvious! In this blog post, we will discuss what photo noise is and how you can reduce it.

What Is Noise In Photography? 

In photography, noise is a random pattern of light and dark pixels on your photo. Noise can make it harder for you to distinguish between the important parts of an image as well as give it a lower quality overall look – especially in low-light conditions!

What Causes Noise? 

There are different causes for noise in photos, and we’ll cover the main causes below:

Shot Noise

Shot noise is caused by the photo sensor in a camera. The photo sensor, which you might remember from your high school science class as a light-sensitive chip in digital cameras and film, works with all of the other parts of a camera to capture an image. When these two components work together they can cause shot noise due to how small each photo site on the photo sensor is – it’s basically like trying to create something perfect out of imperfect materials! In addition, when you shoot at higher ISOs this makes shot noise even more apparent because there are larger gaps between pixels that need filling up with signal information about what color needs be assigned where.

Speckle Noise

Speckle noise looks similar to shot noise but it’s actually a different photo noise. Speckle noise is caused by a low-level of detail, and it’s most noticeable when you try to make a photo larger than what your camera can handle or if there are very fine details in an image that lack clarity.

Digital Noise

Digital photo noise is caused by the compression of an image. It’s most commonly found in images that are saved as JPEGs . You can notice digital photo noise when there are large, blocky areas on a photo with no clarity or detail – this means you’ve lost some details because they have been completely cut out during your photo editing process!

Luminance Vs. Color Noise

You might have noticed that noise in photo is usually either luminance or color noise. Luminance photo noise looks like speckles and grain on a photo, while color photo noise makes the colors of an image look off – for example when you have pink spots on your photo where there shouldn’t be any!

How ISO Affects Noise

As we mentioned earlier, photo noise is exacerbated by high ISO levels. This means that the higher your ISO is on any given camera – for example 1600 or even 12800 – the more photo noise you will see in your photo!

When Is Noise Acceptable In Photos? 

While photo noise is usually something that you want to reduce in your photos, there are certain situations where it can actually be a benefit! For example, photo noise might make some of the colors look more like what they would look like if you were looking at them with your naked eye. So when photographing something with high-contrast or bright colors then photo noise might not always be an issue for you and instead could even help improve the quality of your photo overall.

In most cases though, its generally recommended to reduce noise as much as possible in your shots.

Ways To Reduce Noise In Your Photos

Below we’ll discuss a few different ways that you can reduce noise in your photos.

Shooting At A Lower ISO

We mentioned it a few times, but the best way to reduce photo noise is by shooting at a lower ISO. This will allow you to capture photos with less photo noise since your photo sensor won’t have as much information for each pixel and there won’t be as many gaps between pixels that need filling up!

Shooting In RAW Mode

If possible, try shooting in RAW mode . When you shoot in JPEG mode it can make photo noise more apparent because the compression process has made some of those fine details into larger blocks – making them even harder to see or edit later on! You’ll also notice that if you save an image from its compressed state (like when you’re saving it as JPG) then there’s really no point in using RAW mode because all photo noise will be there either way.

RAW images are less compressed than JPEGs so they have more information to work with!

Using A Camera With A Larger Sensor

The photo sensors in digital cameras are not all created equally! As we mentioned earlier, photo noise is caused by the photo sensor where each pixel only has one color. The larger your photo sites are on your photo sensor then the more light they can collect and that means a better quality image overall – which also reduces photo noise!

In-Camera Noise Reduction

This is a photo setting that you can find on some cameras. In-camera noise reduction will do exactly as it sounds – reduce photo noise in the camera before your photo ever hits your memory card! This is great because many times photo editing programs have trouble reducing photo noise, so if you’re going to spend time editing photos then this might be a good option for you!

Noise Reduction Software

There are photo editing programs – like Photoshop  – that have noise reduction built in. This is great because you don’t need to use a photo noise reducing camera setting or photo program later on!

You can experiment with the amount of detail, softness and color options for this process until your photo looks just right! However, it’s recommended to adjust your camera settings when you shoot to reduce noise, rather than rely on noise reduction software in post-processing.

Shadow Play

You can also reduce photo noise by making sure your photo is shot in the right lighting conditions. If you’re shooting at night then it’s much more likely that there will be photo noise or graininess to your photo because of all the shadows! However, if you are able to shoot during the day when light levels are higher – specifically around sunrise and sunset – then this should cut down on any excessive amounts of photo noise.


We hope this blog post clarified what causes digital photography noise , how ISO affects photo noise, different ways to reduce photo noise, as well as some other practical examples for reducing photo noise so that you have a better understanding about how each setting works!