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Why do my photos turn out grainy and pixelated

Chong Junkai , Jan 15, 2007; 04:15 a.m.

Hi, I'm currently using a Nikon D70 and as I have used it to take quite a number of shots in raw format, using ISO 200, my photos however turns out to be grainy and pixelated. Especially the blue skies in the photos. Is this a result of over processing in the digital sense? Many thanks!

Large photo attachment:
(An Example -- 576 x 1129 photo)


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Jim Strutz - Anchorage, AK , Jan 15, 2007; 04:40 a.m.

I don't see it. The grain and pixels, that is. But then, I suppose you didn't upload a 100% crop.

Do the look grainy and pixelated in print, or just on the monitor? What monitor are you using? Is it an LCD? What are you using for a RAW processor? Settings?

Ronaldo R , Jan 15, 2007; 07:08 a.m.

Yes, you need to post a 100% crop... Also, try shooting the same scene in RAW and JPG. If the JPG is significantly less "grainy" than your RAW/NEF workflow is the problem.

Clifton Painter , Jan 15, 2007; 10:07 a.m.

It looks by the example that you're shooting JPG and what I see is JPG compression artifacts. Try shooting in raw, or set your camera for the highest quality jpg setting.


Kier Selinsky , Jan 15, 2007; 10:33 a.m.

it's cause you're shooting in the desert... of course it's gonna be grainy :)

...sorry, couldn't resist :P

Brad Horner , Jan 15, 2007; 11:46 a.m.

Sounds like dust on the sensor to me. Point the camera at a very light and evenly lit area, like the sky, and you will see spots. I hope that I am wrong. http://www.bythom.com/cleaning.htm

J Anon , Jan 15, 2007; 12:52 p.m.

If I look at your posted photo very closely, I can see some artifacts along the edges between the pyramids and the sky. It looks to me like a couple of problems - over processing and under-exposure.

Jess Krienert , Jan 15, 2007; 01:16 p.m.

It looks underexposed to me, which will lead to grain. I'm guessing the jpg artifacting is due to the lo-res screen shot you're posting.

Geoff Foale , Jan 15, 2007; 01:58 p.m.

Hello Chong. Your photo looks oversaturated to me. Have you added saturation during RAW conversion or later processing? Your camera contrast control is set to 2. I would suggest 0 and add contrast during processing - if necessary.

If none of the above. Your camera was set to auto exposure so it's possible that it was confused by the difference between sky and pyramid and, as others have mentioned, the result is slight underexposure. Also, it is difficult to tell with this image but you do appear to have very slight dust on your sensor. Keep watching in case it gets worse.


Beau Hooker , Jan 15, 2007; 02:03 p.m.

Hi Chong, My .02 cents: You mention shooting in RAW but are you keeping them as 16-bit files while working on them? I don't convert to 8-bit jpeg unless necessary - posting to the web, etc. If it's not dust or under-exposure, you'll be surprised at how quickly an 8 bit file, (and all jpegs are 8-bit) with just a little manipulation, can start to fall apart - especially in "smooth" areas like blue sky. "16-bit" files can take much more manipulation without it showing and give much smoother tonal gradations. The downside? It'll eat up your storage space - but that gets cheaper every day. Good luck!

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