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Z9 raw files importing with high grain / noise

Explorer ,
Aug 24, 2022 Aug 24, 2022

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Recently got a Z9 and found imported raw files with darker areas & higher ISOs were generating very noticable & unpleasant grain & noise compared with similar files with the Z7.

 

Upon researching this I found other Z9 users had the same issue, but only if they used Lightroom / Photoshop (Adobe products).

 

A very detailed look at this issue, and possible work arounds, can be found here; Adobe Short-Changing Z9...?! | And How You FIX It! | Matt Irwin - YouTube

 

Not sure if it has something to do with the High Efficiency * raws that Nikon has with the Z9, but the fact that Capture One doesnt have the same issue makes me think it is a bug / tweak that you guys could do / fix. 

 

It would be worth doing as the Z9 is the Nikon flagship camera and will be used by many professional. Thanks.

 

Software: Lightroom Classic (latest version Adobe Creative Cloud sub)

OS: PC, latest windows

Camera: Nikon Z9

 

 

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Adobe Employee ,
Aug 25, 2022 Aug 25, 2022

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Would you be able to provide a couple of files (raw) exhibiting this issue for the Camera Raw team to review?

Rikk Flohr - Customer Advocacy: Adobe Photography Products

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New Here ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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Did you ever receive any raw files to look at? I can sure send you some if needed. Compared with my d850, the noise on my z9 images is horrible when opening with CameraRAW.  Despite sliding the NR control liberally, anything above iso 1000 falls apart quickly. 

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Adobe Employee ,
Mar 10, 2023 Mar 10, 2023

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No one has provided a High-ISO Standard NEF that was properly exposed that exhibits the noise. 

Rikk Flohr - Customer Advocacy: Adobe Photography Products

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LEGEND ,
Aug 25, 2022 Aug 25, 2022

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If you can upload one of the raws to something like Dropbox, I can examine the raw Histogram in RawDigger and at least get some idea of that actual data and exposure which plays a profound role on noise. I could report back what's actually in that raw, without any LR processing taking place. 

BTW, the video in the first few minutes isn't something to take very seriously (the 'blokes' don't understand defaults nor how such defaults may not be ideal for your captures). 

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Community Expert ,
Aug 25, 2022 Aug 25, 2022

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There have been several posts by Z9 users complaining about high noise  levels with this camera.

Some of them have provided raw files, which have either been correctly exposed, with what I consider perfectly normal noise levels when viewed at 100%, or moderately to badly underexposed, which inevitably leads to increased noise when the Exposure and/or Shadows slider is dragged to the right.

 

Since you think that the Z9 performs  worse than the Z7, I download test files from both cameras from DPreview shot at ISO 3200 to see for myself. I imported them in Lightroom Classic, set sharpening to 0, used no Luminance noise reduction, and left Color noise reduction at the default 25. To get a closer tonal match, I made some minor tweaks to Exposure,  Shadows and Highlights on the Z9 file.

 

When compared at 100%, the most striking difference is that the Z9 file is sharper.

It also appears to be a tiny bit noisier in some areas, and I think this is because of the sharper sensor.

I'd say the difference in noise is marginal.

Below is a screenshot at 100%. Make sure to view at 100% as well.

 

Z7-Z9-noise.png

 

 

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Explorer ,
Aug 25, 2022 Aug 25, 2022

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Wow, thanks for putting in such an effort to help, and the tips, that's really appreciated!

 

I'm wondering at present whether it might be something to do with Lossless Raw vs High Efficiency * raws.

 

The photographer I mentioned originally found the exact same file imported using Capture One (on his friend's computer) looked perfect, but had very different results than when they used Adobe. 

 

I wondering whether there might be a difference between those raw formats, so I've taken some higher ISO shots this morning of the same thing and changed format, in case that is what is causing it.

 

The reason I suspect this is because my Z7 doesnt have the high efficiency *, but my Z9 does. Its possible that Adobe imports lossless perfectly, but might have an issue with high efficiency * raws. When I get a chance, I will have to test that.

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LEGEND ,
Aug 25, 2022 Aug 25, 2022

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See: 

https://helpx.adobe.com/camera-raw/kb/camera-raw-plug-supported-cameras.html

 

EA4590E6-24B1-4A56-A725-A1FE62B286C9.jpeg

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Explorer ,
Aug 27, 2022 Aug 27, 2022

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Interesting, I have an intel chip, so I dont think that's it, but it shows the new high-efficiency raws might be causing some headaches compatibility wise.

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Community Expert ,
Aug 28, 2022 Aug 28, 2022

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There are some examples of HE compressed images for download at DPreview.

They are (on purpose) severely underexposed to bring out the noise, and are almost totally black unedited.

I had to set Exposure to +5, Shadows to + 100, and Darks in the Curves panel to + 100 to get a usable image.

 

The image on the right uses the most aggressive compression, HE (as opposed to HE*, which is less aggressive).

It's clearly noisier than the lossless version, and there are color artifacts, similar to what you can get with jpg compression.

I don't know what kind of results you'd get with correctly exposed images, but you have the camera, and can easily find out.

 

As for the difference in sharpness between Z7 and Z9, it turns out that they were shot with different lenses, which probably at least contributes to the higher sharpness in the Z9 file. (and it explains the slightly different framing)

The Z7 image was shot with the  AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G (F-mount), while the Z9 image was shot with the Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S, which is most likely the sharper of the two.

 

image.png

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LEGEND ,
Aug 26, 2022 Aug 26, 2022

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@Per Berntsen wrote:

Since you think that the Z9 performs  worse than the Z7, I download test files from both cameras from DPreview shot at ISO 3200 to see for myself.


 

There would be even less noise there if the DPR folks had been a just a tad more careful in their exposure. Anything with the blue overlay is underexposed so we should expect to see more noise there than necessary:

UnderExposed.jpg

RawDigger allows us to now alter this preview as if we actually added more exposure at capture. If I add .5EV exposure, I'm just getting a tiny clipping of specular highlights in on the metal paint dish in the upper left. But less noise. 

What this shows as well; the DR of the scene exceeds the DR of this capture. 

 

MoreExposure.jpg

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Explorer ,
Nov 08, 2022 Nov 08, 2022

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Has there been any progress on this subject? 
I am pro photographer, recently switched to z9 and can only confirm the images impüorted into LR show high grain / noise especially if they are on the "underexposed side" of the historgram. If I import the very same image into Nikon´s NX Studio I do not see this issue! As suggested in the video - sharpening set to 0 and Texture to -75 in LR partialy fix the problem.

 

Adobe are you listening?? 

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Explorer ,
Nov 08, 2022 Nov 08, 2022

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I know they've recently added support for Z9 High Efficiency Raw files, so I was hoping they might have improved the grain / noise issue as well. I've ended up buying DXO pure raw to deal with the grain, and it seems to work pretty well, but unfortunately that only supports lossless raw format.

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New Here ,
Dec 26, 2022 Dec 26, 2022

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I use "camera settings" to override "adobe default "

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New Here ,
Mar 18, 2024 Mar 18, 2024

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I spent a lot of money for this camera. I have been faithful to the ADOBE apps, but this is unacceptable. I won't be able to stay with ADOBE if this isn't corrected. The grain I get at 2000 ISO is just stupid. 

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Community Expert ,
Mar 19, 2024 Mar 19, 2024

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The grain is most likely caused by the way you have exposed and/or edited the images.

Please provide a sample image, saved as a DNG, this will include all the edits you have done.

(if you use Lightroom Classic, export as DNG)

Upload the DNG to Dropbox or some other file sharing service, and post the link here.

 

image.png

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Explorer ,
Mar 19, 2024 Mar 19, 2024

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I agree with you, I found the same issue compared with my Z7. I did a post further up this topic about it with a link to a video from a great Melbourne based photographer on his experience and how he 'fixed' the issue.

 

He does a lot of low-light photography, so it get him. He mostly uses capture one, which doesn’t have the issue, but his friend uses lightroom and they explored a way of fixing it.

 

Personally, I now just use the 'denoise' ai feature within Lightroom when I get an image with too much noise and dial down the denoise to the minimum level that still look acceptable. 

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