‘Why are my photos grainy?’ Don’t worry, you’re not the first photographer to ask this question and you won’t be the last.
At one point or another, every photographer has wondered why their images have an unappealing static appearance to them - and if there’s a way to fix it. Fortunately, this issue is easy to fix and prevent with the right information up your sleeve.
If you’re wondering ‘why are my photos grainy?’, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ve outlined various options for reducing digital noise in your images.
What Is Digital Noise?
Let’s start with the basics - what’s digital noise?
The term ‘digital noise’ refers to any visual distortions in your images. This typically takes the form of discoloured pixels or excessive amounts of grain across the image. You’ll typically notice that these characteristics are much more common when you’re shooting in low-light situations.
Since digital noise can compromise the quality and detail of an image, photographers will do whatever is necessary to minimise digital noise as much as possible.
Why Are My Photos Grainy?
‘So, why are my photos grainy?’ Let’s answer this popular question.
One of the most common culprits of excessive digital noise is having your camera’s sensitivity to light (ISO) set too high.
Increasing your ISO is very useful when shooting in darker settings without compromising your shutter speed or aperture. Though, you need to be mindful of this particular setting - after all, just because you have a higher ISO available on your camera, doesn’t necessarily mean it can handle shooting in this setting.
When the ISO is pushed past its limits, digital noise can start to take over your images. The more familiar you become with your camera, the more you’ll begin to understand its limits with ISO.
How To Fix Grainy Photos
Now, let’s dive into the nitty gritty. Learn how to fix grainy photos with these 5 simple tips below.
1. Lower The ISO
One of the best things you can do to fix your grainy images is to lower your ISO.
As we mentioned, increasing your camera’s ISO setting too far will cause graininess across your images. So, to minimise any digital noise, try turning your ISO down and decreasing your camera’s sensitivity to light.
If you’re looking for ways to properly compose your image in a low-light setting, try opening your aperture or slowing down your shutter speed before increasing your ISO
2. Upgrade To Full-Frame
Another great way to reduce digital noise is to switch to a camera with a full-frame sensor.
Unlike crop sensors, a full-frame sensor can collect a lot more information and light as you're taking a picture - which will significantly reduce the amount of noise generated.
Though this can be a more costly fix, switching to a full-frame camera is a great long-term solution for minimising digital noise in your photos.
3. Shoot In RAW
Shooting your images in RAW instead of JPEG is a great way to capture more detail in your images and minimise digital noise.
When you shoot in JPEG, your images are usually compressed which can engrain the digital noise into your picture and make it much harder to fix in editing.
Especially if you intend to shoot in a low-light scene, consider making the switch to RAW.
4. Add More Light
Particularly if you’re shooting in a low-light scene, and you can’t compromise your shutter speed or aperture any further, you might have no choice but to increase your ISO.
Though before you resort to this, consider adding some lights to your scene. This can be a great way to brighten up your composition without increasing the ISO to its limits.
That being said, this might not be an option if you’re out of the studio, shooting in a space with limited lighting available. In these circumstances, it’s handy to have a small light in your camera bag.
This Phottix M200R RGB LED Light makes a great addition to any photography kit. It's a light source with powerful features making it a great choice for still and video shots.
5. Use ‘Noise Reduction’
At this point, you might be wondering - ‘what if I’ve already shot my images with a higher ISO? Is there any way to recover them?’
Fortunately, you can reduce the appearance of digital noise in editing platforms such as Adobe Lightroom. This platform has a tool available under the ‘details’ tab called ‘noise reduction'. You can use this slider to disguise any grain in your images and regain some of its clarity.
Next time you notice your images looking grainy, consider trying one of these tips listed above to help fix your images or prevent excessive digital noise from occurring.