Computers Improving On Camera Limits

I’m not sure how to start this post. Do I cut right to the cool stuff Adobe Lightroom can now do with high ISO photos? Do I address the elephant in the room because they use the term A.I. with their fancy new tool?

I vote for barreling ahead and gushing over how nice it is to recover old images that had bad noise from high ISO.

It’s called AI-Powered Noise Reduction and it does a way better job at removing noise than the previous standard noise reduction. But it’s not AI. It’s just pattern recognition and then it cleans up based on a huge set of data the program trained on and programmatically built a model from.

The Lightroom Queen has more info on her site here.


Original image of a LA Fire Department helicopter over our neighbor’s house taken in 2018. Canon EOS 7D Mark II with 28-300mm L lens. ISO 51,200, f/5.6, 270mm, 1/20th of a second.

Gah! The 7D Mark II is a modern camera, but it has limits. Now for the cleaned up version (I used the default setting with the slider set to 50).

Two things to note: This process creates a new file so as to not alter the original DNG file. It is named Helicopters2018-1222-6572-Enhanced-NR. Not AI-NR, but just Enhanced. Interesting.

Second, it’s dang good. But not perfect. This was a hard image, the blur didn’t help, and you can see errors in the lettering on the tail section.

Let’s try something older.

I believe this is Santa Catalina Island while turning toward John Wayne Airport in California. Canon EOS 1D-X (what the heck was I doing with this nice camera? I must have borrowed it because it was a spendy beast when it came out and I could not afford it, but people sent me stuff to review back then). November 2012, Canon 28-300mm L (same one!), ISO 40,000, 28mm, f/6.3, 1/320th of a second.

Not my finest work as I was trying to get the whole island and instead got part of the engine and a tip of the wing up there. This one should have been deleted. 🙂

Now let’s run the magic machine on it. And truth be known, this one came out TOO clean and smooth so I added in just a little grain to make it look ‘normal’.

Sheesh. Just look at the engine! And the contours of the island.


Let’s go even further back. How about 20 years ago?

March 2003 the day my Canon EOS 10D with a 16-35mm L lens first arrived. Pictured is my friend Jeremy, in my office at work where the camera was delivered. I did that at times. He’s almost as excited as I am for the new camera and is hamming it up as my model. This is the first picture that camera took for me.

Canon EOS 10D, 16-35mm L, ISO 3200 (which was pretty crappy back then), 35mm, f/6.7, 1/180th of a second. Ignore all those Mountain Dew cans (ugghhh…).

Pretty crappy. Now, magic time… ?

On things it ‘recognizes’, like humans, it can do a bang up job. When I photographed weddings, this would have been a godsend to clean up images where I had to push the ISO ten or twenty years ago. Even now, images can be helped with this.

P.S. Jeremy, if you’re still out there, drop me a line and we shall enjoy a meal in June when I’m in Seattle. I don’t miss that office or that company and certainly not the insane company CEO, but I miss hanging out every workday with friends.

No debate here about whether it is AI or not. Or if it is art or not. Or or or…just go play with your camera and know that if you need it, Lightroom can do a way better job of cleaning up your photos when you reach the limits of your camera.

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