or, what a photographer does when stuck in a hotel room on a rainy Sunday.
I should really have done this test many years ago, but now at least I have Lightroom 3 with its better noise reduction, and it really is better. The below is with the default noise reduction settings. Except for the first in each line, all pictures are taken with ETTR – since the motif doesn’t have any real highlights, I could do one stop over the suggested exposure. The first one is (comparably) pushed. All photos taken on tripod with mirror lockup and remote delayed release. It’s nice to have a tripod where you can mount the camera on one end and the thing to shoot at the other, and just move the tripod for better lighting. Speaking of lighting, it’s unfortunately still tungsten, but at least it’s the same light source all the way through.
I’m actually pretty impressed with this. There’s some noise visible in the flat area, but it’s pretty film-like and not very distracting. There is hardly any loss of detail in the focused area. The last row does seem to be a little brighter, but that could just be due to the resolution of the exposure display – the difference in lighting was done by moving the tripod further away from the light until the light meter showed a two stop decrease in light, but that can vary by 1/3 of a stop. A proper fixed light or filters would make it more accurate.
An interesting thing is that the "correctly" exposed images are a little deeper in the darks (may be hard to see on this crop). Like in the previous test, it is due to the black clipping being off in the "pulled" ones. So when doing ETTR, one should really adjust the black point to match, in this case move it up a little in the right-most 5 columns. Doubling it gives about the same effect as having normal exposure, but then I frequently move the black point up a bit just for the extra punch.
The bottom line: With LR3, I am not afraid of high ISO anymore. At the next nice evening, I shall go find myself a nice detailed scene with some sky and dark details and stuff to try a more realistic test. Studio tests only tell so much of the story, after all.
P.S. Stupid Chrome and its lack of color management.