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For camera geeks only...

I've recently bought a new lap top and when I loaded Photoshop CS2 it wouldn't authorise so instead of arguing with Adobe I thought I'd give a more modern package a try particularly as CS2 didn't seem much good at noise reduction.

After looking at the prices, £600+ for CS-latest, £200+ for Lightroom, I decided to trial the £70 Elements 9 and that's what I've been doing pretty much all day.

I really can't see any reason to spend more as the cheapo Elements 9 seems to do everything I want it to and I'm particularly pleased with the noise reduction.

I wanted a dimly lit room and an out of focus background to show the noise at its worst so here's my little test...

GF1, ISO 2,000.

GF1, ISO 2,500.

GF1, ISO 3,200.

LX5, ISO 1,600.

LX5, ISO 3,200.

20D, ISO 3,200.

I quite happy with the results. I think that my GF1, LX5 and 20D are all usable up to ISO 3,200 and better results will probably be possible with more care and skill.

I saw that in the new Jacobs store that's opened inGlasgow, last week; it looked as though it was part of a package, but now you mention it, it was priced at £49.99, so maybe they'll have it as a stand-alone too.

My CS2 doesn't recognise Nikon RAW files for some reason, and I can\t get the D80 plug-in to, well, plug in! So I might well give this one a try.

It doesn't cost anything to download the trial version of Elements 9 so if you're interested you can give it a go.

I had a look at the prices and thought about upgrading the copy of E2 that I have but all in all I think I'll just buy a new copy. I was surprised to see that it's cheaper to buy it from PC World than to either buy the box or download from Adobe.

At the moment I can't get E9 to open LX5 RAW files but it will open GF1 and 20D RAW's. I've asked about on the internet and E does seem a bit hit and miss with RAW even if you download the latest RAW updates but I'm not really too fussed as when files are converted to DNG they all open fine.

I liked CS2 and I knew where everything was but I didn't think that the noise reduction was much good. The only thing that I've spotted so far that CS2 has that Elements 9 doesn't is “Smart Sharpen.” E9 just seems to have Unsharp Mask and a Sharpen option but in reality I don't think that anyone could look at a print and say “This would have been better if you'd used Smart Sharpen instead of Sharpen” so I don't think it's a real world issue.

Have you tried this?

Yes I have that too.

I have tried to do everything for nothing by using Raw Shooter Essentials, Rawtherapee, Gimp, Noiseware Community and Neat Image (all free downloads) but at the moment I think that E9 is actually better than all of these (although I think that Raw Shooter Essentials is a realjoy to use) and better for still photos than my creaking old CS2 and £70 seems ok.

I will always keep Raw Shooter Essentials and Rawtherapee on my pc though.

Look like really good results Alan.

Sure there is noticeable noise and detail loss in the darker areas but reasonably well controlled and shows what can be achieved even with 'out of date' sensors when good software is used (which is, in most cases the biggest factor in comparable camera noise performance NOT the sensor which, in many cases is shared amongst different manufacturers)

May I ask what type of shutter speed you were using in these cases? I really don't want to go down the ISO does not 'cause' noise discussion again but there seems to be a reasonable amount of natural light in the pics so am asking what ISO/Shutter speed you would choose in this instance if you were not purposefully using high ISO to demonstrate the NR?

(I ask as, in most cases, the reason you would use high iso is to boost shutter speed in low light - if the subject used for demonstration doesn't require high ISO in the first place it implies a good amount of light which itself helps with noise)

Thanks for sharing,


BTW - The 20D still kicks out some great natural tones and seems to kick ass :)

Shutter speeds...

GF1, all at f1.7, ISO 2,000 1/125, ISO 2,500 1/160, ISO 3,200 1/160.
LX5, all at f2.9, ISO 1,600 1/30, ISO 3,200 1/60, ISO 6,400 1/125, ISO 12,800 1/160.
20D, f2, 3,200 160.

With the 20D and GF1 some of the lack of detail could be due to the shallow DoF. If you look at Cartman there's a spec of dust in front of his left foot and there's a notch in the yellow band of his hat between his left eye and where his ear would be, if he had one, and both details are visible in all shots apart from the last two LX5 shots.

I wanted to get a shallow DoF as detail in the background could hide noise. I've looked at some 7D shots that show awful noise in OOF backgrounds so that's what I was looking for here.

I'm quite happy with my 20D and I don't see a reason to change at the mo as 3,200 is usable. The GF1 files can look noisy but I'm happy at 2,500 in real world shots unless there's a lot of dark or shadow and 3,200 looks ok with mild NR in E9. LX5 didn't do too bad either.

As to what shutter speed I'd use, the 20D is fitted with a 50mm and I wouldn't want to use it below about 1/100 or the % of keepers drops and the GF1 has a 20mm lens and I'd want to stay above 1/80.

I took this with the GF1 at ISO 1600, f4, 1/8, apart from the lights it was dark (21:00 21st Novemeber.)

There's noise but it's ok and there's plenty of detail.


That one is lovely

DC, it's ok but it makes me want to go back and take a better shot as there's too much blur in that one due to camera shake.

I've tried shooting in very low light and indeed in the dark and 20D shots are usable at 3,200. Here's one, not quite in darkness but the camera shows more than I could see to focus. I achieved focus by using the flash and then shut the flash off to take the shot. There's blur due to camera shake but the noise is ok.

20D, ISO 3200, f2.5, 1/5 and the same NR settings as the other shots.


20D, 50mm, f1.4, ISO 3,200, 1/30. I think that for me this is about on the limit of what I can do hand held with this camera and lens.

100% crop...

By the way, The double life of Veronique is excellent.

Can I ask, please, who is removing every post I make and why? I've only posted about four times and it's hard to see what rules I've broken. Just a note to explain would be appreciated.

Made my mind up... gonna buy E9.

Cheers Alan - some very impressive results

I've been using PSE7 for some time and was considering upgrading - seeing results like this is encouraging and may well sway me

Thanks for sharing


I'm sure that spending some time on the settings and results will improve things as I just processed everything exactly the same.

I'm glad that I'm not getting flamed for being cheap by going for the £70 option.

woof woof wrote:
.....   I'm glad that I'm not getting flamed for being cheap by going for the £70 option.

£70, cheap? I tried to buy it from Amazon when it was reduced to £23 during their special offer week in November but they ran out of copies before they got to my effort. It's £59.98 at the moment - you've been robbed.

Bugger   But as I haven't bought it yet I'll shop around.


I decided to go for CS5. It's more money but nicer to use and with more manual options than E9.

Damn - too late to sing the praises of Lightroom 3. Lightroom 3 does 99% of what I need in a much less memory hungry and time consuming manner than any version of CS.  Elements does the other 1%. In fact there is only one process that was in the advanced photoshop class I did that can't be done in LR and PSE and it's a fairly cool but rarely needed one. (Basically using the channel mixer to produce a mask that makes changing backgrounds incredibly easy, even for shots with hair or grass).

The noise reduction in LR3 is phenomenal.

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