Overexpose RAW or use higher ISO

A few days ago I had a thought. What results in a cleaner photo? Should one overexpose a darker RAW file or use a higher ISO instead. Which one will have less noise? So I decided to try it out and see.

Let’s compare

Let’s look at this photo. This is a crop from 100% zoom. Both versions are the same except for the ISO settings. The first one is ISO 100 and overexposed by two stops, second on ISO 400.

It’s really hard to see any difference, except the High ISO one, is a tiny bit brighter. I noticed this on every single photo I tried. Two stops of exposure were never the same in Lightroom as in the camera. Let’s zoom in to 200% to see better how it looks.

Still, hard to see much difference, except the brightness. Maybe the overexposed has a tiny bit more noise, but hard to say for sure.

Let’s look at a different image. This one with more even areas, that will show the noise better. Again, both taken at the same settings except the ISO. First one at ISO 100 and overexposed by 2 stops, the second one at ISO400

Really hard to see any difference at 100%. It looks almost the same. Let’s zoom in to 200% to a single color area.

Here you already can see a bit of difference, the noise is a tiny bit stronger in the overexposed image.

How is it?

I tried more comparisons, and every time I got to the same result. The overexposed shot is a bit darker and has a bit more noise. But in most cases, I was not able to even see a difference. Even when going up by 3 exposures, it was the same. Not sure if this would be same on all the cameras, but it worked like this on the 5D Mark IV. So it looks like it does not really matter and both work fine.

The biggest difference was actually the overexposed areas. When you overexpose a shot, you get better exposure in those areas. But of course the underexposed will be darker, so you get less detail there.

I tried the same comparison where instead of changing the ISO I changed the exposure time, but in that case, the overexposed one was much noisier in every case. This is, of course, to be expected.

Photo problems

There are a few basic problems that you see over and over in many photos. Fixing them is really easy, so it’s sometimes strange to see so many photographers not doing so. Today I will go through a few of them and show you how to fix them. I will be sticking mostly to Photoshop here, but few can be easily fixed also in Lightroom.

Chromatic aberrations

I’m always surprised when I see chromatic aberrations in edited photos. There are just so simple to get rid off. You can even set up Lightroom to do it for you when you import photos.

In Lightroom, you just have to go into the Develop module, scroll down in the right panel and under Lens Corrections check the box by Remove Chromatic Aberrations. This works in almost all cases.

In Photoshop, the simplest way is to use Camera RAW to do so. You should do it on the RAW file, as then it’s just one click. If it’s not a RAW file, it’s a bit more work. When you open a RAW file in Photoshop, the Camera RAW will open automatically. Just go to the Lens Correction tab and check to remove chromatic aberrations. All done. In the case you don’t have the RAW file, you open your file, and then go to Filter/Camera RAW filter. Again you go into the Lens Correction tab, but it will look a bit different. You will have only manual options to do so. Just move the Purple and Green sliders to get rid off the aberration.

5 problems you can quickly fix in you photos

Perspective distortion

Another problem that is very easy to fix is Perspective distortion. If you are not familiar with it, it happens when your camera is not perfectly leveled when you take your photos. As a result, the objects in your photo may look like they are falling inward or outward.

This can be fixed in Lightroom, but I do prefer to use Photoshop. In Lightroom, you first have to rotate the image, so the horizon is perfectly leveled. If you don’t do this, you can’t remove perspective distortion properly. Once this is done, in the right panel scroll down to Transform and move around the Vertical transformation until the edge of the image aligns with all the vertical lines in the photo.

In Photoshop my preferred way to do this is to go into Free transform (Edit/Free Transform or Ctl+T), then right click on the image and choose perspective. Now drag the bottom corners out or in, until you get the lines perfectly vertically. If the distortion is very strong, you will also have to scale the image up. Just right click again, choose scale, hold down Shift and drag the middle top point up or down. You may need to go back into perspective edit afterward, as scaling can change the distortion.

5 problems you can quickly fix in you photos

I prefer Photoshop to Lightroom, as Lightroom automatically crops the image down to the original size and you are losing big areas of the photo due to the correction. In Photoshop you can just easily expand the canvas of the photo, so have a bigger photo in the end.

You can find a more detailed description of this here.

Color Banding

Color banding is created when you lower the number of colors in a color transition. Mostly it’s created when you save a photo into lower quality. If you have a lot of skies in your photos, you definitively have seen it.

The solution here is very simple, just add noise. Noise will add variation to the affected area, so the transitions will become more natural. You can even first remove noise, to get rid of strong noise and color noise, and then add back some softer noise, to prevent color banding.

To do so, just choose in Photoshop, Filter/Noise/Add Noise with the amount of 1%, Gaussian, and Monochromatic. Once done, check the image, if the color banding is still visible add it again with the same settings. You can repeat this until the problem is gone.

5 problems you can quickly fix in you photos

Don’t forget that you don’t have to use it on the whole image, only where it’s needed. Also if you are using layers in Photoshop, merge them into a new one to see how your photo really looks. The previews are not always accurate.

You can find a more detailed article on this topic here.

Lens Flares

I hate lens flares. I even hate them more in computer games. Who thinks that human eyes and brains make lens flares? Such a stupid idea. But you can quickly get rid of them in photos. The best way to get rid of them to not get them at all, but that’s not always possible.

There are two ways, the good way, and the other way. The good way is to take multiple photos where you shade the light source with your hand and then put them together. You can see a detailed description of that here.

The other way is to use Photoshop tools to do so. The results will be not perfect but with a bit of practice, you can do it. There are many things you can do. You can use content aware to fix smaller spots. Use the clone stamp tool for things that repeat or are random in structure. Copy over other parts forms the same image if things repeat.

5 problems you can quickly fix in you photos

I find the best thing to do, is to do all the fixes on a new layer in Photoshop, and once done, hide it, and using a layer mask just paint in the areas you really need. Like this, the fixes will look the most natural.

Dust Spots

Clean your lens often, really often. But if you don’t and shoot at smaller apertures often, clean your photos. A big ugly dust spot will make your photo looks so much worse. Just a short time ago, I saw a photo used as a background in Google Hangouts. It was a nice photo, but there was a huge dust spot right in the middle. It was so ugly.

You can either remove them in Photoshop or also in Lightroom. Both offer tools to identify where they are. In Lightroom, if you select Spot Removal, you will find a Visualize Spots checkbox under the image. Check it and move the slider next to it, until you see the spots in your photo. You can find the same setting in Camera RAW that you can open from filters in Photoshop.

While this works, this is not my favorite way to identify dust spots. I prefer to do create a new layer in Photoshop with an extreme curve. This will create a big contrast between the dust spots and the surrounding area, so showing you exactly where they are. Then I can just use content aware or the clone stamp tool on the layer under it to fix them.

5 problems you can quickly fix in you photos

Here is a more detailed article on how to remove dust spots, and here is one how to identify photo problems using the curve technique.

4K wallpapers

Acording to the site statistics, the 4K wallpapers are the most visited/downloaded from all the wallpaprs so how about few more.

As always, all wallpapers are for free and can be distributed further, just link back to this site (of course only for personal use, no commercial use allowed without my permission).

Don’t forget to check out other available wallpapers:

More 4K wallpapers of Dubai

The theme for today’s wallpapers si Dubai at night. All are at 3840x2160px, so perfect for a 4K monitor.

More 4K wallpapers of Dubai
More 4K wallpapers of Dubai
More 4K wallpapers of Dubai
More 4K wallpapers of Dubai

Back to posting

I got back home late at night yesterday, so it’s time to get back to updating the blog. But as I feel crazy tired today, I’m just relaxing, and instead of a new photo, I have for you even more super ultra-wide wallpapers. Get them now :)

Don’t forget to check out other available wallpapers:

New wallpapers

Went with a quite random selection for today, all at 5120x1440px resolutions as with all other super ultra-wide wallpapers I posted before. Get them as always at the super ultra-wide wallpapers page.

Super ultra-wide wallpapers 5120x1440px
Super ultra-wide wallpapers 5120x1440px
Super ultra-wide wallpapers 5120x1440px
Super ultra-wide wallpapers 5120x1440px

What is a Gnarbox

Gnarbox is a rugged backup device. It’s a tiny computer, that you control with your phone and can be used to back up your photos from memory cards, USB card readers or external drives. Like this, you can use it in the field to back up your work, without the need for a PC.

I had a look at the Gnarbox 1.0 recently, and I will share with you my thought on it here. There is also a Gnarbox 2.0, which offers an SSD and ability to backup without a phone, but that one is not released yet.

You can find the official Gnarbox website here.

Gnarbox 1.0

The one I tried is the Gnarbox 1.0 128GB. It has an Intel processor and graphics, Wifi, SD and micro SD slot, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port and one micro USB 3.0 port for charging and using it like an HDD. It’s dimensions are 13.5cm x 8.6cm x 2.5cm and has a 4000mah battery.

Gnarbox 1.0

It’s very rugged and all the ports are covered with thick covers. A nice thing is, that the memory card slots are big enough to fit the whole card in, and you can even close the covers with the cards in.

Gnarbox 1.0
Gnarbox 1.0

In the box, you get the Gnarbox, a USB to micro USB cable and a short quick start guide. The build quality looks solid, with the drive and port covers feeling sturdy and well made.

Gnarbox 1.0

Using the Gnarbox

To use the Gnarbox, you need the Gnarbox app. After installing it and turning on the Gnarbox, you have to connect to it using wifi. Once this is done, you control it completely through the app.

Once you put in a memory card, or connect a storage device using USB, you can see it under devices and can access its content. From here you can view the photos or directly copy them to the Gnarbox. You can’t connect your camera directly to the Gnarbox. With the 5D Mark IV connected, the camera switches to storage mode, but the Gnarbox app will not recognize it.

I tried this with a Sandisk Extreme SD XC card, rated at 80MB/s. Photos from my 5D Mark IV were recognized properly and I could copy the files. 10 raw files, 272Mb in size took 15 seconds to copy, with the app showing no loss in battery life. 186 raw files, 6.2Gb in size took a bit longer. They took 5 minutes and 26 seconds to copy, with the Gnarbox battery losing 4% of its power. Gnarbox also works with videos, and you can create a highlight reals using the app. You can then save the results easily to your phone.

One thing to note here is that the Gnarbox heats up a lot while doing this. It’s hot enough that you will not be comfortable holding it in your hands.

Gnarbox appMain screen
Gnarbox appSelect device
Gnarbox appCopy images

The app is overall easy to use except a few strange things here and there. Why would they name the Copy window Move files, and then explained in the dialog that it’s not Move but Copy? Why can’t I just select multiple videos and add them to the real, instead of choosing one by one, hitting edit and then swiping up to do so? I had to look into a guide to find out how this is done, as it’s not so obvious even with the tip the app gives you. Why isn’t the USB mode changed automatically to mass storage when I connect it to a PC? These are all small quirks, but I think they could be easily ironed out.

Gnarbox appFolder view
Gnarbox appDrive files
Gnarbox appVideo Reel

Looking at it as a backup device, it work’s really well. I had no issues connecting it to my phone, previewing the files, copying them and then connecting it to PC afterward. It’s a great way to have more piece of mind if you are doing longer photo trips, and have nothing with you to back up your photos.

Right now I’m really curious about the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD. This one is good, but that one look’s even better.

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