Three Reasons Why Travel Photographers Can Toss the Tripod!
Frequent travelers experience costly airline baggage and weight charges, size restrictions and lost or delayed bags and it’s getting worse. Did you know that the rings of Saturn are actually composed of lost airline bags? As one ages camera bags seem heavier and heavier and traveling with a big tripod becomes impossible. The burden of heavy cumbersome tripods is no longer. Travel photographers can now toss the tripod. Why?
There are three reasons:
- Better high ISO noise reduction capability in newer cameras. The higher the ISO setting in your camera the faster the shutter speed can be and therefore the reduced need for a tripod to steady the camera in low light situations because of slow shutter speeds. The downside of using higher ISO settings is increased image noise. The advent of better in camera image processors with high ISO and low noise levels means being able to use higher ISO settings without worrying as much about noise degrading image quality.
- In- Camera or in-lens image stabilization technology. Nearly all digital cameras have vibration reduction/image stabilization/camera shake features designed to reduce image blur from camera shake hand movement. Be sure it is turned on!
- New and superior noise reduction software products. Many commonly used image editing software products have somewhat satisfactory image noise reduction options. Some newer software plugins have superior noise reduction capabilities. In fact some are so good that a single mouse click easily eliminates noise.
Note: Photography purists justifiably insist on using super-size tripods all the time but this post is directed to traveler’s wishing to simplify their airline baggage experience and become more mobile and lightweight while on the move. Older travellers (like us!!!) now use lighter and smaller cameras. For a small light tripod solution I bring a small Gorilla tripod Joby GorillaPod SLR Zoom Tripod with Ball Head Bundle for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras on my world travels with flexible gripping legs for those must have a tripod moments such as time lapse video, noise free image capture, astronomy and dark night photo ops. You can also try Dave’s 5 cent string tripod solution for a fun and quick photo experience to stabilize your camera so you can still shoot with low ISO camera settings in low light.
What is Noise?
Image noise is like static on a distant AM radio station
Noise in a digital photography context is the same as noise in the audio world. In short it is static and is present in all electronic circuits and is often measured as a signal to noise ratio. As you increase the ISO level in a digital camera the image (the signal) can be further degraded with multi-colored pixilation, color splotches and dots (the noise). Compare to an AM car radio as the static (the noise) increases as you drive further away from the radio transmitter (the signal) until you the static overwhelms the music or announcers voice.
Higher ISO means more image noise
What is ISO?
The higher your camera ISO setting the more noise there is in the image. The term ISO is used by the United Nations’ International Organization of Standards (IOS) as a world standard for the measurement of the sensitivity of a film or digital camera sensor to light. The phrase ISO is a shortened version of the Greek word “isos” which translates as “similar”. Remember ASA (North America) and DIN (Europe) in the old film days? DIN has been dropped and ASA is the same as today’s ISO. In the film world higher ISO settings caused more image grain (silver halide deposits on the negative) and in the digital camera world higher ISO settings causes more image noise. High levels of noise in an image will degrade its quality
High Noise can degrade image quality
Just a few years ago ISO settings over 400 (or 200 in a smaller point and shoot camera) caused visible noise so few camera manufacturers exceeded a 1600 setting because of unacceptable noise levels at higher ISO settings. Today’s better cameras often have ISO settings over 12,800 surely an indication that those camera manufacturers are more confident of their camera’s ability to shoot quality images at higher ISO. Some pro level cameras even have settings of 25600 and higher with variable types of in-camera noise reduction solutions. If you have a newer digital camera experiment with high ISO settings to re-calibrate your understanding of today’s camera noise reduction capabilities.
Topaz Labs DeNoise Plugin
I am a huge fan of Topaz Labs digital photography software plugins which include a powerful noise reduction solution called DeNoise. This plugin comes with a range of one mouse click pre-sets (or full control sliders for customized noise solutions). The images below show how using one of their one mouse click noise reduction pre-sets can magically eliminate nearly all image noise without degrading image quality. With this capability, I willingly crank up my camera ISO up to the max to get sharper images in low light situations and without a tripod. The left image shows noise on the faces and background while the right image shows no noise at all. All it took was one mouse click using one of the many presets included. Try any of the Topaz Labs products for a 30 day free period.
Travel photographers seeking to lighten their load now have the opportunity to use small mirror-less cameras, micro 4/3 or tiny point and shoot cameras. Many travelers today use just smart phones and devices. Consider using cameras with high ISO low noise capabilities, smart devices with apps that control ISO and easy to use software noise reduction solutions and you can toss the tripod.
Here is a full size and version of our beautiful stunning Marinera dancers in Lima, Peru with no noise. Do you think they are in love?
Latin Dancers in Love? Image noise removed with Topaz Labs Denoise. Click for quality fine art prints with Worldwide shipping.
About the Authors. David and Anna Smith are World travel & fine art photographers, Bloggers, photography and fabric arts workshop leaders, key note speakers and cruise ship guest lecturers, Their world image archive: Interface Images and Celebrate the World fine art gallery. David has just published a brand new series of online travel and general photography courses, visit their blog Travel Photography Tips & Adventures for more. Visit our social network links below and please share our Blog posts on your social networks. New Blog subscribers get a complimentary online photography class!