There was a time when viewing a photo at 100% was a perfect representation of the final result. With the coming of high-resolution monitors, that’s not the case anymore — especially when dealing with noise.

High-resolution also known as high-dpi monitors are great for seeing large file photos. The problem is these high-res monitors don’t tell the whole story. I have found myself working at 200% for retouching skin most of the time. At 100% any of my work that might be seen at magnifications above 200% is invisible. And work is not printed at greater than 100%. BUT! and this is a big one when checking for noise it just doesn’t show at the standard 100% view.

Noise checks at 200%

Noise in digital photography is the equivalent of film grain. It happens when the photosites on the sensor can’t gather enough light to fully fill. The lack of light forces the sensor to “make up” the rest of the light and the result is noise. Shadows are where the most noise occurs because they are lower light areas. Noise is not as common in brighter areas.

Take a look at this photo shot at ISO 4000 right out of my Canon 1Dx Mark III. It’s shown as a fit-on-screen view of 53% magnification.

Denoise secrets with high resolution monitors and LuminarAI
Full frame view at 53% magnification.

It looks good and no noise is visible. The problem with high-res monitors is their number of pixels is so high that even at 100% noise just doesn’t show very well.

Sharpen first

I’m using LuminarAI for this article. I typically add StructureAI to bring out detail then sharpen the photograph so it looks crisp. Doing this will bring out any noise lurking in darker areas and in this case on the model’s skin.

I lit her with a Timpani LED light from Luxli as my main light and a Luxli Cello on the background. These are versatile instruments but they are not nearly as bright as my studio electronic flash so I compensated by using a high ISO setting.

This next photo shows LuminarAI‘s StructureAI in combination with Details for sharpening. Both of these edits are made at 200% to take into account the high resolution monitor.

Denoise secrets with high resolution monitors and LuminarAI
StructureAI first then sharpening using Details in LuminarAI at 200% magnification.

Then, Denoise

Denoise smoothens out the noise in the background and on the model’s skin. The steps in this article are made before using the Portrait editing features of LuminarAI.

Denoise secrets with high resolution monitors and LuminarAI
Denoise makes everything look better!

The take-away

Digital photographs are not very sharp straight out of the camera. It’s a good practice to add structure or clarity and some sharpening before doing other edits. While autofocus systems in todays’ cameras are spot on, they don’t make up for the inherent softness made by anti-aliasing filters over their sensors. Big ISO numbers in low light situations and the noise that comes with them are part of modern photography. Best of all we don’t have to live with that bothersome noise thanks to LuminarAI!

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