Does Cropping Make Your Photos Noisy?!

Does cropping fill your photos with more noise? Is not filling the frame killing your images? Is there any way to stop it?

In this video, we’ll explore comparative output and see first-hand the effects that cropping can have on the noise of our final output image. This is one video every photographer who has ever used a crop tool absolutely must see. It’ll change your approach to photography – or at least surprise the heck out of you!

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Update: I’ve had a lot of people asking if using something like Lightroom’s Super Resolution to make the cropped image larger would help. So, I enlarged the heavily cropped image use Super Resolution and then tired it again. Although the file is bigger, the output looks nearly identical to the non-enhanced version. I guess, garbage in, garbage out as they say in the IT industry.

(Click the image to enlarge – you may have to click it again when it opens in a new tab to see the full size.)

PS – If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books and video workshops! Thousands of pages and hours of videos filled with tips, tricks, and techniques – all my best content! Check ’em out – click here (hey, it’s free to look).

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William B. Hutchinson Jr.
William B. Hutchinson Jr.
1 year ago

very helpful and great for shooting Hawks in flight
This plus Birds in Flight a great plus

Corby Amos
1 year ago

Very helpful. I’m find I’m on a constant see-saw with ISO. I shoot a lot of song birds (warblers). They don’t sit still and they are almost always in dark/full shadow environments. Even with a monopod I keep the shutter speed up (500-800) with my D500 and 500mm PF and consequently the ISO will be as much as 3200 (sometimes 6400). And yet there are times I’m shooting birds in my backyard in sunlight allowing me to go low on ISO. The quality of low ISO shots is amazing. Mind-blowing really. Do you think it is better to shoot in… Read more »

Corby Amos
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

You see…this is why I read your stuff! I learn so much. Since f/5.6 is as low as I can go…I just have to develop better monopod technique at lower shutter speeds when shooting warblers. That’s the bottom line. Then when cropping becomes necessary, I have more pixels.

BTW – I also need them to slow down on occasion…any tips for that? Bird mind control. LOL!

Corby Amos
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Steve…quick update. This last month I set my Shutter Speed minimum in Auto ISO on my D500 to 1/250. This has made a world of difference. You are so right about the importance of getting more light. I’m getting much better pictures and detail…even at higher ISO (sometimes 2500 in heavy tree canopy). Appreciate your tip.

Mike GIfford
1 year ago

Great discussion points and practical use tips Steve! I shoot with a D850 and 500mm PF wildlife all the time with your setting suggestions and find in higher ISO environments you have to lower the shutter speeds while manual mode and auto-ISO settings, and try to keep the base/lower ISO as low as possible. For brighter or non-cloudy days I use your suggestions for ISO 64 to 200 depending on overall light intensity, and if going into shadowy environments (trees, forests, cloudy, etc.) try to remember to bump up the lower ISO to 400-800 and lower the shutter to an… Read more »

Richard Stern
1 year ago

As always, an excellent video, which goes into the real detail of how to take better images, and you explain things just as if I were asking for the fine details of a technique, in person. Thank you Steve! I have found that using LR Enhance on the uncropped and unsharpened raw file, then saving it in LR, then putting it through Topaz Denoise or AI Clear at a 100% crop so that at that size the noise only just disappears, then using the Topaz sharpening tool still at 100% crop, then saving it back into LR, then cropping the… Read more »

Joe Barlow
Joe Barlow
1 year ago

Once again a great video that truly helps, thanks. Just wondering, I live between Yellowstone and Glacier National Park. How about you come visit for a few weeks, stay here at the house and I follow you around the parks and the Rocky Mountain Front while learning a few things? 🙂 (Just kidding, I’m not a stalker.) If you ever are in the neighborhood, it would be great to meet you.

Herman Jakubowski
Herman Jakubowski
1 year ago

I enjoyed you video on the effect of cropping to the increase in noise. With the addition to LR and PS of the new Enhance feature where AI is used to increase the pixel count do you see this a possibly mitigating the effect of crop noise? Let me know your thoughts.

Elliott Cobin
1 year ago

Excellent video/information, Steve. Unless I develop wings and learn to fly I’m stuck with heavy cropping for BIFs. Additionally, many birds alight on the highest branch which again requires heavy cropping. I have both Topaz DeNoise AI (latest version) and DxO Pure Raw. The DxO Pure Raw is much better than Topaz and has become the initial step in my work-flow for all shots.
I’m glad you have recovered well from Covid and are able to continue with your fine work.

Shanti
Shanti
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Cobin

Agree as impossible to get closer to BIF alot of the times. I use Topaz denoise latest, had DXO prime but was not better, which DXO are you talking about. Thanks

Elliott Cobin
1 year ago
Reply to  Shanti

It’s called DxO Pure Raw – it applies lens correction, noise correction and sharpening to raw files.

John Robin
John Robin
1 year ago

Great explanation, Steve! Regarding the situation where the shot you have in mind won’t work without a heavy crop, I find it helpful to challenge myself to find a different composition that will work. For example, instead of a single bird in flight, what about the flock over the water? Or the reflection of the flock over the water? It is an artistic challenge that I found can turn a potential disappointment into a satisfying experience.

Eric
Eric
1 year ago

Another excellent explanation and video. Thank you so much for posting it. With LR’s new Photo > Enhance with Super Resolution, in your opinion, would that be another viable tool to address images with higher amounts of noise?

Eric
Eric
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Thanks for diving into the testing on that, Steve. Too bad the results from using Enhance…didn’t enhance(?) after all. Back to honing those stalking/sneaking skills, along with the exposure adjustments you mentioned in your video. Great information, as always – thanks again! -EJ

Michael Papple
Michael Papple
1 year ago

Hi, My long lens is 100-400mm. I am at the edge of a lake, and the birds-in-flight move rapidly. I can’t get any closer without hip-waders/canoe and I need 1/2500s shutter to capture motion and splashing water. Buying an 800mm F4 prime is not an option.

My choice is to shoot at 400mm and crop to 0.4x height and width, or to add teleconverters which soften the pic and raise the ISO. I would rather crop.

By the way, I like Lightroom Super-Resolution, and Topaz DeNoise Ai.

(Sony A1 w/ 50MP)

Bruce Terrill
1 year ago

Hey Steve, As always great information, but have you ever thought about talking slower so that you could get your message across without us having to pause, rewind listen again, work out what the point was that you raced across and then we start again. Fair dinkum mate, you give us sooo much info to digest that not all of us are capable of taking it in at ‘light speed’. . . I remember when you made the instructional video on Lightroom ( Still waiting for part two by the way) and you were sitting at your computer desk, comfortably… Read more »

Bill Cooper
Bill Cooper
1 year ago

As usual, another informative and easy to understand video. The main thing I’ve learned from you is when to not bother with a shot that I now know just isn’t going to work. The cards not full, but what’s there is usually better than my previous work.

Ziggy
Ziggy
1 year ago

Thanks Steve.
NR in post can reduce noise and there are claims that AI can protect detail. True?

Ziggy
Ziggy
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

I was given a lesson in IQ when a raptor with prey landed in my backyard. It wasn’t going anywhere so it was possible to get closer than normal and progressively lower the SS well below my normal grabshot speed. Bringing the ISO right down produced a level of crispness and contrast I didn’t think the D500 was capable of. It was an eye opener.

Ziggy
Ziggy
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Yes. Well, it’s equivalent to getting better glass at no cost isn’t it.

Jim
Jim
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Thanks! I am an avid birder and dang I’d like more keepers. I shoot a Nikon D7500 and for birding, a Tamron 150-600 G2. Decent equipment for me so the problem is me! LOL. Learning bird behavior of my regulars, great egrets, blue herons, cormorants, and the like has helped me a lot. I think I’ve seen you address that too in a video. Anyway, I am a fan and thanks for these. I have two of your books too on AF and on Metering.

Paula Buermele
Paula Buermele
1 year ago

Hi, Steve! Thanks for this very helpful video. Lightroom recently released an update that improved its Photo > Enhance feature to specifically increase resolution for cropped images. Have you experimented with that feature yet?

Rick Pearson
Rick Pearson
1 year ago

Thanks Steve for another informative video. You have such a talent of explaining things in a way that all level of photographers will benefit. Can I make the assumption that these rules are similarly weighted using a crop sensor (Nikon D7500 user) camera?

Gerald Broaddrick
Gerald Broaddrick
1 year ago

Another great video with easy to understand language and examples. Thanks for making videos which are pertinent to become a better photographer.

David Sneddon
David Sneddon
1 year ago

Heh Steve another excellent and informative video and topic. Cheers mate and I hope you are still doing well.

David Sneddon
David Sneddon
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Excellent news Steve.

David Clemmer
1 year ago

Nice video Steve. I worry about noise quite often but when you need a shutter speed of 1/4000, or higher, such as wild bird photography I normally will go to ISO 3200 so I have the shutter speed. When you’re on an airboat exploring the swamp in Florida (not Washington DC) you just don’t have time to adjust much of anything other than zooming for composition. Had amazing results on a trip recently to Kissimmee. Lots of room for thought here!

Jim
Jim
1 year ago

Thanks, Steve! Another great video. Have you tried products like the Topaz Suite, namely DeNoise and Gigapixel. If so, how do you like them? I like DeNoise a lot. There is some loss of detail, but these people have done a nice job of making AI work.