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Alexa mini noise in the blacks

Michael Ognisanti

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I have a couple projects coming up where I will be shooting in dark environments. One is a TVC of people against a dark gradient background and the other is a short film of night exteriors and interiors.
I recently noticed some noise in the blacks when shooting with the Alexa Mini at 800 iso. Has anyone else found this?
Are people rating this camera lower when shooting in dark settings to raise the shadow detail. I’ve always done this with Sony but didn’t think it was necessary with Alexa as well.
Thanks for you help
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Are you seeing more noise in the blacks than in the image overall? The Alexa has some noise throughout the image but its generally a pleasing texture. Ive never seen heightened noise in the shadows at 800.

Thanks for you response David


To my eye I see it more in the blacks but I might just be more sensitive to it. I've used Sony a lot and that's always something I'm looking out for and rating the camera 1-2 stops slower. I was just curious if people are doing the same for Alexa.

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I'm now grading a film we shot on Alexa mini at ISO 800. There were a few times when I wanted to present a really dark scene on set where I changed the ISO to 400 or 500 to insure I didn't go too far.


But, in the grading I'm finding a number of scenes where I've had to raise the exposure significantly and it's not too bad. So far, I haven't reached for noise reduction. Though, I do see some noise, it's not really bothering me ... yet :)


I think if you shoot at ISO 1200+, and underexpose, you're going to see some additional noise. I had one scene on my previous show where I shot at ISO 1600 at night and went too far. Noise reduction in post solved the issue but I would hate to need to use it on a significant portion of the movie.

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It all depends on how you light and color-correct your shadows. If you get the exposure and look, the lighting ratio correct, then 800 ISO is fine for noise. If you lift your shadows by a stop in post, you effectively rated the camera at 1600 ISO for the shadows, and obviously you'll get more noise.


This is one reason, assuming I have enough light, I'd rather "underexpose" the scene partly by lowering the ISO, so I might light and shoot a moonlight scene at 500 ISO. It's just in case I have to bring anything up in post. But I've also shot night work at 1280 or 1600 ISO on the Alexa because I had no choice, and the noise was fine, visible but acceptable. But in those cases, I didn't expose on the dark side because I knew I had limited flexibility to color-correct the shadows.


If you're looking at the Alexa image in log, you're going to see more noise but the same thing is true if you look at a log scan of 500 ISO film stock. The display gamma/contrast hides a lot of that once the blacks look black.

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