One of the most challenging issues facing the nature photographer is to capture images in very low light. This often means relying on image stabilization, a tripod, or some other means of support. But, even with good camera support, we often cannot capture what we see simply because the shutter speed is too slow.
So, I have been greatly interested in ways to boost my digital image sensitivity such that I do not have to rely on good camera support. This is particularly of interest to me since I own a 300mm f/4 lens that does not have vibration reduction. I have always preferred hand held shots since working this way gives me more freedom to explore composition.
The answer is to shoot at high ISOs, the problem is that in so doing one is faced with unacceptable noise in images. Adobe ACR provides a means to reduce noise in images but frankly I have found the Adobe solution to be less than satisfactory.
Enter the Nik Collection by Google. A friend recommended that I try it. I did. Google offers a free trial of its software. After using it for less than an hour, I bought it. WOW is it impressive. All it takes is one click of your mouse to reduce noise automatically. While the software allows one to tailor how much noise reduction is applied, the automatic setting works amazingly well.
Here are some example photographs taken with the Nikon D800 and the Nikkor 300mm f/4 lens.
The first shot was done at ISO 3200. I know, it is a squirrel but every review should include a shot of one.
The next shot was done at ISO 5000, using the same camera and lens. I know, it is a dumb shot, but look at the results!
After seeing how well the NIK plugin works, I pushed the ISO to 6400. And, after looking at the image at 100%, I am convinced that I could shoot all day long at this setting and get excellent results.
Here is the ISO 6400 example.
I am truly excited about all of this. It means that in the future I can keep my shutter speeds high enough to stop action or to capture images in very low light with excellent results.
Bottom line, I highly recommend that one use the NIK software package. It truly is an amazing tool that every serious digital photographer should use.