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Be unlike: "Image noise" instead of "Light sensitivity" (Camera app) [not relevant]

asked 2014-03-20 12:19:09 +0200

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updated 2014-03-20 12:25:35 +0200

jgr gravatar image

Since Sailfish, the Camera has a new setting, coined Light sensitivity. I suggest, be unlike and call it

Image noise


By coining this setting "Light sensitivity" (see lower left in screenshot below) you imply, higher values would actually be favorable. However, the opposite is the case: You want as little noise as possible while retaining sufficient shutter speed for the current situation, i.e. you want lower values. This I would like to make clear (also to non-photographers): Do not unnecessarily select hight values.


Historically (when images were taken on film), it was named "Film speed" or "Film sensitivity" (and stated as "ASA100", "ASA 200" etc. or "DIN 21", "DIN 24" etc.; later ISO took over and now it is stated as "ISO 100", "ISO 200" etc.). It was (and still is) an indication, how fast much light must hit a given film to result in a correctly exposed image, the higher the number the less. Already at the film times, you traded in more noise for gaining sensitivity. For each film, the ISO value was prominently written on the package and cover.

Today, we have only a single sensor, i.e. no choice to change the sensor according to the light sensitivity we would like for a given situation. The ISO value now corresponds to the amplification ratio of the sensor signal. At best, you would not have to amplify it at all, giving you the best signal-to-noise ratio. The lower your signal strength (i.e. the more you have to amplify it), the less is the difference between signal strength and noise strength (because noise strength is mainly constant), and the more the noise is visible in the image.

Because the icons below this heading state the ISO reference value as "ISO 100", "ISO 200" etc., the heading "Image noise" will not derail photographers: Even with the uncommon designator "Image noise" they know immediately what it is about – and will rather be happy, that someone thought about this term instead of just following the trade.

By the way

To be consistent: Write Delay only (instead of "10-second delay"). Like with the "Image noise", the values are already stated in the icons and do not have to be repeated in the heading.

Anyway, you would not set a dash between figure and unit, i.e. "10 second delay" would be correct English.

Screenshot: Camera settings

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The question has been closed for the following reason "question is not relevant or outdated" by jgr
close date 2014-04-04 12:13:26.610442



Sensitivity is the right term. ISO in film means just that, it is true that higher ISO gives more noise but as (ex)fotographer I understand "Light sensitivity" better than "noise". Noise is a by-product of high ISO, just as faster shutter.

lasse ( 2014-03-20 19:42:41 +0200 )edit

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answered 2014-03-20 17:42:27 +0200

JPS gravatar image

As I see it, problem with name change is that for most people name 'Image noise' doesn't give any indication why anyone _would_ want increase the value. Most people would probably think that its some kind of noise filter used for 'artistic' effects.

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If they do not increase it, it's fine: The better the images are. (Ok, the may be blurred more than necessary then they set it to ISO 100 instead of leaving it at ISO Auto. But: Blurred images "clearly" are a fault of the user. For a noisy image, the camera will be blamed.)

jgr ( 2014-03-20 19:18:42 +0200 )edit

I don't quite see why average user would only blame the camera for noisy photos on camera and not blurry/underexposed. I think that if change is made for the ui, it should reflect both effects of the setting. Current suggestion only changes which effect the users will be unaware of. (noise vs light sensitivity)

JPS ( 2014-03-20 19:40:59 +0200 )edit

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