Lately there have been a lot of posts about people’s digital cameras having “unacceptable” noise at various iso’s, depending on the viewpoint of the poster. Usually the level of noise being complained about looks pretty good to me. I’m posting this in the Nikon forum because I used Nikons in the examples. You see, I used to shoot black and white film, such as Tri-X, and did my own enlarging for many years. 35mm Tri-X developed in D-76 has a certain amount of expected grain. Sometimes it is minimal, and sometimes it is rather pronounced, depending on amount of exposure and development. In any case, if printed well, the resulting prints are beautiful in their own way. The texture of the grain is part of the look. 35mm with Tri-X as used in countless images in Life and Look magazines and newspapers, and in fine art documentary images, are accepted as they are, with the typical gradations and textures we’ve come to expect and love in these types of images. I have found that even with my D80 I can shoot at 1600 iso or even higher and the “noise” or “grain” is still no worse than typical Tri-X developed in D-76 at iso 400, and often much better in terms of texture. So, what is all the fuss about anyway? I’m posting an image taken about 1969 with Tri-X and developed in D76, and scanned at about the same ppi of the 10 mp image of the D80, and another image taken in 2007 with my D80 at iso 3200 for comparison. No sharpening or noise reduction was done on either image. You can see maybe why I am not so unhappy with the results of the D80. Both shots were taken with a Nikkor 50mm MF f1.4 lens. Now, some of you younger folks will be horrified at the “grain” in the D80 shot. But look at the Tri-X shot that was the standard for decades and try to understand why us old timers are not so bothered by some texture in our digital shots. In the final prints the grain will look much smaller than in these 100% “pixel peeping” crops anyway. Before digital, we used medium and large format cameras if we wanted to eliminate grain completely. But that’s another story.