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If you take a shot with a shutter speed longer than one second, there's a chance that you're going to get a very particular kind of noise in your image called long-exposure noise. The problem is, when the sensor is left on for more than a second, pixels on it can get stuck on and appear as bright speckles in your final image. The camera has a built-in way of trying to deal with that, called long exposure noise reduction. Here in the shooting menu you'll see an item called Long exposure NR. It defaults to off. If I turn it on, anytime I shoot an image with a shutter speed longer than one second, the camera will employ a special process to try to reduce the noise in it.
Now, the reason this is not on all the time is that that process takes as long as the original shot did. So if I shoot a 15-second exposure, then I am going to have to wait an additional 15 seconds after that exposure for the camera to process the image and then store it. So if I am wanting to shoot quickly, this is not that practical. However, long exposure noise reduction is very effective at reducing noise in long exposures, particularly in very, very, very low light. So if you're doing a lot of night shooting, especially shooting the sky and things like that, then you're going to want to turn this on. Just be prepared to wait.
Note that if in the middle of long-exposure processing you decide, boy I need my camera back right now, then you can turn the camera off and it will still save your image; it just won't have any noise reduction applied. Be careful though: when you see the activity light on the camera flashing, indicating that it's writing out data, be sure not to turn the camera off then; it's not a good thing for your card to have the power cut when it's in the middle of reading or writing.
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