Noise is a side effect of amplifing the signal that the camera pick ups. As you increase the cameras sensitivity to light (usually by using the ISO function) the camera will have more chance of a useful exposure in lower light. The sie effect is that if the amplification is over applied, or poorly handled, the image appears gritty or fine detail becomes smudged.
Most DSLRs handle this problem fairly well these days, particualry if you are willing to use the raw format and do a wee bit of work in your pc afterwards. Compacts are pretty renownked for being ‘noisy’.
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