Was I reading the exposure data correctly on the image of the producer? ISO 800 f1.6@1/2000? You could have shot that at ISO 200 at 1/500..? If that's the case, that's a lot of unnecessary noise. If you're going to be "really picky," you can't do stuff like that and expect the camera to make up for it.
Yes, you're right, the ISO could have been set much lower. Those were quick grab shots, "stolen," while doing my real job. I only had a few seconds to take "non-work" images. The ISO was set high for another shot, which I never had a chance to get. The light levels set for this scene were to accommodate our full-sized, 2/3" HD cameras (Sony HDW-F900Rs) which only need about 20 footcandles to reproduce a 70% IRE fleshtone.
Portfolio set-ups would be completely different, shooting under circumstances entirely under my control.
As an aside, broadcast video cameras are commonly rated for sensitivity, so it's relatively easy to compare sensitivities of varying cameras. In videoland, I know that a camera rated at f/11 @ 2,000 lux is exactly one-stop faster than a camera rated at f/8 @ 2,000 lux.
You need to think harder about about noise reduction in post. Yes, it can reduce edge sharpness - but it can be a good tool - and like any good tool - it's adjustable and flexible and you need to learn it and practice with it to get the most out of it.
Yes, I'm sure it is. I haven't ventured into any post work recently, since all of my Adobe CS licenses are all stuck on PCs (and I'm now all-Mac). What's the "killer app" among noise-reduction plug-ins which most people use these days? (I'm ordering CS5 for OS X next week and currently use Aperture for cataloging).