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Author Topic: High ISO shooting  (Read 28363 times)
ashley
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« on: October 15, 2009, 10:07:53 AM »
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I am probably just being old fashioned here but I don't quite understand it when I see lots of photographers always wanting the ability to work at super high ISO settings. The general message is that any camera which isn't capable of shooting completely clean noise free images at 3200 ISO is a pile of junk. For many years I shot every image on 100 ISO film and somehow always managed. The photographer I assisted worked with EPR rated at 50 ISO and pushed 1/3rd so effectively it was 40 ISO but again, somehow we always managed whether shooting 35mm, medium or large format.

Today I shoot digital like most others but the camera stays on 100 ISO and I am reluctant to work at anything higher than 200 ISO because ultimately the best quality comes from sticking to  a low ISO setting, so if I have to use a tripod or flash that's fine. Perhaps others are taking different sorts of images, but unless you spend a large chunk of your time walking around in the dark I don't see the need for this big emphasis on high ISO settings in day to day practical use.

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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2009, 10:55:53 AM »
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High ISO is certainly a boon to news and sports photographers and others who may be working in low light environments where flash or tripods are not practical.

While I don't do this for a living, I did some set photography for a small indie film and a music video.  Even under movie lights you're grasping for every bit of light you can get to maintain a decent shutter speed and aperture to try to stop action and get some DOF.   ISO 3200 was barely adequate.

When I shoot landscape, it's not a big deal since I normally shoot at base ISO with a tripod.  But even there, clean higher ISOs can open up more creative options.

Paul
« Last Edit: October 15, 2009, 11:01:38 AM by PaulS » Logged

Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2009, 11:12:09 AM »
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Quote from: ashley
I am probably just being old fashioned here


Yes, you are. Not every shooting situation allows for a full-blown studio lighting setup. When shooting concerts, for example, you aren't generally allowed to use flash of any kind; you're limited to whatever stage lighting is available. If you want a reasonable amount of DOF and a shutter speed fast enough to keep motion blur to reasonable levels, a high ISO setting is mandatory. 800 is pretty much the minimum needed for consistently good results. The same is true of dance and theater productions. If you're a sports or press shooter or cover charity dinners, weddings (the actual ceremony and the reception, not the formal family portraits), and other such events, you're working with even less light, since most gymnasiums, hotel ballrooms, restaurants, and churches don't have a full-blown lighting setup for the entire venue. Using flash for such things is best limited for subtle shadow fill to avoid underexposed backgrounds, and you also run into mixed-lighting color cast problems unless you gel your flash to match ambient lighting.

Having a usable high ISO makes life much easier in many shooting situations, and in many cases makes the difference between getting a salable shot and not.
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2009, 11:52:27 AM »
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Quote from: ashley
so if I have to use a tripod or flash that's fine.

So you don't need super high ISO, but tripod/flash isn't fine for everyone.

High ISO capability gives more options, and I'm all for more options.
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ashley
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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2009, 12:09:30 PM »
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Quote from: Tim Gray
So you don't need super high ISO, but tripod/flash isn't fine for everyone.

High ISO capability gives more options, and I'm all for more options.

I am not interested in photographing concerts etc. personally. Obviously I have no problem with more useful options but I suspect that some of those who are screaming for higher ISO settings are merely gear freaks shouting for the sake of it rather than because of real need in their day to day photography.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2009, 12:10:28 PM by ashley » Logged

KevinA
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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2009, 12:09:37 PM »
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Quote from: ashley
I am probably just being old fashioned here but I don't quite understand it when I see lots of photographers always wanting the ability to work at super high ISO settings. The general message is that any camera which isn't capable of shooting completely clean noise free images at 3200 ISO is a pile of junk. For many years I shot every image on 100 ISO film and somehow always managed. The photographer I assisted worked with EPR rated at 50 ISO and pushed 1/3rd so effectively it was 40 ISO but again, somehow we always managed whether shooting 35mm, medium or large format.

Today I shoot digital like most others but the camera stays on 100 ISO and I am reluctant to work at anything higher than 200 ISO because ultimately the best quality comes from sticking to  a low ISO setting, so if I have to use a tripod or flash that's fine. Perhaps others are taking different sorts of images, but unless you spend a large chunk of your time walking around in the dark I don't see the need for this big emphasis on high ISO settings in day to day practical use.

I would of agreed once, after all 100 iso was the norm for me. Now being able to shoot at higher iso gives me more choice on lens aperture and night shooting for me with film was very much hit or miss with my subjects. http://www.theimagefile.com/?skin=892&...p;ppwd=dv5086mr I would love to have a nice clean 6400 iso with good colour and DR, trouble is when it arrives everyone will be doing it.

Kevin.
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Kevin.
pcunite
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« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2009, 12:15:15 PM »
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I would like a super clean ISO 400 so I don't need such powerful lights. Outside against the sun of course you still need them.
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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2009, 12:24:22 PM »
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Quote from: ashley
I am not interested in photographing concerts etc. personally. Obviously I have no problem with more useful options but I suspect that some of those who are screaming for higher ISO settings are merely gear freaks shouting for the sake of it rather than because of real need in their day to day photography.

Yup ... a bunch of geeks managed to shout loud enough to get the sensor and camera makers to add useless functionality just to annoy you ...


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ashley
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« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2009, 12:25:05 PM »
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Quote from: pcunite
I would like a super clean ISO 400 so I don't need such powerful lights. Outside against the sun of course you still need them.


Yes, I'd certainly go along with that. It would be useful with indoor situations as well when you are balancing daylight with flash. I just wonder about those who are so quick to leap on the latest and greatest camera simply because of a supposed improvement in noise levels at the top end. When you hear them shouting on certain forums you would think the previous camera which they once loved was suddenly complete junk.
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2009, 01:34:20 PM »
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Quote from: ashley
I just wonder about those who are so quick to leap on the latest and greatest camera... When you hear them shouting on certain forums you would think the previous camera which they once loved was suddenly complete junk.

Hey, I'm all for people leaping for the latest and greatest!  This has allowed me to buy lightly used, top-end gear at a sizable discount.  I shoot for pleasure, not commerce, so being one generation back is not a bad thing  

Paul
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Panopeeper
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2009, 01:40:52 PM »
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Quote from: ashley
I just wonder about those who are so quick to leap on the latest and greatest camera simply because of a supposed improvement in noise levels at the top end
Not only that some photographers do need this capability, but improvement in noise levels at high ISO goes together with lower noise level at lower ISO settings; this means greater dynamic range. That too is a capability, which is lost on many photographers.
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Gabor
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« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2009, 01:48:53 PM »
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Quote from: Jonathan Wienke
Having a usable high ISO makes life much easier in many shooting situations, and in many cases makes the difference between getting a salable shot and not.
I'll definitely second this. I've shot a few weddings this year where I've not been able to use flash in some situations, like in the church, and had to shoot at 2.8 on ISO 1600 on a 1dmk3. As clean as the files from the 1d3 usually are, 1600 and beyond are really noisy.

I tested a Nikon D700 earlier this year and absolutely loved the ISO6400 shots (a good couple stops cleaner than the 1d3) but didn't like the ergonomics of the camera.  High ISO like this would guarantee me more shots that I could keep and present to the client.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2009, 01:50:02 PM by ChrisJR » Logged
dwdallam
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« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2009, 05:31:57 PM »
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I was wondering if this was a serious post. Some thoughts:

1. High(er) ISO settings that produce acceptable images mean that the photographer can confidently cover situations where he or she needs more light, and can't use a flash set up.

2. Any improvement that allows a photographer to make an acceptable image or work more creatively is truly an "improvement."

3. The Canon 1DS MKIII is not noisy at ISO 1600 properly exposed  and once you run it through a properly configured noise reduction algorithm. Moving to Nikon because the high ISO noise is cleaner is ridiculous, simply because Nikon uses more aggressive in camera noise reduction (Unless you're shooting jpgs in a fast moving environment, such as journalism

4. If you don't need high ISO capabilities surely that doesn't mean others can't and don't really benefit from it. I was looking at my mom and dad's wedding pictures from 1953 a while ago, and the photography was professional and clean. However, the guy had to use a flash, and he did the very best he could, but you could see shadows on walls (down angled as much as he could, and they were very unobtrusive), black backgrounds in many photos, and by today's standards, unacceptable light fall off around the perimeters.

5. Anything that allows photographers to increase their creativity and stretch their abilities, I would think, is a good thing. At least the history of art and photography is on my side.
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Josh-H
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« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2009, 07:10:13 PM »
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Quote from: dwdallam
I was wondering if this was a serious post. Some thoughts:

1. High(er) ISO settings that produce acceptable images mean that the photographer can confidently cover situations where he or she needs more light, and can't use a flash set up.

2. Any improvement that allows a photographer to make an acceptable image or work more creatively is truly an "improvement."

3. The Canon 1DS MKIII is not noisy at ISO 1600 properly exposed  and once you run it through a properly configured noise reduction algorithm. Moving to Nikon because the high ISO noise is cleaner is ridiculous, simply because Nikon uses more aggressive in camera noise reduction (Unless you're shooting jpgs in a fast moving environment, such as journalism

4. If you don't need high ISO capabilities surely that doesn't mean others can't and don't really benefit from it. I was looking at my mom and dad's wedding pictures from 1953 a while ago, and the photography was professional and clean. However, the guy had to use a flash, and he did the very best he could, but you could see shadows on walls (down angled as much as he could, and they were very unobtrusive), black backgrounds in many photos, and by today's standards, unacceptable light fall off around the perimeters.

5. Anything that allows photographers to increase their creativity and stretch their abilities, I would think, is a good thing. At least the history of art and photography is on my side.

I think that is very well said and couldn't agree more.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2009, 07:10:33 PM »
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Quote from: dwdallam
3. The Canon 1DS MKIII is not noisy at ISO 1600 properly exposed  and once you run it through a properly configured noise reduction algorithm. Moving to Nikon because the high ISO noise is cleaner is ridiculous, simply because Nikon uses more aggressive in camera noise reduction (Unless you're shooting jpgs in a fast moving environment, such as journalism

Urban legends never die...

Cheers,
Bernard

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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2009, 07:15:10 PM »
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Quote from: ashley
I am probably just being old fashioned here but I don't quite understand it when I see lots of photographers always wanting the ability to work at super high ISO settings. The general message is that any camera which isn't capable of shooting completely clean noise free images at 3200 ISO is a pile of junk. For many years I shot every image on 100 ISO film and somehow always managed. The photographer I assisted worked with EPR rated at 50 ISO and pushed 1/3rd so effectively it was 40 ISO but again, somehow we always managed whether shooting 35mm, medium or large format.

I agree with you that the best possible low ISO quality (DR, clean midtones,...) is the most important characteristic of a camera for some applications, like landscape.

This being said, clean high ISO can be valuable for most applications, including landscape:

- Need for higher shutterspeed to stop wind motion or water motion,
- Ability to shorten exposures when shooting panoramas,
- ...

Cheers,
Bernard
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Josh-H
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« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2009, 07:15:21 PM »
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Quote from: BernardLanguillier
Urban legends never die...

Cheers,
Bernard

Your Nikon colours are shinning brightly Bernard. I don't think anyone who shoots anything other than Nikon would dare say a bad word about a D3X for fear of getting blown out of the water by you - yet you seem to take the opportunity (even delight in it) to sideswipe Canon's truly excellent 1DSMK3 and Sony's A900 at every opportunity. Is it really necessary?

Sorry I don't mean to steer this off topic - but its getting a little tiring.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2009, 07:16:39 PM by Josh-H » Logged

BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2009, 08:30:59 PM »
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Quote from: Josh-H
Your Nikon colours are shinning brightly Bernard. I don't think anyone who shoots anything other than Nikon would dare say a bad word about a D3X for fear of getting blown out of the water by you - yet you seem to take the opportunity (even delight in it) to sideswipe Canon's truly excellent 1DSMK3 and Sony's A900 at every opportunity. Is it really necessary?

Sorry I don't mean to steer this off topic - but its getting a little tiring.

Hello Josh,

I don't remember having written anything negative about the 1ds3 in the recent months Josh, and certainly not in this very post, I was only reacting to the claim that the D3 high ISO performance was mostly software based.

I believe that both are excellent cameras, and my recent posts on the A900 topic were focused on some very specific claims that were simply not inline with my observations. I didn't comment negatively on the A900 in that context by the way.

Anyway, I agree with you that all this is waste of time and will act accordingly in the coming months. A small LL break is probably the best solution.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: October 15, 2009, 08:31:55 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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JeffKohn
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« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2009, 09:34:07 PM »
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Quote from: Panopeeper
Not only that some photographers do need this capability, but improvement in noise levels at high ISO goes together with lower noise level at lower ISO settings; this means greater dynamic range. That too is a capability, which is lost on many photographers.
I'm not so sure it's quite that simple. I think some optimizations for high ISO performance can hurt low ISO performance. Maybe not in dynamic range, but in other aspects of image quality. Take the 5D2, Canon weakened the CFA's, which improved high-ISO performance relative to the 1Ds3, but actually hurt color depth slightly at low ISO, if you look at the DxO Marks. While the D3x isn't bad at moderately high ISOs, it seems like Nikon really did everything they could to maximize image quality at low ISO rather than high.
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Panopeeper
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« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2009, 11:23:07 PM »
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Quote from: JeffKohn
I think some optimizations for high ISO performance can hurt low ISO performance. Maybe not in dynamic range, but in other aspects of image quality
I don't risk to deny this generally, but I don't know of any specific example for that.

Quote
Take the 5D2, Canon weakened the CFA's, which improved high-ISO performance relative to the 1Ds3, but actually hurt color depth slightly at low ISO, if you look at the DxO Marks
I guess you are referring to the "color separation". The spectral characteristics of the filters have nothing to do with ISO. Different filter combinations have different advantages and disdvantages, equally with all ISOs.

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While the D3x isn't bad at moderately high ISOs, it seems like Nikon really did everything they could to maximize image quality at low ISO rather than high
I claimed only, that good high ISO means good low ISO as well, but not the other way. For example MFDBs have very good low ISO performance, but they don't have any high ISOs at all (they are faking it), or if they do, that's not much better than faking (in this context 400 is already "high ISO").
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Gabor
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