Earth. Shot at Iso 8000, 1/80, F2.8, 122mm, on at Nikon D600. Photo by Philip B. Hansen.
In this digital day of age, where everybody can buy a camera body what shoots at Iso 6400, for USD 300, does it really matter? In a marketplace where every image are resized to 600pix wide, if that, and where everybody can buy a professional Full Frame camera and a F1.4 prime for less than USD 1000, is photography dead? No! Have the barrier of entry been lowered? Significantly!
I am one of those who got let into photography, partially, by this lowered barrier of entry. Is it a bad thing? For some. Seasoned photographers have seen their work opportunities disappear. Did you know that Sport Illustrated have laid of their entire photography staff?: http://bit.ly/1BjDbfr
Iggy Pop. Shot at Iso 4000, 1/200, F2.8 on a Canon 6D. Photo by Jason Pindleton.
So, how much noise is too much? Honestly, for web? Go as high as you need. I’ve seen shots as iso 6400 from older aps-c camera’s that had plenty of detail, yet little to no noise.
Does this mean you should just set it high, and forget it? Most certainly not! At ANY iso, above native, you are loosing shadow and color information, as well as adding noise to your image. Does this kill your image? Probably not. But you should still care! You should care about any degradation in the image quality of your images. Just because it have become easier to get acceptable results, does NOT mean that getting the best result have gotten less important.
Mumford and Sons. Shot at Iso 6400, 1/40, F5.6. Photo by Jason Pindleton
I’m happy to be where I’m at. I’ve learned SO much the past 30 months. And I’m not nearly finished learning. And photographers whom think they are, need to get a reality check.
Siamese. Shot at F1.8 1/60 equivalent ISO 1600 on a Nikon F6, Sigma 50mm ART. Photo by Morten Ryming
If you do not know what you are doing, it makes little to no difference.
If you want to learn: buy an old semi-pro body that gives you easy access to manual controls.
If you want good images but don’t care about technice: Buy the latest entry level APC-c camera from nikon.
Are you a seasoned pro that want to challenge your selv: Shoot film! If you are doing it to challenge your shooting abilities, there is really no better way than to shoot film. It challenges you to know your exposure. Shoot at a lower ISO, and anticipate action.
For working pro’s: Really anything Full frame will create professional results.
Going with a d4s vs a d3 will set you back 4 times as much money, but will also grant you better dynamic range, even at 1.5 stop higher Iso.
Going with something like a D600, will get you the same noise level as a d4s, up till 12800, but a significantly lower dynamic range recorded. What’s the right for you? Well, I’ll let you decided that.
I shoot the ISO necessary to get the shot. If I have to go above 6400, I would rather shoot wide-aperture primes. But the D600 matches noise levels with the very best nikon cameras, even at iso 12800.
What’s that maximum ISO you will shoot?
All pictures in this article was used with permission from the photographers.
Shot at F2.5 because of composition DOF and focusing points in my D600. And knowing that ISO 1600 is clean enough for the use the image will get, no need to go for a wider aperture
I have always been taking to much flag for caring about the technical aspect of photography. But, how did caring about image quality become a bad thing? Why do I care about people shooting at 1/1600th, when clearly 1/160th’ would have been enough to freeze any motion. Shooting at ISO 10,000, F4, 1/2000th’, when clearly ISO 2500, F4, 1/500 would be more appropriate? Because I CARE about image quality.
When did photographers become lazy?
I know that Full Frame cameras today fair exceptionally well at crazy high ISO’s. But is that a reason to just park your ISO at 6400 and forget it? NO! If possible, why would you not shoot at at lower ISO? I could simply use my primary and secondary dials to keep shutter-speed at aperture where I want them, and let the metering take case of the ISO. But I’m not a lazy SOB. It’s a job. It requires a skill set. I expect YOU as a photographer, to judge lighting, to make decisions about your exposure. NOT your camera. I expect you to know what a f-stop is, bot ISO, aperture and shutter speed. And what it does for your image to go from ISO 1600 to 2500. Or from 160 to 400 ect. To know what Dynamic range and color depth is.
Shot at 1/15’th @ 200mm. ISO 6400, F2.8. Shot at 6400, because it’s as high I wanted to go for the situation. So I needed a SLOW shutter speed, so that’s what it got.
But I have now realised why I care about the technical part of photography. It’s because I care about image quality. It’s because I often shoot at the outer limits of what modern cameras can active. I can’t afford to shoot like a moron, at 4 times the shutter speed needed, because that would raise my ISO above any reasonable level.
Keeping aperture constant, If you, consciously, shoot someting at 1/800’th ISO 4000, where only 1/200’th is needed, your should feel blessed that your new camera handles High ISO better than your old camera, nevertheless; you are still throwing away dynamic range, and adding noise at a level that is really not needed. If your think your image are “good enough”, that’s fine by me.
Shot at 1/60th’ to get the amount of motion in the image I wanted. F2.8, 200mm to isolate the subject. Lowest possible ISO: 400.
I know that in the heat of the moment, things can be adjusted in a less than optimal way. Did lights go up, just as he is jumping off the stage? Leave your ISO, and bump the shutter speed, if it’s faster for you. You probably need the faster shutter speed fo freeze him, if he’s jumping, anyway.
Do you feel like all your images get blurry at shutter speeds slower than 1/400? Well, then by all means, shoot at a fester shutter speed. Do you like to shoot your expensive 70-200 F2.8 af F4, to get a bit more in focus. By all means, do that. But make conscious decisions, and know what impact it has on your images.