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10-06-2019, 04:26 AM   #1
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Iso .. how high is too high for you?

I know our dslrs can go incredibly high on the ISO and the numbers climb with each new model. But whats acceptible to one person often isnt to another. My best dslrs right now are k3 and even on them I really rarely shoot higher than Iso 1600 . Usually 800 or less. I may still have film mentality on my head... but thats what I do.

So please share the iso you mostly use and what kind gear- subject -conditions you shoot at. Im really interested in what you feel the highest useful iso is for the kind of photography you do.


10-06-2019, 04:43 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I don't have a fixed opinion on this. While I agree it is desirable to keep it as low, I have no hesitation in cranking it up if the situation demands it and treat any resultant noise in PP (K7 and K5)
10-06-2019, 04:49 AM   #3
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On the K-3 I rarely go past 3200, mainly stay below 800, about the same for the K-5 but down to 1600.
10-06-2019, 04:53 AM   #4
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I also usually use film ISO as my guide, so when I go out to shoot I'll set the ISO in manual to whatever kind of film I would use for the same scenario. That means I'll only start as high as 1600, and I'll increase only if the situation demands a faster shutter speed.

In normal usage, I can easily bring my KP up to 6400 without worrying. If I really I need to push it in P-mode with auto-ISO, I allow it to go up to 51200, but I'd likely try to take manual control before that point, as normally there aren't any situations that even need to be amplified that much. Generally, if I'm taking a shot of a dark scene, then I want it to appear dark, not middle-grey, so I'll reduce EV compensation and just accept crushed blacks.
I don't have any lenses faster than f/1.7, and no AF lenses faster than f/2.4, so I'm technically not equipped for low-light handheld photography, although personally I like shooting at f/4 or higher with any lens so if I really need to shoot in low-light, my order of solutions (depending on what's available) goes: using a tripod->trusting shake reduction at low shutter speed->raising ISO above 6400.

10-06-2019, 04:57 AM   #5

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I'd say 400 and never above 800 in the K-7, the K-1 confidently delivers at 6400 or even 12800 (but I try to keep it 1600 or lower).
10-06-2019, 05:06 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I don't go above 12800 on the K-3ii, 25600 is pretty ugly. As a beginner eight years ago I listened to the people who preached lower is always better, 1600 or 3200 is almost crazy, etc. Then I learned to embrace TAv for sports, and let it go about as high as it needs to, to get the shot. Noise removal in post is pretty good, and I'd rather have a picture of my kids' soccer game with a bit of grain than not have it at all.
10-06-2019, 05:13 AM - 2 Likes   #7
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100 is my maximum. I would like ISO6 as the base ISO.
10-06-2019, 05:19 AM   #8
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With the K-7, I soon came to try not to be higher than ISO1600, as that body was anything but a high-ISO demon. With the K-3, my custom Auto ISO caps at ISO3200, though I occasionally set it to ISO4000 or ISO5000 in super-dim light, or when I have to freeze action. Luckily, DxO PhotoLab does a wonderful job at removing noise without sacrificing too much detail.

However, in my experience, the usability of images (even for bigger print sizes) also depends a great deal on how perfectly I nailed the exposure. I have done shots I really cherish at ISO4000 with the K-3 where noise is no major issue at all and which I wouldn't have stood the slightest chance of getting at lower ISO. I should perhaps add that I routinely apply rather conservative levels of noise reduction - with film we had grain, after all - and find some residual noise much more forgivable than total obliteration of detail.

Last edited by Madaboutpix; 10-06-2019 at 05:27 AM. Reason: Bit more nuance
10-06-2019, 05:28 AM - 4 Likes   #9
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After using ASA 1000 color film back in the day, I'm immune to grain and noise.

Sure, lower is better, but sometimes the shooting conditions require ISO 51200 or more.

TAV mode is genius -- proof that Pentax understand that adjusting ISO is the easiest way to get the desired exposure with the least impact to the image. Too slow a shutter speed or too large an aperture have a much worse impact on the image than too high an ISO.
10-06-2019, 05:31 AM   #10
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I try to keep it under 800. 100 if possible. 3200 if absolutely necessary. Some noise is better than no picture.
10-06-2019, 05:40 AM   #11

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It depends on the end use of the photo, but I usually stick to 400 or below on my k5iis on anything I care about (I am often using flashes, and stick to iso 80 if I have enough flash power). However, I don't usually worry too much about 800 or 1600 if it's needed for the photo, I'd rather have something than nothing.

Experiment - try higher iso and send your tests to your end use case and see what you're happy with.
10-06-2019, 05:41 AM   #12
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I am using a K-1 and agree that the lower iso is the better. But when the light is too low I usually use TAv mode which is really a great help ! As photoptimist said earlier, the iso parameter has less effect on the result than changing the speed or the aperture ! Just higher iso means more post treatment work behind. This can be acceptable up to 51200 iso on my K-1, over what it is only possible to save very low contrasty pictures using Rawtherapee post treatment programme. I hope this can helped some one !

Last edited by jmi.eck; 10-06-2019 at 06:27 AM.
10-06-2019, 05:53 AM - 1 Like   #13
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With my K-3II I am seldom below ISO 400 and am often at 800 or 1600 in the general course of things. This is more a result of the weaker eyes and shakier hands that come from old age than anything else. The higher ISOs allow me to shoot with faster shutter speeds and that's a good thing when the hands get a bit shakier. The weaker eyes take care of any noise that may be a result and the pictures turn out just fine I can't see any noise and I haven't had anyone comment on there being undue noise.

If you are shooting your kids' sports events, sometimes a little extra noise is actually pretty neat. I taking pictures of my neighbor's boy at a track meet and his event was at just about dusk. It was shot at a high ISO (I can't remember how high) and there was some noise. But I processed it as monochrome. The print turned out a treat with just a bit of a newspaper photo quality about it.

Having said all this, I really haven't tried ISOs that are much higher than 3200, but I think this has been circumstance as much as anything. Reading some of the comments here, I am surprised at how high some folks take it. This encourages me to get brave and see where I can go.
10-06-2019, 05:57 AM   #14
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For Max it varied by camera. K-10/20 D was 800, after that too much noise. With the K-50 and K-S2 the number went to 1600. And finally the KP is 3200. Never thought I'd see a clean 3200
For my m4/3 I'm back at 800 and my Sigma 100 (lol).
10-06-2019, 06:10 AM   #15
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I try to keep it below 2500-3200, but with proper PP, I have sold pics up to ISO 8000 of ballet and dance recitals from my K5II.


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