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11-26-2023, 08:20 AM   #1
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Highest ISO you recommend

I'm still learning about the use of my k-1. I didn't realize the ISO went so high. What is the highest ISO you recommend using before the quality deteriorates.

11-26-2023, 08:35 AM - 7 Likes   #2
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The short answer is that it depends on your taste and tolerance , crank up the ISO and experiment, gpdigital images cost almost nothing but time, take as many as you wish until you find your acceptable limit.
The amount of noise that is both noticeable as well as degrading to the final image is dependent on the subject you are photographing and the environmental conditions . Generally low light and high ISO yields noisy images, but high ISO in brighter lighting allows for higher shutter speeds and less noise.
Also, some software can reduce noise quite a-bit, which allows for higher ISO usage.
11-26-2023, 08:42 AM - 3 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Photogoof Quote
ighest ISO you recommend
One that still meets your needs and tolerance for noise and dynamic range See below...

QuoteOriginally posted by Photogoof Quote
I'm still learning about the use of my k-1. I didn't realize the ISO went so high. What is the highest ISO you recommend using before the quality deteriorates.
With any camera, it's down to personal tolerance and the intended use case for the final image. If you're shooting raw files, colour noise can be easily cleaned up in post-processing without significant impact on detail. It's possible to take the edge off luminance noise and retain most details, but the most effective method of dealing with it is to limit output dimensions (generally speaking, the smaller the final image, the more luminance noise you can get away with). Hence, ask yourself what you intend to do with your images - are they for printing at large dimensions, viewing on a PC screen, sharing on social media, etc.? Take the same test shot at all the available ISO settings, then carry out whatever noise reduction you feel is necessary in post, and output at the dimensions you need. You'll get a feel for how far you're willing to push the ISO for your specific tolerances.

I don't own the K-1... I shoot an APS-C K-3 and K-3II (as well as older models) in Pentax, plus Sony A7 MkII and Sony A99-based Hasselblad HV full frame cameras. None are as capable as the K-1, but for my own use-cases I'd happily shoot any of them at ISO 6400, with colour noise reduction - and just a little luminance NR - applied in post-processing. I occasionally shoot at ISO 12,800 or even a tad higher, but that's pushing it. However, others may have a different tolerance to noise - or different use-cases - than I do, and might find ISO 3200 or even 1600 a more reasonable limit...

EDIT: I was typing this response when @robgski posted his above, and I see we're essentially of the same opinion

Last edited by BigMackCam; 11-26-2023 at 09:05 AM.
11-26-2023, 08:42 AM   #4
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Some say the quality deteriorates below that necessary to print 1 metre wide above ISO 200, others reckon Instagram couldn't tell the difference below ISO 25,600 if the highest quality setting on JPEGs is chosen. It really depends on use, so experiment with an unimportant subject. My own impression from other users is up to ISO 3200, shooting RAW and post-processing yourself, you should have little to worry about.


Be glad you don't have a much older dslr like mine: the only thing worse than ISO 3200 on my K-7 is ISO 6400, which is horrible!

11-26-2023, 08:48 AM - 1 Like   #5
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As others have said it really depends on your tolerance for noise. Personally I find the K-1's performance at ISO 6400 to be good and 12800 to be acceptable. Past that I usually don't bother.
11-26-2023, 09:12 AM - 5 Likes   #6
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Yes the K1/K1II is a good camera for high ISO. If you intend to take images that require a high ISO to keep the shutter speed up (or aperture small) there is another thing to consider..... post processing, and especially selective use of noise reduction.

Noise reduction in software has got very, very good in recent years, but I never consider it a blanket tool to be used on the whole image. NR by it's nature dulls sharpness. If you have an image with noise in the non-detailed part, then you are often better off by applying NR to only those areas (eg. black skies or nondescript parts of buildings), leaving your subject "noisy" but clearly defined. As has been said you will get the best results by shooting in raw and doing selective work in that, or a TIFF, before you create your final JPEG.

I rarely use high ISO but here is one where I needed ISO 3200 with the K-1. An unusual view of Westminster Abbey in London, illuminated for the Lumičre festival in 2018

11-26-2023, 09:14 AM - 1 Like   #7
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not only does it depend on the personal tolerance, but it also matters regarding image acquisition and noise/signal ratio

11-26-2023, 09:28 AM - 4 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by StiffLegged Quote
Be glad you don't have a much older dslr like mine: the only thing worse than ISO 3200 on my K-7 is ISO 6400, which is horrible!
[In my best Python-esque Yorkshireman's accent]: "ISO 3200?! Luxury. I dream of ISO 3200 with my K10D / GX10... At ISO 1600 it's got more noise than image!"
11-26-2023, 09:33 AM - 10 Likes   #9
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The highest ISO I recommend is the one that gets you the shot.
If I had worried about iso - I wouldn’t have this shot of my dad…

IMGP58932_DxO by -vanya_42nd-

Yep… 25600 on a K-3 original model. And on top of that I pushed the contrast and other things to make the photo lean into the lower fidelity and harsh contrast. There are a few prints of this hanging in various places. The largest is around 13” x 19” before mat and fills a 20x24 frame if I recall correctly.

Take the shot. If it didn’t work, you’ve lost little.
11-26-2023, 09:35 AM   #10
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I've always been of the opinion that a sharp noisy/grainy image is better than noise/grain-free undetailed mush.
Converting a noisy colour image into a "grainy" monochrome image then boosting the contrast a bit can often salvage "something", to my eye at least.
A faster lens, with it's associated narrow depth of field, can help under some circumstances as well

doubled with @UncleVanya ... see above for a perfect example!

Last edited by kypfer; 11-26-2023 at 09:36 AM. Reason: doubled
11-26-2023, 09:36 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Luxury.
Great skit, and apt to almost any PF gear thread.
11-26-2023, 09:40 AM - 1 Like   #12
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Yuh - it depends, doesn't it? A landscape on a tripod with no fast moving elements, there's no reason not to use ISO100 - catching the alien descending from the spacecraft when nobody else is there - whatever it takes

I try not to go above 3200, and preferably not above 400, but the simple answer is the lowest possible.
11-26-2023, 09:46 AM   #13
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The TRUTH about shooting at ISO 100 that the PROS know

Stop taking photos at the WRONG ISO!
11-26-2023, 09:48 AM - 4 Likes   #14
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Exactly as expressed by Uncle Vanya. I'll add that it also depends on what you are shooting, why, and other circumstances. With the K1 just take the shot however you can. I would worry more about motion blur from too low a shutter speed and or camera shake than i would about iso. And contemporary post processing NR is extremely powerful these days.

Viewers are going to care much more that you have made a compelling image than about its noise characteristics. Noise will only bug you and your Kuckoo Kamera Klub buddies with their cat photographs.

But a couple of tips for noisy images if it really bugs you and you can't clean them up in post. 1. Embrace the noise by converting to B+W and have it read like grain. 2. Print on a paper that mimics artists' rag paper, no need for B+W conversion.
11-26-2023, 09:49 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Photogoof Quote
I'm still learning about the use of my k-1. I didn't realize the ISO went so high. What is the highest ISO you recommend using before the quality deteriorates.
It’s a digital camera :-) make some tests at home and check it out.
ISO3200 is very well controlled and if you need 12800 to handhold a shot in the dark, you will be surprised how well it works.ISO16000 worked fine the other day to cover some outdoor action in the a dark. For high quality shots use lower ISO and tripod, from 640 you start to notice differences.
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