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04-10-2013, 02:56 PM   #1
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ISO adjustments

Shooting manual mode with my K-20, I will sometimes kick up the ISO setting when shooting under low-light conditions. It seems to produce good results rather than relying upon flash or when in low-light landscape photography when flash cannot be used because of distance factors. My question is whether there are other occasions when a photographer might want to adjust ISO rather than simply letting the camera make the ISO settings automatically. I guess I am asking if there are artistic reasons, other than low light conditions, when ISO adjustment is appropriate to achieve some kind of different effect.

04-10-2013, 03:58 PM   #2

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Sports and other actions shots might need a medium-high ISO to prevent motion blur. Doubling ISO allows you to halve shutter speed if all other parameters stay constant.
04-10-2013, 04:00 PM   #3
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I can't think of any.... unless you like digital noise in your photos?
I mean it can be an artistic effect...

We always make fun of it. Some people go grazy with these kind of "old" images so we bump up the ISO all the way and take photo at the window instead of with all the flash equipment we take along. Sometimes you wonder if you're shooting for the right people...
04-10-2013, 04:10 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by ivanvernon Quote
I guess I am asking if there are artistic reasons, other than low light conditions, when ISO adjustment is appropriate to achieve some kind of different effect.
Excellent question.

I favor as low an ISO as possible for closeups and macro shots. Macros demand visual scrutiny & I want to minimize artifacts. Generally, the higher the ISO, the more NR and sharpening is required--so I put this into practice. Sometimes I use a ringlight for larger aperture closeups, so the ISO has to be as low as possible to get the shot right.

Some folks like the digital noise from more ISO for texture. I prefer to add "grain" in LR for the same reasons.

My K20D I feel comfy using only up to ISO 800 and really get antsy above 400. I never use SV mode for that reason.

Hope I've answered your question.


04-10-2013, 04:38 PM   #5
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In addition to what others have said, you would need to manual adjust ISO would be when you are using off camera flashguns to light a person in order to achieve your desired exposure. There would be two scenarios when this would be critical:
1) You want a quicker recharge rate on your flashes, so you turn down flash power and boost up ISO.
2) You could turn down the flash power power and boost ISO to have an more evenly balanced background exposure relative to the person you are lighting with your flash(es).
(Also these aren't my photos. But you can visit the blog of the whoever they belong to)

I'm shooting a K-x which can handle high ISO pretty well up to 1600. Still, I keep the ISO under manual adjustment 99% of the time. Why? Keeping the ISO in manual mode lets me know for certain what my Shutter speed will be when I take a photo.

Last edited by Gerbermiester; 04-10-2013 at 04:43 PM.
04-10-2013, 05:45 PM   #6
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Macrophotography sometimes requires the use of flash - and even then you sometimes still have to raise the ISO. Using extension tubes eats up light and the problems of maintaining enough DOF to cover the subject will sometimes mean you have no choice but to use some pretty high ISO values.

Pentax K5IIs with Sigma 180mm f/3.5 APO EX - Pentax AF160FC ringflash and supplemental lighting from wireless AF540 and AF360 + 82mm worth of extension tubes used

Last edited by Digitalis; 04-11-2013 at 12:46 AM.
04-10-2013, 08:46 PM   #7
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To add to what was posted above regarding sports, I bump up the ISO for a couple of reasons. First is to stop motion - sports, vehicles, theatrical or dance performances or fast-moving grandkids. The other occasion is when, for artistic reasons, I choose to pre-set both shutter (motion freeze or blur) and aperture (DOF.) When the chosen combination will not work due to insufficient light, I will bump up ISO until it all works.
04-10-2013, 08:53 PM   #8
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Thank you for these great responses. It is certainly wonderful to be able to tap into this collective knowledge bank. ivan


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