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05-30-2010, 05:22 PM   #1
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Which would you rather do?

Hmm... would you rather use a slower shutter speed and try and get by with it or bumping the ISO up to 6400+ or... not shoot it at all? Also... flash isn't allowed. ;/ I almost never bump up iso past 800, usually it's set to 100-400.

Your fastest aperture is f4 (because you didn't bring your fast prime and you don't have a DA* or anything.)


Last edited by NecroticSoldier; 05-31-2010 at 01:38 PM.
05-30-2010, 08:57 PM   #2
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What to do?

I don't think you are giving anyone enough information to justly answer your question. What are you taking a picture of, is it moving, etc. Can you take a picture that will do your subject justice is also some what up to you. If you need the picture then push the ISO up and take the picture. Noise in a picture is some times unavoidable.
05-30-2010, 09:20 PM   #3
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Heh. This is why I have a K-x - high ISO holds no fear for me
05-30-2010, 10:21 PM   #4
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Whatever it takes to get a decent picture. I see you have film cameras in your profile. So you can't really change the ISO in that case just for one shot (maybe plus or minus one stop). That is how I usually approach my digital as well. ISO fixed on 200; only if I really run into problems, I will start changing the ISO.

For DOF purposes, the image below was taken with f/11. To get a reasonable shutterspeed (1/60) the ISO had to be bumped to 1600. Taken with K100D.



There is noise, but it's not disturbing at all (in my opinion).

05-30-2010, 10:23 PM   #5
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Depends on the final output. If I am shooting for a newspaper, the print is going to be a 5x7 or smaller or the photo is going to be BW, bump up the ISO.

If it's action then you have to bump the ISO and deal with it as best you can in post. If it's slow, like a kid's music recital, you're ok with a slower shutter speed.
05-31-2010, 01:38 AM   #6
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I'd rather shoot at high iso than get camera shake.

For me it's easier to accept grainy shots (they look great in B&W) than blurry one.

Edited: also forgot to add that some wedding photos my sister in law shot with my Fuji F30 (at my wedding ) at iso 800 looked bad on the monitor (bumped up JPG exposure in lightroom) but were great (no noise visible) when printed to 13 cm x 18 cm (5x7 inches).
05-31-2010, 02:39 AM   #7
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Indeed it does depend on the situation and the intended use of the image.
For stationary subjects, and the best result at 100% magnification, I ensure SR is engaged, get the shutter speed to be within 1.5 stops of the 1/FL guideline, do my best to fix my arms to limit camera shake, ensure exposure is either spot on or to the right of the histogram, and bump ISO as necessary - I rarely go to ISO 3200 and can't remember the last time I went to ISO 6400 on my K20D.
05-31-2010, 04:43 AM   #8
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I would go to iso 3200 and then push the photo in post processing. Marc Sabatella has a number of examples where in low light he deliberately under exposed a photo to keep his shutter speed decent and then pushed the photo afterward. This can work fairly well as long as you aren't expecting too much. Noise software generally cleans things up a little better than in camera processing and conversion to black and white is always an option.

05-31-2010, 07:19 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I would go to iso 3200 and then push the photo in post processing. Marc Sabatella has a number of examples where in low light he deliberately under exposed a photo to keep his shutter speed decent and then pushed the photo afterward. This can work fairly well as long as you aren't expecting too much. Noise software generally cleans things up a little better than in camera processing and conversion to black and white is always an option.
I would agree, marc has posted some interesting work in this area.

The bottom line, regardless of ISO3200 or 6400 or how you get there is, for me a shot regardless of grain, difficulty etc, is better than no shot.

the other thing to consider, and we are not given enough detail, is how you want to show motion. I assume in the OP's question there is no leway on shutter speed, but perhaps there should be consideration. Sometimes motion (either a blurr, in a line, or part of the imate turning against a fixed back ground) can portrait something unique and different than just a frozen grainy image
05-31-2010, 07:56 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Sometimes motion (either a blurr, in a line, or part of the imate turning against a fixed back ground) can portrait something unique and different than just a frozen grainy image
Yeah, and in my most of my shots, I get that whether I want it or not!

I also think Lowell had a few. His spelling and keyboard skills are usually impeccable, but he must be celebrating SOMETHING when he posted this.
05-31-2010, 08:10 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by NecroticSoldier Quote
Hmm... would you rather use a slower shutter speed and try and get by with it or bumping the ISO up to 6400+ or... not shoot it at all? Also... flash isn't allowed. ;/ I almost never bump up iso past 800, usually it's set to 100-400.

Your fastest aperture is f4 (because you didn't bring your fast prime and you don't have a DA* or anything.
Is this even a question? A bad shot is better than no shot at all. I've taken photos at 12800 ISO before because I had no choice. Noise is ugly but it's better than severe motion blur or no shot at all. We have great programs to remove noise like LR3 but still nothing to remove motion blur and nothing to bring back a photo you did NOT take.

ISO 12800 - f3.5 - 1/30 shutter - Voigtlander 40mm handheld



Not the greatest image quality but you tell me if it's better if I didn't shoot anything at all.
05-31-2010, 09:17 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I would go to iso 3200 and then push the photo in post processing. Marc Sabatella has a number of examples where in low light he deliberately under exposed a photo to keep his shutter speed decent and then pushed the photo afterward.
Just to be clear for those wondering - no, I am not imagining that I am somehow getting better results from this than from simply raising the ISO higher. I do it simply because my camera (K200D) maxes out at ISO 1600 - there is no ISO 3200 or 6400 to choose from. So deliberate underexposure and push processing is the only way to get similar results - the same final exposure at the same shutter speed as a camera that shoots 3200 or 6400 natively.

Actually, on all cameras I know of that have ISO 3200 or 6400, that's how it's implemented in the camera anyhow. The shot is taken at a lower ISO as far as the electronics are concerned, and then the results are simply brightened digitally in the firmware. The results are no better (or worse) than one can do oneself in PP. So it's really no particular loss to have to do things my way except for a few additional moments spent in PP. The noise levels I see when pushing one stop to the equivalent of ISO 3200 look about as good as any other camera that shoots 3200 natively, except the K-x which does look slightly (like maybe about half a stop) better. Pushing two stops to 6400 is usually considerably iffier. Every once in a while, if the light and subject are right, the results will surprise me, but it's not a risk I like to take, so I usually try to keep within one stop of the correct exposure.

To be honest, I actually find it a little liberating *not* to have too many options for high ISO. I don't have to think hard before or while shooting about what ISO to choose in order to get the best compromise between shutter speed and noise. I simply go straight for ISO 1600, open up the lens, pick a shutter speed I can live with in M mode, and let the exposures go where they will. Takes all of a few seconds in PP to select a bunch of similarly-exposed images and push them at once. So I'm not so sure I wouldn't continue to shoot in this way with a K-x.
05-31-2010, 09:46 AM   #13
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BTW, a couple of examples to more directly address the original question.

Here's a shot I'm not sure I've ever posted here before, although I know I did in dpr long ago. Taken with my old DS, which *did* have ISO 3200. I rarely resorted to it, but when you happen upon this group of people (I'm sure everyone will recognize at least one or two of them - they are all Nobel Peace Prize winners) at the opposite end of the lobby of the building where you work, and all you have with any length is the DA50-200 with it's f/5.6 max aperture at the long end, ISO 3200 it is. And if you're standing on a table to get the shot, and your camera doesn't have SR, you'll shoot a stop underexposed if necessary to get a shutter speed of 1/90" (still more than a stop from what one would want for a handheld shot at 200mm on APS-C), and push process the result for the equivalent of ISO 6400. And if the result looks like this:



You tell me if it would have been better to not have bothered.

Perhaps somewhat more mundane, but more representative of how I use this in day-to-day shooting. As most of you know, I shoot a lot of jazz concerts. This images (posted previously) is one of my favorites that I've taken. I needed the equivalent of ISO 4000 on my K200D to get it. Worth it? Absolutely as far as I'm concerned.

05-31-2010, 01:50 PM   #14
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Wow! I just came back from school and so many answers already. Thanks! What I was talking about was just in general, so it could be sports, or somewhere indoor, or just at night. Thanks for the explanation of ISO on digital Marc! I'm still new to PP, so I'm letting most of the PP done by my camera.

Also... sorry I don't have anything too specific, but... just yesterday I went to take some pictures at a convention centre and it was quite dark, I only brought my 55-300mm (to take pictures of airplanes because it was super close to the airport) and... my kit lens. I totally forgot to bring my M50 f1.7 (I'm also not very comfortable using it because I have to press the green button every time to get the exposure... I'm not as fast at getting the proper exposure on my K-X in M mode than on my K1000.)

Yeah, many of my pictures blured significantly... (because I had set my ISO to 100 and was shooting air planes just outside). The first thing I noticed was... that I had to use the built-in flash or bump up my ISO significantly). I'm hesitant with both though because I had bad experiences by using 12800 ISO outside late with no tripod and the kit lens (THE NOISE!!!) and flash was not allowed in the convention centre.

So basically the question was bump up iso? or risk it by using a slower shutter speed. I have noise phobia though... and I hate blur even more. Sorry if it seems like a no brainer question.

There was actually many approaches to this question, so I got quite a few opinions.

One quick question though... (this may be sorta no brainer too) when you say that noise reduction is usually better on PP software than in camera, should you turn off noise reduction all together and then just do it in PP later? or keep it on and then reduce the noise further using the software?

And... if you set the noise reduction to MAX is there any negative consequences?
05-31-2010, 03:34 PM   #15
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Stop imaginging you need to press the Green button every time you take a shot using a manual lens. Light doesn't normally change nearly that often. Choose an aperture and shutter speed that works for the room and then *leave them alone* while you shoot. At most maybe turn shutter speed up or down a click depending on whether your subject is getting direct light from a lamp or not.

Also, don't be shooting only at ISO 100 or 12800. Expect most indoor locations to support ISO 1600 with a reaosnably faster lens, ISO 3200 or at worst 6400 if you're limited to f/4 or f/5.6.

Noise happens. That's what NR is for. But too much of it results in the smoothing away of detail. If you really care about the results, you'll do your NR in PP rather than try to guess which of the handful of in-camera settings will sort of come closest to what you could have done much more effectively in PP. And yes, that means doing as little as possible in camera - and ideally, shooting RAW.
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