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08-10-2011, 03:43 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pioneer Quote
So, if all this is true, then why has it suddenly become so imperative that all of us buy a new digital camera with greatly improved high ISO performance? Everyone is doing it, Canon, Nikon, even Pentax. Most of the older ones were decent up to ISO 800 or 1600, but suddenly those old standards are no longer good enough. My newish Pentax K-7 can be used up to ISO 6400, although most people will agree that ISO 800 or 1600 is still a more reasonable choice. But all the reviewers have run down the K-7 because it did not have adequate high-ISO performance. I have even read some reviews that have actually said that you would be further ahead to buy the K-X for the much improved ISO performance. What??? Buy an entry level camera just because it can capture images at one or two stops higher ISO? Are you serious?
You could of course apply this way of reasoning to any technological development in photography. Why do we need continuous autofocus nowadays when people were taking perfectly fine photographs with MF decades ago? Why do we need more FPS, why high-res displays, etc etc etc.

I don't know who wrote up what you found online. To me, good high ISO performance matters. That's all I can say, and that's all that really matters. I have spoken to a person who shot analog with an old Canon EOS body, and she claimed she could shoot handheld with exposures up to a second or so. That's fine. I can't, and that's also fine. That's not to say I am not improving my skills. But still I sometimes use ISO 4000. And frankly, I don't care what a website says about that.

I attended a lecture by Bas Meelker (famous nature/wildlife photographer) a while ago. One of the things he said was that nowadays, we can capture images we just couldn't back in the day. For example, tracking AF allows capturing birds even at long focal lengths. These are tools that have become available. Sure, to the president of Pentax/Canon/Nikon, it's just a way to sell more cameras. What did you expect? They make money by selling cameras. That's not good or bad; it's a fact.

08-10-2011, 07:03 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
High ISO has opened up a world of opportunities not possible in film days.
Yep...such as relatively slow and light AF lenses.


Steve
08-10-2011, 07:19 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
QuoteOriginally posted by Ash:
High ISO has opened up a world of opportunities not possible in film days.
Yep...such as relatively slow and light AF lenses.
And using old slow heavy long lenses on more evasive subjects.
08-10-2011, 03:47 PM - 1 Like   #19
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Great responses! If the advertisers of Pentax, Canikon or any of the other digital camera manufacturers are reading this forum you have provided them with some great copy. Now don't get me wrong, I love technology and I use it just as much as anyone else. I am not interested in losing any of my options so I do not want to return to the "good old days." But I'm still not convinced. I still believe that a whole lot of us are buying into something that the manufacturer or reviewer says is important without really understanding our own needs. It sounds good so we go along with it.

But…I could be wrong. It does happen once in a while. A lot of you think I'm wrong, so it could be. That is one of the reasons I enjoy this forum and others. I get an alternate point of view.

So I decided to go get another point of view. I went to the pages of Amateur Photography, a weekly magazine that I subscribe to, and I did some more research. One of the reasons I like this magazine is that they publish lots of photographs every week, along with the exposure settings that were used, so that I can try and learn from what I see. So I went to those magazines and recorded the ISO settings from all the pictures I could find in the issues from January 8, 2011 through to the last one I could find, August 6, 2011. Because I am missing an issue or two that was 26 issues. From those issues I was able to find and record the ISO data from a total of 448 photographs that the editors of Amateur Photography thought were good enough to publish. Based on the information I pulled from those pages, this is what I found.

Out of those 448 photographs the highest ISO used was ISO 2500. Not a single picture taken at 3200 or 6400, was selected. Further, only 2% of all the pictures I found were actually over ISO 1600. In fact, only 6% were above ISO 800. Sixty percent of those pictures were taken at either ISO 100 or ISO 200, 30% in each case. I will have to admit, the fact that 30% of those great shots were made at ISO 200 surprised me. Not even ISO 400 made a great showing since only 16% of the pictures were taken at that film speed.

So this is what I think. Most of the really good pictures are still taken between ISO 100 and ISO 800, even though we have all those other options. Some of you may be using high ISOs, and it is clear from the responses that a lot of you think you NEED those high ISOs. But I think the reality is probably quite different. Have the pictures you took at ISO 3200 been worth taking? Were they actually good pictures worth publishing? Be honest now.

I still believe that advertisers have found the new hype that will sell more cameras, and a lot of us have bought into it. All except Imtheguy from Virginia Beach who is shooting diving ospreys, he actually does need those high ISO speeds. One of the things I did learn was that a lot of the wildlife pictures were taken at ISO 400 or 800, but very, very few above that speed.

As for the rest of us, we may have spent a lot of money on cameras with features we rarely, if ever, use. Why we did it is between us and our favorite reviewer.

08-10-2011, 03:57 PM   #20
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That should have been Amateur Photographer. Its' really a neat magazine, you would think that I could get the name of it right. Sighhh.
08-10-2011, 04:43 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pioneer Quote
But I'm still not convinced. I still believe that a whole lot of us are buying into something that the manufacturer or reviewer says is important without really understanding our own needs. It sounds good so we go along with it.
I understand my needs quite well. Sometimes I need to shoot in poor lighting, or with greater shutter speeds in average and poor lighting. I don't have millions of dollars to task a company with building me a f/1 lens in the FL I so desire, nor can you always have control over lighting. Are you going to create some more light for me? Nope. But having usable high ISO speeds will do me just fine. I do this for fun, why would I not want ISO performance if It means I get the photos I want?

QuoteOriginally posted by Pioneer Quote
Out of those 448 photographs the highest ISO used was ISO 2500. Not a single picture taken at 3200 or 6400, was selected. Further, only 2% of all the pictures I found were actually over ISO 1600. In fact, only 6% were above ISO 800. Sixty percent of those pictures were taken at either ISO 100 or ISO 200, 30% in each case. I will have to admit, the fact that 30% of those great shots were made at ISO 200 surprised me. Not even ISO 400 made a great showing since only 16% of the pictures were taken at that film speed.
Stats are nice but useless without context. What was the lighting like in the situation? What was the subject? What lens did they use? Sure we always try and use the lowest ISO possible but just saying they didn't use any 'high' ISO settings doesn't mean anything to me, what if all the photos were landscapes or studio work?

QuoteOriginally posted by Pioneer Quote
Some of you may be using high ISOs, and it is clear from the responses that a lot of you think you NEED those high ISOs. But I think the reality is probably quite different. Have the pictures you took at ISO 3200 been worth taking?
Yes. Without a doubt. Even photos at 6400 have been well worth it, and to be honest with PP I'm sure I could get away with other worthwhile ones above that.

QuoteOriginally posted by Pioneer Quote
One of the things I did learn was that a lot of the wildlife pictures were taken at ISO 400 or 800, but very, very few above that speed.
Again a somewhat moot point on this info. What wildlife? What lenses? What lighting? Not everyone can afford a 400mm f/2.8 lens, or in the case of Pentax especially, fast long lenses just aren't available.
08-10-2011, 04:48 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by crf529 Quote
...... Not everyone can afford a 400mm f/2.8 lens, or in the case of Pentax especially, fast long lenses just aren't available.
Hey! I represent that remark!
08-10-2011, 07:10 PM   #23
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I tend to agree with CRF529,

I shoot a fair bit of sports. I tried shooting indoor basketball but I had a terrible time with my K-7 paired with FA 77 1.8 and Sig 70-200 2.8. I find that the High Noise above 1600 requires too much compromise. Shooting in this situation my typical settings were 1/50 ISO1600 f/2.8. Not fast enough shutter for shooting the fast paced game. And without the option of flash I had no way of getting the shots I was after.

08-10-2011, 10:46 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pioneer Quote
Out of those 448 photographs the highest ISO used was ISO 2500. Not a single picture taken at 3200 or 6400, was selected. Further, only 2% of all the pictures I found were actually over ISO 1600. In fact, only 6% were above ISO 800. Sixty percent of those pictures were taken at either ISO 100 or ISO 200, 30% in each case. I will have to admit, the fact that 30% of those great shots were made at ISO 200 surprised me. Not even ISO 400 made a great showing since only 16% of the pictures were taken at that film speed.
So not a lot of those photos were taken at high ISOs. This could be for any number of reasons. One that comes to mind is that the majority of cameras used to take the photos just have too much noise at over ISO 1600 to get a reasonable photo. Do you know what cameras were used? Also, cameras like the K-5 open up whole new possibilities of shooting that just weren't previously available, and it might be that photographers aren't fully taking advantage of that yet.
08-11-2011, 08:51 AM - 1 Like   #25
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High ISO is more than a marketing gimmick. As cameras get better at ultra-high ISOs like 12000+, they also get better at more moderate settings like 1600. The advance of technology gives us increased creative freedom to use or not use tripods and flashes. Here are a few ways that un-noisy higher ISO settings help me:

Airshows. Higher ISO = I can select a smaller aperture = greater depth of field = fewer out of focus photos while using manual focus.

Astrophotography. Higher ISO = shorter exposure times = the ability to capture dimmer deep space objects, and also a choice whether to capture star trails or pinpoints.

Nighttime street photography. Higher ISO = I can shoot handheld rather than using a tripod.

Museums. Higher ISO = no flash required. Many museums forbid flash. Even in places where flash might be allowed, I can avoid annoying other patrons and I don't have to worry about reflections off glass cases.
08-12-2011, 05:20 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pioneer Quote
So this is what I think. Most of the really good pictures are still taken between ISO 100 and ISO 800, even though we have all those other options. Some of you may be using high ISOs, and it is clear from the responses that a lot of you think you NEED those high ISOs. But I think the reality is probably quite different. Have the pictures you took at ISO 3200 been worth taking? Were they actually good pictures worth publishing? Be honest now.
Well, you missed one point. Lower ISOs also benefit form technology which enable very high ISOs. K-5 has ISO 400, ISO 800 which are more clear than of any previous Pentax DSLR.
08-14-2011, 12:21 PM   #27
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I personally think the high ISO race is a good thing. I was taking some concert pictures of a band that I shot back in the 90's with T-max3200. ISO3200 on my K-7 is significantly better than T-max 3200.

While I agree that manufacturers over play ISO marketing, it is a very important aspect of the camera. The biggest "problem" people have with the K-7 is its high ISO performance, but relative to film the K-7 is a big improvement.

When I bought my 5D (my first digital 5+ years ago) I was blown away by what it could do. The K-5 has caught the FF Canon 5D in terms of image quality. The new Sony APS-C 24MP is expected to take APS-C to another level and exceed the A900 in IQ.

The competition between camera manufacturers is a good thing for the end user. Just educate yourself on the real performance and don't worry about marketing hype.
08-14-2011, 12:48 PM   #28
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I see agreement above -- HighISO is a marketing ploy, and much more. Hi-quality hi-sensitivity sensors are GOOD! I would also like to see this extend in the other direction, to grainless lo-ISO territory. But if wishes were horses, I'd be up to my neck...
08-14-2011, 01:02 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
I personally think the high ISO race is a good thing. I was taking some concert pictures of a band that I shot back in the 90's with T-max3200. ISO3200 on my K-7 is significantly better than T-max 3200.

While I agree that manufacturers over play ISO marketing, it is a very important aspect of the camera. The biggest "problem" people have with the K-7 is its high ISO performance, but relative to film the K-7 is a big improvement.

When I bought my 5D (my first digital 5+ years ago) I was blown away by what it could do. The K-5 has caught the FF Canon 5D in terms of image quality. The new Sony APS-C 24MP is expected to take APS-C to another level and exceed the A900 in IQ.

The competition between camera manufacturers is a good thing for the end user. Just educate yourself on the real performance and don't worry about marketing hype.
Actually the high ISO on the K-7 is very good, if you know how to use it. It is often dismissed as being too grainy, well correct exposure (so atleast 0.5 stops over) and there isn't much grain to be seen. And if there is, just convert it to B&W, and you have a pic with a very nice grain.
08-14-2011, 03:09 PM   #30
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I'd much rather have the current iso race over the previous megapixel race.

Sincerely,
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