Why no digital ISO50 ?

Started Nov 17, 2012 | Discussions thread
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,196Gear list
They do... kind of
In reply to Mark_A, Nov 19, 2012

100-200 ISO has been very popular for general use, and it's where most people feel comfortable shooting in bright light. Sensor are designed to work best at 1 ISO, and they usually design that to be in that 100-200 ISO range.

Like most things in photography, if something satisfies the needs of most people it can be made cheap because millions of people will buy it. If you want something that is outside then mainstream you usually will have to pay a premium or work a little harder. You do have some options:

  1. Many 35mm "full frame" and "APS-C" format dSLR cameras do have an "extended" 50 ISO or "Low ISO" setting. You usually have to enable it in the custom settings, but it does work. The downside is you loose a stop of dynamic range. Most cameras today have 13-14 stops of dynamic range, most prints and monitors only show 8-9 stops, so it can over expose a little bit and recover the highlights. 
  2. Most Medium Format cameras do. The PhaseOne IQ 180 has a base ISO around 25 or 35. Most Hasselblads have a base ISO of 50. Also you won't find many medium lenses with apertures wider than f/2.0 which will cut the need of fast shutter speeds a bit. Of course this is very expensive, but some people need it. Of course with medium format they are usually noisy at 200 ISO and horrible at 400 ISO and higher. The Pentax 645D and Leica S2 are notable exceptions and have base ISOs of 200 and 100 respectively.
  3. Higher end SLR's will have a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000th, cheaper ones often will max out at 1/4000th. If you go from a camera that maxes at 1/4000th to one that maxes at 1/8000th you can shoot in 1 stop brighter light with the same aperture and ISO. This is a feature that camera companies use to differentiate an entry level camera from a pro camera (someone with a f/3.5-5.6 kit lens is not going to need 1/8000th).
  4. ND filters effectively drop your ISO. In bright light it's not expensive or difficult to add a 1, 2, or 3 stop ND filter to the lens, and that will get you even more range than the extra 1 stop of going from  100ISO to 50. They do not cost much, but it is a little extra work to screw on a filter when it gets bright out and you want shallow DOF.
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