What I learned from Gollywop -- and what I wonder

Started Mar 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
richarddd
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Re: What I learned from Gollywop -- and what I wonder
In reply to Anders W, Mar 27, 2013

Anders W wrote:

richarddd wrote:

Anders W wrote:

richarddd wrote:

Anders W wrote:

Practice makes perfect though. That's why it is important to think and talk about it. Some people are wont to say that "theoretical" discussions of the present kind are of no help in the field. I think it's exactly the other way. Only by thinking and talking about it will you eventually know exactly what to do in the field, and do so intuitively and instantly. For example, I know "without thinking" when it's the proper time to switch from ISO 200 to ISO 400 on my E-M5 when I am out taking pictures. But I do so only because I have exercised my thinking about the matter quite a bit beforehand.

There are two ways to figure out how to proceed in the field (1) have a good set of rules telling you how to behave and (2) have a good set of underlying principles from which you can derive such rules.  They are clearly not mutually exclusive.

As an illustration, please summarize when you would and when you would not increase from ISO 200 to 400 on your E-M5. For example, are there cases in which you would increase ISO to 400 even though you could increase exposure without sacrificing desired DOF or blur control, or cases when you would not increase ISO to 400 even though you are at maximum exposure consistent with desired DOF and blur control and could increase ISO without clipping highlights with detail you would like to preserve?

My answer to the two questions at the end would be no. So I think you have already indirectly summarized what the rule is: If you can't reach the highlight clipping point at ISO 200 without exceeding your f-stop and shutter speed requirements, go to ISO 400.

If, on the other hand, we have the same scenario but a choice between ISO 1600 and ISO 3200, I would normally prefer to remain at ISO 1600 since the read-noise gain from going higher would be close to zero and staying at 1600 means that I have to worry less about any highlight clipping

All of which appears to lead us back to a rather simple set of rules for the E-M5:

Start at base ISO

Set aperture and shutter speed to get the most light on the sensor, consistent with desired DOF and lack of camera or subject motion blur, so long as we don't clip highlights in which we wish to preserve detail

If we are not clipping desired highlight details, increase ISO until just before clipping point. Skip values between 200 and 400 and stop at 1600.

If we can't hit targets (e.g., desired DOF or fast enough shutter), then decide on best compromise, which may involve bracketing.

Use orange blinkies to determine clipping.  Alternatively, spot meter on brightest point with detail, then increase exposure (and then ISO) by 3.3 stops.

Post-process to taste.

Have I missed something?

At least you haven't missed all that much. I am not sure what you mean by the point which begins with "if we can't hit targets". Please elaborate that point a bit and I'll be happy to react.

By "if we can't hit targets" I mean that we can't get all of (a) desired DOF, (b) a fast enough shutter speed to stop undesired motion blur and (c) being just below the clipping point for highlights in which we wish to preserve detail without increasing ISO above 1600. If so, we have to compromise.

An additional rule would be to bracket for HDR if we are at the clipping point for highlights in which we wish to preserve detail and shadows in which we preserve detail are blinking blue.

The main point is that none of this is very difficult at the practical level.

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