ISOless sensors, read noise and photography - many questions!

Started Oct 3, 2013 | Discussions thread
RussellInCincinnati
Senior MemberPosts: 3,197
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a less dogged example, iso 12800 versus "pushed" 800
In reply to boardsy, Oct 4, 2013

Boardsy: Hmm, you've gone and done it now - the ISO3200 shot seems just as good as the 800 version! Did it require careful RAW noise reduction or other massaging?

Absolutely not. Both photos had all the same nearly-default Lightroom 4.4 processing (which purports to apply chrominance noise reduction +25 and no luminance noise reduction) except for moving the exposure slider to +1.75 EV or whatever for the "ISO800" photo.

Boardsy: My whole line of questioning was that ultimate IQ should bebetter by "doing high ISO" (raising brightness, pushing shadows etc) in RAW! Ok, it may be easier to set and forget ISO800 in the field, but is the struggle with a dark screen image really worth it? Of course, if preserving important highlights, if a high ISO will blow them, but otherwise? I'm not so convinced any more!!

Whether or not you personally can tolerate the dark screen is the main issue. There really is practically no image quality issue for ordinary work with Nex C3 raw files, see my rather typical portraiture-type examples below.

By my experimenting (which am not going to continue, because the differences between photos with ISO12800 vs 800 get down to nit-picking that nobody in my business cares about), it comes down to: in exchange for the hassle of the dark screen you get (a) guaranteed fabulous highlight detail (b) less field time fiddling with ISO and possibly (c) faster shot-to-shot time, less file-writing time and less file-transferring time, if you are the picky sort who normally brackets high-ISO photos.

By the way by putting on the C3 a tiny flash unit, or with any more fully-featured Nex 5x model, you can get to an always-bright screen mode no matter what the stored raw file brightness may be.

Above ISO 12800 on Nex C3. A few moments spent moving the "highlights" slider down, and fiddling with the "shadows" slider a bit, in the Lightroom 4.4 raw file.

Notice that even the models become happier when you leave the camera at ISO 800. 
Only difference between the workflow for photo and the one above was: (a) no need to change the highlights slider, (b) had to move the shadows slider down a bit, and (c) had to move the exposure slider to about +3.91 EV. Can't really say it took any longer in post-processing to produce the ISO 800 image than the "ISO 12800" image.

Boardsy, comparing in-camera ISO12800 to in-Lightroom ISO 800, am not seeing any Nex C3 difference worth writing home (or the forum) about.

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