Interesting article posted by Kirk Tuck...All the cameras are better than you are

Started 9 months ago | Discussions thread
Jacques Cornell
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Another reading of Kirk's comments on high ISO
In reply to julieng, 9 months ago

julieng wrote:

He also makes it sound like ... higher ISO is just a crutch for those who don't know any better.

I didn't read it that way. I heard him saying that relying on high ISO rather than using good technique is a bad crutch in those instances when available light is not just of low intensity but also of low quality. In these cases, just cranking ISO doesn't help because, although it might make an acceptable exposure, it doesn't address the underlying problems of contrast, color, direction, shadows, etc., that make or break an image.

The follow-on point is that, since high ISO doesn't fix all lighting problems, good lighting technique is still required. And, good lighting technique obviates the need for super-high ISO and pretty much wipes out the noise disadvantage of small sensors.

This has been my experience as well, as an event shooter working in the low and ugly light of hotel conference rooms, etc. Sometimes, I could get a decent exposure at ISO 3200+, but the ceiling lights cast such ghastly shadows that I have to use flash to produce an attractive photo. Often, ISO 1600 at f2.8 is about the threshold of available light between usable and hideous.

Obviously, this is situation-dependent. For nighttime street shooting, a clean ISO 6400 can be very useful. So can a mirrorless camera's silent shutter. There are tradeoffs. But, I agree with Kirk that, despite the relative noise and resolution disadvantages of m43 sensors vs. FF, small cameras used with decent technique are extremely capable. The advantages of FF are real, but without commensurately high technique and real (rather than imagined) performance requirements, they are likely to remain unrealized by lazy or neophyte photographers.

I gave up a 1Ds Mark III for a GX7 for exactly these reasons.

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