Beginner's question on A vs. M :)

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wireless
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Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
7 months ago

I notice many people use A-priority.  You can usually tell because you'll see EC adjusted or by the way they talk about the settings, e.g., "resulted in a shutter speed of xxx."

I switch to AP in a lot of dynamic situations where there isn't time to go full manual.

The thing is you still need to adjust EC on the fly which to me is close to the same thing as adjusting aperture or shutter speed in M.  I don't know what the advantage is.  Maybe a tad easier.

One way to have the best of both worlds perhaps is to use Auto ISO in manual.

My question is does a doubling or halving of ISO equal the same thing as a stop or a doubling or halving of SS?  In other words will Auto ISO cover the same range as, say, +- 2 stops of EC?

I would rather know/set my A and SS and let ISO take care of light variations.

best, David

p.s., how does Auto ISO interact with AP's adjustment of SS?

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Nikonparrothead
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Re: Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
In reply to wireless, 7 months ago

wireless wrote:

I notice many people use A-priority. You can usually tell because you'll see EC adjusted or by the way they talk about the settings, e.g., "resulted in a shutter speed of xxx."

I switch to AP in a lot of dynamic situations where there isn't time to go full manual.

The thing is you still need to adjust EC on the fly which to me is close to the same thing as adjusting aperture or shutter speed in M. I don't know what the advantage is. Maybe a tad easier.

One way to have the best of both worlds perhaps is to use Auto ISO in manual.

My question is does a doubling or halving of ISO equal the same thing as a stop or a doubling or halving of SS? In other words will Auto ISO cover the same range as, say, +- 2 stops of EC?

I would rather know/set my A and SS and let ISO take care of light variations.

best, David

p.s., how does Auto ISO interact with AP's adjustment of SS?

Yes, the three things -- ISO, shutter speed and aperture -- are all related. So if proper exposure is ISO 400, F4, 1/500 and you chose to decrease the ISO to 200, that would require more light so you could either shoot ISO 200, F2.8, 1/500 to maintain the shutter speed or ISO 200, F4 1/250 to maintain the depth of field. And yes, you could just set the aperture and shutter speed manually and let auto ISO handle metering variations.

In the old days, auto ISO wasn't possible since the medium of record was film and (with the exception for chromogenic B&W film) essentially locked in at one ISO (it was called ASA back then) until you changed to another roll of film.

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jjnik
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Re: Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
In reply to wireless, 7 months ago

wireless wrote:

I notice many people use A-priority. You can usually tell because you'll see EC adjusted or by the way they talk about the settings, e.g., "resulted in a shutter speed of xxx."

I switch to AP in a lot of dynamic situations where there isn't time to go full manual.

The thing is you still need to adjust EC on the fly which to me is close to the same thing as adjusting aperture or shutter speed in M. I don't know what the advantage is. Maybe a tad easier.

One way to have the best of both worlds perhaps is to use Auto ISO in manual.

My question is does a doubling or halving of ISO equal the same thing as a stop or a doubling or halving of SS? In other words will Auto ISO cover the same range as, say, +- 2 stops of EC?

I would rather know/set my A and SS and let ISO take care of light variations.

Also, remember that you trade off DR when you start to bump ISO (the degree of tradeoff being sensor/camera specific)- so, when possible, the best IQ will be obtained by keeping ISO as low as you can and working aperture/shutter speed.

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scokill
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Re: Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
In reply to Nikonparrothead, 7 months ago

Nikonparrothead wrote:

wireless wrote:

I notice many people use A-priority. You can usually tell because you'll see EC adjusted or by the way they talk about the settings, e.g., "resulted in a shutter speed of xxx."

I switch to AP in a lot of dynamic situations where there isn't time to go full manual.

The thing is you still need to adjust EC on the fly which to me is close to the same thing as adjusting aperture or shutter speed in M. I don't know what the advantage is. Maybe a tad easier.

One way to have the best of both worlds perhaps is to use Auto ISO in manual.

My question is does a doubling or halving of ISO equal the same thing as a stop or a doubling or halving of SS? In other words will Auto ISO cover the same range as, say, +- 2 stops of EC?

I would rather know/set my A and SS and let ISO take care of light variations.

best, David

p.s., how does Auto ISO interact with AP's adjustment of SS?

Yes, the three things -- ISO, shutter speed and aperture -- are all related. So if proper exposure is ISO 400, F4, 1/500 and you chose to decrease the ISO to 200, that would require more light so you could either shoot ISO 200, F2.8, 1/500 to maintain the shutter speed or ISO 200, F4 1/250 to maintain the depth of field. And yes, you could just set the aperture and shutter speed manually and let auto ISO handle metering variations.

In the old days, auto ISO wasn't possible since the medium of record was film and (with the exception for chromogenic B&W film) essentially locked in at one ISO (it was called ASA back then) until you changed to another roll of film.

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Nice explanation.  The only downside to Manual and Auto ISO is if you have variation in the available light and hit your auto ISO max, you will underxpose.  If you are in A mode auto ISO, you will not underexpose, the shutter speed will drop and you will get "metered" exposure.  The downside is you could get motion blur/camera shake.  Just depends on preference really.  If I'm shooting under stadium lights and it fairly equal, I may shoot M with auto iso.  If I'm shooting stage/dance I'll use A and let the shutter speed drop if I hit max ISO instead of underexposure.

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CAlanS
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Re: Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
In reply to wireless, 7 months ago

Wow.  David, now please ask questions on composition and flash and we can complete our 101 course.  3 great answers (complete and right on point).  Thanks guys.

Alan

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wireless
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Re: Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
In reply to wireless, 7 months ago

Thanks for the comments.  They made clear the relationship between the three: SS, iso, and A.

Here's the thing - there is a critical practical difference in the way of using the modes.  AP is fine as long as the subjects are static, otherwise you don't know if SS is adequate for moving objects not to mention specificity is lost if a certain amount of blur is desired.

If the subject matter is still, then fine, I'll use manual most of the time because there's time to make the settings.

With AP the SS  is flapping around all over the place.  In M you control and set the SS for any particular situation.  I'm thinking I'd rather sacrifice some DR to assure subjects are always in focus.  I might fix SS at 1/750, 1/1000, 1/1500 to assure it and let Auto ISO handle the exposure.

I'm going to start shooting that way (for the next week anyway) but I concede when I've used Auto ISO in the past and it'll go all over the place and often that place is very high with resultant grain.  It'll often go to 6400 and of course, I don't care how good reviews say high ISO is now, the grain is very clear.

By the way I wasn't totally clear on how SS and auto ISO interact with AP.  Which takes priority SS or Auto ISO?  Say A is f / 2.8, will SS adjust first to obtain correct exposure and the ISO start from base and work up if correct metering is outside the range of available SSs or does Auto ISO react first followed by SS?

best, David

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romfordbluenose
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Re: Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
In reply to wireless, 7 months ago

One of the benefits of modern cameras is that you can set limits on ISO, speed and aperture when in various auto modes.

For example if you use A mode with auto ISO, you can set the max iso to control grain, you can also set minimum speed to protect against shake. in fact the camera will automatically do this for you.

It will be somewhat different depending on the camera you have but have a good read of the manual and it should all be explained.

I tend to want control over the sweet spot of the lens I am using or to control Dof so I tend to use A with Max ISO set to 1600 for indoor shots, or 800 for outdoor. I have a D800.

If I want maximum IQ I use a tripod with low ISO.

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hirejn
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Re: Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
In reply to wireless, 7 months ago

ISO is the baseline image quality, so there's no way I want that changing unless I tell it to, not even by a third stop. I have always shot by setting my ISO first and ISO is how I think about light and the scene. It's the first place I go and I want to leave it there. To have it constantly changing would be to change the way I shoot, and I have no interest in that. I'm sure it's a useful mode for some, but not me.

Also realize that with manual, as you go between different lighting situations, the exposure could change drastically, meaning you'd have to crank several times on the dial in manual to recenter it. It could be four stops or more, and when people are moving and light is changing, manual becomes trickier. With A, the camera immediately suggests the exposure and you have only to dial in minimal compensation, if any, so forgetting where you are or not having time to adjust is minimized. The constantly changing reflective meter is a big reason I use incident whenever possible, including at weddings. It just works better for me, but I also employ spot and matrix on occasion.

There's no one right way to shoot. But be aware that each mode has several advantages and no two are the same. A is not the same as S and does not have the same advantages, nor does A have the same advantages as M.

The other reason to use A, why I use it, is that especially in people photography I tend to tell stories in terms of depth of field, not shutter speed. Simply, I usually don't care what the shutter speed is as long as it doesn't introduce motion blur or interfere with flash sync (which is only with manual flash), and thus to switch to manual mode and have to dial it in when what I really care about is aperture takes unnecessary time and attention away from the creative process. Again this is not every shooter and it's not the only right way. It's just one reason to like A. Jerry Ghionis shoots always in manual, I believe, so he probably sets the ISO and aperture and is constantly cranking the shutter speed. But that's not the same as aperture priority. The concept is similar, but aperture priority is a programmed mode in which the camera is adjusting shutter for you. It's not right or wrong. It's the system that works for the individual. That's why there are different modes.

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David314
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Aperture priority with auto ISO
In reply to wireless, 7 months ago

wireless wrote:

I notice many people use A-priority. You can usually tell because you'll see EC adjusted or by the way they talk about the settings, e.g., "resulted in a shutter speed of xxx."

because with auto ISO you can specify the minimum shutter speed, aperture priority with auto ISO is one of the more useful shooting modes

it will drop the shutter speed and then raise the ISO to get proper exposure

and unlike manual mode with auto ISO, if the light gets to bright to lower the ISO, the shutter speed will rise

yes, I often shift to manual mode instead of applying exposure compensation

i use manual mode a lot with flash,

but a lot of things are 6 one way and half a dozen the other.

all of the modes have their use and there are different ways to get the same  result

i rarely shoot shutter priority

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Rservello
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Re: Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
In reply to hirejn, 7 months ago

Set ISO based on lighting conditions. Use ev charts to set your base exposure. Stop up and down to quickly adjust for shadows and highlights. No meter needed

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MRM4350
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Re: Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
In reply to wireless, 7 months ago

wireless wrote:

I notice many people use A-priority. You can usually tell because you'll see EC adjusted or by the way they talk about the settings, e.g., "resulted in a shutter speed of xxx."

I switch to AP in a lot of dynamic situations where there isn't time to go full manual.

The thing is you still need to adjust EC on the fly which to me is close to the same thing as adjusting aperture or shutter speed in M. I don't know what the advantage is. Maybe a tad easier.

One way to have the best of both worlds perhaps is to use Auto ISO in manual.

This changes Manual mode into an auto exposure mode which will require using the EC control as in 'A' or 'S' modes so actually does nothing for you. The point of 'M' mode is that you control EC by adjusting aperture and/or shutter speed to over/under expose if the need arises, and you can't if the camera continues to center the meter.

My question is does a doubling or halving of ISO equal the same thing as a stop or a doubling or halving of SS? In other words will Auto ISO cover the same range as, say, +- 2 stops of EC?

I would rather know/set my A and SS and let ISO take care of light variations.

best, David

p.s., how does Auto ISO interact with AP's adjustment of SS?

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regos
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Re: Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
In reply to hirejn, 7 months ago

The constantly changing reflective meter is a big reason I use incident whenever possible, including at weddings. It just works better for me, but I also employ spot and matrix on occasion.

http://www.joelnisleitphotography.com/

Do you use a handheld incident meter? I have several incident meters in the closet but I have never thought to use them with a modern digital camera. Are your readings more consistent, or more accurate than using the camera's reflected meter?

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lickity split
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Re: Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
In reply to wireless, 7 months ago

wireless wrote:

I notice many people use A-priority. You can usually tell because you'll see EC adjusted or by the way they talk about the settings, e.g., "resulted in a shutter speed of xxx."

I switch to AP in a lot of dynamic situations where there isn't time to go full manual.

The thing is you still need to adjust EC on the fly which to me is close to the same thing as adjusting aperture or shutter speed in M. I don't know what the advantage is. Maybe a tad easier.

One way to have the best of both worlds perhaps is to use Auto ISO in manual.

95% of the time that's what I use. Manual with Auto ISO, it couldn't be more easy to make an adjustment ,just spin the front or rear command dial.No need to ever touch the EC button. 

My question is does a doubling or halving of ISO equal the same thing as a stop or a doubling or halving of SS? In other words will Auto ISO cover the same range as, say, +- 2 stops of EC?

I would rather know/set my A and SS and let ISO take care of light variations.

best, David

p.s., how does Auto ISO interact with AP's adjustment of SS?

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Ray Sachs
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Wrong - you need EC anytime you use auto-ISO
In reply to lickity split, 7 months ago

lickity split wrote:

wireless wrote:

I notice many people use A-priority. You can usually tell because you'll see EC adjusted or by the way they talk about the settings, e.g., "resulted in a shutter speed of xxx."

I switch to AP in a lot of dynamic situations where there isn't time to go full manual.

The thing is you still need to adjust EC on the fly which to me is close to the same thing as adjusting aperture or shutter speed in M. I don't know what the advantage is. Maybe a tad easier.

One way to have the best of both worlds perhaps is to use Auto ISO in manual.

95% of the time that's what I use. Manual with Auto ISO, it couldn't be more easy to make an adjustment ,just spin the front or rear command dial.No need to ever touch the EC button.

You're wrong. If you use manual with auto-ISO, the ISO will always increase or decrease to give you a "neutral" exposure no matter how much you change aperture or shutter speed to adjust the exposure. So if you want to over or under expose slightly, you STILL need to use EC to keep the auto ISO from over-riding your intentions.

For me, the best approach 95% of the time is Aperture priority mode with auto ISO turned on. Then I can designate the maximum ISO (and minimum if I feel the need) and the minimum shutter speed. If there's a lot of light, the ISO will be at the lowest setting and the shutter speed will be well above your designated minimum. If there's less light the shutter speed will stay at your designated minimum and the ISO will rise as needed to keep the shutter speed fast enough. If there's so little light that the ISO is maxed out and it still can't maintain your minimum shutter speed, only THEN will it drop the shutter speed below your minimum.

This is essentially the exact same logic I'd use making these settings manually, so having the camera do it for me is tremendously liberating and I'm not losing any control because I'd be making the same tradeoffs. Only in rare situations (wanting a slow shutter speed for motion blur, low ISO for time exposures, etc) will I switch to Shutter priority or Manual mode.

In any case, if you're using auto-ISO and you want more or less exposure, you still need to use the EC dial...

-Ray
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lickity split
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Re: Wrong - you need EC anytime you use auto-ISO
In reply to Ray Sachs, 7 months ago

Ray Sachs wrote:

lickity split wrote:

wireless wrote:

I notice many people use A-priority. You can usually tell because you'll see EC adjusted or by the way they talk about the settings, e.g., "resulted in a shutter speed of xxx."

I switch to AP in a lot of dynamic situations where there isn't time to go full manual.

The thing is you still need to adjust EC on the fly which to me is close to the same thing as adjusting aperture or shutter speed in M. I don't know what the advantage is. Maybe a tad easier.

One way to have the best of both worlds perhaps is to use Auto ISO in manual.

95% of the time that's what I use. Manual with Auto ISO, it couldn't be more easy to make an adjustment ,just spin the front or rear command dial.No need to ever touch the EC button.

You're wrong. If you use manual with auto-ISO, the ISO will always increase or decrease to give you a "neutral" exposure no matter how much you change aperture or shutter speed to adjust the exposure. So if you want to over or under expose slightly, you STILL need to use EC to keep the auto ISO from over-riding your intentions.

For me, the best approach 95% of the time is Aperture priority mode with auto ISO turned on. Then I can designate the maximum ISO (and minimum if I feel the need) and the minimum shutter speed. If there's a lot of light, the ISO will be at the lowest setting and the shutter speed will be well above your designated minimum. If there's less light the shutter speed will stay at your designated minimum and the ISO will rise as needed to keep the shutter speed fast enough. If there's so little light that the ISO is maxed out and it still can't maintain your minimum shutter speed, only THEN will it drop the shutter speed below your minimum.

This is essentially the exact same logic I'd use making these settings manually, so having the camera do it for me is tremendously liberating and I'm not losing any control because I'd be making the same tradeoffs. Only in rare situations (wanting a slow shutter speed for motion blur, low ISO for time exposures, etc) will I switch to Shutter priority or Manual mode.

In any case, if you're using auto-ISO and you want more or less exposure, you still need to use the EC dial...

-Ray
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/

Your right. I had to get the camera out. I'm still a newb.  How I should have said it was ,in Manual mode with Auto ISO I use the front or rear command dials to adjust the exposure.. 

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wireless
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Re: Wrong - you need EC anytime you use auto-ISO
In reply to Ray Sachs, 7 months ago

Ray Sachs wrote:

[...]

You're wrong.

You know the back in the days of newsgroups, we used to say, the best way to get correct information on the internet is to post incorrect information.  

[...]

In any case, if you're using auto-ISO and you want more or less exposure, you still need to use the EC dial...

I see that now, like you said...

Nice photos by the way.  Your PP restraint is tasteful.

regards, David

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Ray Sachs
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Re: Wrong - you need EC anytime you use auto-ISO
In reply to wireless, 7 months ago

wireless wrote:

Ray Sachs wrote:

[...]

You're wrong.

You know the back in the days of newsgroups, we used to say, the best way to get correct information on the internet is to post incorrect information.

[...]

In any case, if you're using auto-ISO and you want more or less exposure, you still need to use the EC dial...

I see that now, like you said...

Nice photos by the way. Your PP restraint is tasteful.

regards, David

Thanks David. And glad I could help clear this up for you.

IMHO, auto ISO is just recently coming into it's own as a highly useful tool as the new sensors come in with such an amazing amount of latitude. I've thought Nikon's auto-ISO implementation was the smartest I'd seen until recently. Now more companies are starting to use similar approaches - Samsung and Fuji come to mind - I'm sure there are others. But some, like Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, and others either haven't figured it out yet or just haven't decided it it's an important issue yet. But it's an important and flexible tool if the logic allows for as much user control of the parameter as Nikon's approach. When sensor's only had 3-4 stops of ISO latitude to offer, auto ISO was very limited in what it could do and it was no tragedy when it was implemented badly. But with sensors that can now shoot well at 12,800 and incredibly well at 6400, it's a tool with all sorts of potential. And one worth getting to know...

-Ray
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ormdig
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Re: Beginner's question on A vs. M :)
In reply to scokill, 7 months ago

Hi, I use manual with auto ISO for events with a maximum ISO that I don't want to exceed. I want full control over my shutter speed and DOF. With the D800 able to pull so much out of the shadows I don't get concerned if I underexpose one or two stops. If it becomes evident that the lighting is too low I will up the ISO however.

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bob elkind
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The problem with auto-ISO...
In reply to wireless, 7 months ago

The problem with auto-ISO is the same as the problem with A or S -- you are relying on the camera's metering for adjusting exposure.  The folks who use M (including me) are using M because we know the camera's metering can and will be fooled, and will make mistakes, and we (the photographer) know *better*.

There are exceptions, of course.

When shooting sports with clouds coming and going, with players entering and exiting shadows, I am more inclined to use the camera's metering (including auto-ISO).

For indoor events, where lights and reflections and people's attire (dark suit vs. white gown) will sway the camera's metering, we get better results by fixing the exposure for (in most cases) people's faces.

That's it, in a nutshell.  That is everything I know...  and more.

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Robin Casady
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Re: Wrong - you need EC anytime you use auto-ISO
In reply to Ray Sachs, 7 months ago

Ray Sachs wrote:

wireless wrote:

Ray Sachs wrote:

[...]

You're wrong.

You know the back in the days of newsgroups, we used to say, the best way to get correct information on the internet is to post incorrect information.

[...]

In any case, if you're using auto-ISO and you want more or less exposure, you still need to use the EC dial...

I see that now, like you said...

Nice photos by the way. Your PP restraint is tasteful.

regards, David

Thanks David. And glad I could help clear this up for you.

IMHO, auto ISO is just recently coming into it's own as a highly useful tool as the new sensors come in with such an amazing amount of latitude. I've thought Nikon's auto-ISO implementation was the smartest I'd seen until recently. Now more companies are starting to use similar approaches - Samsung and Fuji come to mind - I'm sure there are others. But some, like Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, and others either haven't figured it out yet or just haven't decided it it's an important issue yet. But it's an important and flexible tool if the logic allows for as much user control of the parameter as Nikon's approach. When sensor's only had 3-4 stops of ISO latitude to offer, auto ISO was very limited in what it could do and it was no tragedy when it was implemented badly. But with sensors that can now shoot well at 12,800 and incredibly well at 6400, it's a tool with all sorts of potential. And one worth getting to know...

It is important to remember that—just like aperture and shutter speed—ISO changes have consequences. At ISO 12,800 on the D800E you have lost 6.5 stops of DR and are down to less than 5 stops. At 6400 you are down to less than 6 stops of DR. Just dropping to 200 from the base ISO of 100 you lose more than 3/4 of a stop. Two stops are lost at ISO 500, and 3.6 at 1600. If you expect to pull detail from shadows, this can be an important aspect to consider when deciding on exposure settings.

You also lose resolution as noise increases.

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Robin Casady
http://www.robincasady.com/Photo/index.html
"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."
—Mark Twain

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