What do you consider the effective ISO limit of your camera?

Started Nov 8, 2011 | Discussions thread
mh2000 Senior Member • Posts: 2,813
Re: OMG! You guys are crazy!

If you see no difference between film grain and digital noise then I don't know how to respond.

I go to many galleries and museums and I rarely see digital noise in the photos shown. I also view a lot of magazines that feature excellent photography and don't see too many photos flaunting lots of digital noise there as well.

With b&w film and cross processed color work I see grainy film, but this does not look at all like digital noise to me... or most anyone else who takes photography seriously.

I would be interested in you finding some currently respected digital photographer who is employing prominent high ISO noise as a creative aspect of their work.

Again, if I was worried about having "any noise creeping into" my photos I wouldn't be shooting m43's would I? With long exposures and ISO 400 I see plenty of noise when I look at 100%... but the prints look good. I'm sure if I was more careful with my exposures I could get away with maybe ISO 800... but when I say careful, I'd be losing the stop immediately when pushing my histogram farther to the right.

Yohan Pamudji wrote:

That's your opinion and you're welcome to it, but I still say noise has no bearing on the seriousness of the photography. I'm not saying we shouldn't strive for technical excellence. I love that technology is always improving and noise is becoming less and less of a concern even into the higher ISO ranges. But a serious photo with a lot of noise in it is still a serious photo--the noise doesn't make it any less so. The "modern day sensibilities" I mention was referring to people being obsessed with pixel peeping and being afraid of any noise creeping into their photos when none of that has anything to do with the quality and seriousness of the photography.

Legendary photographers created masterpieces with noise levels that would horrify modern day shooters. Would those photos be any more serious if they were pristine and noise free?



I'd argue that noisy images have been the norm, not the exception, through most of the history of photography. It's only very recently that we've had such an obsession with eradicating noise (for instance some stock photo outfits not taking photos with any hint of noise in them), hence "modern day sensibilities". We're spoiled and have lost track of what's important in photography, putting the technical above aesthetics and meaning.

mh2000 wrote:

Nowhere in my post did I say, "serious photography can only be performed at low ISO," but noisy digital images being presented as "serious" work is the exception and not the rule.

Wanting clean, clear and sharp images has nothing to do with "modern day sensibilities," but has always been a general asperation... sure, there were some interesting and good photo taken on recording film (early ASA 3200 film) and later with cell phones, but still, clean, clear and sharp images are usually better than grainy and noisy ones.

Yohan Pamudji wrote:

mh2000 wrote:

Of course it doesn't, but if I required high ISO performance I wouldn't be using a m43 camera in the first place... that would be "realistic" for me.

Of course everyone has their own needs and sets their own bar for what is acceptable. There's also a big difference between "snapshots" and photographs that the photographer takes seriously. Sure, if my intended use is just posting to Facebook I'd have no problem shooting at ISO 1600, but I always shoot with the intent of being able to make quality enlargements. I basically am only talking about serious photography.

Lots of serious photography has been done over the years with noise levels much worse than a m4/3 camera at ISO 1600 with terrific results. Despite modern day sensibilities adverse to noise, it's not nearly as big a problem in general as some make it out to be. Of course YMMV on a personal level and that's fine, but to say that serious photography can only be performed at low ISO is flat out silly.

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