The - really - optimal ISO setting for a camera

Started Nov 17, 2012 | Discussions thread
jrtrent Veteran Member • Posts: 4,341
Re: The - really - optimal ISO setting for a camera

FisherHU wrote:

I just have been told the fact I have already known but not really kept in mind that the digital sensors are have fixed sensitivity, the ISO changes done different hardware and software ways.

It means - theoretically - the camera have only one "best" setting or a very narrow range of the ISO values to present the highest dynamic range and the possible finest details. However changing the ISO it could lead loosing details either in the shadows or in the highlights.

I find the reviews here at DPReview and at Imaging Resources to provide good information about which ISO's deliver the best detail and dynamic range.  Sometimes it's a bit of a compromise, with the best detail coming at an ISO setting that's a bit lower than the one giving the best dynamic range.  The best way to determine yours is to simply test the different ISO speeds and use the one you like best.

Yours is an interesting post in that I've long liked to just leave my camera set at that one "best" ISO and work within whatever limitations that speed imposes.  Having shot slide film for a few decades with film speeds ranging from 25 to 100, I really don't feel hampered if my "best" speed on a digital camera is ISO 200 or 100, or even lower.  I'm accustomed to working at one, fairly moderate sensitivity rating and simply not pressing the shutter release when light conditions are too low for my camera to perform at my level of expectation.  Even without utilizing high ISO speeds, there's plenty of things to take pictures of in "good light" or by adding support for longer exposures or by using flash.

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