What is this fascination with iso6400?

Started Feb 11, 2013 | Discussions thread
EinsteinsGhost Forum Pro • Posts: 11,977
Re: What is this fascination with iso6400?

Adventsam wrote:

Do you think you will get quality images at iso6400 with any system, ever? they may be ok but useful for what exactly? Why is a forum dedicated to a lower-end of camera systems seemingly obsessed with iso6400? OK, maybe camera y isnt as good as x at iso6400, who gives a xxxx, buy some decent glass. You would have to be shooting in a tunnel at night not to be able to get a decent result with f1.4/1.8 glass at iso1600, even 3200 is the max you want to be at, shotts above these iso's are really because there is no alternative, we've run out of f stops, we are at long focal lengths, we cant use flash. But let's be honest most of us are shooting closer to base, aren't we?

Both of my cameras can be considered lower-end (Sony A55 and Sony NEX-3). However, both are capable of producing useable ISO 6400 images. Here is an example of when that flexibility might come between a person’s ability to return home with memories that might have otherwise been left behind.

Couple of years ago, my wife and I were in Goa (India) visiting 400-500 year old cathedrals. I was carrying my A55 with only my travel zoom lens (Sigma 18-250 HSM OS). At the entrance of every church was a notice: No Tripod. No Flash. And stepping inside is a quick reminder of “No Lights”. And even if I could use flash, I prefer not to (certainly not direct flash).

Here is one of the dozens of images taken at well over ISO 1600.

ISO 6400, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/6s (Sony A55)

A faster lens wouldn’t have made a dramatic difference here (assuming it not affecting the DoF). And that brings me to another point. Choosing a faster lens, even at hand, may not be the optimal solution. Here is an example where I deliberately chose a smaller aperture as I prioritized DoF over ISO.

ISO 3200 (Sony A55)

In this case, I could have easily chosen f/4.5 and brought down the ISO to 1000. In fact, I could have chosen to shoot this at ISO 400 (or even 200) by taking advantage of stabilization but didn’t need to. A reason I didn’t opt for wider aperture is that the painting was going to be outside the DoF at that shooting distance.

Likewise, here is an example of an ISO 6400 image (NEX-3 used here) in good light and while using a fast telephoto lens. There were two challenges when preparing for this image: Variable lighting conditions (shaded areas) and uncertainty of direction my little maniac would take (need to also extend DoF). I wanted to be absolutely sure of relatively high shutter speed in shaded part of the dog park AND to ensure that the DoF is at least as much as the length of this little beast. This is an example where higher ISO was used in favor of DoF and desired shutter speed.

ISO 6400 (Sony NEX-3)

 EinsteinsGhost's gear list:EinsteinsGhost's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F828 Sony SLT-A55 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Sony 135mm F2.8 (T4.5) STF +12 more
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