Beginner's question on A vs. M :)

Started Feb 1, 2014 | Discussions thread
Ray Sachs
Ray Sachs Forum Pro • Posts: 10,580
Re: Wrong - you need EC anytime you use auto-ISO

Robin Casady wrote:

Ray Sachs wrote:

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.

Yes, understood. For some types of photography, final image quality is paramount and anything that degrades from the near perfection these sensors are capable of at base ISO is a no-no. I get that. But for some of us, the ultimate in IQ isn't as important as the flexibility that these sensors provide in just getting the shot in very difficult circumstances. And it's all relative. I realize that the Df at 12,800 doesn't have anywhere close to the IQ that it has at 100, but it's so incredibly good at 12,800 compared to anything else I've used that I spend more time celebrating that than worrying about what it's lost relative to base ISO...

If I was primarily a landscape shooter or a cat and flower kind of shooter (and I'm not denigrating ANY of that), I'd probably be drawn to a resolution monster like the D800, want lenses that could live up to all of that resolution, and stay as close to base ISO as humanly possible, even resorting to a tripod to get there a lot of the time. And I'd probably never or almost never use auto-ISO.

But that's a very very small part of what I do, I almost never use a tripod, and for me the lower res, better high ISO, workable with lesser lenses Df is the better combination for me. Because when I see something shot at 6400 or 12,800 that looks as good at it does, I'm excited about that rather than worried about how much I've lost by raising the ISO that high. This camera get's useable (for me!) shots in conditions that nothing else I've shot with will and auto-ISO is a really huge tool in my toolbox...


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