A99 all the way up to ISO 409 600 - real world samples!

Started Feb 28, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Nordstjernen Veteran Member • Posts: 6,876
A99 all the way up to ISO 409 600 - real world samples!

Reading discussions on the new 16 Mp Nikon FF camera, I am surprised by the number of photographers who want to trade high resolution for what is expected to be tad cleaner very high ISO performance.

I have been looking around, and I really struggle with finding real life very high ISO samples on this forum. Sure, there are some, but most are taken with slow glass - hardly the way to go if low light performance matters!

So just for fun I took my A99 with the Zeiss 50 mm f:1.4 lens all the way up to ISO 409 600, starting at ISO 6400, to find out if such exposure is useable at all from this camera. The result represent 7 stop from ISO 6400 and 12 stop from ISO 100! This should be close to the full dynamic range of the sensor, so we should not expect much more than a very grainy result and serious lack of detail. Still there are enough detail to recognise larger structures. Actually useable for some kind of documentary work when there is no other option than going for extreme under-exposure!

I did the test in very low light so that people who don't know that the sensitivity of digital sensors is linear should blame me for using a too bright scene - I think 8 sec and f:1.4 at ISO 6400 should be ok, and much lower than useable for any kind of high ISO handheld photography.

And yes, I know the multiframe option, so you don't need to suggest this setting for more smoothed-out noise.

Back to the start of my tread:

I have found some news/press photographs on other web pages, but for this genre some noise doesn't hurt - actually the grain pattern does make these pictures stand out more trustworthy and content is not at all affected.

With high pixel density we can capture extreme detail, and also crop tight for sports/action/wildlife-BIF photography. With a low Mp camera you need to fill the frame much better, which takes much longer expensive bright lenses. With the high Mp camera we can use shorter focal lengths and still crop while keeping great detail. Or, if we don't accept more visible noise when cropping, we can just buy these expensive bright lenses!

And back to the test: Here are the samples, 50% Crop from raw, just tone and color corrected and no extra noise reduction:

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