The High ISO Obsession

Started Aug 18, 2011 | Discussions
Pixnat2
Pixnat2 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,655
The High ISO Obsession

has replaced the Megapixel Obsession.

The Marketing Guys have done a great job, congrats : it seems that the "most important" criteria to evaluate a camera is it's High ISO performance.

The fun part is that 99% of users will likely shoot 99% of the time under 800 ISO.

Funny Consumer World
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gasdockd Regular Member • Posts: 116
Re: The High ISO Obsession

Agreed that using ISO as a sole measure of a camera's capability is foolish. However, I can't discount the usefulness of high ISO to decrease exposure time in marginal light. For natural light shooters, good performance at higher ISOs is a useful tool to have when dealing with moving subjects or when handholding.

TedKurkowski Contributing Member • Posts: 781
Re: The High ISO Obsession

Pixnat2 wrote:

The fun part is that 99% of users will likely shoot 99% of the time under 800 ISO.

So you honestly believe that only 1% of DSLR users shoot sports, or in low light, or indoors available light without flash?

Amazing. Where did you get that statistic?

Ted

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Ted

Pixnat2
OP Pixnat2 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,655
Re: The High ISO Obsession

gasdockd wrote:

Agreed that using ISO as a sole measure of a camera's capability is foolish. However, I can't discount the usefulness of high ISO to decrease exposure time in marginal light. For natural light shooters, good performance at higher ISOs is a useful tool to have when dealing with moving subjects or when handholding.

Of course it's useful.

But aren't any 2008-2011 DSLR and m4/3 cameras good enough in that departement?
I honestly think they are more than enough!
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Pixnat2
OP Pixnat2 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,655
Re: The High ISO Obsession

TedKurkowski wrote:

Pixnat2 wrote:

The fun part is that 99% of users will likely shoot 99% of the time under 800 ISO.

So you honestly believe that only 1% of DSLR users shoot sports, or in low light, or indoors available light without flash?

Did I mention DSLR?

Amazing. Where did you get that statistic?

Nowhere. That's not a scientific post, just a emotional reaction against the High Iso Obsession

Ted

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Ted

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Kim Walker Regular Member • Posts: 470
Re: The High ISO Obsession

Competition in marketing it's a good thing. Now that we have reached more than sufficient megapixel standards, competition needed to move somewhere else. When all cameras have high ISO capabilities like a Nikon D3 we will have reached more than sufficient high ISO capabilities.

My hope is that the next marketing obsession will be for more than sufficient dynamic range. Though, my guess is that it will be for video capabilities.

TedKurkowski Contributing Member • Posts: 781
Re: The High ISO Obsession

Pixnat2 wrote:

Amazing. Where did you get that statistic?

Nowhere. That's not a scientific post, just a emotional reaction against the High Iso Obsession

OK, I understand. My reaction was based on the fact that I wish I could get really good ISO3200 out of an Oly DSLR. (But not enough to spend thousands to switch to a FF camera.)

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Ted

GNapp Studios Regular Member • Posts: 386
Crappy Light

I believe the reason to use high ISO is so you can use less power on your flash and save battery power and recycle time.

I will often set my ISO to 800 when using flash so I can set my flash at a lower power level.

The Olympus E-5 gives low noise up to ISO 1600 and good results at ISO 3200 using noise reduction software.

Even at 1600, I find the only reason to shoot at that ISO is crappy light. And if you are shooting in crappy light, you will get crappy shots anyway.

rssarma Veteran Member • Posts: 6,400
Frederic....

ixnat2 wrote:

has replaced the Megapixel Obsession.

The Marketing Guys have done a great job, congrats : it seems that the "most important" criteria to evaluate a camera is it's High ISO performance.

The fun part is that 99% of users will likely shoot 99% of the time under 800 ISO.

Funny Consumer World

I'm assuming your post is very tongue-in-cheek, otherwise that stat would be way off :-).

Having said that, while the focus may seem to have shifted from megapixels, I believe that high ISO has always been a very high priority metric to measure sensor performance. In this digital era it actually makes sense since that directly translates into a sensor's performance and efficiency in gathering light and processing data. Not to forget, better high iso performance also translates to the possibility of extracting better DR from a sensor at base ISO as well.

So, personally, I see no harm in it as it actually gives one a very good idea of the underlying imaging technology
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gasdockd Regular Member • Posts: 116
Re: The High ISO Obsession

Pixnat2 wrote:

gasdockd wrote:

Agreed that using ISO as a sole measure of a camera's capability is foolish. However, I can't discount the usefulness of high ISO to decrease exposure time in marginal light. For natural light shooters, good performance at higher ISOs is a useful tool to have when dealing with moving subjects or when handholding.

Of course it's useful.

But aren't any 2008-2011 DSLR and m4/3 cameras good enough in that departement?
I honestly think they are more than enough!
--
Cheers,

Frederic
http://azurphoto.com/blog/

"good enough" is a very subjective metric. When I push my E5 above ISO800, I always cringe because while I know I'll get the shot, the noise that appears at ISO1600 and 3200 is worse when compared to similarly priced Canon/Nikon cameras. Most of my lenses are fast, so I don't usually need to go above ISO800, but it's those marginal light situations where I feel that my equipment lets me down. It's not that often that it occurs, but when it does, it blemishes what is otherwise some very nice kit.

goblin
goblin Veteran Member • Posts: 3,524
Re: The High ISO Obsession

Pixnat2 wrote:

But aren't any 2008-2011 DSLR and m4/3 cameras good enough in that departement?

I honestly think they are more than enough!

I honestly think you have never tried to shoot a moving car in Manhattan, on a bright sunny day, the second you go in the shadow of a sky scrapper, and you have your polarizer on and no time to remove it. And I'm talking 12-60mm, not even mentioning the kit lens.

You might be surprised at the iso's you will need, and this - without trying to shoot a colonoscopy in the dark.

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Pixnat2
OP Pixnat2 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,655
Absolutely!

GNapp Studios wrote:

The Olympus E-5 gives low noise up to ISO 1600 and good results at ISO 3200 using noise reduction software.

Agree! It's more than good enough to get some pictures with ambiant light.

Even at 1600, I find the only reason to shoot at that ISO is crappy light. And if you are shooting in crappy light, you will get crappy shots anyway.

Yes!!! That's my point! crappy light = crappy shot You resume it well
So if one could get clean ISO 100000, one would get clean crappy shots

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TedKurkowski Contributing Member • Posts: 781
Re: Absolutely!

Pixnat2 wrote:

GNapp Studios wrote:

Even at 1600, I find the only reason to shoot at that ISO is crappy light. And if you are shooting in crappy light, you will get crappy shots anyway.

Yes!!! That's my point! crappy light = crappy shot You resume it well
So if one could get clean ISO 100000, one would get clean crappy shots

Huh? Low light doesn't necessarily mean crappy light. There are lots of interior spaces with well-balanced lighting but only eV5 lighting. For that, high ISO=a good photo. But at a lower shutter speed than you may need (e.g. if something is moving).

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Ted

Pixnat2
OP Pixnat2 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,655
Re: Frederic....

Hi Raj,

rssarma wrote:

ixnat2 wrote:

has replaced the Megapixel Obsession.

The Marketing Guys have done a great job, congrats : it seems that the "most important" criteria to evaluate a camera is it's High ISO performance.

The fun part is that 99% of users will likely shoot 99% of the time under 800 ISO.

Funny Consumer World

I'm assuming your post is very tongue-in-cheek, otherwise that stat would be way off :-).

Of course :-)!

Having said that, while the focus may seem to have shifted from megapixels, I believe that high ISO has always been a very high priority metric to measure sensor performance. In this digital era it actually makes sense since that directly translates into a sensor's performance and efficiency in gathering light and processing data. Not to forget, better high iso performance also translates to the possibility of extracting better DR from a sensor at base ISO as well.

So, personally, I see no harm in it as it actually gives one a very good idea of the underlying imaging technology

I agree with you Raj, but I'm just amused by the fact that ALL the web reviewer are saying the same about all cameras except the Nikon D7000 :

"... of course, when it comes to high iso capabilities, it's lags behind the latest APS-C, blah blah blah..."

Well, at least we are enjoying our "lagbed behind" cameras

Have a great day!

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Pixnat2
OP Pixnat2 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,655
Re: Absolutely!

TedKurkowski wrote:

Pixnat2 wrote:

GNapp Studios wrote:

Even at 1600, I find the only reason to shoot at that ISO is crappy light. And if you are shooting in crappy light, you will get crappy shots anyway.

Yes!!! That's my point! crappy light = crappy shot You resume it well
So if one could get clean ISO 100000, one would get clean crappy shots

Huh? Low light doesn't necessarily mean crappy light. There are lots of interior spaces with well-balanced lighting but only eV5 lighting. For that, high ISO=a good photo. But at a lower shutter speed than you may need (e.g. if something is moving).

Hi Ted,

You're right, of course. The thing that annoy me is that every review is saying that if a camera doesn't have the Nikon D7000 perf, it's a lagged behind camera.

I don't say that analysing the High ISO capabilities of a camera is not intersting, but of course, photography is A LOT more than only high ISO...

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Pixnat2
OP Pixnat2 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,655
Re: The High ISO Obsession

goblin wrote:

Pixnat2 wrote:

But aren't any 2008-2011 DSLR and m4/3 cameras good enough in that departement?

I honestly think they are more than enough!

I honestly think you have never tried to shoot a moving car in Manhattan, on a bright sunny day, the second you go in the shadow of a sky scrapper, and you have your polarizer on and no time to remove it. And I'm talking 12-60mm, not even mentioning the kit lens.

You might be surprised at the iso's you will need, and this - without trying to shoot a colonoscopy in the dark.

You're right, I've never tried it! But isn't ISO 1600 enough for that very specific shot?
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JLTaylor Senior Member • Posts: 1,093
Re: The High ISO Obsession

The winners of DP review challenges that should favor high ISO.

Surprising, but not really shocking that high ISO isn't used that much.

Out of the darkness
http://www.dpreview.com/challenges/Challenge.aspx?ID=2506
a challenge showing how photography has changed
now that ISO 400 isn't an upper limit.

Top 10 ISO's
400, 1600, 100, 400, 100, 200, 200, 400, 50, 200

How about Cities @ night
http://www.dpreview.com/challenges/Challenge.aspx?ID=4194
The more action the better

100, NA, 200, 1600, 200, 80, 3200, 200, 1600, NA

Streets @ night
http://www.dpreview.com/challenges/Challenge.aspx?ID=2138

100, 100, 800, 100, 400, 800, 1600, NA, 100, 100

Buildings @ night
http://www.dpreview.com/challenges/Challenge.aspx?ID=3585

200, 100, 400, 200, 100, 200, 400, 100, 200, 100

Low Light: Wild Animals
http://www.dpreview.com/challenges/Challenge.aspx?ID=2782
400, 400, 200, 250, 100, 800, 640, 100, 200, 200

kid's sports
http://www.dpreview.com/challenges/Challenge.aspx?ID=3940
400, 320, 1100, 800, 800, 800, 1600, 3200, 400, 200

Indoors @ on a cold winter day
http://www.dpreview.com/challenges/Challenge.aspx?ID=2453
800, 1600, 100, 320, 400, 200, 400, 400, 320, 800

ISO seems to get a lot more press then is justified.

Anything I print is taken at low ISO because they were taken in good light.

I don't get up before sunrise, or camp on ridges to get around equipment limitations, I do it because the light is better.

If I do go above 1600 the shot is (at best) going to be seen on a HD TV.

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J4Hug Senior Member • Posts: 1,231
Re: The High ISO Obsession

"good enough" is a very subjective metric. When I push my E5 above ISO800, I always cringe because while I know I'll get the shot, the noise that appears at ISO1600 and 3200 is worse when compared to similarly priced Canon/Nikon cameras. Most of my lenses are fast, so I don't usually need to go above ISO800, but it's those marginal light situations where I feel that my equipment lets me down. It's not that often that it occurs, but when it does, it blemishes what is otherwise some very nice kit.

I totally agree with this. As an example I was taking pictures of birds this morning which is far from bright using the ZD300 2,8 and 1.4 TC all strapped down on a tripod. The branches were sharp but as it was highly mobile the bird was not ,,, and that was at ISO800. I am fairly committed to the E system in part because I have so much kit ......The E5 is good but I just wish higher ISO's were more possible .

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J4Hug Senior Member • Posts: 1,231
A useful servey Jeff

Quite an eye opener - but then not everyone goes in for the challenges (perhaps they aren't breve enough! :P)
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goblin
goblin Veteran Member • Posts: 3,524
Re: The High ISO Obsession

Pixnat2 wrote:

You're right, I've never tried it! But isn't ISO 1600 enough for that very specific shot?
--

Unfortunately not. Might be (barely), if you had the time to take the polarizer off. Those are everyday situations where you easilly need a full blown iso 3200 or more.

Same if you try to shoot a motocross race with sections in the shadow. And yet, in the sunny sections you will be at f8, iso 200 and 1/800 speed without problems.

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