ISO sweet spots
/forum/topic/1171398/0

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Tapeman
Registered: Feb 21, 2004
Total Posts: 662
Country: United States

I have seen a post here with a chart showing the "best" ISO settings with regard to noise for a Canon 5D2 and wondered where I can find a similar chart for my 1D4. I have been using full stop incraments for ISO as I read that 1/3 or 1/2 stops were not as good overall.



gdanmitchell
Registered: Jun 28, 2009
Total Posts: 8413
Country: United States

Tapeman wrote:
I have seen a post here with a chart showing the "best" ISO settings with regard to noise for a Canon 5D2 and wondered where I can find a similar chart for my 1D4. I have been using full stop incraments for ISO as I read that 1/3 or 1/2 stops were not as good overall.


The good news is that if you are worrying about which half or third stop gives you a "better" image, you can stop worrying about it. The differences are truly trivial and, at worst, are only barely visible in side by side comparisons at 100% magnification if you go looking for them.

For the most part, you can simply shoot at whatever "full stop increment" ISO (100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, etc) you need to the photograph you are making and not bother introducing this additional complication into your work process.

Dan



Speter
Registered: Dec 07, 2009
Total Posts: 322
Country: United States

I never noticed any compromises when shooting at 1/3 or 1/2 stops...



rolette
Registered: Dec 08, 2009
Total Posts: 441
Country: United States

Bad data... On most Canon bodies, -1/3 stop is better than the traditional full stops for noise.

Here's the chart for the 1D4...

Edit: hmph, the direct link isn't working right. Just click on the 1D4 on that page and you'll get the graph.

Jay



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8454
Country: United States

rolette wrote: ...On most Canon bodies, -1/3 stop is better than the traditional full stops for noise.

Interesting; according to that site, on my 7D I'm better off shooting at ISO 200 -1/3 (159, specifically) than at ISO 100; and 400 -1/3 is better than 200 +1.3 (though not as good as 200).



coibeo2610
Registered: Feb 28, 2011
Total Posts: 492
Country: United States

Same to me when I never pay attention to the different of full stop or 1/2, 1/3 increment for ISO on my 1D IV. Maybe I'm just not pretty anal on pixel peeping. ISO 1600 is kinda no noise to me though.

-MC



umihoshijima
Registered: Oct 23, 2011
Total Posts: 197
Country: United States

I believe the rationale is that there are several "true iso's" that the sensor is drived at. All the others are arrived at by pushing/pulling the true ISOs (like the ISO expansion feature, which underexposes then pushes).

I don't know if this is true, but it's the thinking behind the fact that there are better stops than others. I remember this was a big deal with the 5D2, and I have a friend who only shoots video on ISO's that are multiples of 80. heheh.



Rajan Parrikar
Registered: Sep 09, 2006
Total Posts: 1203
Country: United States

See this discussion -

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=56947.msg463071#msg463071

and

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=56947.msg463097#msg463097



BluesWest
Registered: Nov 02, 2009
Total Posts: 729
Country: United States

The differences are truly trivial and, at worst, are only barely visible in side by side comparisons at 100% magnification if you go looking for them.

Listen to Dan.

The "tests" for the 7D supposedly show differences between certain ISO settings, but in practice I see no differences whatsoever. I have no doubt that this will be the case for every other camera, including the 1DIV.

As already suggested, just use whatever ISO setting is appropriate to capture the image, and try to avoid obsessing about trivialities.

John



n0b0
Registered: Sep 22, 2008
Total Posts: 5654
Country: Australia

How about the lowest ISO you can get away with in whatever lighting condition you're shooting.



Evangelos
Registered: Dec 08, 2006
Total Posts: 78
Country: United States

It's funny, I just spent the last hour looking at different iso stops in pictures I've taken with my 5D3 (now sold) and now I find this thread. Its quite evident to me that 160, 320, and 640 are the best iso's through 800. Beyond that it seems to make no difference. ISO 100 has more evident banding than and blotchiness in the shadows than 160, while 125 is the biggest offender. The same holds true 1 stop up from each of these 1/3 stops. Is it a huge difference? No. But if you feel you may be manipulating the shadows at all, stick to 160, 320, 640 and definitely stay away from 125, 250, and 500.

These are my findings after looking at my pics. I believe the same holds true for the 5D2

Evan



Evangelos
Registered: Dec 08, 2006
Total Posts: 78
Country: United States

Oops! I see now you were talking about the 1D4...my bad.

Evan



Tapeman
Registered: Feb 21, 2004
Total Posts: 662
Country: United States

I have the 5D2 and have been using 160, 320, and 640. That is why I was hoping to find a chart for the 1D4.



Steve Spencer
Registered: Nov 08, 2006
Total Posts: 6978
Country: Canada

rolette wrote:
Bad data... On most Canon bodies, -1/3 stop is better than the traditional full stops for noise.

Here's the chart for the 1D4...

Edit: hmph, the direct link isn't working right. Just click on the 1D4 on that page and you'll get the graph.

Jay


Thanks for the chart. It is helpful, but it does depend on the Canon body. For example my old 5D MKI was best on whole ISO value (e.g., 100, 200, 400, 800), but my new 5D MKII is better on - 1/3 values (e.g. 160, 320, 640, 1280).



Evangelos
Registered: Dec 08, 2006
Total Posts: 78
Country: United States

Here is a very good chart :

http://home.comcast.net/~NikonD70/

Evan



ratsnest74
Registered: Feb 12, 2006
Total Posts: 238
Country: United States

makes it look like the 5DIII is worse than the 5Dc, the 1DsII, the 1DIII, the 3Ds and the D4, going backward Canon!



OntheRez
Registered: Jul 16, 2008
Total Posts: 2632
Country: United States

Evangelos wrote:
Here is a very good chart :

http://home.comcast.net/~NikonD70/

Evan


A truly fascinating set of charts and analyses. Thanks for the link. Several general observations: (1) Nikon models are fully represented whereas Canon's are spotty. Would be nice if the data could be collected to fill out the chart)s) (2) For a camera model era (i.e. those models introduced in the same time frame) there isn't much difference between Nikon and Canon. The one notable exception is that the Nikon models hold an edge in low ISO, say <=ISO 200. (3) The differences between the 5DII and the 5DIII are remarkably small and I wonder if the human eye can detect them. The exception of course is the 5DIII's addition of extremely high ISO capacities. (4) With the exception of Nikon's seeming greater DR at very low ISO, it's difficult to say one brand is particularly different than the other. Camera choice is apparently made more on other factors such as familiarity, lens ownership, etc. (5) What is not apparent from this discussion is just how much difference these measurements make in real world photography. I've read his technical explanations, and while I follow them my expertise is not in this area. Just studying the charts with a statistician's eye, it seems to me that there is quite a lot of uproar over what is measurably very little difference. Again, the Nikon superiority at low ISO being the exception.

Would really like to know how much difference these measured artifacts make in real world photography. Also Dan Mitchel's observation that part ISO stops aren't really important is borne out by these charts. Yes, there are inflections between whole numbers but they are unlikely to be statistically different.

Very interesting data, but for me, raises more questions than it answers.

Robert



gdanmitchell
Registered: Jun 28, 2009
Total Posts: 8413
Country: United States

n0b0 wrote:
How about the lowest ISO you can get away with in whatever lighting condition you're shooting.


Exactly.

Evangelos wrote:
It's funny, I just spent the last hour looking at different iso stops in pictures I've taken with my 5D3 (now sold) and now I find this thread. Its quite evident to me that 160, 320, and 640 are the best iso's through 800. Beyond that it seems to make no difference. ISO 100 has more evident banding than and blotchiness in the shadows than 160, while 125 is the biggest offender. The same holds true 1 stop up from each of these 1/3 stops. Is it a huge difference? No. But if you feel you may be manipulating the shadows at all, stick to 160, 320, 640 and definitely stay away from 125, 250, and 500.

These are my findings after looking at my pics. I believe the same holds true for the 5D2


I've shot a 5D2 for a bit more than four years, making tens of thousands of exposures, and producing many prints in sizes up to 24" x 36". This whole "fractional ISO" business impresses me as measurebation of the most bizarre type. Here's the deal. I could show you two 24" x 36" prints of extremely high quality produced from images shot on the 5D2, with one exposed at ISO 100 and one at ISO 200, and you would be completely unable to tell which is which. I could likely include one shot at ISO 400 and absolutely no one could tell which it was unless they were challenged to figure it out, looked extremely closely at the prints side by side... and then they might have a sort of hunch ("is it this one maybe?") as opposed to seeing a clear and definitive difference. Heck, I could even toss in a very fine ISO 800 shot that had been carefully and appropriately post-processed and you would be very impressed with the quality... and it wouldn't occur to you to wonder about the ISO.

Of all that things that might actually make some difference in one's photographs, aesthetically or technically, worrying about which partial ISO value to select for optimal image quality is... not even on the list.

OntheRez wrote:
Would really like to know how much difference these measured artifacts make in real world photography. Also Dan Mitchel's observation that part ISO stops aren't really important is borne out by these charts. Yes, there are inflections between whole numbers but they are unlikely to be statistically different.


Or, more importantly, unlikely to be visibly different. ;-)

Dan



Eyvind Ness
Registered: Dec 12, 2007
Total Posts: 829
Country: Norway

OK, Dan. Let's have a real world example. You and I both have a perfect shot of a truly unique moment, but we both missed the exposure by quite a bit, somehow, in the heat of the moment, say by 1 full stop. However, I managed to use ISO 160, while you were at ISO 400. Now, which shot would you rather try to save during post processing?



Tapeman
Registered: Feb 21, 2004
Total Posts: 662
Country: United States

Small things add up. If I get a few of them right it may improve my images.

Being short on the artsey/creative abilities at least if I can get the technical aspects nailed maybe it will help when I get lucky and capture a realy nice image.

Overall I am not much of a pixel peeper, but I am a gear guy and I try to get the best performance out of any tool I use.

I don't see a downside to minor adjustments that may improve my pics.



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