Day 241 – Exploring Maximum ISO

My canon 7D mark II camera enables me to take photographs and varying ISO, so today I decided to see how far I could push the ISO and what the results would be.

According to my camera manual I should consider the following:

  • ISO100-ISO400 – Sunny Outdoors
  • ISO400-ISO1600 – overcast skies or evening time
  • ISO1600 – ISO16000, H1, H2 dark indoors or night.

The manual also goes on to mention the higher the ISO, the farther the flash range will be – but I chose not to use the flash. H1 is the equivalent to ISO25,600 and H2 ISO51,200. It also mentions that I should see an increase in the amount noise and grain in the photos… so I am expecting to see that.

I chose to shoot handheld, in the dark with only street lighting to use my 28-300 mm lens.

ISO6400, F6.3, 1 sec
ISO6400, F6.3, 1 sec

First shot and as you can see a 1 sec exposure is too slow for me to hand hold with, hence the street lights are blurry, and you can also see movement of people walking within the scene.

ISO51,200 F4.5, 1/13sec
ISO51,200 F4.5, 1/13sec

The above shot was taken an H2, the maximum ISO for my camera. It is really grainy but it was dark, but with a hand held shutter speed of less than 1/13 sec I did capture any movement and everything is in focus. Is the image good enough – well apart from the composition being rubbish, if it is a choce between getting a shot and not getting a shot maybe it is OK – it also depends what the end use is.

ISO51,200 F4.5, 1/13sec - edited in Lightroom
ISO51,200 F4.5, 1/13sec – edited in Lightroom

Above is exactly the same camera raw photo but I have edited it light room to reduce some of the noise, and it looks better.

ISO51,200 F4.5, 1/13sec - edited in Lightroom
ISO51,200 F4.5, 1/13sec – edited in Lightroom

A further edit – turning it into black and white and the shot looks grainy, but I don’t think it looks any worse than some of the images I see in my local black and white weekly newspaper – which I think gives the indication that if creating the image is more important that not creating the image… it is important to know what my camera is fully capable of.

I experimented again, this time I stood in the dark with my hubby under a street light and tried to capture him standing still, the photos are clearer at the lower ISO’s but they are usable – ISO16000 is perhaps the highest I should use rather than ISO25600 (H1) but there is not a huge difference when looking at them at web quality … so I know I can push the ISO high if I need too.

ISO800, F4.5, .3sec
ISO800, F4.5, 0.3sec
ISO12800, F4.5, 1/5sec
ISO12800, F4.5, 1/5sec
ISO16000, F4.5, 1/8sec
ISO16000, F4.5, 1/8sec
ISO25600, F4.5, 1/8sec
ISO25600, F4.5, 1/8sec

Do you know how high an ISO you can create an image with on your camera? My camera is now set up so that the Auto ISO takes images between ISO100-3200, but I can manually change the ISO between ISO100-16000, if I want to change if further then I need to go into the settings … as it really is too grainy … but I now know the options are there!

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