I have read/heard a lot about the auto-ISO function on cameras lately and everyone of the “experts” claim that it should never be used. I disagree. I think that sometimes, you have to trust your camera to make the an adjustment on the fly.
The picture above is from a community theater production of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. I shot the dress rehearsal for the troupe and had full access to the theater. Even with the full access, the lighting wasn’t good. Stage lighting never is.
I work with my camera on manual. That way I can set the aperture wide open to get the most light and still have a fast enough shutter speed to stop the performers movement. By using Auto-ISO, I only have to worry about the aperture and shutter speed for the image I am trying to capture and the camera will choose the correct ISO to get the exposure correct. As the lighting changes in the scene, the camera adjusts the ISO to compensate for the increase or decrease of light.
There is a danger in allowing the camera to choose the ISO. As the ISO goes up, the amount of noise in the image goes up also. The secret to using Auto-ISO is to know the limits of your camera. My Nikon D300 can produce good quality images upto ISO 1600. Above that, the noise gets to a point where it is noticeable.
At ISO 1600 and lower, the noise isn’t a big factor. Yes, the images aren’t great quality, but they are usable and that is the goal of shooting.
In answer to all of the experts who say not to use Auto-ISO: I agree, unless that is the tool that you need to capture the image you need in the situation you find yourself. Learn to use your camera as a tool and trust it to do the job it was intended to do.
Posted 2 years, 6 months ago at 12:25 pm. Add a comment
The exposure is controlled by three important settings on your camera. Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.
The first two can affect the feel and focus of your image. Slow the shutter speed down to give the feeling of movement. Speed it up to freeze the action. Open your aperture up and create a shallow depth of field causing the subject to be the only thing in focus, thus drawing the eye of the viewer toward it.
Shot at a slower shutter speed allows the motion of this actor to be blurred as he does his flip.
By using a large aperture, the singer is in focus and the background is slightly blurred.
Shutter speed and aperture have a huge influence of the artistic side of the image, but ISO is the setting that can make or break the picture. It controls the quality of the image and, when used right, can allow the photographer to use the other two settings to match the image to their vision.
Setting your camera to a low ISO, like 200 on Nikons or 100 on Canons, allows the highest image quality available from the camera, but it limits the sensitivity of the sensor. This can make the fast shutter speeds or small apertures that a photographer is looking for in some situations, hard to achieve. Especially high shutter speeds.
Remember, you should be using at least the reciprocal of your lens length. So if I’m shooting with a 150 mm lens, I should be using at least a shutter speed of 1/150 of a second in order to not introduce any camera shake into the image.
I was in a high school theater to shoot the images used in this post. The stage, even when under full light, was dark. As a result I had to use a very large aperture (usually 2.8) and a low shutter speed for the lens I was using (70-200), but by raising the ISO from my normal 200 to 1600, I was able to raise the shutter speed up to a point that helped eliminate camera shake and get most of the shots I wanted.
The trade-off? High ISO settings can introduce a lot of noise into an image. If you know the limitations of your camera, you can reduce the affect of the noise in your images. My Nikon D300 produces good images up to ISO 1600, so I was able to set the ISO at 1600 and still get usable images.
At this size. the image still looks good even at ISO 1600
You can see in the image above that the higher ISO setting doesn’t affect the quality that much, but if you click on it, you will be able to see a larger version and how the noise is beginning to affect overall quality of the picture. But even then, it isn’t that bad yet.
Don’t be afraid to raise your ISO to get the image you are trying to capture, but be aware of the possible affects it is going to have on your pictures. It is one of the tools we have as photographers and if we know how to use it, changing ISO can help.
You can read more about ISO settings at The Digital Photography School and The Digital SLR Guide websites.
Please feel free to leave comment and tell me what you think.
Posted 2 years, 12 months ago at 10:30 am. Add a comment
I had the opportunity to shoot our school’s fall musical, Annie.
Shooting in a dark theater is a challenge, but I have learned to trust my D300 and pushing the ISO up to 1600. If I go much over that, I begin to get some noisy images. Open up my 70-200 to f2.8 and wait for the spot to hit the subject and I can get some pretty good images.
The other thing I did was produce a picture of the entire cast. Not an easy job, given the situation. Low light, limited room, and a wide subject on stage. The solution? A panorama. Yes, a panorama. I took a series of shots of the cast and stitched them into a panorama. Photoshop has a great panorama stitching capability.
Cast and Crew
If you want to see more of the images from Annie you can see them in my gallery.
Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think.
Posted 3 years ago at 6:46 pm. Add a comment
Last night, I was invited by a friend to see her perform in a play at the King High School where I work. I was honored to have been asked. It isn’t every day that a teacher is asked to watch a student do what they love.
It was a fun evening. I realized that we have some very talented and passionate people on our campus. The acting was good, the singing was good, and the photography was fun. OH! That last part was about me.
Shooting in VERY low light and getting the camera to capture images that were usable was a challenge, especially as I was kind of stuck in a seat and couldn’t get a variety of angles. Also, flash photography was not allowed. Did any of that stop me? Noooooo.
Using the 70-200 f2.8 wide open on aperture priority with the D300′s ISO set to auto (essentially 1600) yielded some good quality images. I never cease to be amazed at the way the D300 handles the relatively high ISO of 1600. It just seems to take the image and remove the noise. Result? Good, usable images. You can view all of the images here: Nature Light Photo Galleries.
As for the kids: like I said, they were passionate about what they were doing. Not all of them were great actors or great singers or great dancers, but they got up on stage and performed. You could tell that they loved what they were doing and the were proud to do it. They didn’t care about what others thought or how they compared to others, they just did it. It made me realize that to succeed in anything, you have to do the same thing.
Almost as a side note, a parent approached me asking if I was Mr. Williamson. After confirming her suspicions and steeling myself for the onslaught of “I want to talk to you about how my kid is doing in your class…”, she introduced herself as the mother of the lead in the play and she wanted to let me know that I was her son’s favorite teacher. I had her son in my class THREE years ago!!! I didn’t even think he remembered me. To tell the truth, I was TOTALLY not ready for that and very pleasantly surprised.
Like I said, to succeed you have to be passionate about what you are doing. The results might surprise you.
Posted 4 years, 1 month ago at 8:46 am. Add a comment