Auto ISO?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by rangerrick9211, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. rangerrick9211

    rangerrick9211 TPF Noob!

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    I have an auto ISO setting on my 40D and have been using it for a while. I was wondering if there is anything wrong with this approach. If so, I understand the point behind and the methodology to ISO, but how do you look at scene and determine what ISO you want to use. Trial and error approach or just a general feel matched with aperture and shutter.
     
  2. dhilberg

    dhilberg TPF Noob!

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    The only thing I don't like about auto-ISO features is you don't have complete control over what ISO the camera will choose. My D80 isn't too bad about it though, as it will only ramp up the ISO if the desired aperture/shutter speed can't be met with the light available. So it's somewhat predictable. But for me, it's just as easy to set the ISO manually, which is what I do anymore. I haven't used auto-ISO in forever.

    As for what ISO to choose, well it depends on what you're doing, how much light is available, and what lens you have on the body.

    For handheld stuff I shoot almost exclusively in aperture priority mode. I choose my desired aperture and use ISO to increase the shutter speed until it's as high as I want/need. The camera will always choose the fastest available shutter speed.

    You might try that. When handholding, just remember to keep your shutter speed at 1/(focal length) to keep camera shake at a minimum, unless you have VR or IS.
     
  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Always use the lowest ISO you can. The higher the ISO, the greater the noise your images will have. I always recommend against auto-ISO except where absolutely necessary since it may raise the ISO to a level which produces unusable images.
     
  4. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree with tirediron - each setting you let the camera auto control is always going to have a risk associated with it - let it control the shutter speed and it might be too slow - let it control the aperture and it might be too wide - let it control the ISO and it might be too high.

    I am always annoyed that you can't (far as I know) set limits for the camera to work within for auto settings so don't treat auto ISO as an easy setting to be ignored - image noise is a real pain and it can destroy finer details in a shot. Myself I use ISO manually and generaly sit on ISO 200 - on my 400D that is usable without too much worry for a well exposde shot - if I need more speed I jump to ISO 400 and if I have enough light I go down to ISO 100. I set my own limit on ISO 400 since after that noise is a problem but I will go to ISO 800 on the odd occasion where nothing else is possible.
    Take some shots - look at them and work out your upper limit for ISO usage and then work from there - choose a good low setting to sit on most times and then adjust that to suit the needs of the different situation you shoot in
     
  5. rangerrick9211

    rangerrick9211 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all for your responses. Awesome input on everything. But I may want to add a re-edit real quick. Like a previously said, I understand the need of ISO and the issues associated. And when I have the purpose of going out to find and compose a photo I do manually control ISO because I have an infinite amount of time. I am having more issues with tourists walk around photos and portrait/animal photos in which every shot counts. Could you maybe walk me through your approach to finding a healthy ISO once on site, and then your approach to adjustments throughout the day.

    But again, thank you for your responses. They have shed alot of light on my issue. You guys are full of fun info that I wanna pick at.
     
  6. In2daBlue

    In2daBlue TPF Noob!

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    I fall on the side of not using auto ISO. The noise of high ISO shots is more distracting than other faults of auto features and can ruin a shot where, as you said, you can't miss. Depending on your light, find a good low ISO, 200 - 700 I would imagine, and then work your manual settings from there. If you're really concerned about the timing of not sitting there and adjusting settings in fear of missing a shot, why not set the ISO to an acceptable level and then work in S or A priority? That way you are maintaining control of the noise but letting the auto functions control the changing light you may encounter.
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    generally its very tricky to give such advice though the internet - since we are not in the light to adivise - and you might want to look to a local camera club or similar and see if you can get some in the field help from members - that would really help you in many other areas as well.

    for me (in general) I set to ISO 200 standard on my camera, when I take it out of the bag that is the ISO its on - if its a very bright and clear day and I am shooting with the sun behind me I will drop to ISO 100 - if I am shooting into shade I might stay on 200 or even go up to 400 - similar if I find that I am not getting the speeds I need even in good lighting. Its all about experimentation though and seeing what you are happy with in a shot as well as deciding the order of importance for your settings for a given scene - a lanscape might have aperture as the most important setting (for the depth of field) whilst a wildlife shot might have shutter speed so you link your settings back to your primary setting - the one that needs to work for the shot to work.
    Then you go to the others making sure that they will work with minimal costs to the shot - sorry I really can't say more than that I am afraid
     
  8. bchalifour

    bchalifour TPF Noob!

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    Auto-ISO is for people who buy a camera but want it to drive itself and make all the decisions for them. It is a choice.
    Personally I'd rather be in control and know exactly what I and the camera are doing. How to know which ISO to use? Low light=high iso (and noise/grain for some cameras. Check yours at the highest iso settings and see what happens and what level of noise and color bias you are ready to accept) ; intense light = low iso and best quality of image (figure out what the best iso for your camera is) 100 iso for most; 200 iso for some.
    In order to get the most of the features of your camera, teach yourself to use it with all the features all in manual mode, then when you understand their bell and whistles, try various auto-modes, auto-focus, exposure (either aperture or shutter speed priority) and stay away from the "P" and "Auto" modes of exposures [in many years of practice I have never used them on my cameras and have never regretted it, the opposite in fact as this post must assert it].
    BC
     
  9. jdwyer

    jdwyer TPF Noob!

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    I have been doing the same the past few months. I have had point and shoots all my life, and if I wanted to continue using auto settings I wouldn't have paid so d*mn much for a SLR. Manual settings are half the fun.

    I like this thread because I too have not dabbled in ISO settings too much. I usually just leave my ISO around 100 and set the aperture and shutter speed based on that. It never really occurred to me to bump up the ISO so i could get a faster shutter or vice-versa.
    I have since begun experimenting with my camera to see where the noise starts to become distracting and takes away from the photo. But, as far as I'm concerned, a photo with a little noise in it is better than a photo that is blurred because of a long shutter and no tripod

    my $.02
     
  10. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    very true jdwyer - blur can't be removed, but noise can. Also for a websized image or for a print a lot of noise can be lost with little to no harsh editing at all. It all depends on the end result you want though
     
  11. rangerrick9211

    rangerrick9211 TPF Noob!

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    Beautiful inputs. It is all received and noted. I usually shoot it aperture and shutter priority, with the occasional manual for the long exposure shots... So the only auto function I have been using has been the ISO. But I think I've grabbed some great ideas out of the posts so far. Thank you so much. But on too another ISO issue, has anyone used Canon's(or a similar brands) ISO compensation for long exposures? And also, can you get away with shooting at high ISO's if you run noise reductions in post processing (photoshop or noiseninja)? And just to top the cake of curiosity, I know I'll eventually look into getting a flash, how does a flash change up your approach to setting an ISO?
     
  12. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Well;

    1) never used the more powerfull in camera noise control software - though its mostly for things like starshots where your dealing with long shutter speeds (over 30 seconds) and it can take as long as the exposure was to perform that noise reduction - its not really for more normal shooting

    2) certainly noise reduction software can give you even more scope to work with noise - it will depend on what software and how good you are with it as to how much increase it will give you, but its certianly something to look into

    3) flash is great at letting you add light to a scene and thus let you keep your ISO lower or to fill in light for a backlit subject - its a whole area unto itself flash and the good use of it and it takes a lot to properly master the use of. Its also very dependant on how and what you shoot - a wildlife shooter is generally going to have fewer flashes and a less complext setup than a studio photographer who might have strobes, flashses umbrellas and more.
     

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