Auto ISO with manual mode. Am I making a mistake ?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by nixgeek, Aug 14, 2019.

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  1. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    About a year ago I taught a beginner how to use Auto iso with her Nikon D3200,and for her it was a revelation.

    She had unfortunately been instructed by A person who I considered to be a poor teacher, to use Full manual, which with a one-button camera like the D3200 is more difficult than with a two-button intermediate or high-end camera.

    Once she was shown the idea of picking her desired aperture and shutter speed and allowing the camera to adjust the ISO upward or downward as necessary, she was able to shoot for an entire day with very little effort, and to concentrate upon composition and timing more than on futzing round with her camera's fiddly settings.


     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Yep go back 10 years or so and ISO performance dropped off fast as you went higher and it was far more important to keep an eye on it, so using auto wouldn't have been much of a benefit to photographers. Today where you can easily get to 3200 or higher without huge detriment to the exposure quality; and where nikon has invariant sensors which don't even mind some underexposure; then auto gets far more practical for the ISO!

    In fact as digital has continued to advance its become clear that if ISO performance keeps going at its current rate we might well reach a point where the only time you might have to change it manually is in flash dominated lighting where you want the camera firing on a specific exposure every single time without variation.
     
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  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    At one time even high-end cameras offered very poor middle and higher ISO performance. My first good digital camera was a Nikon D1 in 2001 and it was not that good a camera above about iso 200.today? We get good pictures at ISO 12,800!
     
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  4. Warhorse

    Warhorse No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree, the unabomber was wrong...not all of modern technology is bad. :boogie:
     
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  5. TreeofLifeStairs

    TreeofLifeStairs No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hmmm. I’m going to have to try this. I’ve been a A priority shooter pretty much since I began shooting. There’s some times the camera doesn’t pick a suitable ss for my desired shot though. Next time I go out I’m going to give it a shot.
     
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  6. nixgeek

    nixgeek TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone! It's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one that uses auto-iso as the go-to setting. Landscape, or studio work it's all full manual, but ISO is usually the more acceptable sacrifice when searching for a decent exposure.

    Thanks to everyone that replied!
     
  7. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Use of Auto-ISO depends on the situation.
    • Example1, when I shoot sports I want control over the aperture (wide open), and shutter speed (min 1/500 sec), so the only variable left is ISO. So I go auto-ISO in Manual mode.
    • Example2, for my Olympus and casual shooting, I shoot in Program mode with auto ISO.
    • Example3, for my Olympus EM1-mk1, in P mode, using the electronic/silent shutter, I do NOT use auto-ISO in dim/room lighting. Because Olympus implemented it badly; the shutter speed will drop down to 1/13 second, before the ISO will rise. That is a stupid low shutter speed. At 1/13 sec, anything moving will be blurred.
    Quote
    I've read in a number of places I should be using either full manual, aperture/shutter priority​

    IMHO, that is people "pontificating" that everybody should be doing what they are doing, or they are doing it wrong.
    And I call that dumb.
    The camera exposure control settings are like tools in a toolbox.
    I will use the best/most appropriate mode for the task, and I use all four; P,S,A and M.
    The trick is LEARNING each mode and learning when to best use each one.​
    • Example1 - I might use S to fix the shutter speed at 1/1000 sec, when shooting day sports. I want to fix the shutter speed for sports, and I have plenty of light for the lens to be set to any aperture.
    • Example2 - I might use A, to fix the aperture at "wide open," when shooting night sports. In the dim light, I want the lens wide open and the camera to pick the fastest shutter speed for that aperture.
    • Example3 - When the lighting in the background is inconsistent, I don't want that to throw off the exposure for the subject. Example shooting in a gym, the camera often gets confused by the lights in the background, badly underexposing the players. However, the lighting is even, so I can set the exposure manually and leave it there the entire night.
    Otherwise it is like the saying "if the only tool I have it a hammer, the world looks like a nail."
    So I would use a hammer to pound in a screw ????
    Or a hammer to break a piece of lumber, rather than a saw ????​
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
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  8. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I would not say that ISO is the more acceptable sacrifice.
    ISO is ONE of the three sides of the exposure triangle.
    So it is what balance of the three sides is appropriate for a given shoot.
    • Example1 - If I want flowy water in a stream, I want a SLOW shutter speed, but to do that I need to get my aperture as small as I can, and my ISO as low as I can. So the target is shutter speed, and I drive both aperture and ISO to get that low shutter speed.
    • Example2 - For max quality still life/landscape, I would set the ISO LOW, then select the best shutter speed and aperture after that.
    There is a time and place for auto, and a time and place for manual.
     
  9. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    That is why I do NOT like single dial/wheel cameras.
    Too much of a pain for ME to use.

    I have to have BOTH dials/wheels, for easy aperture and shutter speed control.
    I would have loved a third wheel for ISO, but I reconfigured the camera so I can press the record button and turn the rear wheel, and I can adjust the ISO, with the camera at my face.
     
  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    One point is that Nikon allows users to set the slow shutter speed threshold below which the camera will not drop, and with the D810, the ISO performance is so good, and the sensor so close to invariant or truly invariant, that it does not really matter much what the shutter speed is, or that the exposure May appear black on the rear of the camera: if you were shooting in raw mode, even nearly black exposures on the back of the camera are easily recoverable in post.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
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  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The use of automatic ISO setting was the source of a very controversial post about four years ago, in which several people described in detail various scenarios in which use of auto ISO in manual exposure mode greatly helped their actual shooting procedure in the field.

    With the latest couple of generations of Nikon cameras such as the D600 and newer,or the D800 and newer,and the D7100 and newer, or the D3400 and newer,in many situations with careful use of the auto ISO set up options that are offered to users, in many situations there is very little practical penalty.

    In situations where there is a tremendous fluctuation in light levels, such as birds in flight/diving,or when the subject moves rapidly from light to dark areas, using automatic iso and manual exposure helps the photographer to shoot sequences which are uninterrupted and rapidly made.

    One example situation that I have used before is that of shooting at a horse racing or running track, where the action can easily go from bright, brilliant sunlight into the shadow of the stadium in mere seconds. We can Be presented with a light level difference of five or six or seven f/stops of scene brightness in less than an eyeblink, and we can have an instant adjustment of the camera if we use auto ISO, all the while keeping the desired shutter speed and lens aperture!

    As with so many topics, opinions are often lagging behind the newest technological advances. In my opinion it's been about a decade or less since this became a truly viable technique across a wide range of cameras. Since the invention of auto ISO in manual mode, there has been increasing ability for the user to set his or her own preferences to limit shutter speed and maximum ISO parameters.But the first 10 years that I had automatic iso setting available to me,I did not have a camera which gave me adequate image quality much above 800; however today's cameras offer much better performance at much higher ISO ratings. In my opinion t he automatic adjustment of camera iso setting
    Is one of the most significant new changes in cameras in recent memory.

    I think that since the invention of Sony's Exmor generation of sensors this technology was made practically possible. Before that, ISO performance dropped off so significantly that there was very little practical use for automatic adjustment of ISO except across a very narrow range of values.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
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  12. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Also don't forget many people can't keep up at the top end of new camera performance. Even if they once owned a good end camera at one stage. I've still got my 7D as my best performing camera and have not upgraded partly due to budget and partly because Canon hasn't released a 7DMIII (or equivalent under another name).

    I'd also say that sometimes taking up new approaches isnt' just a technology thing but a control thing too. Sometimes there are really neat features ,but they lack the proper interface or control options to really unlock their full potential to the user. Auto ISO on its own is good, but it needs exposure compensation in manual mode to work best otherwise you're gaining speed of ISO change but sacrificing exposure control in any scene that the meter won't give a reliable result without user modification.
     

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