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Old Oct 2, 2012, 11:32 AM   #1
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Default High iso necessity..?

With regards a camera's performance,I quite often get asked "but what's it like at high iso's...?".....
Well,perhaps one should ask "well, do I need stellar high iso performance...?"

I suspect many of us (myself included) would all like our cameras to possess excellent high iso capabilities- but ask yourself- how many of us print out images at or beyond our computer screen sizes..?
So, from this one might then ask- "ok, so what's it like when downsized...?"

For curiosity (and at a loose end this afternoon...) I composed a little experiment.
Five random cameras,shooting the same scene,all shot at iso 1600,each subjected to Photoshops default NR and resized equally.
All images were then subjected to a Photoscape +2 sharpen and resized to fit here on Steve's pages. Colour balance was left "as is" just for interest. (Many thanks to Image resource's "Comparometer" for base samples).

The cameras in question are (in no particular order) are Sony's HX9V,Fuji's XS-1 and X-10 and Canon's T3i and SX40hs.
A random mix of compact,bridge and DSLR etc...

Whilst it's clear (and no surprise) which came out on top- I think none of the images are exactly ghastly.
So, unless you plan to make huge prints or intend to make a living out of photography- is stellar high iso performance (and the resulting price tag) really necessary...?


Just for completeness- the order of images from top to bottom is-
HX9V
XS-1
T3i
SX40hs
X-10
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Last edited by SIMON40; Oct 2, 2012 at 11:34 AM.
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Old Oct 3, 2012, 6:08 PM   #2
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Thought provoking! But how will the images look under darker circumstances, say when shooting at iso 6400?
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Old Oct 3, 2012, 6:40 PM   #3
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To a great extent, noise is irrelevant. Noise is random errant pixels, usually brighter than they should be. Printing will usually occur at resolutions higher than the original image, and displaying will almost certainly occur at resolutions much lower than the original image. So the process of upsampling or downsampling will average out the errant pixels. To really see the noise, you need to "pixel peep" which extracts a small portion of the image for extreme scrutiny. But when you're looking at that entire 18MP image on a 2MP 1920x1200 monitor, all the individual pixels, even the good ones, are downsampled to the point that they are indistinguishable. And when you print that 18MP image at 1440 dpi on a 4 x 6 page, and it becomes a 50MP image, once again, the individual pixels are upsampled to the point that they are indistinguishable.

In order for noise to survive processing to affect the quality of the final result, you need to have started with a really low resolution image that had a lot of noise.

If you look for flaws in intermediate results, you're going to find them. What matters is the flaws in the final result, like chromatic aberration, distortion, focus errors, and vignetting, the flaws that are induced by the lens, not the camera.
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Old Oct 4, 2012, 4:28 AM   #4
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Nicely put Tcav... especially the "If you look for flaws in intermediate results,you're going to find them..." part.
The final result is indeed the most important part- and to a large part, even lens induced flaws can be corrected with a touch of PP and even lost ( to a degree) in a resized image- medium sized print..!
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Old Oct 4, 2012, 9:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SIMON40 View Post
The final result is indeed the most important part- and to a large part, even lens induced flaws can be corrected with a touch of PP and even lost ( to a degree) in a resized image- medium sized print..!
True, but often you're just trading one flaw for another. Removing chromatic aberration in post-processing isn't tough, and has little negative impact. But correcting distortion greatly reduces sharpness, especialy in areas where the image is already not likely to be very sharp.
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Old Oct 6, 2012, 3:33 AM   #6
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I never use high ISO, usally lower than 800. So high ISO is unnecessary.
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Old Oct 6, 2012, 11:29 AM   #7
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Hoody-sometimes higher than ISO 800 may be necessary to get the shot. Are you saying no one should needs to shoot higher than 800, or just that you never shoot higher than 800 and therefore no one else needs to go higher than 800?
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Old Oct 6, 2012, 4:23 PM   #8
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Sounded to me like he just finds it unnecessary for himself. I haven't found much use for it myself, either, but there are times when it could be nice to have. If I were a private detective, sneaking around taking pictures of people in dark alleys and dimly lit hotel rooms, I might consider high ISO capabilities as the most important feature of a camera.

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Old Oct 7, 2012, 6:43 PM   #9
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I personally only use high iso settings when I require fast shutter speeds and I'm running out of decent light.... say,taking pics in damp,overcast fell races..!
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