art with code

2012-01-29

Shooting high ISO in broad daylight


DSLRs these days get usable results even at super-high ISO (sensor sensitivity to light, higher it is the less light you need). But, um, what's the use of ISO 25600 if most of your shooting happens in bright daylight (or anything other than pitch-black darkness). Let's think!

What you get from cranking up ISO is the capability to use faster shutter speeds and tighter apertures. So you get photos with less motion blur and more of the image in focus. So you could shoot in motion and not need to focus. This is starting to sound useful. Shoot while walking without having to stop.

How about framing though? Having your camera up on your eye when you're walking up stairs sounds like a recipe for broken bones. Shooting from the hip would be nicer, but now you can't see what's in frame. Wide-angle lenses to the rescue! Get enough of the scene in the image that you'll likely have your subject in the frame, and do the framing in post.

It's really fast to take photos if you don't have worry about focus or framing. Point camera at what you're interested in, press shutter, done.

High ISO looks like crap in color though. Go black and white and you'll get smooth usable results at 6400 and noisy results at 25600 on a Nikon D5100 / D7000 / Sony NEX-5N (all have the same sensor AFAIK. I have a D5100). I'd kinda like to try a NEX-5N with a pancake lens for a small setup.

To recap: set ISO to 6400 or 25600, shoot in black and white, use manual focus (set to near-infinity or 20 meters or something), set shutter speed to 1/1000 or 1/500, aperture to f/16, use a 24mm lens or wider, snap away while walking!

Here's a gallery of my results from yesterday. They're not all pure examples of this technique, for some I brought the camera to my eye to do framing.
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Built art installations, web sites, graphics libraries, web browsers, mobile apps, desktop apps, media player themes, many nutty prototypes, much bad code, much bad art.

Have freelanced for Verizon, Google, Mozilla, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Valve Software, TDK Electronics.

Ex-Chrome Developer Relations.