The Day I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love High ISO

Recently I participated in IEEEXtream 9.0 which is a hackathon that spanned 24 hours straight, It was a really good experience and I did a fair amount of code and hacking; This time I tagged my camera along with me to take some pictures for the IEEE chapter of my university. The lecture hall we were stationed in was pretty dim in lighting and I was still shooting with my 18–55 f3.5 to f5.6 Kit lens. As usual in my mind I believed Higher ISO is higher noise, what i didn’t understand is Taking an Image at a lower ISO and pushing it in post is more noise I was shooting at ISO 800 and the images were dim on the preview after one of my friends fussed and forced me to shoot at ISO2000, on my Nikon preview images looked really good but when I finally imported the images to my computer under Lightroom I found out that the images were dim and I had to push the images a couple of stops in exposure and shadows to get it usable this gave out really noisy images, i finally sorted it out with Lightroom noise reduction and sharpening, but the overall quality was crap.

The big question all newcomers (including me) ask is.

Should I shoot at a lower ISO and increase the exposure in post OR Should I shoot at a higher ISO and get proper exposures To Archive Lower Noise?

Let’s find out, In my controlled test environment, It’s just my messy table with all my junk. I propped my camera (Nikon D5300) on a tripod and took some pictures, first Image was with a Higher ISO which gives out a proper exposure (LEFT) and the other image at a safe ISO and pushed in post (RIGHT) the results speak for itself Go for the high ISO option, where you will get good exposures with less noise than pushing an image taken at a safe ISO.

These results vary on different sensors It’s know as ISO Invariance This is a good article to learn more

NOTE : These Images were taken RAW with no in body or post noise reduction.

Comparison between an Image taken at High ISO with correct exposure vs Low ISO image pushed in post[/caption]

Real Life example

Here is one shot i took at ISO 800 on that day in dim light then pushed in Lightroom and finally exported with noise reduction and sharpness. The image is usable but it’s grainy and is lacking details after the color noise were taken out and reduced grain.

ISO 800 pushed in LR and applied with NR and Sharpening[/caption]

Moral Of The Post

Stop worrying about the ISO and and shoot at controllable higher ISO on the camera which will produce properly exposed images, you will love the results. Like this image I took of one of my friends at the rooftop of my university. I thought it would be a noisy mess but even without NR the RAW file looked clean.

Image shot at a Higher ISO without no pushing in post and applied with minimal NR and sharpening[/caption]

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