How high can you go..with your ISO..(and retain IQ)?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Photorebel, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. Photorebel

    Photorebel Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 14, 2013
    Jeff Mims
    Just wondering what other's results are higher ISOs….say past 3200. WIth OM D bodies, but also the EP bodies.
  2. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 4, 2014
    I don't have an Olympus, but i do own the gh3 which is probably comparable. First, realize everyone has different ideas about "acceptable". Secondly, dark scenes generally show off noise more visibly. Third, what are you using photos for? Low rez web? 4x6? Huge prints? Black and white? Lastly, What kind of noise reduction software do you have? Some are better than others. That said, I can for the most part use around 5000 ISO comfortably.

    Sent from my RM-877_nam_att_205 using Tapatalk
  3. Superstriker#8

    Superstriker#8 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 24, 2013
    I can comfortably go up to ISO 6400 and still have my standards met if I use raw; but my last camera was a 2005 - era point&shoot, so that may have affected my standards.
  4. Halaking

    Halaking Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 17, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Iso 1600-3200
  5. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    3200 is about it for my comfort level. If I know I won't be printing larger than a 4x6 or 5x7, or if it's just a general subject matter, I'll push it to 6400. If that still won't work, I'll go dig out a flash
  6. Photorebel

    Photorebel Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 14, 2013
    Jeff Mims
    3200 is about my comfort level for low light. I do think I get better results in RAW…than jpg. I'm using EM 1.
  7. Jeff1:1

    Jeff1:1 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 2, 2013
    E-M5, 1600 for most shots, 3200-6400 usually require some post process - auto white balance seems overwhelmed and gives color cast, 12,800+ has noise dots.
  8. JamieW

    JamieW Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 25, 2013
    I used to keep it limited to 1600, but I've recently started stepping up to see what the E-M1 can do. Here's one for last weekend, handheld, ISO 6400 with the 45 1.8. Processed in LR.

    • Like Like x 7
  9. Gary Ramey

    Gary Ramey Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 27, 2012
    Aurora Colorado
    Indoor sports, I'll push to 3200 with the EM5. Creative shots, I'll go higher if the situation calls for it.
  10. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Depends on the light. 3200 for low light, 6400 for brighter light where I need shutter speed. eTTR beats pushing shadows every time for me.
  11. geoawelch

    geoawelch Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 18, 2011
    George Welch
    Beautiful photo
    • Like Like x 1
  12. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    If I'm pixel peeping, 200. f I'm feeling critical - 800. If I'm feeling reasonable, 1600. If I need the shot and can live with the grain, 6400.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Do you have a flow chart to get you through this decision making process when shooting in the field? :biggrin:
  14. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    Absolutely depends on your style and preference. For portraiture, particularly if I only expect it to be seen online, I'm fine with 6400; I just know it'll take a bit more work in post. For general purposes 1600 is my preferred limit, with the occasional 3200. However, fading the shadows a bit in post at 6400 does WONDERS for making an image look much more acceptable. If you already like grain in your images like I do, you can push things pretty far; just need to clean it up enough to not look unpleasant.

    For JPEGs I never go above 1600 in low light. Higher ISOs are fine if most of your light is in the midtones or highlights.

    ISO 6400, pushed up by +0.71. NR in lightroom is set to 12, but it's the faded shadows that make it look cleaner. Grain added at a value of 36, size 46, and roughness 50.

    laidiner-24 by napilopez, on Flickr
    • Like Like x 4
  15. zulfur666

    zulfur666 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 30, 2014
    I have pushed my E-M5 to 12800 without much complaints shooting RAW and process in LR. Always still good for 50" TV viewing. Am I the only one using it way over 6400?
    • Like Like x 1
  16. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    Just realized the grain is a bit too heavy with flicky sharpening settings. For reference, here are more draft versions of the same image with less grain or no grain:

    No added grain, shadows look a bit too "empty" imo, although the effect is much less noticeable with flickr settings than at larger viewing without extra sharpening.


    Grain added to a level of 20, mainly to fill in shadows:

    • Like Like x 4
  17. darosk

    darosk Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 17, 2013
    Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
    Up until recently I've only really pushed to 3200 on my E-M5. I've known about ETTR for the longest time, but I've never employed it. With the encouragement of members here, I intend to make more use of ETTR @ high ISO's, and the initial results have been pleasing up until 6400 (haven't yet felt the need to go past that).
  18. JamieW

    JamieW Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 25, 2013
    I got curious tonight so I did a little testing. I broke out the E-M1 with the 45 1.8, and got my Canon 6D with the 85mm 1.8. I set them both to white balance (which produced wildly different results, the Canon images were very yellow), F1.8, ISO 6400 for the first shots and ISO 1600 for the second shots.

    In the ISO 6400 images I applied 25 noise reduction to each image in LR, and set the white balance to the D on the Dr Pepper can.

    Olympus E-M1:


    Canon 6D:


    In the ISO 1600 images, I didn't apply any noise reduction for either image, and set the white balance to the pages in the book next to the can.

    Olympus E-M1:


    Canon 6D:


    A couple of things to point out. First, the bokeh is obviously "creamier" in the 6D, and at 6400 the 6D has less noise. However, in my opinion the images created by the E-M1 are very usable, and if I were using the Panasonic 42.5 F1.2, the background bokeh would look a lot more similar (though let's be realistic, that's comparing a $1600 Panasonic lens to a $400 Canon lens).

    HOWEVER, if you will notice, the cans on the 6D shots are out of focus in both images. In fact, it was out of focus on all 8 test shots I did. Even though it would lock on and beep, it wasn't in focus, and with the low light of the room even getting it to lock on was a chore. In contrast, even with Live Boost turned off on the E-M1, it was much easier to see the can in the viewfinder on the E-M1 than it was on the 6D (it is a very dark room), and it locked on with no hesitation every single time. Every single image was tack sharp.

    And this is why i shoot on the E-M1 over the 6D. Between the focusing system and the IBIS, I get a lot more keepers, which is important since I shoot mostly portraits and I can't ask someone to come back to the studio and reshoot because my camera's focusing system is unreliable. To be fair, the 6D only has 1 cross type focus point in the center of the scene. The 5D MK III (which I don't own) has 41 cross type AF points, and it's supposed to be much better. It's also $3500 just for the body though.
    • Like Like x 3
  19. Swandy

    Swandy Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 15, 2009
    As was said - depends on your uses and tolerances. A lot depends on the camera. My two current cameras (Stylus 1 and EP5) are pretty close, though I do keep the AUTO ISO on the Stylus 1 a stop lower (1600 vs 3200). Though I have shot with both higher, but as was said, that requires more PP work to look acceptable to me.
    Have I played with higher settings - sure as soon as I get a new toy I have to try and see what it is capable of. Unfortunately most new cameras (when I am doing these "tests") don't have RAW supported yet outside of Olympus Viewer, so I can't compare the results with other images that I have shot in RAW. Though I must admit with the latest versions of the Olympus processing engine I am seriously considering going back to just shooting JPEGs.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    For nature shots (birds, bugs, flowers etc)....i'd say 800 is the max for me. I usually keep the ISO low for nature shots and just use burst mode + IS to compensate for my hand shaking. I say a Hail Marry, hit the trigger, and I almost always get atleast one sharp frame that way (yes, I'm using a crutch, not following 'proper' technique and I'm killing my shutter mechanism....but whatever). Of course, if the subject isnt idle, I'd have no choice but to use a high ISO. For everything else, I'd go up to 6400 with my EM-5.
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