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Thread: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

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    Senior Member Rawfa's Avatar
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    Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Guys, what is the consensus on what is the highest usable A7 iso for a paid gig? I mean, there are some pretty dark wedding ceremonies out there where flash would be obtrusive to the mood...so I'm wondering how far can one take the iso on the A7. I don't want to find out the hard way that the wedding album is full of useless ultra noisy photos.

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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Tough call and many will say go for it but being a Pro and being responsible to your client. I would on any cam not go over ISO 1600 and even thats a stretch for me. ISO 1250 I am far more comfortable with and maybe the most important part is feeling safe and responsible as a Pro not to push the envelope too far. You may get many opinions on this and thats fine but remember this is YOUR reputation on the line not someone responding to your question here. I can only give you my advice from a Pro seat and my comfort level.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Sound advice, Guy. But how can I shoot a dark dancefloor at iso 1600 even with an f1.2 lens?

    The photos bellow were taken with the A7 and a Canon FD 50mm 1.4 at iso 2500. I can see the noise here but I wouldn't know if it would show on an album. Would I get lower noise by shooting with a lower iso and then increasing the exposure on post or will I basically end up with the same noise?






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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Take the following comments from a landscape/nature/wildlife photographer and not a wedding photographer...

    I actually like the "look" of the samples as they remind me of film.

    My only other thought which will be time consuming would be to add a very small amount of Gaussian Blur might soften the noise then adding a mask to reduce it back into certain areas.

    Then again I don't photography people for a reason.....
    Don Libby
    Iron Creek Photography
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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    I don't believe in a definitive answer.

    If the portfolio that you showed prospective clients included work at elevated ISO settings that was brilliant content if somewhat grainy in aesthetic, regardless of what camera it is you made them with, who's to say that they didn't hire you because of that aesthetic?

    I'd say look at what you're showing people when you're promoting your services. That's what you should be producing when you sign a contract with a client, that's what they're looking to buy. It's what I did when I was a working pro running my photography business, and as a result I didn't have any dissatisfied clients.

    And know your equipment. After some time of using it, I have a good feel for when I want to work with the A7 at low and high ISO settings, same for the E-M1 and M9, and also when I can just let the camera's AutoISO mode decide for me. Once you know your equipment thoroughly enough, you know what it will do when you crank up the sensitivity or hold it back, which allows you to consistently make the photo quality that you are promoting your work to be.

    For situations where there are people in motion, my rule of thumb is whatever sensitivity setting allows me to use at least 1/20 to 1/30 second with whatever lens I want to use is essential. If that produces a noisy photo, well, that's when to pick other equipment. It was on this basis that I moved from using my E-1 and L1 DSLRs to using the E-5: I had too many occasions in the event jobs I was doing where I needed another stop or two, even with an f/1.4 lens. The E-5 solved the problem by netting three+ stops more usable shooting speed. (The A7 is about two stops beyond that.)

    As I said, no definitive answer, but a set of ideas that can help you pilot your way.

    G
    Godfrey - GDGPhoto Flickr Stream
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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Well here is the issue , I love what you have above as they are just really nice images. the issue comes from the client as you just don't always know if thats the effect they can handle, some will and some will not. Often times you may not know that until it is too late. Case in point I was a Corporate Photographer for 16 years with a at the time a Fortune 100 company and I traveled the world for them. The biggest thing I learned in this industry is three simple words. COVER YOUR *** as no one is going to do it for you. But to answer your question, i have no issue of whipping a flash out or setting up a freaking bank of them if I feel its needed.

    These things come down to comfort level , understanding your clients needs and just making sure you have all the tools in place to switch to any situation you need at your disposal.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Nice response Godfrey we posted the same time but I was getting to some of the same points
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Bottom line is not what you feel is good - it's but to the person with the checkbook.
    Don Libby
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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    You said a mouthful Don.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rawfa View Post
    Guys, what is the consensus on what is the highest usable A7 iso for a paid gig? I mean, there are some pretty dark wedding ceremonies out there where flash would be obtrusive to the mood...so I'm wondering how far can one take the iso on the A7. I don't want to find out the hard way that the wedding album is full of useless ultra noisy photos.
    Rawfa:

    I was just looking at the high (2500) ISO photos you included. I've only shot a couple of weddings (and as a courtesy) so you're better off getting a wedding shooter's pronouncement on this but if you're in a dark environment and you can't shoot flash then by default you will have to shoot high ISO. The photos you showed exhibit grain but in my non-professional opinion they are excellent photos that reflect the mood and look of an interesting low light environment. You probably should discuss with your clients in advance how they feel about the look of high ISO photos. I'll bet some of them would be interested in the effect (as long as it's not the whole reception).

    Regards,
    John

    post script: Boy, oh boy, I took too long writing this. You've already gotten better (and more experienced) advice than I gave before I posted it!

    Regards,
    John

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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    I haven't shot any weddings yet using the A7 but i would say a lot would depend on your style and 'look' and if you are working in colour or B&W. the last wedding I did I used a Leica M(240) and an M9 and happily went unto iso 2000 and even 2500 on the M but then I convert everything to B&W and I don't mind the 'grain' you get. If shooting colour it becomes a whole different matter and with the A7 I would probably agree with the limits that Guy set but having looked at other A7 shots in my library would probably go up to 3200. I would only shoot in RAW and the higher iso files will probably mean that you will need to do a far bit of PP. In B&W I would happily go up to 6400.
    Ok it's not the A7 but here is the last wedding I did all in B&W http://dpsampson.zenfolio.com/p426342601

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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    What a fruitful thread! Excellent input all around!

    Regarding on camera high ISO vs upping the exposure on post? What has given you the cleanest results?

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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    But lets go back to what Godfrey mentioned because it is important. You hopefully sit down with a wedding client ahead of the event and show them your work and thats pretty standard. At those meetings you go over your style and look that you like to do and you get feedback from client on what they like and dislike so you do get a idea what they are after. But i understand totally when the crap hits the fan and the place you are shooting at won't give you what you need than you need to adjust on the spot to obtain your end goal. If thats more lighting than so be it, but be prepared for it.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com
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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    I agree with Guy. You need to listen closely to the client hearing what they expect/want. Ask questions. You also need to be able to sit down with them to explain what you can provide showing samples from previous work.

    Again I don't normally photography people and never a wedding so my work is much easier to deal with.
    Don Libby
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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    But lets go back to what Godfrey mentioned because it is important. You hopefully sit down with a wedding client ahead of the event and show them your work and thats pretty standard. At those meetings you go over your style and look that you like to do and you get feedback from client on what they like and dislike so you do get a idea what they are after.
    I actually have a log of everything I learn here and elsewhere. This tip made the log for sure.

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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Awesome. I always hope my input on these matters helps. It's why I'm here
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com
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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rawfa View Post
    What a fruitful thread! Excellent input all around!

    Regarding on camera high ISO vs upping the exposure on post? What has given you the cleanest results?
    Again a definitive answer is hard because there is a wide range of interpretations of what 'cleanest' means, and what aesthetic you are trying to produce.

    That said, from a practical perspective, I try to make my exposures such that a minimum amount of time in post production is needed to obtain a 'standard' photograph. This usually means that I have the greatest amount of flexibility to achieve different aesthetics as most controls will be at the nulled point, with the greatest range of movement available. I only very rarely use noise filtering or sharpening. Using good lenses and today's high-quality sensors, you should be able to get excellent results by learning the available dynamic range through the range of ISO settings, setting up exposure to optimize for that, and then concentrate on getting the focus and your timing right.

    There are exceptions to working this way. For instance, I find that today's sensors are often so clean in their output that I need to stress the exposure to achieve an effect I'm looking for. That's when I might intentionally over- or under-expose by a pathological amount and rely upon the image processing tools to pull what I've captured back into a useful range to meet my aesthetic choices. Such a methodology would be risky for wedding shoots, however.

    All of this falls into the "Know Your Equipment" and "Know What You Are Trying To Achieve" baskets, in the end. You get there by learning, developing your skills and vision, and then practicing a lot.

    G

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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    It depends...and what they said...

    People want to have memories and are really not interested in technical qualities such as noise. What I would do is stick to an ISO so the set has consistency. I guess I would wait for the exact conditions and see what they would let me shoot at.

    As the saying goes, if you are falling, dive. I think if it was really bad, I would use the noise purposefully as the "look." I wonder if having some shots when you are hired and explain that in the reception/party, you go for this gritty reportage look and see how they react. If they don't mind, then you have some breathing room.

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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Clients vary in taste to even a greater extent than photographers. Show them a range of what you can provide in the actual venue, ask them what kinds of images they like and want for themselves. A lot of brides have a very definite view of their precious memories in the making.
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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rawfa View Post
    Sound advice, Guy. But how can I shoot a dark dancefloor at iso 1600 even with an f1.2 lens?

    The photos bellow were taken with the A7 and a Canon FD 50mm 1.4 at iso 2500. I can see the noise here but I wouldn't know if it would show on an album. Would I get lower noise by shooting with a lower iso and then increasing the exposure on post or will I basically end up with the same noise?





    These are nice, especially the first one which is really nice!

    However, they serve to illustrate the issue at hand.

    High ISO has consequences. The issues tend to show up in poor lighting where you do not have control of the quality or quantity of light not in good light, or dramatic light that serves to make an image special like your first shot demonstrates.

    We can hunt for those special circumstances and take advantage of them when present, but not all "must have" images will have those qualities. What then? This is where being prepared for any eventuality is important.

    If an image calls for color, or color is expected, then B&W treatments or tinted approaches aren't an option. Skin tones, compressed contrast, and ambient contamination can get ghastly looking really fast as you increase the ISO in poor quality light.

    The solutions can vary from scene-to-scene.

    For a ceremony in a dark church where flash is not allowed I use a tripod and balance ISO with shutter speed then time the shots. They aren't playing soccer up there and the background isn't moving, so it usually works.

    At a reception, I use a mix of ambient shots when the lighting will yield an interesting image, or it'll be okay to convert to B&W. For most reception images where clients expect color I use additional lighting when and where I can, I use off-camera lighting ranging from speed-lights to mobile strobes.

    Often a strobe set off to the side aimed to simply lift the level of the ambient can be very helpful and provide a bit of directional light on the subjects.

    In other words, I'm ready for anything, because trust me eventually anything can happen. I once had the lights go completely out at a church right in the middle of the ceremony. The emergency flood lights came on and were the worst quality of light you could possibly imagine.

    BTW, when I meet with clients I do not necessarily point out noise or various post treatments, but instead watch how they react to the images to gauge what is important to them.

    - Marc

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    Re: Highest A7 iso for paid gig?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rawfa View Post
    Would I get lower noise by shooting with a lower iso and then increasing the exposure on post or will I basically end up with the same noise?
    Yes, lower ISO = lower noise in the general case.

    The reason is quite simple.

    Lower ISO images are created to adding multiple high-ISO images together.

    Since noise is a random event, it's unlikely to appear at the exact same pixel in multiple exposures.

    So adding exposures together and then averaging the results reduces the noise.

    That's just the way the electronics works. Post-processing software is a different subject.

    - Leigh

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