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Thread: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

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    Senior Member ggibson's Avatar
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    Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    I found the "Exposure Lattitude" part of DPReview's A7ii review very interesting:

    Sony Alpha a7 II Review: Digital Photography Review

    Above ISO 800, in terms of noise, there's no difference between increasing the ISO setting in the camera, which applies electronic amplification, and pushing the files later in post processing. However, there is a difference in terms of highlight capture. Amplifying the sensor signal by increasing your ISO setting risks pushing the brightest tones so far that some of them 'clip' and can't be recorded. Under-exposing by selecting a lower ISO prevents this from happening.
    Since I shoot RAW, I guess I should be limiting auto-ISO to 800 on my camera in order to preserve highlights. On one hand, it's great that these sensors can be pushed so far in the shadows and still retain usable detail. On the other hand... what a weird user experience to have to go through to get extra stops out of the highlights. Shooting with a black screen at EX -3 to keep shutter speeds normal?

    Is anyone else shooting like this (purposefully underexposing)? What mode do you shoot, S or M?

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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    I rarely shoot my cameras higher than ISO 3200 because I don't like them very much beyond that UNLESS my goal is to shoot B&W in which I will shoot up to ISO 6400. I typically stay sub ISO 2500 if I can help it.

    As for exposure I generally expose with a bias to the left because that's my preferred look. I try to never blow highlights ever if I can help it.
    Last edited by iiiNelson; 1st April 2015 at 18:36.
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    I never go past 1600 with any camera even if it can do it. Been very happy with ISO 1200 on the A7II.
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by ggibson View Post
    I found the "Exposure Lattitude" part of DPReview's A7ii review very interesting:

    Sony Alpha a7 II Review: Digital Photography Review



    Since I shoot RAW, I guess I should be limiting auto-ISO to 800 on my camera in order to preserve highlights. On one hand, it's great that these sensors can be pushed so far in the shadows and still retain usable detail. On the other hand... what a weird user experience to have to go through to get extra stops out of the highlights. Shooting with a black screen at EX -3 to keep shutter speeds normal?

    Is anyone else shooting like this (purposefully underexposing)? What mode do you shoot, S or M?
    You don't need to shoot with a black EVF/LCD : you can set your display to boost the scene and ignore the exposure adjustment you have done. This is the display setting generally used for studio work with flash. The drawback is that you won't get a preview of how your picture will be exposed. I'm not sure where this option lies in the menu and I fear that it's a menu diving option.
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    Senior Member Ario Arioldi's Avatar
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by ggibson View Post
    I found the "Exposure Lattitude" part of DPReview's A7ii review very interesting:

    Sony Alpha a7 II Review: Digital Photography Review



    Since I shoot RAW, I guess I should be limiting auto-ISO to 800 on my camera in order to preserve highlights. On one hand, it's great that these sensors can be pushed so far in the shadows and still retain usable detail. On the other hand... what a weird user experience to have to go through to get extra stops out of the highlights. Shooting with a black screen at EX -3 to keep shutter speeds normal?

    Is anyone else shooting like this (purposefully underexposing)? What mode do you shoot, S or M?
    With any Isoless (or nearly Isoless) camera I prefer exposing in manual mode with the best combination of aperture and shutter speed I can guess for the scene, with fixed Iso, and adjust the exposure in PP.

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    Senior Member Annna T's Avatar
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by Ario Arioldi View Post
    With any Isoless (or nearly Isoless) camera I prefer exposing in manual mode with the best combination of aperture and shutter speed I can guess for the scene, with fixed Iso, and adjust the exposure in PP.
    I'm not sure whether the A7(r in my case) is fully or partially isoless. I think that the A7r is only partially isoless, but I don't know where exactly the isoless behavior begins. It should be around ISO 800 or 1600 ? and up.

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    Senior Member Ario Arioldi's Avatar
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by Annna T View Post
    I'm not sure whether the A7(r in my case) is fully or partially isoless. I think that the A7r is only partially isoless, but I don't know where exactly the isoless behavior begins. It should be around ISO 800 or 1600 ? and up.
    Judging from the measurements made by Jim Kasson the Sony A7R seems to be isoless starting from ISO 100. Is the Sony a7R ISOless? | The Last Word
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by Annna T View Post
    I'm not sure whether the A7(r in my case) is fully or partially isoless. I think that the A7r is only partially isoless, but I don't know where exactly the isoless behavior begins. It should be around ISO 800 or 1600 ? and up.
    I believe somewhere between ISO 800 and 1600 is when it starts to break up depending on lighting. I rarely go above ISO 3200 for lowlight shooting.
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    It seems like a pretty good way to prevent highlight clipping. It's also a pretty good way of draining out some of the pleasure of being in the moment and actually shooting.
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Sorry for the OT (but not entirely): Slingers posted recently that his cleaned NEX-7 behaved as if a 2 stops ND filter has been removed. I can confirm this. Clean the sensor (if the camera is a bit dated) and miracles can happen.

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    Senior Member ggibson's Avatar
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Using the ISO-Invariance section in the review, I wouldn't call the A7 cameras completely ISOless. I can see some small advantage to raising the ISO vs leaving it at 100.

    Another interesting comparison I found with DPReview's new Exposure Lattitude tool was with the Olympus E-M5ii. If you compare these two cameras at say, ISO 100 and ISO 1600, there's less of a difference than one might imagine. The E-M5ii compares quite well. But playing with the Exposure Lattitude, the 2-3 stop advantage of the full frame sensor is revealed when you see how much further the A7ii files can be pushed.
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by ggibson View Post
    Using the ISO-Invariance section in the review, I wouldn't call the A7 cameras completely ISOless. I can see some small advantage to raising the ISO vs leaving it at 100.

    Another interesting comparison I found with DPReview's new Exposure Lattitude tool was with the Olympus E-M5ii. If you compare these two cameras at say, ISO 100 and ISO 1600, there's less of a difference than one might imagine. The E-M5ii compares quite well. But playing with the Exposure Lattitude, the 2-3 stop advantage of the full frame sensor is revealed when you see how much further the A7ii files can be pushed.
    ...and then there's look and DoF which can't be replicated really due to a smaller sensor that's half the size.

    No doubt the EM5II is a great camera in it's own right (I'd even argue that Micro 4/3 as a whole a better system for MOST people presently that need a complete lineup of great yet small AF lenses) but the IQ comparison to any FF is as ridiculous as any comparison of FF to Medium Format. It's apples to oranges in that the fact of the matter is the HiRes mode is pretty limiting for everyone who isn't a landscape/still life photographer. I've seen plenty of shots in the Micro 4/3 forum and yes it's impressive that we are now able to get extreme pixel level sharpness out of Micro 4/3 with the caveat of "under certain circumstances." You can always get that sort of result out of the FF sensors when you nail focus.

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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    I used to try and limit ISO to 1600 or less. Then I discovered DxO's miraculous noise reduction features, which combined with their superior lens/camera profiles allows me to go up to ISO 6400.

    BTW, never noticed any difference between boosting ISO in camera or pushing in post processing. But then, it's rare to have blown highlights when shooting in low light situations.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    I only own the A7r, but find the noise pretty ugly past 1600, so don't go there unless I'm shooting where I otherwise don't mind a dirty gritty look to the image, like with the Holga or certain situations with the Mitakon. But that's me...
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    To me you want high ISO cams you buy the Nikon D4 or A7s and some others that are designed for it. These high Mpx cams are really not high ISO cams. The A7r and even the D810 are not the best high ISO cameras. There good to a point and that seems to be around the 1600 mark. After that than you need software programs to maybe take it a little further but pushing 600 images on a gig in post is not something I want to do with special software so I stay under 1600 at all costs and like always that's shoot fast glass. Really not much has changed since film until you get into the D4 and A7s type cams. For me at some point I will pull out the strobes to get it done. LOL

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Guy, my D810 is pretty clean even at 3200 and certainly usable at 6400... Now in today's speak, that may not be high ISO, but still...
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Not surprised as Nikon has been good at implementing higher noise floor. Now as we know also It depends on our own tolerance for noise which I admit I have none. I hate noise. Lol

    Your D810 is also a updated sensor which hopefully we will see or better in the A7r replacement
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    I believe the D810 has the same sensor as the A7R (which was actually an updated improvement to the one that was in the D800/E sensor.) You're correct that Nikon "tunes" their sensors to better performance at high ISO than Sony which tunes more for specific color response at lower ISO. Some prefer the Sony color at base to Nikon but it's a completely subjective thing as we all see differently even when things are properly calibrated.

    Neither is REALLY better/wrong but just shows that customization can take the same base technology and go a (marginally) different direction with it at the extremes.
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    Guy, my D810 is pretty clean even at 3200 and certainly usable at 6400... .
    Yeah..but is it Df clean?

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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Probably would not be Df clean nor would it be A7s clean which is why going to brand comparison get borderline ridiculous in the spirit and intent of the original topic.

    At the end of the day bragging rights are one thing but there's a constant overtaking of who's technical prowess is the most advanced... always will be. At times lately this place occasionally sounds like a bunch of Chevy/Ford/Doge guys getting together to spout off horsepower/torque metrics... That's not a good thing at all. Being a former Leica shooter/owner listening to CaNikon guys spout off FPS numbers, ISO numbers, say that Leica shooters were mostly collectors (although 90% of the Leica shooters out there were infinitely better photographers than the trolls) was one of the most annoying things to deal with and ironically how/why I joined this place. A friendly place to exchange photography ideas and tips - even if you shoot obscure cameras. Historically the obscure cameras boards got more traffic than the CaNikon ones because I suspect most people here despise the endless brand wars on other boards.

    Sometimes I wonder what Nikon would do if Sony decided to stop selling to them and chose to sell to someone else like Canon (who has a much larger market share) instead... Would Nikon users still stop by the Sony forums on their marginal high horses still? Would they all jump ship to Canon once they didn't have the DXO figures to claim superiority?

    I guess none of it ultimately matters in hypotheticals but I wouldn't mind the boards going back to a less judgmental spirit than it has slowly over the last year or so. I guess it was something of a telling sign on some level to see some of the disrespectful comments when Ben Rubenstein left (and Vivek's exit last year for that matter.)
    Last edited by iiiNelson; 3rd April 2015 at 10:24.
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    I was just having a laugh with someone who I know shoots with a D810 and Df, hence the smiley face at the end of the brief comment. No offence meant, but you're over-reacting.

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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Tre, There is an ignore option. I exercise it.

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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve P. View Post
    I was just having a laugh with someone who I know shoots with a D810 and Df, hence the smiley face at the end of the brief comment. No offence meant, but you're over-reacting.
    That rant wasn't directed at you Steve and I understood the tongue in cheek nature of your comment. I actually agree with everything you said and no it's not an overreaction but rather an elephant in the room that just rarely (if ever) gets addressed...

    I'll admit to been accused of being the direct Type-A kind of person though.
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Tre, There is an ignore option. I exercise it.
    True... There's also a respect and lack of rudeness option. I tend to exercise that one. Just saying
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Fair enough HiredArm. Thanks for the clarification. Sometimes it's hard to guage someone's tone from a forum post when you can't hear their voice. It's all good.

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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve P. View Post
    Fair enough HiredArm. Thanks for the clarification. Sometimes it's hard to guage someone's tone from a forum post when you can't hear their voice. It's all good.
    Yup... I'm a pretty calm person even in disagreement which I guess one would only know by face to face interaction. Definitely direct... Very calm.
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    The main example that I can think of where I want to shoot at ISO 1600-6400 is astrophotography. Getting a good exposure of the milky way is tricky, even for these cameras. I guess this seems to suggest it's fine to use ISO 800 and push the shadows up in post. As mentioned earlier, blown highlights aren't usually a big concern in low-light situations, but I suppose if you have a lit foreground object it could make a difference.

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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve P. View Post
    Yeah..but is it Df clean?
    No. But seriously, the Df isn't so much that it's perfectly clean either, it's more that it's pleasant looking noise when it shows and where it shows.
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    Re: Limiting ISO to 800 on A7 cameras

    ""Being a former Leica shooter/owner listening to CaNikon guys spout off FPS numbers, ISO numbers, say that Leica shooters were mostly collectors (although 90% of the Leica shooters out there were infinitely better photographers than the trolls) ""...... WOW, never knew that.

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