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Acceptably ISO on 550D - in low light

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Ben Edwards
Acceptably ISO on 550D - in low light
on May 9, 2011 at 3:40:49 pm

I finally managed to get round to taking out the 550D to shoot some video in a real life situation. I got footage back and it looks great. I then noticed I had ISO set at 1600. I then went outside and did tests at 200, 400, 800 and 1600. It all looked very simpler (the tests were on a slightly overcast day mid afternoon).

This seems strange, I did some test with stills ages ago and I seem to remember noise started to get noticeable at 800. I then realised I was doing the tests for stills in low light.

So is it that it is that its OK to use high ISO where lighting is good but in poor lighting you get SIGNIFICANTLY more noise for the same ISO. Or is it that with video you can push ISO up more than stills.

With my Sony Z1 I generally try not to go above 12DB, what ISO (in low light) is recommended as the maximum to get good results?

Will do some tests but what do people think?
Ben

--
Ben Edwards - Freelance Filmmaker
http://www.funkytwig.com


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Andrew Rendell
Re: Acceptably ISO on 550D - in low light
on May 10, 2011 at 4:16:51 pm

I read somewhere (on another forum, but I can't find the thread at the moment, doesn't that always happen) that the 550D gives the best results at multiples of 160iso, so 160, 320, 480, 640... for some arcane reason. I haven't done any tests myself to check that out yet (so it could be rubbish).


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Andrew Rendell
Re: Acceptably ISO on 550D - in low light
on May 10, 2011 at 4:43:53 pm

In trying to work out where I heard that (possibly dodgy) information, I've just found this
which does support the assertion, it shows that iso 1600 is much better than iso 1000, etc, so I think it's true... (you need Magic Lantern to get the intermediate settings)


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Peter Burger
Re: Acceptably ISO on 550D - in low light
on May 10, 2011 at 8:05:53 pm

I can confirm that multiples of 160 have much less noise than the "full" ISOs. As Andrew wrote, you can use those odd numbers with Magic Lantern.
I have the feeling (did specific testing though), that ISO 640 has less noise than 400...
So going up in 160 steps will be better than 100 steps.
Have you tried the new Technicolor cine style? I find it creates even lesser noise than the built-in picture profiles. A bit grading in post and voilá.


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Ben Edwards
Re: Acceptably ISO on 550D - in low light
on May 11, 2011 at 4:31:35 pm

Thanks everyone, the 160 step thing seems very good advice. In terms of my original question what do people think is a sensible maximum ISO to use for low light. Will 3200 give decent results or is it better to stay at 1600?

--
Ben Edwards - Freelance Filmmaker
http://www.funkytwig.com


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Peter Burger
Re: Acceptably ISO on 550D - in low light
on May 11, 2011 at 5:49:56 pm

I personally try to avoid having to go above 800. For my personal taste even 1600 is too noisy, let alone 3200.

But I think it's more like: "How much noise are you willing to accept?"
If it's documentary and you will not get a second opportunity to get the shot of the alien invaders abducting your neighbours dog... well, then use as high ISO as needed... ;) You know what I mean.

Just my two cents.


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