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Thread: High ISO substitute for IS?

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    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    High ISO substitute for IS?

    I'm looking to upgrade to a Canon 5D Mk II because I like close proximity street scenes as well as indoor photography in big open spaces or where flash is a no-no. This will lead me to a lens something like an EF 16-35 f/2.8L II USM ... but no IS.

    I'm wondering if you have this kind of setup, shooting indoors hand-holding where the light is really low and you can't get enough shutter speed with ISOs up to 1600, can you keep upping the ISO until you get enough? I've read that with a full frame sensor, you can go pretty high with the ISO without getting excessive noise.

    I'm guessing that the IS - even if you had it - would only be effective for 2 or 3 stops anyway, and in this extreme condition, the ISO would be your best savior?? Thanks a lot.

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Hi Lon,

    A couple of things to think about ...

    1. IS compensates for camera shake - not for subject movement; so if your street scene has movement - and you want to freeze that movement - then a fast shutter speed is your only saviour.

    2. People worry about high ISO noise far too much. In reality, so long as you don't under-expose the shot - and you don't crop the shot excessively - then the noise generally can't be seen in a normal size print or when looking at the entire image on your PC; it only becomes visible when you "pixel peep" at 100% magnification on your screen.

    So in reality, up the ISO to whatever you need to. At the end of the day, high ISO noise will degrade the image a lot less than camera shake and/or subject motion due to too low a shutterspeed, and/or insufficient DoF due to too big an aperture.

    Having just said all that, I have an EF16-35mm F2.8L USM II (on a FF Canon 1Ds3) and personally I find it waaaaaay too wide for street shooting. The EF24-70mm F2.8L USM is my weapon of choice for that.

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post

    Having just said all that, I have an EF16-35mm F2.8L USM II (on a FF Canon 1Ds3) and personally I find it waaaaaay too wide for street shooting. The EF24-70mm F2.8L USM is my weapon of choice for that.
    Thanks for your advice Colin,

    OK I'll make a little leap here and assume that the 16-35er isn't just gathering dust so I'll ask what you DO use it for? Or do you use it only on a crop camera?

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Howard View Post
    Thanks for your advice Colin,
    You're very welcome

    OK I'll make a little leap here and assume that the 16-35er isn't just gathering dust so I'll ask what you DO use it for? Or do you use it only on a crop camera?
    Mostly landscape - eg, ...

    High ISO substitute for IS?

    ... and even THAT was at 23mm!

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Very interesting subject, Colin.

    I agree 16-35 is too wide for street. I have both of them and the 70-200mm is the best, specially since you can zoom on scenes without people noticing you are on them and therefore less distraction/dirty looks/calling cops!

    I have a question regarding using high ISO: whenever I do it, as I am sure you have noticed, the picture gets a color cast (usually yellowish) that is hard to eliminate. What do you do when that happens?

    Thanks!

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis View Post
    I have a question regarding using high ISO: whenever I do it, as I am sure you have noticed, the picture gets a color cast (usually yellowish) that is hard to eliminate. What do you do when that happens?
    Ali, is that really you?

    To be honest, I hadn't really noticed -- not sure why that would be. All I can think of is that because the dynamic range reduces by about 1 stop for each doubling of the ISO, at high ISO settings - and scenes with a degree of back / active lighting - it's easy to over-expose and blow a channel - and that often turns sunsets yellow around the blown area.

    Personally, these days I shoot with a colourchecker passport - which allows me to create a custom camera profile automatically for each shoot. I've used it with high ISO shots and it seems to work OK apart from over-saturating a bit. Here's an example ...

    (Taken with the EF16-35mm F2.8L USM II @ 35mm) @ 1600 ISO

    High ISO substitute for IS?

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Ali, is that really you?

    To be honest, I hadn't really noticed -- not sure why that would be. All I can think of is that because the dynamic range reduces by about 1 stop for each doubling of the ISO, at high ISO settings - and scenes with a degree of back / active lighting - it's easy to over-expose and blow a channel - and that often turns sunsets yellow around the blown area.

    Personally, these days I shoot with a colourchecker passport - which allows me to create a custom camera profile automatically for each shoot. I've used it with high ISO shots and it seems to work OK apart from over-saturating a bit. Here's an example ...

    (Taken with the EF16-35mm F2.8L USM II @ 35mm) @ 1600 ISO

    High ISO substitute for IS?
    Yes, it is me! I just went through one of those superbusy periods at work.

    And thanks for explaining this. I am sure it has do to with white balance, but it is hard to fix it usually by just adjusting WB manually.

    You picture is gorgeous. I have to try to remember this tip about using the highest ISO needed. I know it from past discussions here but I always forget to be brave when there is a need.

    Thanks again!
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 10th April 2011 at 03:40 AM.

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post

    Mostly landscape - eg, ...

    High ISO substitute for IS?
    Colin, thank you for not just mentioning that you use the lens for landscape, but showing as well. I believe that, had you attempted to explain it with words (without the picture), it would have taken you well over 1,000 of them. Thanks again,

    Lon
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 10th April 2011 at 03:40 AM.

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Hi Colin,

    I just received my X-rite Color checker passport. Could you please give us a mini (one paragraph) course on it's applications when you get a chance? I want to know what you see as difference between this and a simple WB card.

    Thanks!

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis View Post
    Hi Colin,

    I just received my X-rite Color checker passport. Could you please give us a mini (one paragraph) course on it's applications when you get a chance? I want to know what you see as difference between this and a simple WB card.

    Thanks!
    Hi Ali,

    A white balance card is a spectrally neutral reference that allows you to white balance a shot correctly - but - it assumes that the colour calibration of the camera is perfect, which just isn't the case.

    So with a white card you photograph it - click on it - and the software adjusts the image so that the card that's spectrally neutral in real life is also spectrally neutral in the photograph. The colour passport sorta kinda does the same thing, but for each of the 24 colour patches (so the red patch on the card allows the correction of reds in the photo etc).

    Dead easy to use in practice ... just shoot the passport ... drop the resulting DNG onto the running software (I just use the single light source option) ... hit the button ... and it writes a custom camera profile. When in ACR, simply select that profile, and watch the colours change before your very eyes (for the better).

    Short enough?

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Ali,

    A white balance card is a spectrally neutral reference that allows you to white balance a shot correctly - but - it assumes that the colour calibration of the camera is perfect, which just isn't the case.

    So with a white card you photograph it - click on it - and the software adjusts the image so that the card that's spectrally neutral in real life is also spectrally neutral in the photograph. The colour passport sorta kinda does the same thing, but for each of the 24 colour patches (so the red patch on the card allows the correction of reds in the photo etc).

    Dead easy to use in practice ... just shoot the passport ... drop the resulting DNG onto the running software (I just use the single light source option) ... hit the button ... and it writes a custom camera profile. When in ACR, simply select that profile, and watch the colours change before your very eyes (for the better).

    Short enough?

    Thanks, Colin. Very helpful. One more question: Should this be done just once or once per session, once in a while, what is the frequency?

    Thanks!

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis View Post
    Thanks, Colin. Very helpful. One more question: Should this be done just once or once per session, once in a while, what is the frequency?

    Thanks!
    Hi Ali,

    In the studio where the lighting is a constant temperature - and I'm using the same lens - at the same ISO - it's not too important to do it that often, but when shooting outside - differing conditions and lenses etc you can do it as often as you like.

    Just do a new profile each time you go out shooting, and then change between profiles and see how much the colour changes. If it doesn't change much then you have you answer

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Thanks a lot, Colin! Really helpful. Practically, I guess I know how to use it now. However, I am still not sure if I completely understand the theory behind it. I mean if this calibrates the camera, why would it change from situation to situation? Not that I don't believe you, I just don't get it

    Anything to read on this that you know of to explain the actual technical details behind it? Please let me know!

    Thanks!

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alis View Post
    Thanks a lot, Colin! Really helpful. Practically, I guess I know how to use it now. However, I am still not sure if I completely understand the theory behind it. I mean if this calibrates the camera, why would it change from situation to situation? Not that I don't believe you, I just don't get it

    Anything to read on this that you know of to explain the actual technical details behind it? Please let me know!

    Thanks!
    Hi Ali,

    It doesn't calibrate the camera per sec (bad choice of words!). The software knows what colour it should have been - and it knows what colour it IS - so it creates a translation table ("profile") to correct any the colour it gets from the camera into the colour it should have been in the first place. So doesn't calibrate the camera so much as corrects the output from the camera to what it should have been in the first place.

    Don't forget that you still need to white balance though (using the grey card they give you as part of the passport).

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Thanks again, Colin.

    By the way, since the thread was hijacked in the middle by me, you may want to make the last part on the Passport a separate thread.

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Howard View Post
    I'm looking to upgrade to a Canon 5D Mk II because I like close proximity street scenes as well as indoor photography in big open spaces or where flash is a no-no. This will lead me to a lens something like an EF 16-35 f/2.8L II USM ... but no IS.

    I'm wondering if you have this kind of setup, shooting indoors hand-holding where the light is really low and you can't get enough shutter speed with ISOs up to 1600, can you keep upping the ISO until you get enough?

    I've read that with a full frame sensor, you can go pretty high with the ISO without getting excessive noise. I'm guessing that the IS - even if you had it - would only be effective for 2 or 3 stops anyway, and in this extreme condition, the ISO would be your best savior?? Thanks a lot.
    If your “close proximity street scenes” mean “people”, then IS will be of little assistance because you still need appropriate Tv (Shutter Speed), to arrest Subject Movement.

    If your “big open spaces” has no people (or people at a distance and essentially appearing quite still) – then you can brace and use proper shutter release techniques, (I note you specify Hand Held):

    High ISO substitute for IS?
    “This Side” 5D + EF24/1.4L
    F/5 @ ˝s @ ISO1600 HH




    If you have both big Open Spaces and People then you can brace, select a Tv suitable for the Lens and Subjects and also to address any estimated Subject Movements and also time the shot for least Subject Movement:
    High ISO substitute for IS?
    “Mother and Child” 5D + EF135/2L
    F/2 @ 1/125s @ ISO 3200 HH
    . . .


    And indoors, after a beer:
    High ISO substitute for IS?
    “Drinks with Friend” 5D + EF24/1.4L
    F/2.2 @ 1/10s @ ISO1600



    I will push a 5DmkII to ISO6400 or sit on ISO3200 all night: for a 5D I will sit on ISO1600 and push it to ISO3200 when necessary.

    For the extreme purposes you outline: the 16 to 35/2.8MkII, is too slow.

    For close proximity street work, the 35/1.4L is commonly favoured – though I am very happy with the availability of the extra wide and often use the 24/1.4L MkII more often – and a 24 is better suited to hip shooting. For indoor work I favour the 50/1.4 or the 35/1.4L.

    But: the best lens is the lens on the camera at the time – and when I walked into this room I was tired and stupidly had not returned my cameras to their resting positions.

    Hence I was left holding an inappropriate EF100/2.8Macro Lens on a 5D:
    High ISO substitute for IS?
    “Pensive” 5D + EF100/2.8M
    F2.8 @ 1/8s @ ISO1600


    To address the absence of IS and whilst also understanding the limits of the Tv required for all subject types in their various situations - the best mechanism is to practice Hand Holding Techniques and develop perfect Shutter Release Timing.

    If you really wish to push the limits, then an F/2.8 lens is just way too slow - even with cameras capable of ISO6400, or ISO12800.

    As the ISO increases, then so does the bar raise as to how far we can push: one can always push the Fast Prime further than the comparatively slower 16 to 35/2.8.

    If you buy a 16 to 35 I assume we are discussing the EF16 to 35 F/2.8L MkII USM this lens is superior to the first incarnation.



    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Howard View Post
    [I] assume that the 16-35er isn't just gathering dust so I'll ask what you DO use it for? Or do you use it only on a crop camera?

    I don’t have the patience to shoot “Landscapes” in the same class as Colin.
    I don’t have a three tonne tripod either . . . so yes I do use my 16 to 35MkII on my APS-C Cameras – an ideal lens for Social Events and etc and it is my walk about Zoom lens on an APS-C Camera.

    I use the 16 to 35 on my 5D’s also – it just so much fun at the 16mm wide:

    High ISO substitute for IS?
    "Piano Bar" 5D + EF16 to 35/2.8L MkII (at 16mm)
    F/4 @1/8s @ ISO800 HH






    WW
    Last edited by William W; 15th April 2011 at 07:28 PM. Reason: CORRECTED TYPOS

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Thanks very much for your input Bill ... it's all very beneficial for me. A very wild look there with the piano bar ... by the way, was that extreme wraparound look with the 16 mm right from the camera, or did you help it a little? Cheers,

    Lon

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Howard View Post
    Thanks very much for your input Bill ... it's all very beneficial for me. A very wild look there with the piano bar ... by the way, was that extreme wraparound look with the 16 mm right from the camera, or did you help it a little? Cheers, Lon
    No PP magic. Normal sharpening and slight colour correction – I don’t think there was much else I did –I might have popped the Reds a bit.

    I am generally a purist with my approach.
    Camera and lens only (Hand Held Light-meter); One shot only; Never disturb the scene; Use only the light available.

    I only pulled four shots: these are the four consecutive JPEGs, SOOC, I shoot RAW + JPEG(L):

    High ISO substitute for IS?

    I took a second shot of frame one, because I made an error in not anticipating the movement of the Bartender.

    All are FL = 16mm, Hand held and the same shooing specs: F/4 @ 1/8s @ ISO800.
    Exposure for these four was by using the Spot Metering in the 5D and taking four (or three) readings of the scene and manually computing.

    If I were to use Frame Four, I would crop tighter on the RHS (making it not centre centric) and most likely straighten the vertical lines.

    I could not get a low enough Vantage Point and keep the top of the Bar and Piano in the Shot – yes the TS-E 17 and a Tripod would have been the gear to use – but I was “trespassing”, so no time to fiddle around. Anyway, Colin wouldn't lend me his tripod

    But I shot that one purposely wide, to have the latitude to crop later. I tend always to shoot a bit wider anyway to allow either 5x7 or 8x10 prints from the same neg / file.

    This is a 60 second Rough, to give you an idea:
    High ISO substitute for IS?

    Don't take the overall of my posts wrongly - F/2.8 is still quite fast; and the 16 to 35MkII is a great zoom lens for low light indoor work, Portraiture and the like.
    I am just saying F/1.4 is two stops faster and those two stops make for one hell of a difference, when one is at the limits of low light.

    Example using 16 to 35MkII for low light indoor work:
    High ISO substitute for IS?
    "Portrait 510094" EOS5D + EF16 35/2.8L MkII @35mm
    F/2.8 @ 1/125s @ ISO1600 HH



    WW
    Last edited by William W; 16th April 2011 at 10:53 PM. Reason: Corect Speelings Mistucks

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Don't take the overall of my posts wrongly - F/2.8 is still quite fast; and the 16 to 35MkII is a great zoom lens for low light indoor work, Portraiture and the like.
    I am just saying F/1.4 is two stops faster and those two stops make for one hell of a difference, when one is at the limits of low light.
    You're going to have to stop posting great shots taken with the 5D Bill ... everyone knows that it's so old that the image quality has deteriorated severely due to more modern technology ... and additionally, 1600 ISO makes the image "unuseable" due to the noise!

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    Re: High ISO substitute for IS?

    HaHa!
    Gidday Colin,

    I think I might have told you the story before about how each year there is at least one Student who decides to make the definitive statement about the “need” for the latest technology to make a good Photograph . . . and how to answer that statement we go on a field trip and I get to use the lowliest camera . . . in 2005 we made this with a 20D and the “kit lens” (the older crappy one without IS) and no tripod and no hand held meter:

    High ISO substitute for IS?
    Li Cunxin (Mao’s Last Dancer), Sydney 2005

    Technical: EOS 20D + EF-S17 to 55F/3.5 - 5.6 (Kit lens). JPEG(L) Capture.
    Shooting: FL = 33mm; F/5.6 @ 1/40s @ ISO1600, Hand Held, Manual Exposure.


    The image pulls up “OK” as a large framed print and as the centre double page spread in a Yearbook.

    (Obviously I could have done better with a 1 Series and an L Series Prime Lens – and better still with a View Camera – but that’s not the point of the exercise.)

    Now . . . another favourite of yours and mine . . we might discuss how to NEVER use a tele-extender on the 70 to 200/2.8 . . . because the results are just so crappy. . .


    Have you tried the new 70 to 300 yet? I have not. It appears very nice glass.

    Best to you Colin,

    Bill

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