High ISO or Slow Shutter? Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace


Hi everybody welcome to another episode of Exploring Photography right here on AdoramaTV. I’m Mark Wallace in Darling harbour Sydney Australia and we’re going to take on a challenge and that is which one is the best thing to do in low-light or in the dark? Should you use a really low ISO value and a slow shutter speed or should you crank up the ISO and use a faster shutter speed? Which one is going to give you the best image, the best image quality? Well we know there’s a trade-off between those two things. so ISO the higher it goes the more noise you’ll see in your image but on the other side, the shutter speed, the slower it goes the more motion blur you’ll see in your image so we’re going to show motion or freeze motion and how much noise is going to be reasonable? What can we use there? So what we’re going to do right now is we’re going to shoot Sydney, our Darling Harbour. Right behind me there’s the cityscape, there’s some boats down on the water. They’re moving a little bit. The water is moving a little bit but pretty much nothing back there is moving and because motion is really the thing that we’re worried about with our shutter speed, with a scene like this we can start with a really, really slow shutter so that’s what we’re going to do. So I’m shooting with my Leica M10 here and I have a 28mm lens. I’ve set it at f/8 and we’re going to first shoot an image at ISO 100 so let me step over here I’m going to look through my viewfinder and this is telling me that my exposure is 16 seconds so I’m going to take a 16 second exposure I’ve already focused this previously, so this is going to go for 16 seconds and what that means if there’s anything that’s moving that’s going to show up in this image but the cool thing is water usually looks better with the slow shutter speed. It sort of smooths all that stuff out and so when we look at our final image, you can see that it looks very pleasing and so in this instant a low ISO and a slow shutter speed wins but just to prove that, what we’re going to do is we’re going to reshoot this, so what I’m going to do now is, I’m going to change my ISO. I’m going to change that from 100. We’re going to go all the way up to ISO 3200, that means my shutter speed is now a half a second so I’ll shoot that click to half seconds and when we play this back and look at it, we can see, well the noise isn’t too bad, but notice the difference in the water, the water looks much better with that slow shutter speed and if we really zoom in on the image you can see that the noise in the high ISO image just isn’t really pleasing, so with things that aren’t moving at night I would say shoot with a slow shutter speed and a low ISO, but what happens if you’re trying to shoot something that’s moving? Maybe you’re shooting along the street or you’re trying to shoot something like cars or whatever and you want to freeze that motion. Well then that’s a totally different story so let’s do that next. We’ve seen what happens when everything is still motionless ,we had our camera on a tripod, the buildings weren’t moving. The only thing that was really moving in the last picture was the water and the boats just a little bit but we were able to take our ISO way down and use a long shutter speed but now I’m on Calco Bay Wharf there’s people walking around, there’s this really cool nightlife, I want to take a few pictures of the people and the scenes here and I’m going to do that without a tripod and without a flash and that means if I do this with a low ISO, my shutter speed is, it’s going to be so slow we’re talking about a half second a full second exposure then it’s just going to be a big blurry mess. So in this situation I have to take my ISO way up, so I’m going to put my ISO up to ISO 6400 maybe even a little bit higher. I’m shooting at a wide open aperture of f/2 with the 35mm lens and that way now I can shoot handheld, walking around without a tripod I can get away with this type of photography, so this might work if you’re shooting a birthday party or a wedding or any kind of event where you can’t have a tripod or a flash and so let’s do that right now we’ll walk through here and I’ll show you my results. Well the glory of high ISO is that you can shoot handheld with scenes like this, so I’m shooting an f/2 and I don’t have a tripod but I can still capture the scene with the ferris wheel and all the boats and everything and at at 6400 that is a 1/60 of second exposure which is totally fine shooting a handheld you know at the scene like this right here I can shoot that because it’s emitting light with an ISO of around, I’m going to do 800 maybe a 1000 and we’ll see how that works. We don’t need that much I’m still at 90th of a second and I can really just play with the scene back here it’s going to look really really cool. So what did we learn? Well we learned that if we’re shooting something that’s not moving, like a building or a mountain or maybe even the ocean and the camera is on a tripod, we can use a very low ISO value and then let that shutter just hang for 20-30 seconds or even a few minutes but for shooting something handheld or walking around in low-light and we don’t have a flash, what we need to do is, we need to open up our aperture to let in a lot of light and boost the ISO to something like 6400, 3200 or even higher than that. So the question is how high can you go with your ISO? Well the good news is that most newer cameras handle high ISO values very well so it’s not like a really grainy noisy nastiness that we used to get just a few years ago. Now we can shoot at ISO 6400 or 12000, 800 and it’s totally acceptable but it really depends on the camera and how old it is, so do some experiments with your camera. Take your camera. Open up the aperture. Take your ISO value and play with it. Put it at 800. Take some pictures. Put it at 16, 32 and on up and see where it gets to be a little bit too noisy and then you’ll know what that high ISO limit is for you and your camera. Well thank you so much for joining me for this episode. It was a ton of fun. I love hanging out here in Sydney Australia. I’ll be in Australia for a few more months, so make sure that you don’t miss a single episode. We’ve had a lot of cool things planned here for Australia and you can make sure you don’t miss an episode by clicking subscribe, so click that subscribe button right now. Also check me out on Instagram you can see my trip through Australia and around the world and you can see how I put some of these practical tips into everyday use. I’m posting pictures every day, so make sure you check that out as well. Thanks again for joining me and I will see you again next time.

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