ISO issues, or just beginner confusion?

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by Paul F, Dec 26, 2019.

  1. Paul F

    Paul F New Member

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    Hi.
    Just a little background to my problem.
    Although a relative beginner, I did a fairly good beginners coarse and have at least a beginners understanding of the exposure triangle, and I tend to use Manual mode to hopefully try and improve, and get my eye in. I realise this may be the main problem!.
    About twelve months ago I upgraded to an "as new" EOS 750d which seems to work as intended, and lens wise, tend to use the standard Canon kit lens (18-55), a 50-250 or a 70-300 (yes, it was probably a mistake to own both of these low level lenses at the same time, but you know us beginners!) or a Sigma 105 macro lens.
    I don't really know my specialist subject yet, but seem to prefer to photograph the native fauna and flora, out doors. Birds and insects basically. I generally take the kit lens and one of the longer lenses out and about, and realise that my lens choices will be a contributing factor too. I will take a tripod, which I don't mind using if I am trying to take insects/foliage etc, but probably the majority of shots are taken hand held.
    So, down to my "issue".
    No matter the lens or light conditions, even on a bright, sunny day, my ISO always seems to need to be way higher than I expected it to be. (Certainly when compared with just about any image I see printed in a photography magazine!) Admittedly, I am often skulking away in the shade under foliage, but even shooting out into the sunlight, it's not uncommon for me to need at least 400 ISO. Shooting birds on the edges of the trees in these conditions will often see me needing 1600 and anything fully in the shade can be 3200 plus? Dull days or lower light sees these figures go higher still.
    I am not using super fast speeds or trying for lots of depths of field either.
    Is this "normal", as it doesn't seem to be?
    Taking pictures inside the house, hand held under artificial lighting, I would expect the minimum ISO I could get away with to be 800 even in the brightest room.
    Is this normal? Again, from my limited knowledge of reading magazines/watching Youtube videos, it doesn't seem to be?
    If I use a tripod and very slow speeds for inanimate objects, then obviously the ISO falls to what I think should be "normal" levels.
    I am fortunate that I could possibly splash out while the sales are on, and upgrade to a new (mid range - say 7d mk2 - 90d price range) model, but I have a suspicion/fear that the fault is with me, and not the camera.

    If anyone can decipher that rambling tome/needs any more info, and has any thoughts, I would gladly take them on board. I need real world experience from Canon users, as watching generic "How to" videos is possibly confusing me more.....I also accept I may be becoming obsessed with an issue that I don't actually have!

    Thanks for reading.
    Paul.
     

  2. johnsey

    johnsey Site Moderator Staff Member Site Supporter

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    Hi Paul,
    Hi Paul, going over your post I did think that 1600/3200 is a bit high for anything outdoors but 800 or 1600 indoors in good lighting is very normal. So I'm thinking your camera is operating normally. It could be a fun exercise to compare side by side what you see online that you expect yours to expose similarly so we could break down why they are different.

    To come back to shade/overcast lighting, it makes a huge difference quickly in a shot. You may have heard of the sunny 16 rule from back in the film days where at f16 your exposure would be the reciprocal of the ISO in bright sun. So ISO 200 would be 1/200th, now if its overcast you will easily need a full 2-3 stops of light. So you would have to open up the lens to f8 or 5.6, or slow down the shutter to between 1/30 and 1/60. Probably a combination of both, especially if your shooting hand held and need the faster shutter.

    I guess my question would be what are your other settings? Are you locking in a aperture or shutter and not really moving that one much? If your hand holding you will want to set the shutter to freeze hand shake at least so without IS a good rule is at least 1/60 for short lenses and the reciprocal the length of the long end of a telephoto or zoom so if you have a 70-200 use at least 1/200th. Now after that you can decide how much depth of field you need. If your shooting birds or insects you can shoot pretty wide open and have a nice blurry background. So if you shoot at 2.8 instead of f16 you allow 5 times as much light in the lens. This will drastically affect ISO.
     
  3. GDN

    GDN Active Member

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    Hi Paul, and welcome to the forum.

    So a couple of thoughts. To try and narrow down your issue. Is there any chance next time when you go insect or flower hunting, you only use one lens. Such as the Sigma 105 macro. Set your exposure mode to aperture priority, and just see what you shutter speed and aperture is, as well as the ISO.

    ISO 1600, 3200 does seem a little high for outdoors, unless your in some heavy under growth. Then maybe you need to look at a flash set up for your macro shooting.

    Gary
     
  4. Craig Sherriff

    Craig Sherriff Active Member Site Supporter

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    Paul, using manual is a step into a wider world of photography and when we start out we find problems and this is how we learn.
    My suggestion is take a step backwards and put the camera in auto or the running man icon and see what settings your camera uses.

    Now look at these setting and compare them to the ones you used and check out the difference. Does the image come out more unproved or not.
    Now try using similar setting in manual.
    Next have a look at what your ISO setting is, again take a step back and put the ISO in auto. All the best with it. Craig S.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2019
  5. Paul F

    Paul F New Member

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    Thanks very much for the quick replies guys.
    It is reasuring that my indoor settings are within the normal range, as I now know it isn't the camera. I was starting to think I may have bought someone else' reject!
    Shutter speeds, generally just longer than the lens as a starting point to avoid hand shake, going up to about 1/500 for something hopping around or flitting from branch to branch, and as wide as the lens will let me go. My choices have been very much affected, and even stifled by a growing obsession with the ISO, and even I realise that it has been having a negative effect on the type of pictures I would like to take. I would like a bit more depth of field in some shots, but resist as I often need to crop my images to get the subject to a more ideal size in my pictures. (Yes, higher quality and/or longer lenses would solve this one for me staight away! Maybe the penny is beginning to drop here.)
    I have sat in the back yard and taken thousands of pictures of cups, kids toys or fruit, in just about every light condition, just to try and work out what I am doing. With a tripod and slower shutter, my pictures look fine no matter what I set the depth of field to. But hand held, they almost always see me compensating for the higher speeds by raising the ISO past where I believe it should be? This is fine with a photo of a cup that will be deleted after a quick look, but not so good with a picture that I would like to keep but need to blow up and crop back.
    I will take on all your suggestions.
    I have to admit, it never crosses my mind to use a flash outdoors in the day time, but I do have one so I will certainly give it a go.
    I guess I had become too blinkered into using Manual only to try AV or TV, despite the fact that I have seen lots of good photographers reccomending them, and reverting back to auto to see what the camera makes of the subject, as a comparison point, is also a great idea that had not occured to me up to now!!!
    Thanks once again, and I will keep you informed of my (hopeful) progress.

    Enjoy the holidays.
    Paul.
     
  6. Robert Shears

    Robert Shears Active Member Site Supporter

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    I am thinking that you may like to remind yourself of the following rule as johnsey has mentioned, if your own results are not consistent with it maybe there is a problem with your equipment. Unless you are fitting some sort of filter to your lenses to reduce your speed at any aperture.

    Photography Sunny 16 Rule
    The Sunny 16 Rule simply states that in bright sunlight with an aperture of f/16, your shutter speed should be the reciprocal of your ISO. The Sunny 16 Rule is a rule of thumb means to find the correct exposure without using your camera's metering. This is especially useful if you are shooting with a manual camera that has no built-in light metering.

    Let's take the following example: You are outside on a sunny day, you are NOT in the shade, and you dial in your aperture to f/16 and your ISO to 100 (digital or film). What should you set your shutter speed to?

    Answer: 1/100th

    But my camera doesn't have 1/100th, what should I do now?

    Answer: Set it to the next fastest setting (in this case, probably 1/125th). You should always round to the next fastest speed, slightly underexposing is better than slightly overexposing.


    How To Apply The Sunny 16 Rule
    The available light in your scene will of course require you do dial in different settings. So how do you use the Sunny 16 Rule to figure this out?

    Here is a simple handy reference chart:

    Daylight Condition Aperture
    Sunny with Sand or Snow f/22
    Sunny and Clear f/16
    Bright Overcast or Slight Shade f/11
    Overcast f/8
    Dark Overcast f/5.6
    Dark Shade or Sunset f/4

    Remember, the chart above works regardless of what ISO or shutter speed you are using, as long as the shutter speed is the reciprocal of the ISO.

    So if you are outside on a sunny day and your ISO is 400 and your aperture is f/16, that means your shutter speed is 1/400th (or 1/500th). If you then venture into a slightly shaded area, you can simply dial your aperture up a stop to f/11. If the sky becomes overcast, you can dial your aperture up another stop to f/8, and so on.

    Changing Aperture Indepedent Of Daylight Conditions
    While the above chart is a handy guide, it of course does not account for all situations. But using the Sunny 16 Rule as a guide, it's possible to extrapolate any combination of settings for a given daylight condition.

    Let's say you want to dial in f/8 instead of f/16 on a sunny day. An aperture of f/8 is two stops up from f/16, so that means you need to adjust your ISO or shutter speed accordingly. For this example we will assume you are using a fully manual film camera, therefore your ISO is fixed to your film speed. In this example, we will be using ISO 400 film. Using the Sunny 16 Rule we know that at f/16 on a sunny day, we would set the shutter speed to the reciprocal of the ISO, so that means a shutter speed of 1/400th (or 1/500th). But now we want to set the aperture to f/8, which is two stops up from f/16. So that means we need to stop down the shutter speed two stops to get the correct exposure. The reason we have to do this is because you are letting more light into the camera at f/8 compared to f/16. So to compensate, you need a shutter speed that let's in less light. So that means on a sunny day with an aperture of f/8 and an ISO of 400, we need to set the shutter speed to 1/2000th.

    And of course this works in reverse. Again, its a sunny day, and ISO is 400 and you know you want to shoot with a shutter speed of 1/1000th. So what aperture should you dial in? We know to get proper exposure on a sunny day with an aperture of f/16 and ISO of 400, we need a shutter speed of 1/400th (or 1/500th). So if we want a shutter speed of 1/1000th, which is one stop up, that means we need an aperture that is one stop down, in this case, f/11.
     
    Craig Sherriff likes this.
  7. Paul F

    Paul F New Member

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    Thanks for going through all that Robert, I have read it about fifteen times now!

    Ok guys last time.
    I've now proved the camera is consistent, so unfortunately, it appears to have been a lack of understanding on my part!? I can clearly see that the Auto setting chose to use the Flash, so I have obviously been underestimating how much light is available to the camera in a given situation. I also understand the reasons my "lack of flash" data is so different to the camera's Auto readings!
    For some reason, I just still don't understand the low ISO settings I see given for the majority of other peoples printed images????
    Please have a look through this data and see if it all checks out as you would expect;

    Kit Lens, set at 55.
    Cloudy, mid morning, so as per chart above I tried to maintain close to f/8, just as a datum point.
    W.B.set for cloudy.
    Hand held, so I tried to maintain a speed of 1/60 - obviously I expected this to vary considerably.
    No filters.

    In Auto mode the camera chose;
    1/80 f/8 ISO 800 plus flash.

    In Tv mode;
    1/60 f/6.3 ISO 1600 slightly under exposed.
    1/60 f/9 ISO 3200 " over exposed.

    In Av mode;
    1/80 f/8 ISO 3200 image good
    1/40 f/8 ISO 1600 " not bad
    1/20 f/8 ISO 800 not great focus.

    In Manual
    To keep a speed above 1/60 (it ended up 1/80) I needed ISO 3200.

    I think I learned a little more about my camera today, just not what I though I would.
    Thanks for taking the time to reply to an idiot!

    Paul
     
  8. Robert Shears

    Robert Shears Active Member Site Supporter

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    I have assumed you upgraded from your 450D that you had no problems with and no longer have it, your best bet is to ask someone with an aps-c DSLR to let you compare yours and theirs in the same lighting, aperture (and subject, metering, WB etc) for the data they each provide. If the results are near enough the same, you will have to live with the fact that the camera is fine. If they are not (apart from those slight differences that would be explained by having different cameras reporting the data) and you are a stop or more different, you do indeed have a problem unfortunately.
     
  9. johnsey

    johnsey Site Moderator Staff Member Site Supporter

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    Hi Paul, so all your exposure are equivalent, what is peculiar is that you say the two TV ones are under and over exposed what they should equal. Maybe the lighting shifted slightly while doing this experiment. Also is your camera able to do partial stops? I see all ISO in full stops and looks like in manual you could not set 1/60th either. Make sure to enable partial or 1/3 stops on your camera you should be able to pick shutter speeds apertures and ISO in partial stops if you like, this is done in the custom functions menu.
    That way if you wanted you could have stayed at 1/50 or 1/60th at f8 and maybe had ISO somewhere around 2400 instead of 3200.


    If you want to read up on EV: https://www.scantips.com/lights/evchart.html
    upload_2019-12-29_13-59-40.png

    I do think its worth your investment to have a flash that you use with a a diffuser as a fill flash in some of these outdoor shaded situations as with will bring down the ISO quickly. You can even mount it off to the side on a stand and trigger it with a wireless trigger.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
  10. johnsey

    johnsey Site Moderator Staff Member Site Supporter

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    Also in addition to making sure you set your camera up for partial stops and knowing these general rules, you don't need to fret about if its 1/60 or 1/80 for example. With sunny 16 - The large takeaway is in a given seen does the camera reading make sense before you start adjusting setting based on your own needs. With the Shutter speed rule, it is meant to ensure you don't push the limit of hand holding.

    Now I do want to unpack 2 other topics
    1. which metering system do you have set on the camera? This could have an effect on the reading the camera is giving for the exposure depending on the subject and how the scene is lit.
    2. Lets talk about comparing the images to others. Focal range is just as important as anything else so if you have a a shot of a bird taken on the edge of tree online with some nice bright blue background there was probably a lot of light and the photographer took it with a long zoom and wide open. Now if your shooting with a 50mm you would have to be inches away from the bird to get a similar angle of view where the lighting is similar. If you take a few steps backwards include more of the tree and the shade under it the scene is going be alot darker for the camera to calculate for and give you a much different reading from the meter. I know you mentioned cropping up above which is what got me thinking we need to make sure you are comparing all things side by side with the online examples you speak of.

    Side note* You could pick up a hand held meter to compare against. I use mine sometimes with strobe lights, but mainly to ensure I am exposing for specific spots in a scene using the spot meter function when I shoot medium and large format film. I have a Sekonic 558 but you don't need to go that fancy you can find something much cheaper.
     
  11. Paul F

    Paul F New Member

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    I'm only posting this as a conclusion to my own original question, as no one else here was in any doubt!
    I compared the camera side by side to another model, and proved that the fault was entirely with my expectations of how the ISO should be working, and there is nothing at all wrong with the 750D.

    Conditions were the same, overcast and very dull.
    For continuity, both cameras were set to evaluative metering, W.B. set for cloudy, and I aimed to stay at or around F8.
    Again set at 55mm, and again I tried to maintain 1/60 sec. whilst remaining realistic.

    Results were uncannily consistent this time;

    750D; M, Av and TV were 1/80 F8 1600
    Auto was 1/60 F8 800 + Flash

    80D M, Av and Tv were 1/60 F8 1600
    Auto was 1/60 F4.5 800 + Flash.

    Yes, I do understand that each camera software etc. will be set up slightly diferently, so despite the difference in shutter speeds between the two, I do get that they are pretty much the same.
    For me personally it has been a useful exercise, and I'm glad I asked the question. Easier to learn by mistake than through a course I suppose? As mentioned above, I guess I need to think about using the flash on dull days, as I can see it does make a difference even outdoors.
    Thanks for your help once again.

    Paul.
     
  12. Robert Shears

    Robert Shears Active Member Site Supporter

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    Good to see you have some confidence with your camera operating as it should.
     
  13. Robert Shears

    Robert Shears Active Member Site Supporter

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    Various OEM and 3rd party lenses in Pentax, Minolta and Canon.
    ps A hotshoe flash with a high guide number and high speed sync will work nicely in dimmer light.
     
  14. johnsey

    johnsey Site Moderator Staff Member Site Supporter

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    Using fill flash is even a good idea in bright light to remove shadows if for instance you are doing a portrait.
     

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