Tag Archives: camera

Photography in the Gloom (high ISO)

It’s been very quiet this week. We’ve enjoyed (?) plenty of rain and mist, grey skies and a semi-permanent twilight. Not great for taking photos.

The main challenge of poor (i.e. low) light is the compromise between getting a fast shutter speed (needed to freeze the action) and keeping digital noise down. Getting a decent shutter speed means moving to a high ISO rating, but anything above 1600 (or even ISO 800) causes a lot of digital noise. Some of this can be removed with software, but the quality of the image suffers. If you go for a low ISO, the shutter slows to a crawl and the image blurs. This first shot of a rat was taken at ISO 3200 with a shutter speed of barely 1/25s. Actually surprisingly ok (and hand-held) but not something I want to try every day.

rat at ISO 3200

Later in the day the rats were at play and the light had improved. This one is at a tolerable ISO 1600 and 1/500s shutter.

rat on rock

Rat on rock

Usable images, but a real struggle. That may all change very soon. I’m awaiting delivery of a Canon 7D Mark II, a long awaited and by all accounts much improved version of the 7D. High ISO performance should be a great deal better, focusing faster and more accurate (the auto-focus manual runs to 50+ pages alone, and supposedly auto-focus works in moonlight!). I should be getting mine in a week’s time (pre-ordered, so one of the first in the UK). I can’t wait to try it out, and for once I won’t be cursing the dimly lit mornings, and grey afternoons. Bring it on!

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS lens.

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