ISO Comparison

January 13, 2009 ·

Michael Reichmann

ISO 100 Vs. ISO 400

NewThis subject is now featured inVolume 1,  Number 1of The Luminous Landscape Video Journal

How Much Do you Lose at ISO 400?

The D30’s imaging chip has a native speed of ISO 100. It can also be set to speeds of 200, 400, 800 and 1600. Early tests by Phil Askey atDigital Photography Reviewappeared to indicate that pretty good results can be had at up to 400. Above that is for emergencies only if optimum image quality is desired.

I was curious to see how 100 and 400 speeds would compare for the type of shooting that I primarily do, landscape and nature. Since I shoot 90% of the time on a tripod ISO 100 is the speed that I normally use. For handheld work, particularly for wildlife, ISO 400 is sometimes required andsome teststhat I did last year of ISO 400 transparency films, and pushing, showed me that none of the alternatives are particularly attractive.

The idea of having a camera that can change sensitivity with the flick of a switch was appealing indeed.


ISO 100                                                                    ISO 400

Photographed with Canon D30 at ISO 100 and 400 with a Canon 28~70mm f/2.8L lens @ 43mm. RAW Mode.

From the look of things, there really is not much of a difference. Even examining 8X10" prints and on-screen at "actual pixels" resolution I can hardly see any difference.

Obviously subject matter with smoother surfaces will show any "noise" more readily than the example shown here, but for my applications I’m delighted to know that I can get an extra 2 stops any time I want, with little penalty.

Photographed with Canon D30 at ISO 400 with a Canon 28~70mm f/2.8L lens @ 44mm. 1/125sec @ f/4.5. RAW Mode.

A number of readers have requested larger images so that they can evaluate quality for themselves. If you click on the photograph above you will be able to see an 8X12" image. Note the quality, even though this was taken at ISO 400. (Unless you have a Cable or DSL connection, this will take a while to load since it’s a large file).

NewThis subject is now featured inVolume 1,  Number 1of The Luminous Landscape Video Journal


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Michael Reichmann is the founder of the Luminous Landscape. Michael passed away in May 2016. Since its inception in 1999 LuLa has become the world's largest site devoted to the art, craft, and technology of photography. Each month more than one million people from every country on the globe visit LuLa.

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