Cocheco river falls in downtown Dover, New Hampshire
Captured using ISO 6400

Why High ISO Performance in a Camera is Meaningless to Me, And Probably Should be to You Too.

Why is high ISO performance so important to so many photographers, many of whom will never need or use any of the higher ISO settings their camera offers?

I belong to several photography related Facebook Groups and online forums, and one question that comes up constantly is some variation of, “how high an ISO setting can I use/are you comfortable using to get shot X under lighting conditions Y and not worry about noise?”

My response, “As low as I can, as high as I need.”

People are so overly concerned about the slightest appearance of noise in their photographs, and pixel peeping their images that they’re forgetting the most fundamental aspect of  photography, creating compelling images.

Who Cares About Noise?

Not me.

When I’m out photographing I’m thinking about capturing a moment, or creating a certain look in an image, not how much digital noise may result from the need to use a high ISO setting to get the exposure I need or achieve the look I’m after.

I do understand that there are legitimate needs for a camera that has excellent high ISO performance, for example people who photograph the night sky. For most of us though think about this,

“If a picture is so boring you notice the noise, you’ve got a boring picture.”

   ~ Rick Sammon


Get out and shoot!


6 thoughts on “As Low As I Can As High As I Need.

  1. Totally agree…there is too much emphasis on technique and not nearly enough on the emotional value of a photo….especially in camera clubs where many go to ‘learn’!!

    1. Don’t forget the online forums! Reading them you’d think the only way to make a good photograph is to own only the sharpest lenses and the camera that can shoot at ISO 56,000 without a hint of noise.

      I do have to be honest, I’m amazed at the high ISO performance of my Fujifilm cameras, but it was never a consideration when switching from Canon.

Leave a Reply to Jeff Sinon Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s