High ISO or Slow Shutter? Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace

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.

46 thoughts on “High ISO or Slow Shutter? Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace

  • March 6, 2018 at 3:21 pm
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    First comment โค๏ธ

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  • March 6, 2018 at 3:37 pm
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    finally. You are back..

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  • March 6, 2018 at 3:50 pm
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    The limit on my camera (acceptable noise) is about 4000.

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  • March 6, 2018 at 4:07 pm
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    I thought this was uploaded some days ago but I am wrong.

    Am I early enough?

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  • March 6, 2018 at 4:42 pm
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    This was way better and more informative than Doug's Mckinlays Night Video, thanks Mark!

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  • March 6, 2018 at 4:47 pm
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    Nice. Thanks

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  • March 6, 2018 at 4:56 pm
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    Thanks Mark. I find your video tips extremely useful. Keep them coming!

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  • March 6, 2018 at 7:18 pm
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    Hey Mark, have you had the chance to shoot with the new Leica SL Type 601 Mirrorless camera? If so what are your opinions?

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  • March 6, 2018 at 7:31 pm
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    Great video. Thanks Mark.

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  • March 6, 2018 at 8:02 pm
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    im sorry but the movement on those boats just looks terrible, this was pretty bad example for slow shutter/low iso

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  • March 6, 2018 at 9:33 pm
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    Great info thanks!!

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  • March 6, 2018 at 10:47 pm
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    How did you get away with shooting at Darling Harbour with security kicking you out?

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  • March 6, 2018 at 11:27 pm
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    Really helpful info, thanks Mark.

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  • March 7, 2018 at 12:18 am
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    Your lessons are as good as your photographs. Greetings from Brazil.

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  • March 7, 2018 at 1:05 am
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    I liked this video, but what mode you were using?

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  • March 7, 2018 at 7:35 am
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    Another interesting and usefull video. Thank you Mark.
    And greetings from Italy (here we are in a very cold winter….)

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  • March 7, 2018 at 9:23 am
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    Here is my question… On a Canon Rebel T5i whenever I shoot long exposures of 15-30 seconds or longer on ISO 100 I still see a ton of noise in my images. I've been told that it has something to do with the sensor heating up from the long exposure. But, I don't really understand it

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  • March 7, 2018 at 9:26 am
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    Leica, an ugly and overpriced camera for hipsters.

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  • March 7, 2018 at 9:58 am
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    Great video!!! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

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  • March 7, 2018 at 12:18 pm
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    wonder what kind of shoulder bag you have at 4.06!

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  • March 7, 2018 at 2:03 pm
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    Nice camera ๐Ÿ™‚ yumz

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  • March 7, 2018 at 4:12 pm
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    I learn that Leica M10 does suck at high ISO, with most full frame cameras released recently ISO 3200 is nothing to be worried about.

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  • March 8, 2018 at 1:00 am
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    Fun stuff!
    More travel videos coming? You going to go beyond "Elephants and Speeding Tickets" on your YT channel? ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • March 10, 2018 at 10:31 pm
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    I photographed a night time baseball game using ISO 3200 film (Kodak TMAX and Ilford Delta). It seems counter intuitive, but I set my Canon A-1 at aperture priority. I decided to let the chips fall where they may with my 80-205 f4.5 lens.

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  • March 11, 2018 at 3:53 pm
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    In the first pic you can see that the boats have moved a little

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  • March 14, 2018 at 4:11 am
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    welco me to sydney

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  • March 25, 2018 at 6:19 am
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    If you use Sony and Fuji or even some Canon, not sure about others, when shooting stills, push ISO up wonโ€™t affect noise. Itโ€™s all depends on how much light hit the sensor. In your case, pushing ISO up will make the shutter faster, which reduce the amount of light, and cause noise. Try doing the test for your camera, using same shutter speed and aperture to take photos at different ISO, do not overexposed, and using Lightroom to only match the exposure. You might find the noise level is identical.

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  • March 26, 2018 at 4:06 am
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    Long way from Arizona

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  • April 17, 2018 at 5:03 pm
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    Great Video! Question, when you were shooting these pictures were you shooting in .jpg or raw? Thanks you in advance for your reply!

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  • May 20, 2018 at 3:27 am
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    Always understandable videos. Thanks.

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  • June 4, 2018 at 11:43 am
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    You're the best Adorama's presenter Mark!

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  • August 26, 2018 at 2:47 am
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    Great Information! Thank you!

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  • September 18, 2018 at 11:14 pm
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    Nice photos. I am very much into long exposure night photography.

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  • October 15, 2018 at 4:38 am
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    if you shouting in low light our door sport what best setting with 70-200 lens with nikon D 850

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  • October 20, 2018 at 1:14 am
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    Those samples have a ton of HDR, which is not representative of what you would get OOC.

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  • January 6, 2019 at 6:49 am
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    Very informative will use the knowledge in a few days!

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  • January 7, 2019 at 11:33 pm
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    NOPE!!! If you can control motion- ALWAYS use low (100) ISO. More rain drops on the sidewalk; hence, less noise!! noise SUCKS!!!

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  • January 7, 2019 at 11:34 pm
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    PS: However, in lower light need longer exposure- But a winner if can control motion

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  • February 8, 2019 at 8:39 pm
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    Cool info

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  • March 5, 2019 at 11:08 am
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    welcome to Aus champ keep the good work going

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  • April 14, 2019 at 12:54 pm
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    Except for the motion blur of the boats' masts, I prefer the slower shutter/low ISO version. Great demonstration. Thanks for uploading. Cheers.

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  • May 2, 2019 at 1:26 pm
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    ISO is completely different in mobile cameras. In most mobile cameras, ISO isn't how sensitive the camera sensor is to light, instead it is mostly artificially brightened by software. Because of that, the quality becomes way worse if you use high ISOs with mobile cameras.

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  • June 10, 2019 at 2:06 pm
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    I moved to Sydney from US a few years ago and i love Darling harbor. Going to go there this week and shoot a photos. Hope mine comes out as good as yours

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  • June 28, 2019 at 8:15 pm
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    What if i want shoot 1/1600s and my camera go up to a max of 6400 ISO?

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  • July 7, 2019 at 4:31 pm
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    Thank you sooo much for showing examples. Some people just talk about low/high ISOโ€™s but donโ€™t actually SHOW you how it looks like ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ

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  • July 13, 2019 at 10:46 pm
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    Great video! My question is which cameras have the best noise reduction algorithms? Is desktop software like Light room better at noise reduction than any camera?

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