High ISO does NOT cause NOISE! (but f/Stop & Shutter do!)

published on July 18, 2020

High ISO does not cause high noise I'm gonna do a series of tests and prove that to you and then I'm gonna show you a new technique for using ISO like Aspen domitor and that's gonna do more for your image quality than upgrading to

Full-frame or even medium format let's take two pictures with different ISOs so we can see exactly how ISO impacts the image the high ISO image is brighter so we know high ISO causes bright images let's adjust the brightness of the

Images in post some of the highlights have been clipped so we know high ISO images can clip the highlights even in a raw file but does it show more noise looking closely the high ISO image definitely does not show more noise in

This example high ISO has less noise because the camera has a dual gain sensor if high ISO isn't causing the noise than what is let's repeat that same test but this time we'll keep aperture and ISO the same and adjust the

Shutter speed the obvious conclusion short shutter speeds cause dark images long shutter speeds cause brighter images but what about noise let's adjust the brightness of the images to be the same looking closely at the noise the

Image with the short shutter speed has far more noise we can conclude that short shutter speeds cause high noise not high ISOs let's try repeating that test by varying only the aperture obviously again

There's a change in brightness equalizing the exposure we see that high f-stop numbers also increase noise just like Short shutter speeds did so we know high ISO doesn't cause noise but high f-stop numbers do and fast shutter

Speeds do what about the Forgotten fourth corner of the exposure triangle light let's drag in a light and see if that makes a difference that's a lot of light comparing to high light and low light

Pictures the low-light picture clearly has more noise even though all the camera settings are the same high ISOs don't cause high noise but short shutter speeds high f-stop numbers and low light all cause high noise what do those three

Things have in common well they're all reducing the amount of light that reaches your camera's sensor what if this whole time it was actually about light and we've been blaming this perfectly harmless ISO knowing this can

Give you a really useful tool instead of thinking about ISO as something that causes noise think of it like a speedometer you don't blame the speedometer when you get pulled over for speeding right no it's the accelerator

That causes your car to go fast the speedometer just tells you how fast you're going auto ISO and give you an indicator of whether you're giving your sensor enough light if it's at anything except your camera's base ISO usually

ISO 100 then you maybe need to look at your other camera settings and see if there's some way you can give your sensor more light if this technique lets you lower your auto iso speedometer by just one stop you've doubled the amount

Of light getting to your camera you've made as big of an image quality improvement as upgrading from aps-c to full frames lower your iso by another stop when you've matched the noise and dynamic range of a medium format camera

At your original settings so if you check your auto iso speedometer and you're above your base iso what can you do to give your sensor more light can you use a slower shutter speed perhaps can you use a lower f-stop number could

You switch to maybe a prime lens that's a little bit faster could you use image stacking could you turn up the lights or add a flash or move into the light there are so many different options for increasing light

And decreasing noise and none of them are changing your eye so I will say back in the film days if you were shooting in low light you might load your camera up with ISO 3200 film and you wouldn't be able to change it until you used up that

Whole roll of film so if you went shooting in broad daylight the next day yeah even in broad daylight with lots of light you would end up with grainy noisy pictures because you were forced to use that high ISO by your film that ISO

Actually was limiting the amount of light that your camera could possibly gather and back in the film days yeah I so did seem to cause high noise and maybe that's why we still use that miss construct today

But nowadays if you are in a low light environment just use a high ISO that's the best you can do unless you can add light in some other way I hope you found this helpful if you want to learn more about photography

Especially camera settings check out Chapter four of my video book stunning digital photography it's a better way to learn than just meanderings from one catchy thumbnail on YouTube to another because it's actually a structured

Curriculum you will learn things in a useful order from beginning to very very advanced and technical content and it's $999 actually we have a Mother's Day sale going on right now the coupon code and mom will get you 25% off so it'll be

Like 749 or something so head to north or dot photo to check it out and in the comments down below I'd like to hear your tips for working in low light high ISO environments thanks

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