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Today I was wandering around Bradgate Park in Leicestershire with the D800. The weather was bright and sunny, but with a vicious northerly wind that cut across the top of the hills and sliced into the valleys.
I decided that I would use the camera on manual with auto ISO which I have never done before. I normally use Aperture priority with Auto ISO and I am quite happy with that but it can be a struggle with the 24-120 f/4 to keep the shutter speed up to avoid camera shake and also keeping the aperture setting at f/8.0 +.
With the camera on manual I can keep the shutter and aperture where I want them whilst the ISO is automatically increased or decreased accordingly. The D800 handles high ISO so well, it’s not a problem if the ISO sometimes hits 800. I normally have the auto ISO on a ‘high limit’ of 800 and very rarely use more than that, although the D800 is very good up to 3200 with very little noise degradation.
When I use the D800 handheld, I also try and keep the shutter speed at double the reciprocal lens focal length. I do this because of the D800’s 36 megapixel sensor. It only takes a slight movement when taking the picture to blur detail. I was used to doubling up focal length to arrive at shutter speeds with my old Olympus four-thirds gear so it really isn’t a problem for me to do the same with the D800 to ensure I don’t get camera shake and long focal lengths.
I spent my early photography days using film, especially reversal film which resulted in slides to show in a projector. Reversal film is not as forgiving as print film and that meant that you had to be pretty accurate with all camera settings and that included using the ISO recommended by the manufacturer.
I started shooting digital with Olympus E cameras and as they didn’t handle high ISO settings very well, it was usually kept at the default of 200 ISO or sometimes 400 ISO and very, very rarely went above that.
Now I’m shooting with Nikon on a D800 and D7100 both of which have a fantastic latitude for high ISO’s and for still returning noise-free results. However, years of being careful of excessive high ISO’s have meant that it has taken me some time to get used to the fact that I can increase the ISO setting and still get low noise images.
So, yesterday I spent the day shooting with the D7100 in auto ISO mode for the first time. I set the maximum ISO to 800 (still playing safe) and the minimum was set to ‘Minimum Shutter Speed – Auto’, which means it uses the set focal length of the CPU lens. I increase that setting by one of the two plus increments.
How did it go? Well, it was strange seeing the increased ISO readings in the viewfinder, and I had to stop myself from turning auto off out of sheer habit of seeing 200 ISO in the readings, but I persevered and the results seem fine.
It’s not something I would use when I’m taking landscapes with a tripod etc, but it certainly is worth using whilst walking around.