Just when I wanted to drive to Klagenfurt for a photo session in the early evening, we had freezing rain and the street was glazed with ice. Thank you very much! I turned around, went back into the house and with me slipped our cold and wet cat Tonto. Here he is, taken by me lying on the floor, seen through the Sigma 20/1.8 at f1.8 and 1/160s.
What’s remarkable about this image? Oh, nothing, it’s the only one I have. And yes, one thing, it’s been taken at ISO 6400 🙂
My original idea for yesterday, inspired by a hands-on report on The Luminous Landscape about the Nikon D3 and D300, was to set my D300 to ISO 6400 (H1.0 in the ISO settings), de-activate Auto-ISO, activate picture control “monochrome” and shoot some B&W with a fast lens, e.g. the Sigma 20/1.8. The theory was, that most of the noise would be color noise (at least that’s the case with the D3 at ISO 25600) and B&W would come out quite well.
This is pretty much against my normal shooting style. The sane thing to do would have been to set maximum ISO to 6400 and leave the camera at Auto-ISO, but in this case I wanted to stick to 6400, just to see how good or bad it gets.
With the weather being as it was, this image of our cat is the only one I made, and I made it in not so dim light, the fast shutter speed of 1/160s would not have been necessary to freeze the cat (he was already frozen), but on the other hand, these are settings that may be very useful when you have to take images of moving people.
What did I do to this image in post-processing? I’ve cloned out a leave of grass that was entangled in his hair, I’ve copied the catchlight on the right eye to the left, I’ve increase contrast in the eyes, cloned out two distractions in the background, cropped the image, added a vignette, a levels adjustment layer, and finally I’ve toned it.
What I did not do, was any kind of noise reduction. Therefore, the noise that you see (rather not see, even if you click on the image to get the bigger version), is just as it came out of the camera. Actually it must have been slightly increased in magnitude, due to the levels adjustment.
Is this good enough for a newspaper? All the time! Is this good enough for a print? This depends on what you want. You certainly lose detail, but when you compare it to anything you would have been able to get with film, it’s still amazingly good. Thus, while color images from the D300 suffer badly at ISO 6400 (3200 is the maximum that I’d recommend), in B&W it is perfectly usable. I shall do some more experiments at that setting, maybe today, maybe next week in Vienna.