758 – Nutty

Two days ago I partook in a thread about the D300’s usable ISO range in the Nikon camera forum on Photo.net. Josh Eudowe asked

Has anyone played around with the true ISO range of the D300 in an indoor setting? Just curious to know at what point you’ll start to see the image quality affected. I’m using, for the most part, f/2.8 lenses on my D300.

Like always it was interesting to read about what people consider acceptable image quality. Most people seemed to agree that ISO 1600 is very usable, many found ISO 3200 acceptable when shooting RAW and under special circumstances, and nobody but me found ISO 6400 usable at all.

Today’s image was shot in the morning, in the workshop of my father. I was there because I needed him and his big car for another transport.

My father has several walnut trees and thousands of walnuts laid out for drying. I saw the pattern, took some shots at f1.4 and found that in the dim light even that put me above the base ISO of 200. You know that I love shallow DOF, but in this case I didn’t want to display an abstract image of a slice of a nut, I wanted to show the multitude, in other words I needed more DOF.

Normally I have my tripod always in the back of the car, but since I had needed it last night, I had left it in the apartment. Thus, in order to get the shot at all, I had to increase ISO. I did it by switching to shooting bank B, that I have set up for a fixed ISO 6400 and JPEG output in slightly toned B&W. This is a JPEG right out of the camera. Not so bad, is it? In fact, I consider this extremely usable. Sigma 50/1.4, f8, 1/30s, ISO 6400.

The Song of the Day is “Nutty” from the 1957 album “Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane”. See a video on YouTube.

3 thoughts on “758 – Nutty”

  1. Oh, that’s a rare one from you. I mean, it’s certainly not your typical color palette… 😉

    And I completely agree, for ISO 6400, that’s more then “usuable”. I guess, we’ve been raising our bar on what we consider usuable (from a techncial perspective) over the last years.

  2. Well, I do remember the times when I was trying to get ISO 1600 out of Ilford HP5 and I also do remember the type of results I achieved.
    Thomas is of course right: we’ve really been raising our bars in this field. And this means we can now get shots, even excellent shots with zoom lenses in situations where before that simply was never possible, never at all.
    Even in the large smugmug version of the nuts there is almost no grain, and where it is, it’s not annoying.
    The light quality here is outstanding, soft and milky, given all the nut’s surfaces a very distant quality.
    On a side note: I tried to access your blog from China during the last day, but it either got blocked already on DNS level or at delivery of the pages. Maybe the Chinese are under-cover fans of the “Bärentaler” – or there is simply something wrong with the DNS server of your provider.


  3. Yes, the "grain" quality of these Nikons is outstanding, but what really fascinates me is the effect that deliberately using the highest possible ISO value has on my shooting. It makes for a very relaxed style.

    I don't have to worry about getting the image at all, don't have to worry about being able to hold it. Restricting myself to B&W adds even more freedom, because blown highlights, a problem that you frequently have in street photography at night, suddenly becomes largely irrelevant. Try it, it's a funny experience.

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