This is Why Ultra High ISO is a Big Deal in Photography

Ultra high ISO with lots of noise… There’s a lot of buzz going around about the new Pentax KP with it’s maximum ISO of 819200. Every comment I read says ‘what’s the point’?

Well, here are two benefits: late night framing and focus.

I love taking landscape shots late at night, but that kind of photography comes with difficulties. It’s extremely hard to focus (your autofocus won’t work) and sometimes you can’t even see what’s in the frame.

My solution to this is to use ultra high ISO to check framing and focus before taking the ‘real’ shot. Here’s an example:

I was shooting a Gannet colony in New Zealand at a place called Muriwai. To capture these nesting birds in this light I needed a 60 second exposure at f/3.5, followed by a 60 second cool down time while my camera performed long shutter noise reduction. That meant 2 minutes for every image!… I’m patient, but I don’t want to wait 2 minutes to find out that I don’t like the composition or I’m out of focus. So I took 2 shots:

The first, at my Panasonic GX8′s maximum ISO of 25600 at 5 seconds just to check that I liked what was in the frame and that the lens was in focus.

Once I was happy with that I took the second image at a much more reasonable ISO 1800 for 60 seconds.

This has had some distortion correction and is ready to publish!

About the author: Charles Brooks is a photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand, who is internationally renowned for his commercial, portrait, and landscape photos. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the photographer. You can find more of his work and connect with him on his website, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

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