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Loving Auto-ISO

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by watsonD50, Jun 4, 2007.

  1. You know, for the longest time I always ignored 'auto' features on SLRs feeling that they were designed for the beginner or were limited in scope. So here I am, an aperture priority shooter who shoots RAW and customizes everything to taste. Over the weekend I decided to play around with auto-ISO. I decided to do this because I was shooting indoors where the lighting was variable and I got tired of changing the ISO every time I moved from one spot to the next. As my D50 has very clean ISOs, I did not hesitate to let it 'float' up to ISO 1600 if need be to get the right shot. One thing that makes auto-ISO better than standard ISO settings is the fact that the camera will select any ISO (even off the scale) to get the right shutter speed. For instance the camera might select ISO 330 or ISO 1200 and I found this to be a wonderful surprise, I mean how often would you rather select ISO 1200 for the benefit of lower noise instead of having to bump the camera all the way up to ISO 1600 (as there is no in-between option) ?

  2. Pesto126


    Apr 13, 2006
    Northeast USA
    interesting comment - I always had this option turned off and ISO always set to 200 on my D50... when I needed to get the lower ap shot, I would bump it up to 400 or 800 as needed but usually just change the ap.. I wonder if on my D80 should try Auto but max it at 1600? Interesting idea...
  3. randyr5


    Jan 14, 2006
    I almost always have my D50 on Auto-ISO. If there is enough light, it will shoot at the ISO that you have chosen. If not, it compensates.
  4. SoCalBob


    Feb 9, 2006
    Riverside, CA
    With my previous D50, and now with my D80, I use ISO Auto virtually all the time (only turning it off when I use Manual mode). I let it automatically go all the way up to 1600, too, because (1) I'd rather get a good shot that's a little bit noisy than miss it entirely, and (2) a properly exposed picture taken at 1600 will nearly always exhibit less noise than an underexposed one at 800, 400, or even 200.
  5. jcovert

    jcovert Guest

    Same here as Bob.

    I once mentioned how useful Auto ISO was on another site and had a bunch of 'experts' tell me how silly a feature it was. The real lesson is to not listen to talking heads without trying something for yourself and/or the importance of having your own researched opinion.

    I actually wish I could set the Auto ISO to kick in more often...like anything lower than 1/250 or 1/500. And I wish it had some customization to it. But over all, it's still highly useful.
  6. Well, something I never tried for the reasons stated above (all manual). I'll give it a try. Thx!
  7. I'm a recent convert also.....a great option!!!
  8. Muonic


    Jun 14, 2006
    Yeah, it is a great option. I think it would be especially useful for action (sports) photography, when shutter priority is a must. I'm going to play around with it more in the future.

    Off topic: Wow Dan, I just noticed you are from Pawleys Island. My family is originally from down that way, and I spent many vacations there when I was growing up. What a wonderful place it is!
  9. HAC_X

    HAC_X Guest

    If it wasn't for Auto-ISO, I would have probably missed this shot... I leave it turned on, save for Manual Mode...


  10. hkgharry


    Apr 1, 2007
    Hong Kong
    A bit different take...

    Great to hear how other people use their equpment. Sounds like I'm a bit different as I especially appreciate Auto ISO when in "M" (manual) mode.

    When light conditions are changing too quickly to keep up with manually, I prefer to set the shutter speed and aperture and let the ISO fall where it may. I've come to this point after experiencing more disappointing shots due to low shutter speed or "wrong" aperture (to my taste) than from a too-high ISO setting.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 5, 2007
  11. With my d70s, I leave it in auto ISO. One less variable to control when conditions or subjects are quickly changing. It has earned my trust.
  12. SoCalBob


    Feb 9, 2006
    Riverside, CA

    That's a cool bird picture, and precisely why I love ISO Auto. I know there are a lot of folks here who recall, not so fondly, the "good old days" when they had their 35mm camera loaded with ISO 100 or 200 film, all ready to shoot subjects in bright sunlight, and then scrambled to change film in mid-roll when an indoor subject or something is very deep shade presented itself.

    Isn't that one of the fantastic features of a DSLR? It's like having nearly every film speed except for the really slow ones like Panatomic-X and Kodachrome 64 that Kodak ever made right in your camera, all at the same time. And with ISO Auto, the camera selects just the right one.
  13. Saved my butt

    Back in February of this year when my D200 was brand new to me, my wife and I went to N. California. One dark, foggy morning we visited Muir Woods. It was very damp and dark and I kept peeking at the viewscreen and the histograms were piled up to the left and pictures were dark and awful. By sheer chance, I stumbled upon Auto ISO. I figured "what the heck, the pictures I'm getting are pretty marginal." The subsequent pictures ranged from noisy-but-usable-with-pp to very nice.

    These days, my default setup on my D200 is aperture priority, auto iso set at max of 800. Great feature.

  14. Do people turn off Auto ISO when using flash? I haven't used it in quite a while but I seem to recall it slapping ISO up to 1600 on me which added unnecessary noise.
  15. Cope


    Apr 5, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    I leave it on all of the time. IIRC, once I flip up the flash or attach my SB-800, it defaults to whatever ISO I set manually.
  16. hkgharry


    Apr 1, 2007
    Hong Kong
    Sometimes I use Auto ISO with flash but normally I want to control the amount of background illumination so if I feel a higher than 100 ISO is called for with flash, I generally will set the level directly myself.

    I believe Auto ISO can be used with flash. I just tried it myself in both manual an aperture priority modes (indoors at f22), with an SB-800 on a D200 and ISO setting at 100, and up went the ISO (shown in red upon image review) to 1600 with red dot blinking on the SB-800.
  17. Cope


    Apr 5, 2007
    Houston, Texas

    I guess at f22 you would need a higher ISO. I just tried my D200/SB-800/28-105 at f22 in a darrk room, and the highest it jumped was ISO 500. At the wide end i was getting 200 (default setting), BUT ZOOMED IN IT WENT TO 450 AND 500.

    I should have made it clear that i leave Auto ISO turned on.
  18. I used auto ISO on my D2Xs with 50mm f/1.4 and no flash to capture some images like this while at a ceremony in Fiji last week. I would have been unable to record them otherwise. I set the upper limit of ISO at 800 and the minimum shutter at 1/15th and was using aperture priority with aperture set wide open at 1.4. The results were really pleasing to me.

  19. gvk


    Jun 17, 2005
    Mystic, CT
    Good shot Dave. That is the type of situation where I also use auto ISO, to control longest shutter speed when using aperture priority, usually wide open, in changing light. However, I don't like having to turn off auto ISO when I switch to manual mode, where it rarely does what I want it to.
  20. SP77


    Jun 4, 2007
    Rockville, MD
    Auto ISO is one of the best features of Nikons IMO. A buddy of mine who shoots Canon is constantly struggling with his Digital Rebel when light levels are constantly changing. No Auto ISO on the Canons, even the newest ones. Okay they do have it, but it's only 100-400, and only in the full auto "dummy" modes. In all the real modes it's disabled.

    Yeah I love Auto ISO even in "M" mode also. With my 35/2 taking pictures of my little girl I usually just set it to the lowest shutter speed I can get away with (usually 1/30s) the aperture that I prefer (f/2.8), and let Auto ISO take care of the rest. I have my FUNC button programmed to show the ISO in the viewfinder, so when it starts creeping above 1250 I'll either go wide open to f/2.0 or drop the shutter speed to the bare minimum (1/15s). I just wish they'd give you a choice between 800 and 1600 on where to limit it to because my D80 starts to look pretty gritty above 1250 or so. And I'd rather have stuff looking pretty good right off the camera rather than having to tweak it later.

    The only time I disable Auto ISO is when I'm making a night time shot or a sunrise or sunset and specifically want a longer exposure. I could just use Shutter Priority also but then it tends to run the lens wide open (on my 18-55 kit lens) which is not a good idea since it needs to be stopped down.

    Overall it's a great feature! :cool: 
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