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Out of the Darkness - ISO


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Out of the Darkness - ISO

15 Apr 2021 11:21AM   Views : 545 Unique : 361

As we emerge from the darkness, if we recorded anything with our cameras we might have given in to the inevitable and turned to the third parameter in our arsenal - the ISO value. Up goes the ISO and the aperture can be smaller (for increased depth of field) or the shutter speed can be faster (for action stopping or for reducing camera shake) or maybe a little bit of both.

Film was firmly entrenched into probably a maximum of ISO (ASA in those days) 400, and black and white films such as Kodak Tri-X were the mainstay of my photography for many years. Contrasty, sharp and gritty with a really crisp grain structure. This of course also depended on how it was developed, but my final choice was Paterson FX-39. Other nice choices were Aculux (less crisp, but lower grain), Acutol (crisp), Neofin Blue (very crisp two stage development that was very technique sensitive) and many more. There were faster and slower films of course, and many amateurs would settle on Ilford FP4 (ISO 125). I had a few alternative favourites, including Kodak Panatomic-X (ISO 32, amazing sharpness) and Kodak 2475 Recording film (ISO 1250, grain like footballs).

Colour negative film was definitely ISO 64 or 100, but later 200 and then even 400 which was the revelation of the day. Colour slides (transparencies) 64, 100, 200 plus a few outside the box such as the insipid GAF500. My go-to film would be Kodachrome 200, and those slides are still looking good 40 years later.

So now throw all the rules away, as current digital cameras smash the barriers. We call grain noise as it's electronic in nature, but it amounts to a similar thing. Early digital cameras struggled with ISO 400. My current Pentax K-1 and K-3II are happy up to about ISO 6400 and usable beyond. The new Pentax K-3 III achieves ISO 1,600,000, but I haven't seen how it looks yet. So, armed with black cats and a coal cellar, and mainly using my ancient Pentax K-5, let's see some images that pushed the ISO values. Bear in mind newer cameras will be better than these.

National trust cafe, waiting, waiting, waiting for even just a simple coffee to arrive, and some tulips in a vase on the table. Pentax K-5, ISO 51,200

Snowy drive home one early January morning, Pentax K-5, ISO 6400

Candlelit Glamour, various ISO values


Night Vision Most Haunted, The Vamipress gets her man

Haddon Girl, treated to mimic look of Autochrome

Pentax K-5 ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 12800

ISO 25600

ISO 51200

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