With Today’s Digital Cameras, ISO 6400 is the New ISO 1600

ISO 6400 on the Sony A7r Mk II

ISO 6400 on the Sony A7r Mk II

We have reached an absolutely incredible and groundbreaking moment in the history of photography.

Years ago back around 2007, Nikon did something that absolutely blew the mind of photographers and editors. For the first time ever in digital photography history, photographers were able to get clean RAW files beyond ISO 800. In fact, photographers back then generally didn’t have a big problem using the camera at 1600 or 3200 depending on the work that you did. Many photographers who were in the press and did daily shooting in photo pits were very happy with the results. Then one year later, they did it again with the D700–a 12MP DSLR with a full frame sensor that rendered incredible high ISO results.

Fast forward to 2014 and Sony announced the A7s–a 12MP mirrorless camera that can go into the nuclear ranges when it comes to high ISO output and that nearly throws out the laws of exposure. Then move onto 2015 and the A7s Mk II and the A7r Mk II come out–with the former promising great high ISO results and the latter guaranteeing great high ISO results with a 42MP full frame sensor.

Canon EOS-1DX Sensor

This is the year that it’s absolutely safe to say that it’s safe to move beyond ISO 6400. Hints of this were in the works as the Canon 1D X, Nikon D4s, Nikon D810 and the Fujifilm X-T1 helped pave the way with absolutely incredible high ISO results. Once again, the laws of exposure as we’ve known them are changing.

Years ago, no one could imagine shooting above ISO 32,000 at f11 and 1/250th and getting a clean RAW file with very little noise. It just wasn’t possible–and anyone back then that did photography for a living would have laughed in your face. But today, we live in a much more advanced and amazing technological age. This isn’t the first time that the laws of exposure have been thrown out the window though.

When photography first started, photographers did their work with large format cameras and wouldn’t have dreamed of doing any exposures faster than one second in most cases. But then 35mm film was developed and suddenly higher ISO films were manufactured and the exposure game changed.

In today’s day and age, this game has changed yet again and it means so much more. There are quite literally camera sensors that can see better than the human eye in extremely low light and it’s only going to continue to change as technology becomes better.

On an artistic scale, this means that artists have much more potential with what they can do, but it also still means that they need to apply their creativity to this new capability.

Indeed, this an exciting time in photography as we can easily move beyond ISO 6400.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.