by Ibarionex R. Perello
Arizona Man in Bar
This image was shot an ISO of 800 to ensure a fast enough shutter speed to achieve a sharp result.
© Ibarionex Perello
All rights reserved
After gently convincing him to allow me to make an image, I realized that even with my f/2.8 zoom lens, the shutter speed was too slow. With the lens wide open, the shutter speed was just 1/8 second, far too slow to reasonably hand hold and expect sharp results. Because I didn’t want to lose the moment by setting up a tripod, I knew that I needed to boost my ISO from 100 to 800.
The increase of 3 stops, allowed me to shoot at a shutter speed of 1/60 second, which worked much better. Though I was using an Image Stabilization lens, I didn’t want to depend on the technology alone to produce a sharp result. I wanted a shutter speed that I could reasonably hand hold even without IS, but have the lens’ technology engaged as a little added security. I have seen many photographers practice poor camera technique from their misplaced dependence on the technology delivering great results.
I always make it a point of noting my shutter speed as I begin to shoot. It’s as fundamental to me as focusing. I have had too many great images ruined because of camera motion resulting in a soft image. Though I make every effort to hold my camera as steady as possible, there is always a little vibration occurring. It’s not a problem with fast shutter speeds. But when the shutter speed drops below 1/60 second, especially in combination with the use of focal lengths of 80mm and higher, there is an increased risk of softness due to camera movement. Noting my shutter speed before exposing the first frame helps me take the steps needed to make sure my photographs turn out tack sharp.
Though increasing the ISO to 800 or even higher introduces more noise into the image, I prefer having a noisy image that is sharp, rather than a noiseless image that is soft. There is always something that I can do with the former, but not the latter.
Yet, even at this high ISO my camera delivered a very beautiful image. Though the light wasn’t abundant, there was a good quality to it, which helped make the image strong visually and technically.
Years before, I would have missed out on this shot, because I would have decided there wasn’t enough light. Now the ability to change ISO on the fly, has provided the means to make quality images virtually anywhere.