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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Male 1: Hi, my name is Rich Harrington. Male 2: And I'm Robbie Carmen. Male 1: And this week we're completing our look at the exposure triangle by taking a look at ISO. Now ISO is an acronym and it gets confusing for a lot of folks. It's the International Organization for Standardization. Which, if you look at it from the the English side, Male 2: Male 1: like iOS like maybe they didn't do that because of Apple. No, ISO is actually a French organization Male 2: Yep. Male 1: that's been around for a long time and it combines some of the earlier work of German standards of DIN and some of the American standards of ASA into a new group.
To have global standards and they actually do a lot with the photography side, right? Male 2: Yeah, photography and sort of the cinema market and now obviously DSLRs and cameras, and to be honest with you, Rich, there's a lot of math involved. You know, there really is. Male 1: Ooh, bad. Male 2: If you go on, you know, go on the Internet and search for, you know, the difference between ASA and ISO and. Male 1: If you can't sleep some night, these are some great Wikipedia articles to just put you down. Male 2: And you like formulas and math, it'll, it'll be great. But here's what it comes down to. All ISO is the sensitivity of a camera's sensor. The lower that number, the less sensitive it is to light.
The higher that number, the more sensitive it is to light. So in other words, a sensor rating of 100 is going to be less sensitive than a sensor rating of, say, 1,600. Male 1: This is one of those variables that's useful as fine tuning. Male 2: Mm Hm Male 1: Now, one of the things that's going to happen as you work with ISO is, you're going to use it to dial in. Originally, most people were setting theirs at ISO 100 or 200 as their base setting, and they were really fearful to bump it up too high because, as you bumped it up, what would you see? Male 2: Noise and that's the same thing if you go harken back to the days of film and film speed.
You know, I remember when I was kid going to the, you know, the local pharmacy and buying film speed 100 which I was supposed to use when I was outside Male 1: Yeah. Male 2: in bright sunlight. Male 1: And I was a concert photographer and I'd have to pay more for the 800 speed. Male 2: Exactly. Male 1: And I was like wow this costs so much more, but it looks better. Male 2: Its, it's the same idea but when you're using the 800 film, what did you have? You actually had a grainier image most of the time than say, the 100 speed film. An ISO is a similar kind of line of thinking. That lower number, generally speaking, is going to deliver less noise. However the thing is, as cameras have developed over the years, its been unbelievable how the native sensitivities of these sensors has increased.
A couple years ago a sensor with a native ISO of 400 or maybe 800. Was just un, unbelievably awesome. Nowadays especially in the higher end digital cinema cameras we're seeing native sensitivities in the thousands. 1,600 even some cameras approaching the level of 2,000 ISO. And that's almost like being able to see in the dark. Those camera sensors are amazingly sensitive to the light. Male 1: Yeah and there's a really simple test you can do to truly get an idea of what's going on with your camera. Male 2: Yeah. Male 1: We actually want you to put the lens cap on the camera and record video.
This is the one time you're supposed to record with the lens cap on. And what you do is, you just start at your lowest ISO, and then you call it out. And you just use the camera mic. I'm at ISO 100, 200, 400, 800. Male 2: And the thing you're going to find in that test is that sometimes a lower ISO is actually not as clean as a higher ISO. I remember, you know, having when I first got my Canon 5D, the original 5D I was doing some IOS O tests on this. I've done with every successful camera, er, succesive camera that I've gotten.
I've done that test. And you'd think that hey, maybe ISO 640 is supposed to be cleaner than ISO 1000. Well, depending on the camera and the sensor that's using the camera, that might not be true. And the other thing about this, Rich, that's kind of interesting. Male 1: Stair-stepping. Male 2: Yeah, that's right, Rich. Stair-stepping is something where you go up one step and it's noisier, you go up two and it's less noisy. And the thing about this is that even with the same camera model, it's always a good idea to test. I've had multiple cameras of the same, you know, manufacturer and model, two 7D's, two 5D's, two Nikons, and each camera is slightly different in its noise performance.
Male 1: And another issue to really keep your eye on is heat. As the camera starts to overheat, if you're shooting in direct sunlight, we've been in situations where we're shooting, like, wow that pictures getting really noisy all of a sudden. Boom! Camera's overheated. Male 2: Yeah. Male 1: It's just a sign and so there's lots of issues if the camera's getting warm or it's been in direct sunlight or you've been running it a lot. This is one of those situations where you just have to keep an eye out. But I think we've spent enough time sort of discussing ISO and we've given you some ways to test your camera. It's time to go out into the field with DP Jim Ball, and we're going to take a look at how ISO is used to refine the shot.
Now the thing here is that ISO is rarely used for aesthetic reasons. It's really a technical refinement. Male 2: Mm-hm. Male 1: And we're going to take a look at some different shooting situations and walk you through what's the right ISO, but I can't emphasize enough that if we say, oh we're shooting in this nightclub and we used ISO 800 and it was great. Unless your camera was manufactured on the same day as the exact same model. Male 2: And you're in the same environment that we're shooting it in. There's no such thing as you know, sort of magic bullet in terms of recipe. Your mileage may vary.
Male 1: Yeah so absolutely make sure you get familiar with your gear and really get to know how ISO performs. Let's go to the field.
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