Neptune Photo Newsletter
August 2019 Volume 91
by Steve Zimic
The Auto ISO Dilemma
The auto ISO setting on digital cameras is a great feature that allows you to get the correct exposure regardless of the lighting conditions, but is it the best way to go? For casual snapshots I’d have to say yes. For those of us that take our photography a bit more seriously the answer is more complicated. Despite the fact that modern cameras can deliver much better quality at high ISO values compared to just a few years ago, whenever the ISO value goes above the base value you’re making sacrifices. And I’m not just talking about noise levels, but the dynamic range becomes smaller and smaller as the ISO goes up. In other words you’ll get more contrast in your image and have less control over the shadows and highlights when editing.
The way auto ISO works in most cameras in aperture priority mode is that it will bump the ISO higher when the camera feels that the shutter speed is too low for the lens being used, which is based on the one over the focal length rule. That ISO decision however doesn’t take into account the fact that you might have your camera on a tripod, or have image stabilization turned on. In either of those cases you’d be able to shoot at a much lower ISO than the camera recommends and have a perfectly sharp image and better quality. So I think leaving your camera set to auto ISO as a default settings is a good idea if you’re out and about and are not sure exactly what you’re going to be shooting. However it is one exposure parameter we didn’t think about adjusting in the days of film and something you should now take seriously. You should look into dedicating one of the buttons on your camera to be able to quickly change the ISO setting rather than having to dive into a menu. This way you’d have the ability to adjust it just as easily as your shutter speed and aperture.
Canon RF 24-240 F4-6.3 IS
This newest lens for the mirrorless R series boasts an impressive 10:1 zoom, along with IS which will come in quite handy when used at the long end. Undoubtedly an ideal lens for travel or whenever you don’t want to carry a bag full of lenses. It includes Canon’s rather unique customizable control ring that can be programmed to perform a variety of functions. Unfortunately the lens won’t be available until sometime in September at which point you can pick one up for around $900. More info on Canon’s website.
Sony RX100 VII
We’re now in the seventh iteration of the RX100 which offers seriously improved AF tracking, much of which appears to be taken from the highly acclaimed A9. One other change is the addition of a microphone port. The rest of the camera including the lens and the 1” sensor appear to be unchanged. You’ll find this camera available sometime this month for around $1200. Granted it seems like a lot of money for a P&S camera but then again there’s a lot of camera packed into such a small body. More info on Sony’s website.
Fuji GF 50mmF3.5 LM WR
Fuji has announced this sweet little prime for their medium format GFX series cameras. Fuji claims the lens will have no problem resolving 100MP images with the new 100MP GFX-100. Perhaps that’s one reason why they went with an f3.5 version, since slower lenses in this focal length typically have better overall resolution than faster lenses. I do wish however that there was a DOF scale which would be extremely helpful on this type of camera. The lens should be available in late September for $999. More info on Fuji’s website.