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Maximum ISO

edited February 2017 Posted in » Nikon D5200 Forum
Just wondering what folks are using as max ISO (camera set to Auto ISO)? I've been using 6400 based on the theory that if I set it lower the D5200 will start shooting at slower speeds when it could have kept the speed up at a higher (and still clean) ISO. I have recorded a few images at 6400 (very low light,) and though acceptable, some noise was evident.

I'm thinking of dropping back to a max of 3200, but don't wish to if I can get cleaner images as I move higher up the ISO scale.

As always, thanks much in advance for your comments.


  • edited February 2017
    I think you will have to test and decide what ISO is acceptable for what you're doing. I know on the D3200, I found that pictures of people indoors could be done at just about any speed with little objection, but telephoto shots of wildlife and macros, in which noise and edge degradation are immediately evident, became objectionable even at ISO 800 sometimes, and would rarely be worth doing at high ISO except as snapshots of the "look what I saw" sort.

    If you're doing social shots, concerts and the like, and especially if you're posting or printing small, 6400 is probably fine.

    The issue of shutter speed versus ISO is always pertinent, though. What I'd suggest here, mostly, is to keep an eye on what you're actually getting. Try lowering the maximum and use it that way for a while. If you find yourself needing faster shutter speeds, then up the ISO, but if you don't, then don't. If you're shooting with VR lenses, you can go pretty low in shutter speed without losing sharpness, and if speed is enough, it's enough. You'll always gain some noise and lose some dynamic range with higher ISO, so the lower you can get away with, the better. But a sharp noisy shot is better than a blurred quiet one, so you're really going to have to experiment to find the best compromise.

    I solve the problem by not using auto ISO at all, since it's so easy to change on the fly. I shoot most of the time in Aperture priority mode, and if the shutter speed looks low, I just raise the ISO as needed.

    I don't know whether the D5200 shares with the D3200 an annoying undocumented feature, but here it is and you should keep it in mind:

    When you set a maximum ISO, and then set auto ISO, the maximum cannot be overridden without turning off auto ISO. In other words, if you set max of 3200, you cannot on the fly decide that 6400 would be better and set it. The camera shows your choice, but the shot will occur at or below the max set. If you turn off auto ISO altogether, all speeds are available, but you can't set the auto at a low range and then override it when needed, unless you go to the menu and shut auto off.

    This, by the way, does not occur with the D7100, so since the D5200 is between the two, I don't know for sure whether it applies. It's completely undocumented for the D3200.

    I also don't know just how easy it is to change ISO on the D5200. On the D3200, it's one of the easiest things to get used to, if you assign it to the Fn button, and I long ago got used to using it as a routine exposure control.

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