Take It To the Limit

||, Photography|Take It To the Limit

Take It To the Limit

By |2018-07-08T17:53:46+00:00March 23rd, 2010|Categories: Gear, Photography|Tags: , |8 Comments

One thing I love about my Canon 7D is its ability to shoot in low-light situations. I upgraded from a Nikon D200 which at its highest ISO could only go to 1600, but with my 7D I can go all the way up to ISO 12,800 (only if I want to … I rarely push it that far). With my D200 I felt very handicapped when I was trying to shoot and the sun would go down. I remember one time just this past summer when I was out with some friends at a rodeo and it came to a point where I actually had to stop shooting because it was just too dark (even w/ my 70-200 f/2.8) … meanwhile they were still shooting away using a D700 and 5dMkii. That was kinda depressing.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to have a top-of-the line camera to get great photos. I made thousands of dollars (literally) with my D200 but got to a point where I really needed an upgrade. Before I purchased the 7D my mentor Scott Bourne told me that most people aren’t being held back with their equipment but the equipment I had was holding me back. That’s when I knew it was time to upgrade. (Thanks, Scott!) :)

I photographed this image on Sunday at a church concert event; the performer is Andrew Webb and he’s made his way through Utah a few times in the past year. The lighting was really low in the room so I had to push my ISO to its max of 6400 (not including the High level). I used a 70-200 f/4L IS lens to compress and add a nice blur to the background. It’s edited in Adobe Lightroom 2 and Nik Silver Efex Pro … the grain is pretty true to what it was in-camera but I honestly thing it’s beautiful. Yes … sometimes noise is a good thing!

So, in a nutshell don’t be afraid to push your ISO up to a level beyond what you’re comfortable with. I used to brainwash myself into thinking that I should shoot everything at ISO 100 since I do my best to keep my images very neat and clean to license them on iStock. But now when I’m doing my own personal work I tend to not care as much—I’d much rather get the shot with a little (or a lot) of noise than miss it altogether.

About the Author:

Nicole S. Young is a professional photographer and published author whose love of photography and teaching has grown into an online business where she creates training materials and resources for other photographers. Nicole is best known for her books on food photography, but is widely versed in a variety of photographic genres, including landscape, travel, lifestyle, and even underwater photography. You can learn more about Nicole's work on her website, nicolesy.com.


  1. suemack March 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    What a very beautiful shot!

  2. Lon Farenwald March 23, 2010 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    I totally agree now. I have a 7D as well, but at first I was always trying to keep the ISO at 800 max. When I would shoot events with poor lighting I’d end up with high ratio of blurry shots because of the shutter speed. I recently started to use AutoISO for events with a lot of different lighting conditions and the shots usually come out great. Some grain, but nothing terrible especially if resized for web. Good tip!

  3. Scott Stuart March 23, 2010 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    I love my 7D. I ordered it the day they announced pre-orders. I shoot mostly sports, so the 8fps and low light are great for night games. Even the best college stadiums get pretty dark after the sun goes down. A lot of my cohorts on the sidelines can get two of them for the price of the old 1d mark III, and have money left over for a lens!

  4. Vern Snow March 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    I think that is a great shot. The 7D will be my next purchase. Thank you for sharing.

  5. […] 1.   Camera controls: Push your camera to its limit. […]

  6. Scott Bourne March 24, 2010 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    Hi Nicole there was a time when Tri-X pushed to 800 didn’t look as good as this shot. Well done.

  7. Nathan Marx March 25, 2010 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Still using the D200, and you reminded me how depressing he high ISO is on my camera!

    Hahaha, well I don’t mind pushing the limits for non critical work, and I kinda like how the noise can look when done in black and white…

  8. Marc March 26, 2010 at 6:04 am - Reply

    Hi Nicole,
    your pictures above is phantastic (as usual ;-)
    I as well use a 7D and it is great to take indoor pics.
    Together with a 85/1.8 i took a lot of pictures of the
    nieces and nephews without them noticing.
    The quality is great since i don’t intend to sell them as stock pics
    or print them larger than 20x30cm.

    Many thanks and best wishes from Germany,

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