Yes yes, we all know how superior those full frame cameras are when it comes to low light shooting, producing clean high ISO images. Now the envelope (popularized by Ming Thein) is being pushed further and we are seeing cameras capable of doing impressive ISO numbers, at the moment, as high as 400,000. Steve Huff even posted his teaser image of the Sony A7S image shot at ISO80,000.
We all want the camera manufacturers to produce better and better products, surely, and we do not want the imaging technology to stay stagnant. We live in an interesting era now, and I am just excited to witness even more amazing stuff coming.
While everyone is lusting for astronomical high ISO numbers, I am actually very content with what I have, and what my gear can do now. Here is a shot of a cat, who hid away in a narrow gap underneath a table. It was so dark that, even at wide open F1.8 (I was using the 45mm F1.8 lens), I shot the image at ISO12,800 to achieve shutter speed of 1/20 second. The cat moved of course (animals never stayed still) and I fired multiple shots to ensure there were a few that was taken when the cat stopped moving. All images were perfectly in focus (ISO12,800 is considered low light to me, if it is not to you, I do not know what is) and thank goodness for that miraculous 5 Axis Image Stabilization, I can nail this shot hand-held.
The ISO12,800 cat
It was not a very good shot of the cat. You can see that the cat was afraid. Afraid of me chasing him into that narrow gap. But hey, sometimes, even negative emotions can produce a different outcome in a photograph. I know usually show happy and bright images. Sometimes, I do things differently.
Some people say that what is the point of shooting such an image when you know you can't print it large. Well, I don't print it large. When I shot this cat I did not intend to print it all. In fact, I knew the image will suffer loss of detail and will not be good being viewed at 100% (believe me you don't want to). However, I also know that I will be showing it just for blogging purpose, and being reduced in size, it will be perfectly fine. Aren't we consuming images being viewed on webpages most of the time? Facebook, Websites, Flickr, 500px pages, and the likes?
I acknowledge everyone has different levels and standards of what is "usable" in terms of high ISO noise tolerance. To me? That cat is perfectly acceptable.