Chickadees at ISO-6400

This short article shares a selection of perched and flying chickadees at ISO-6400, photographed using Olympus camera gear. Obviously using a high ISO is not ideal… but I love these little birds and I do what it takes to get my images.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Let’s begin with a few images of perched chickadees at ISO-6400. One of the things that you will notice with these photographs is the out-of-focus background even though an aperture of f/8 was used.

One of the common fallacies that exists about using smaller sensor cameras is that shallow depth-of-field and good subject separation cannot be achieved.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-6400
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-6400

Here’s my favourite perched chickadee image from this particular photographic outing.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-6400

During this trip to Hendrie Valley there was another visitor hand feeding birds. This gave me the opportunity to use the Olympus Pro Capture H feature to photograph some chickadees in flight.

I used my standard Pro Capture H settings for all of the following images, with my Pre-shutter frames and Frame Count Limiter both to 15, and shooting at 60 frames-per-second.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 124 mm, efov 248 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H mode
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 140 mm, efov 280 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H mode
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 140 mm, efov 280 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H mode
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 140 mm, efov 280 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H mode

Sometimes birds fly in at lower than expected angles. This necessitates some cropping in post.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 140 mm, efov 280 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H mode
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 140 mm, efov 280 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H mode
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 140 mm, efov 280 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H mode

Here’s one of my favourite chickadees at ISO-6400 images. I used a pretty aggressive crop on this particular photograph reducing the original image to 3246 pixels on the width.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with MC-20 teleconverter @ 140 mm, efov 280 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H mode

All things considered, I was pretty happy with the results of my visit to Hendrie Valley that day.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

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8 thoughts on “Chickadees at ISO-6400”

  1. Tom,

    I don’t know who’s the luckier chap — the hand feeding the chickadee or the photographer capturing the moments on ISO6400 and getting away with it 😀

    Splendid slices of time captured with one heck of a camera (the photographer wouldn’t be left out of the credits but of course)

    Oggie
    http://www.lagalog.com

  2. I’m with Mr. Robertson about ISO1600 (mark2 camera). Noise is a killer. I use ON1 and the noise control is rather weak. I’d have to add a video card to my computer and purchase the Topaz program to see what I might achieve in noise control. I’ve gotten used to shooting at ISO1600 and maxing out at ISO3200.

    1. Hi Lewsh,

      DxO PRIME noise reduction is very good. I’ve been using it for quite a few years with my Nikon 1 files. I’ve been shooting my Nikon 1 gear up to ISO-3200 without any hesitation for a number of years. If you don’t want to invest in upgrading your video card to use Topaz Denoise, you may want to try a trial version of DxO PhotoLab 3 Elite (this is the version that has PRIME noise reduction).

      Tom

  3. Well done at ISO6400. Must admit I shy away from much over 1600 with my OMD-M1 mkIII. Maybe I shouldn’t be so timid…..
    May I assume you used DeNoise AI on them?
    From a previous post I gather you do your DeNoise work towards the end of your processing, not at the start?

    1. Hi Jim,

      My process is DxO PhotoLab… DNG file into Photoshop CS6… adjustments if necessary with Nik… and finally Topaz Denoise AI. So, I now use 2 levels of noise reduction. DxO PRIME in the first stage of my RAW processing, and Topaz Denoise AI at the end.

      DxO PRIME is very good. I’ve been using it for a number of years with my Nikon 1 files and routinely shoot that gear up to ISO-3200 without any hesitation even before I added Topaz Denoise AI.

      Tom

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