I recently did an ISO-10000 BIF test to experiment with the Severe Noise capability of Topaz Denoise AI when capturing a bird taking flight. My subject was a robin perched deep inside a pine tree in very dark shade. The sequence of images was captured using my E-M1X’s Pro Capture H technology. My standard small bird Pro Capture H settings were used, i.e. both Pre Shutter Frames and Frame Limiter were set to 15, utilizing a frame rate of 60 fps.
The Pro Capture H image run was captured using the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter, fully extended to 560 mm. This is an equivalent field-of-view of 1120 mm. An aperture of f/9 was used along with a shutter speed of 1/1600. The subject distance was estimated at 19 metres (~62.3 feet) by my E-M1X. ISO-10000 was used, which combined with my other camera settings resulted in a somewhat underexposed set of photographs.
Under these photographic parameters I was not expecting that the resulting images would be of high quality. The purpose of the ISO-10000 BIF test was simply to push my gear to discover if anything potentially usable would result.
As regular readers know I am not into pixel peeping at all as I find this to be quite a strange practice. Just like a painting was not created to be viewed at an individual brush stroke level, I don’t think photographs are created to be viewed at the pixel level. I did produce some sample prints using my HP Designjet Z3200 12-colour printer… more on that at the end of the article.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
Overall my ISO-10000 BIF test produced images at about the level that I was anticipating. When viewed at about one metre (~3 feet) the full resolution print I produced was not really usable. Depending on intended use, a reduced size print such as an 8 x 10, may be OK for some folks.
When processing these images I used the Severe Noise function in Topaz Denoise AI in addition to my typical approach in post. I found that Severe Noise did deal with the noise at ISO-10000 quite competently, but at the expense of some loss of detail and smudging. This was to be expected.
Had I been able to get more pixels on the subject bird, the results could have been better. It would also have been helpful if the image had not been somewhat underexposed, as this accentuated the noise in the photographs. Using ETTR (expose to the right) technique could have also been beneficial. At some point in the future I may try another ISO-10000 BIF test using ETTR technique.
I would not go out of my way to photograph birds-in-flight at ISO-10000, especially if they were underexposed at this ISO setting. I would likely only use ISO-10000 for birds-in-flight in situations where I was photographing an uncommon bird and had no other photographic options available.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. This is the 1,042nd article published on this website since its original inception.
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