Cropping? Better Drop Your ISO!

Let’s face it – sometimes we need to crop. However, when you’re faced with a photo in the viewfinder that’s gonna need an appointment with the crop tool, you gotta be careful. Noise is a tricky thing and it’s especially hard on images where cropping is required.

In this video, we’ll take a look at why your personal maximum ISO for your camera may be too high if the image in the viewfinder is destined for the crop tool. A must watch for every photographer!

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PS – If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books, Secrets To Exposure And Metering For Nikon, Secrets To Stunning Wildlife Photography, and Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System – as well as my new Noise Reduction video workshop. They’re filled with hundreds of tips, techniques and information just like this. Check ’em out – click here (hey, it’s free to look).

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This entry was posted in Techniques, Using Your Gear, Wildlife.

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Dick
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Dick

Recently I had plenty of light with low ISO and shore birds starting to fly. When I got home I discovered I should have increased my shutter speed because of the heavy crop. I am thinking the same applies here. That is cropping requires a faster shutter speed. Any guidance here?

The video was great! I had never considered lowering ISO because of cropping. Thank you for another great video!

stephen friebert
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stephen friebert

Have you tried the AI products from Topaz? the combination of Topaz sharpen, denoise and gigapixel will improve any “off” shots, many time taking somewhat “off” pics all the way to really fine.

Winston Shaw
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I don’t know where Steve eats lunch but here in Coastal Maine his book on metering and exposure is a heck of a lot cheaper than lunch! Better yet Steve’s book represents a much greater gain to a photographer than sliced bread meant to the chef preparing your lunch! I own and frequently read all Steve’s books and have long considered them the best investment I’ve made in photography!

Gary
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Gary

Hi Steve
arms not long enough, pockets not deep enough, almost always cropping, D4s is helping with the noise but find I’m always shooting in low light and cropping,
Even @ 600mm, Im still cropping, I guess faster glass is the way to reduce the ISO

Dave Berry
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Dave Berry

Hi Steve, Thanks for another very helpful video. This confirms my experience of using the D500 with the Nikon 200-500. After watching your video about Manual with auto-ISO, I set my maximum ISO to 4000 (which I think you suggested at the time), but whenever the light drops to the extent that I have to work with 4000 ISO, the results are extremely noisy. I think I’ll now go down to max 3200, but I was wondering what you thought of Topaz Denoise. Can that compensate for the levels of noise you get at ISO 4000 on the D500? Thanks.

Shanti
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Shanti

Hi I use topaz denoise almost all the time,it really helps,as am cropping slot on myD500,D850, 500mm pf. Not many options when doing action @ 1/2500 and light is not so good. I use denoise 1st, then LR or PS, and on minimal settings. Also topaz sharpen is great for certain subjects, just watch backgrounds

Norman Dean
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Hey Steve, Once again another aweson video. I am a wild life photographer an I frequently take guest to Africa to photgraph wild life, everything that you said in you video i am already aware of BUT how often we forget the simple things. Thanks again, love your work.

Dennis Wert
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Dennis Wert

Hi Steve, Thanks for another great video. I never gave any consideration to the crop/ISO situation explained. I am sure this will help me get sharper images in the future. I have found your Exposure, Autofocus and Wildlife books to be extremely valuable and well worth the minimal cost. The method of presentation is excellent and easy to understand for all levels of photographers.

Dale Elliott
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Dale Elliott

Steve thanks again, I read my e-books but these video really help me a lot with my e-book reading!!!

Richar
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Richar

Steve, Since I use Auto iso it is my last concern. In manual I’ll set my shutter speed first based upon the subject matter and how much movement I can expect. Difference between a resting animal versus a action image, running or flying (shutter speed could quadruple). Next is F stop for depth of field, same rule applies. With action shoots I’ll go F8 or higher, F2.8 to F5.6 to start blowing out the background. Auto ISO sets the overall mid range for me. Only thing I need to pay attention too is the sensor being fooled with a bright… Read more »

Stuart Walker
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Stuart Walker

Hi Steve, can you share what focus target you are using (without the feather:))

Mark Slifkin
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Mark Slifkin

Great explanation on crop size vs ISO. Suggestion can you relate MP cropped to print size as well.

Francois Petit
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Dear Steve ! Perhaps you remember. I am the guy from France who has got a D5 and was a bit shocked from the pressure that all the medias dit about the arriving of the mirrorless.and i wrote you a letter for this question. You answered it in the last post cast. this video is again like the two books i have got from you, about the af-cnikon and about the metering: wonderfull!! very clear exposure of your ideas, wonderfull details in the explanations, and always a bit of humor!!! i really don’t know someone who is as good as… Read more »

Phil Colwill
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Perhaps including some discussion on exposing to the right to improve the noise in high ISO photos would help many.

Phil Colwill
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Perhaps a point to be included in this discussion is how much exposing to the right helps when using higher ISOs.

Nick
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Nick

Thanks for the vid Steve. Sometimes with my D500 the best thing I can learn is when to drop the camera and not beat myself up over “missing” a shot that just wasn’t possible. I find myself throwing out most of my intended crops. Speaking of cropping, I’ve always wondered your thoughts on these super high megapixel cameras coming out now, namely the AR7IV at 61 megapixels (still 10FPS shooting, less of a buffer). The thought of being able to mildly crop and still have 40+ megapixels in reserve seems like a very good tool to have. Thanks again for… Read more »

Gary Haigh
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Gary Haigh

You are Correct when you say that this topic is not about Fx versus Dx, My D500 is maxed out at 2000 ISO in low light. I fail to see the use of extended ISO as a wildlife photographer, pehaps if you are a lanscape shooter or indoor Theatre or Live band photographer then noise can sometimes be forgiven or even enhance the image. For me though its all about detail, I do crop images even with a D500 and 600 f/4 there are times when reach is till an issue, especially with small birds, etc. Sadly there are no… Read more »

Gilles
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Gilles

Thanks, Steve
As always another great and informative video.
Quick question: Where did you get the Focus Target?

Bruce
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Bruce

First thing I do with any new camera is test its high ISO capabilities by shooting at successively higher settings using unbalanced artificial light and a dark subject. I can see at which point the images go from a level of noise that can be readily fixed in post with auto NR and at which point the image is not going to be recoverable at all or not without significant degradation of the details and tonality of the image. One thing I noticed with the D800e was that I could enlarge a JPG nearly as much as a Raw file… Read more »

Shutterbug Sue
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Shutterbug Sue

Great info, as usual, Steve. I have struggled with ISO through the years & am probably much more conservative than I need to be. After viewing your video, I will give higher ISOs a try & will likely have more keepers due to the ability to shoot at higher shutter speeds. Thanks very much for another well done video!

Liana
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Liana

Hi Steve, Great topic and post! My current setup: D500 + 300mm PF + 1.4 TC III. I use manual + auto ISO. Max ISO is set to 3200. I edit in LR, use Topaz Denoise as needed. I mainly do bird/wildlife photography. I crop to some degree almost all of the time. After watching this clip, and knowing that I crop often, I’m wondering if I should reduce my max ISO setting to 1000-1600. I use my histogram and ETTR. I imagine reducing my max ISO will cause me to increase my EV settings (I typically range between 0.3… Read more »

Richard Smith
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Richard Smith

Yet another great tip–this time on ISO–from our friendly expert. Thank you Steve.