ISO 2000 – amazing!

Downy Woodpecker male fledgling

The little woodpecker at the feeder appeared to have a brownish cap when seen through the dining room window. This needed to be recorded. No time to sneak up pushing a tripod along. So just to get an image to examine, the ISO on a 7D camera was pushed to 2000 so the 300mm lens with 2x teleconverter could be handheld for a brief time. We generally use ISOs from 200 to 800 – mostly about 400. And almost always use tripods.

The image is a verticle crop from the middle of a horizontal file and still is amazingly sharp and free of much noise. The camera was handheld in AV mode with a shallow depth of field (f/5.6) and at an exposure compensation of +2/3. The shutter speed turned out to 1/800 second. The image stabilization (IS) was off because of the hurry to get an image, it was not turned on. The 300mm lens is almost exclusively used on a tripod or a beanbag so we keep the IS turned off. The IS is always on on the 500mm lens that is tack sharp either way. The 300mm does better with IS off on a tripod.

When the RAW file was opened in Photoshop CS5 the cap still looked a bit drab. It brightened when the file was optimized with a bit of curve adjustment. The only noise reduction was done by the camera – none in post processing. Photoshop and layers still feels more comfortable and easy to control than Lightroom. The advantages of Lightroom 3 for noise control will encourage its use. In this case it was not necessary.

The brownish cap is really red and gray. Maybe the dining room window needs cleaning. However, it was gray and foggy yesterday so it must have been the weather. When first seen the fledgling was clinging to the metal pipe that serves as a pole for the wire where the feeders hang. He was pecking at a bit of rust. Because he was examining the pole, the wire and the feeders, there was enough time to get the camera, sneak out and use the corner of the house as a blind.

And enough time to be impressed with the high ISO integrity of a Canon 7D camera which some people have criticized for noise.

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