What Is the Best ISO for Video?

When you're shooting video, the way you control the exposure parameters is a bit different than when you're shooting photos. This helpful video will teach you one of the things to consider when choosing the correct ISO for video.

Coming to you from wolfcrow, this great video will introduce you to the concept of native ISOs. If you've not heard of native ISO before, it's the natural ISO of your sensor. Every digital sensor has only one (or two in the case of a dual native ISO sensor) actual ISO sensitivity; when you change the ISO setting, you're actually applying a gain to the signal, not changing the sensitivity of the sensor itself. Dual native ISO cameras are relatively rare; the most common consumer-level device is probably the Panasonic GH5S, which has native ISOs of 400 and 2,500. When it comes to still photos, you often might not care that much if your ISO varies from shot to shot, so long as it was the appropriate level for each specific image. On the other hand, when it comes to video, when you bring each individual shot onto your timeline, you want to maintain a consistent look as you move from shot to shot to lend the finished product a good level of cohesiveness, and the noise level jumping around constantly will undermine your efforts to do so. Check out the video above for some good advice on how to tackle that problem.

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11 Comments

Bill Peppas's picture

Dynamic Range means Signal to Noise ratio.
Really ?

Edward Blake's picture

Seems like a fairly fundamental error, and a really good way to discredit yourself, when you are trying to place yourself as a subject matter expert.

*shrug*

usable DR is mostly measured as the total of discernable Stops above the noise floor. With higher isos the noide floor rises, rendering some darker parts of the image useless (much less color acc. and detail). Thats a direct reduction in USABLE DR. The total patch range doesnt change. But it doesnt matter, because of the noise making it unusable (the gh5 has a patch range of 16-17 Stops, Like Alexa and Sony a7s ll. But usable only 10 with a signal-noise ratio of 1, while alexa can do 14 with s-n-r of 1). Its not completely wrong what he said you see?

Bill Peppas's picture

To be technically 100% precise it is wrong.

What he meant to say is that Dynamic Range is dependent on ISO.

And that's not the only "semi-right" thing he mentioned in the video.

michael andrew's picture

Semantics aside all
Of what he delivered in his video was extremely uselfull. If you wanted a cheat code for your technical film class quiz, this video is not for you.

Bill Peppas's picture

I'd prefer that people learn from real educators and not wannabes.

Jon Wolding's picture

Just get a VaricamLT and shoot everything except bright sun at ISO 5000. Done. ;)

Ansel Spear's picture

He answers his own question in the first 18 seconds. The remaining 7 minutes are redundant.

Mike O'Leary's picture

Unrelated to this video: his video essays on the works of the great cinematographers are fantastic.

There are other theories on this https://youtu.be/2sshGdMgJxQ?t=1310.

The question of consistent image quality and picture look is quite a bit different than "best ISO". There are going to be cases where a scene *cannot* be shot acceptably at the camera's native ISO. In those cases the best ISO to use is…something else. This video feels like an over simplification of a complex topic. The best ISO is the one that lets you get your work done, and that's not always going to be the native ISO.

"The best ISO is the one that lets you get your work done" I was going to reply exactly the same.
I thought I was going to learn something interesting, but then it's like ISO fundamentals 101.