The EOS 7D and 5D Mk.II need adjustable Auto ISO!

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Grummbeerbauer

Guest
Motivated by the thread on how desperately the 60D needs AF microadjustment (see http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php/topic,127.0.html ), I would like your opinions and suggestions on how to best motivate Canon to finally bring an adjustable auto ISO upper limit (or even more sophisticated configuration options) to the 7D.

I am perhaps not the only one that was surprised when what was originally considered an exclusive "pro" feature by Canon (being only available in the 1D/1Ds series, AFAIK, and, erm,... well in virtually any crappy 150+€ P&S from any serious manufacturer, aside from Canon, of course), namely an adjustable auto ISO upper limit, suddenly "leapfrogged" over Canons enthusiast level cameras (7D, 5DII) and suddenly appeared in a lowly Rebel.

While this might seem like an unimportant feature to some, it is critical for people that would like to use auto ISO on a regular basis, but are not satisfied with the noise levels the 7D gives on its fixed auto ISO upper limit of ISO 3200. For example, I would rather prefer to have an upper boundary of 1600 most of the time, and maybe even 800 or 400 for critical subjects.

Some of you might say "I don't need auto ISO." Of course you can always set a fixed ISO level manually. However, in quickly changing shooting situations it is highly practical to have sufficiently fast shutter speeds on the one hand but only as much noise as is really needed on the other hand.
And you should ask yourself: do you not need it, or do you actually not use it because you don't like the pretty useless way it is implemented in the 7D/5DII?

Now that this feature has appeared in both the 550D and the 60D, it is really about time that Canon added this feature to the 5DII and 7D -- after all, all these cameras share the same Digic IV processor and consequently their firmwares are likely to share a large common code base. So the code for this feature is definitely there, they just need to add it when they build the next firmwares for the other bodies.

What do you think? Maybe we should write emails to our respective national Canon representatives and make our point about how adding such a highly useful feature would not only be incredibly nice of them, but would also show that Canon actually cared about their customers even after they parted with their money.

We know that this is possible, just remember the considerable upgrade the 5DII's video features received "due to public demand".

And while we are at it: I would be interested in sharing some ideas how additional configuration options could help an auto ISO feature. One thing I don't like (aside from noise levels at ISO 3200 ;)) is that the auto ISO function seems to follow the venerable exposure time = 1/35mm-equivalent focal length rule by the book, without considering circumstances. How about if we could modify the parametrization of this rule, not only for auto ISO, but also for any of the other auto modes?

For example, we could have a setting that allows slower shutter speeds if an IS lens is mounted (and for IS lenses known to the body, this could even factor in IS effectiveness, i.e., 1-3 stops for 100-400, 3-4 stops for 70-200 f4 IS or f2.8 IS II, etc.). Of course we would only enable this feature when shooting static subjects. Further, we could allow adjusting a factor to this rule to compensate for very steady (or very shaky) shooters, or for people that think that the old rule gives too slow shutter speeds for pixel-sharp images on 18++MP bodies.
This would only be two settings ("Shift exposure when IS lens detected", "Exposure rule factor") which are easy to grasp and use, but already add a lot of flexibility.
I already posted some other ideas of an even more sophisticated exposure configuration in some other forums, but I would like to hear your ideas first. Feel free to contribute.
 
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Edwin Herdman

Guest
I'm with you. There is a lot of confusing model segmentation based on build features going on, but the new segmentation after the 7D / 60D shakeup seems to be quite solid. So denying "pro" features that are actually just small firmware updates doesn't seem to threaten the $600-more-expensive 7D's market position in the least. It makes even less sense to deny it to something commanding that high a price premium over this decided lowering of the pedestal for the new entry in the x0D series. Hopefully, I think that means this one may be a safe bet for a future update.

This is something I'd even use on my T1i - actually that's a camera that could use it even more dearly considering how the upper ends of the "normal" ISO spectrum get quite noisy (the "extended" ISO settings are, well, for emergencies only), but that's unrealistic to hope for, I know.
 
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NotABunny

Guest
One of the two things that I'm expecting 5D3 to have is the settings range from 1D4: F-number, shutter speed, ISO. Having only [F-number - shutter speed] priority mode (with variable ISO) is too limiting for me.

I would like a [Low light] priority mode where the settings to change together until the correct exposure is reached, for example 1/3 stop per step for each setting: shutter speed (from the range's minimum, like 200, to maximum, like 8000), F-number (from the range's maximum, like 8, to minimum, like 2.8 ), ISO (from the range's minimum, like 100, to maximum, like 12800).

There is nothing sophisticated in this, no intelligent algorithm, just a few mathematical attempts to get the exposure settings for the sharpest image.
 
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Edwin Herdman

Guest
SP (Sensitivity Priority) mode? That's an interesting idea.

Personally, I don't know about the idea...ISO isn't something you fundamentally "get," like aperture and time values, so to set by it means that the others adjust by some algorithm. I would rather tap the ISO button and select an ISO, say 800 if it's tough(er) lighting conditions, while keeping my carefully planned aperture or time value set. In this case, an adjustable ISO limit would more than pull its weight because my current routine of tapping the ISO button is no longer needed, because I could already have set the ISO to a reasonable range for my current conditions (i.e. if it's nice lighting, I keep it below 1600 or at least 3200 because I don't want to hurt images with excessive noise).
 
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Grummbeerbauer

Guest
NotABunny said:
There is nothing sophisticated in this, no intelligent algorithm, just a few mathematical attempts to get the exposure settings for the sharpest image.
I had an approach similar to yours in mind... adjustable lower and upper boundaries for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. In the next step, one should be able to prioritize these settings, where higher priority means that the settings is compromised (i.e., wider aperture, hiogher IOS, slower shutter speed) last. For example, if you photographing dancers in a not so well-lit room, you might prioritize shutter speed, then ISO, then aperture, i.e., before the shutter speed drops below, e.g., you minimum value of 1/80, the other two values (aperture, ISO) would go to their respective highest (or better "brightest" ;)) setting, aperture first, ISO second. Only when both have reached their set maximum (e.g., wide-open, ISO 6400) the camera would violate your boundary for shutter speed, or, alternatively, not violate it and yield an underexposed image. In a different scenario, where you are taking pictures of more static subject that however need more DoF, you would set minimum aperture, to, say, f5.6 and give it highest priority, then ISO, then shutter speed. Here, shutter speed would go down to your limit (e.g., 1/40s), then ISO would go up, and then the camera would start opening the aperture up to f5.6.
 
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MrGralich

Guest
I'm with you on this one. There are also two threads on DPReview forum, one of which I opened myself, that discuss about this.
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1019&message=36151979
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1019&message=36140622
I think we should start e-mail Canon about this: given the price of the 7D (my camera) and even more the one of the 5D Mk2, it wouldn't be a scandal to add this feature with a firmware release...
 
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Grummbeerbauer

Guest
MrGralich said:
I'm with you on this one. There are also two threads on DPReview forum, one of which I opened myself, that discuss about this.
I also started a thread about this on DPReview... and I just realized that this was 7 months ago:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1019&message=34485927
7 months and Canon still didn't add it. Well, at least this tells us that moaning about the issue in some forums won't be getting us this feature, we have to directly contact them.
 
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MrGralich

Guest
Grummbeerbauer said:
Well, at least this tells us that moaning about the issue in some forums won't be getting us this feature, we have to directly contact them.
Ok, I've done it: I've contacted them via the form in
http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/professional?pageKeyCode=contactUsLanding

This is what I've written:
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Good morning. I'm a Canon user since my youth, even before the EOS era and way before the digital era.
I'm now a (happy) owner of an EOS 350D and, most of all, of an EOS 7D, plus a number (something like 10) of original Canon old and new lenses (just one Sigma... ;-).
I said that I'm an happy owner, but I'm writing for a (not so) minor complaint about a functionality in the 7D.
The Auto ISO functionality is very limited in this model, very much so if compared to the less-pro EOS 550D and the next 60D models, not to talk about a famous Canon competitor... Given the price I paid for the camera, and given the fact that a more complete implementation of that functionality (ex: Max. Automatic ISO) has been done shortly after the 7D release (in the Rebel 550D), I'd like very much to see an improvement of it in the 7D, too, via a firmware release, which I'm sure is very simple to do (I'm a software coder as well as a photographer...)
As you'll see in forums...
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1019&message=34485927
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1019&message=36151979
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1019&message=36140622
http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php/topic,135.0.html
... I'm not the only one to think this.
As loyal Canon customers, I think we deserve this very little effort from you.
Best regards
<my signature>
----------------------

Let this mail of mine be just the first of a row!
 
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Edwin Herdman

Guest
That came out awkwardly. What I meant is: It's easy to picture how an aperture or shutter setting will affect the final picture. You use f/8 for sharpness, f/2.8 or better for a blurred background, and there's no reason not to shoot at 1/4000th of a second or better on a very bright day when you don't want blurred action.

I guess the bottom line is...I don't see what this would replace in the camera currently. You already can essentially do this by shooting a fully automatic mode after selecting an ISO manually (with the ISO button), and hope the camera doesn't screw something up. Letting the camera adjust aperture and shutter speed is taking too much creative control out of my hands - as the camera has to have something to automatically adjust. If it's shutter speed, you may get hot pixels. If it's aperture, it may end up blurry when the camera decides to shoot wide open. And if, using a "sensitivity priority" mode, it's both, you may get the worst of both worlds as the camera decides to overexpose far over what you'd expect (very easy when using just one focus point for example).

High sensitivity is very useful (and also my nemesis) for astrophotography pictures. I've spent more time than I care to admit pointing my 50mm f/1.4 at the night sky and trying to get halfway decent results - impossible but it was fun to try. It's somewhat possible to picture in that instance how higher sensitivity will affect the outcome. But with noise characteristics of current digital cameras, particularly those with smaller sensors than APS-H, you generally always want to keep ISO as low as possible.

What I usually do when lighting is challenging is I find the lowest ISO that gives me some leeway to set the aperture and shutter speed, which is also the highest ISO that can be set without noise destroying the whole picture (it's a real challenge on the T1i, if you check DP Review's tests you'll notice hot pixels all over the place in longer exposures, more so than many other cameras apparently).

So basically, on digital cameras ISO is still something you fight against. Is adjustable Auto ISO worthwhile? Yes, because (ideally) you often make a decision about the sensitivity range you want to use before you start shooting. Sometimes (say a bright, sunny day) you'll want the range set below ISO 800 so that you know to adjust your shutter speed and aperture. Sometimes you'll set the ISO higher because you want to preserve shutter speeds and sharpness (say shooting cars going by on a rainy, overcast day). Adjustable ISO gives you the flexibility that comes with not having to commit to a specific sensitivity setting - useful if for example a scene turns out unexpectedly bright and where setting it to 800 ISO in anticipation of poor lighting would cause the scene to be overexposed - while being secure in the knowledge that it will not select an aperture that's far too high.

I think I know where you folks are coming from, but the reason I say this is this - when you make this decision you have to see how the final picture will be impacted by that sensitivity range (it's a bit of guesswork for me because it's not like film, as you say, where you can just become familiiarized with how 25 - 100 ISO film will turn out).
 
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NotABunny

Guest
Edwin Herdman said:
What I usually do when lighting is challenging is I find the lowest ISO that gives me some leeway to set the aperture and shutter speed, which is also the highest ISO that can be set without noise destroying the whole picture (it's a real challenge on the T1i, if you check DP Review's tests you'll notice hot pixels all over the place in longer exposures, more so than many other cameras apparently).
Let's take an example. I shoot candid or events and I meet lots of cases when on my 40D I have, outside in a sunny day, ISO 100, F8, shutter 400 (= low noise). Then I turn the camera toward inside, for another subject and I would like to get ISO 3200, F2, shutter 100 (that's 11 stops of difference!); to the eye, this is light in which details are still good, to the camera the noise sucks BUT I prefer to be able to take the pictures rather than worrying about the lack of DOF or possibly blurry pictures, and ISO alone can't give me what I want (unless Canon makes ISO 200'000 as good as 40D's ISO 3200 :) ).
 
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Edwin Herdman

Guest
I hear you, but it seems to me in that case the best thing to do is let the camera select the sensitivity automatically, especially if you don't have time to set it automatically (though as I said, that's still possible if the camera has an ISO button - it should). In the situation you describe, with the 50mm I would expect either the camera to select f/1.8 or below ( = almost no detail, AF miss will ensure that as well) and a too slow shutter speed. That means no photo at all, for me. In those cases I find it well worth the time to spend the extra ten seconds when going inside to immediately start setting up for tough lighting conditions - setting ISO and probably shutter speed as well (as you said DOF is not the big issue when light is tough). Anyway, that's just my thought...I'm either not tracking what you're advocating or I'm just not convinced it's a better solution.
 
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Grummbeerbauer

Guest
Edwin Herdman said:
That came out awkwardly. What I meant is: It's easy to picture how an aperture or shutter setting will affect the final picture. You use f/8 for sharpness, f/2.8 or better for a blurred background, and there's no reason not to shoot at 1/4000th of a second or better on a very bright day when you don't want blurred action.
Well, aperture and shutter speed are of course creative options one will often choose consciously. A useful auto ISO now allows you to set both to a fixed value (or a value range, as in my second proposal) and let the camera adjust its sensitivity to yield a correct exposure, within the range you specify.
 
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Edwin Herdman

Guest
Right, I see what's being called for is not a Sensitivity Priority mode but rather placing sensitivity over shutter (say). Well, I think shutter and aperture really both should take priority...as you say, Auto ISO really helps open things up. If you want the sensitivity at a certain level...set Auto ISO there, or set the ISO manually.