Home Forums Main YANAP Discussion Forum For the wedding people – Highest ISO you'll safely go? Reply To: For the wedding people – Highest ISO you'll safely go?


LOL!  Weddings are only one area where you may not want/be allowed, to use a flash.  Some officiants don’t care if you use a flash, others are adamant that you not use flash.  Shooting news you may want to use the same stealth tools you would use for a “no flash” wedding, if you want a photo without giving away your presence.  Think about the trouble you could get into by firing a strobe in a war zone!

There are lots of pedestrian reasons to not use flash, too.  We were just in Yellowknife, a week ago.  Let’s look at a few photos and see if anything can be explained by them.

Here is Bullock’s Bistro, without flash.  I didn’t want reflection off all the shiny surfaces.


Light is coming through the distant glass wall, but the majority of the room was pretty dark.  10 mm, f/5.6, 1/30th, ISO 1600, hand held.  The raw file was adjusted to get to the final image.  It was shot with my Rebel T2i/550D, which I think works pretty well to ISO 6400, though in some circumstances it will deliver a clean photo at ISO 12,800.

Same restaurant.  This time a flash photo


I was told I wanted the sign and the view.  So a flash balances the interior with the exterior.  20 mm, f/7.1, 1/200th, ISO 100.  The ceiling is covered in writing so it may not make the best bounce surface.  I angled the shot so the flash would not bounce back from the window and pointed it forward, parallel to the lens.

Here’s a night photo taken at ISO 6400


24 mm, f/1.4, 1/10th, ISO 6400, no flash.  The scene doesn’t really lend itself to flash.  There is no foreground element that needs to be lit and lighting the world would take more than the 430 EX II I had with me.There is noise in the snow and sky, but I think DxO could remove it if desired.  I was shooting hand held, so I could move around quickly.  Later I figured out where I wanted to position myself and set up a tripod.

The group I was with wanted a photo, so they sat in a semi-circle and I popped a flash to light them.  We found they were having trouble staying still for a 30 second exposure, or even a 20 second exposure.  So, I boosted ISO to 3200 and reduced exposure to 2.5 sec.  It was 11 mm and f/4.5 which is almost wide open for that lens.


This is a 10 sec exposure at ISO 800.


The red line is one of the guides walking around with a red flashlight.  ISO 800 was a compromise.  I was tired of waiting 30 sec for the exposure and another 30 sec for noise suppression, at ISO 200.  The Rebel is still pretty clean at ISO 800.

Sometimes shooting events or weddings I use ambient light.  Other times I use a flash or two.  It depends on what I’m trying to do.  Outdoors in bright light, you can still use a flash with low ISO, just to get catch lights, and brighten faces.  I don’t always do that though.  Flash reflects off of glasses and is most prominent if there are sunglasses.

Control what you can and deal with the rest of it.