Why the fuss with super high ISOs?

I realize that high ISOs are useful when shooting in a dark situation. Or, when shooting indoor sports. But let’s get serious, pushing ISO usually means 1600, 3200 and sometimes 6400. Over that, it should be only for rare situations where the natural ambient light is all you have and any other source of light would be either impossible to add or would detract from the charm of the scene.

Today’s sensors can very nicely produce shots at 1600 and 3200. If you are printing up to 8×10, the grain would be negligible. The newest DSLR or DSLT sensors can manage a good shot at 6400. Shooting in RAW and processing the noise through Lightroom can product pleasing results.

So why, are we constantly analyzing cameras for their performance and comparing them at ISO 25,600 or more? Who could possibly have a regular need for these stratospheric ISO levels? It seems to me that camera reviewers and critics are just blowing smoke in our faces. Shouldn’t we get back to basics and evaluate our cameras on how useful they are as tools to produce beautiful images?

Features, utility, convenience, software tools. This is what I want to know about when analyzing a camera. Not ISO levels that I will only use (quite literally) once in a blue moon…

Happy shooting!

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