High ISO experiment. 3200 – 12800 BW

Extreme ISO - SD14

Been working with a photographer in HK with an very interesting photo book. The book contains photos taken mainly with tmax iso3200 film and I wanted to know how far the SD14 could go, especially with the “film alike” three layer technology that we’re blessed with.

So I set my camera at -1 exposure (-2 and -3 depending on wanted ISO) at ISO1600 and started to enjoy my new faster shutter speeds and everything you see here is handheld and most of the would be impossible with anything slower (camera shake). Speed varies between 1/15 to 1/100 and most of them are shot wide open. I used P mode.

Result? Noise characteristics and dynamic range feels very similar to black and white film. I have bought a Sigma SA-300 film camera and will in the near future take same shots in order to really see how well they compare. :)

Click each picture for full size.

Note: Most of these has absolutely no sharpening and noise reduction turned off. Especially extremely high ISO 6400 – 12800 has some noise reduction applied from Raw Developer.

Extreme ISO - SD14 Extreme ISO - SD14Extreme ISO - SD14Extreme ISO - SD14Extreme ISO - SD14Extreme ISO - SD14Extreme ISO - SD14Extreme ISO - SD14 Extreme ISO - SD14

And yes, my brother has a sauna and we had a great time – even if I look very .. mm.. not to happy at this picture. I wanna be behind the camera. It’s around 75 degrees in the sauna when this picture was taken.

About Carl Rytterfalk

Welcome to my blog! I'm Carl Rytterfalk, a swedish photographer who loves everything that is interesting in the world of photography. In 2002 I fell in love with the three layered Foveon sensor and has since then been an addicted user of Sigma cameras. Though I use Canon and Nikon as well. :)
This entry was posted in 12-24, 30mm 1.4, Full size, High ISO/ASA (400+), Raw Developer, Sigma SD14. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to High ISO experiment. 3200 – 12800 BW

  1. android says:

    i have always loved black and white, more so than film, although i have used iso 3200 i normally stick to iso 400

    you should try ilford, i love the richness of the image with that film, im after a sigma sa-300 myself, i want a film camera to complement my sd14.. ;) i love the toilet image the best ;)

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  4. If Agfa still made AgfaPan I’d use the 100 and 400 iso films every once in a while. It is such a rockin’ b&w film.

    About the noise… I like it. Good stuff, you’re always experiment Carl;-)

    I think your results are good. Some better than other. However, the problem with high-iso digital noise, is that the digital noise evenly placed across the whole image, whereas film grain is more prominent is certain areas, depending on focus/out-of-focus areas, shadow, highlights, midtones, etc.

    I wish someone with a large brain would make a film-emulation application. I know some already exist, but I don’t have a lot of faith in those, since they seem to be too naive, like “add some noise” a blend mode, here you have it – a grainy “film-like” image. That ain’t the way it works… More thought and finesse is needed. I guess it’s impossible?

  5. Hi guys!

    My favorite among BW’s are tmax – not so many left on the market. :( Oliver, results could be better also with more fine-tuning but here I did release them more or less with a one-click pre saved profile. (to be more true to the test). Grain is acually (at least in my 3200ISO shots) very similar to tmax.

    There isn’t any different in the noise in highlight areas compared to shadow areas. I’m thinking maybe more due to scanning? I have some very HQ scans here that I compare to. Can’t post them thou, not mine. :( – can send you example if you want to see. :)

    Have you tried exposure 2? Made by Alien skin. I’ve compared drum scanned tmax3200 with their plugin version and their strikingly similar. At least if you start with a sd14 shot.

    Love to see some examples of high iso BW’s that shows the difference. Can work more on my profile also to make it look more as film. Even add softness to take a way grain. ;)

  6. Linn says:

    Android, my favorite is also the toilet. :D

  7. Those are really awesome Carl. I’m gonna have to try that. My favorite one there is the toilet picture.

    The mood and hilarity of it is great!

    How did they come out in color?

  8. Ed San Jose says:

    Another eye-opener from Carl, I wonder what’s on your your sleeve next time…& to think everyone is raving about the d3’s 25600 iso b/w looking like tmax@1600/3200 ! d3 @ $5k? still watching SD14 prices ($599 @ cameta as we speak..not bad), is it time to relegate the sd9 to the lowepro as a backup? maybe..thanks Carl!

  9. Alonso says:

    Hmm nice results. Love’em all. My sd14 arrived today, and how do i reach those high isos???

  10. Carl says:


    It’s simple. Set camera at ISO800 – 1600. Then turn your /- (exposure compensation button) to something like -2 (two full stops underexposed).

    Then – in the computer set your WB to monochrome WB (if SPP) if Raw Developer you go to “IN” tab – and then further down on that page you select the “input profile” and choose “XDR monochrome” which will create stunning black and white for you. Now, what you need to do is re-compensate for the light loss. Drag the exposure slider in SPP or RD so that the picture is bright again. In this case another 2 stop. (so if you used ISO800 that would now be ISO3200. If you started with ISO1600 – then the result would now be ISO6400. Good luck!

  11. Alonso says:

    Worked great for me. Lots of thanks.

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  14. BnW looks amazing! Looks like your high ISO experiment was a success

  15. I just wanted to express my gratitude for all efforts you put into creating of this article! This is the best sharing ever! Keep it up!And find paper editing service online!

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