Low Light Photography Using High ISO Settings

Below are details about some of the methods that I use in my photography. They are reproduced here in the hope that they help others. However, I would like to stress that I am not the font of all knowledge on photography, and I would hope that people read these notes with a completely open mind, as there may well be better methods out there.


Digital cameras can cope much better in low light situations that film ever could. Trust me, I have tried high speed film, and also taken photographs in low light on high ISO on a range of digital cameras and have watched their high ISO performance improve as new models are brought to market. Many say that you have to have a really expensive camera to get good performance at high ISO, but that is only partly true. Having a camera that performs great at high ISO is just one element of many that makes it possible to record moving subjects in low light. Some key points are as follows:

So now you have taken a shot of a moving subject in low light with a high ISO setting, what about the processing?

A final note, many people tell me I only get moving night shots because I have an expensive camera. While my current camera does perform very well at high ISO setting, it should be remembered that I have managed to get some very acceptable results from my old Nikon D80 and D300 cameras, and most subsequent entry level cameras from Nikon perform as well, if not better than these models in the high ISO range. If I had to single one thing in the above text as having the most impact in attaining good quality images in low light, it would be the use of a prime lens. One thing that using the D750 does allow me to do is to work at a higher ISO so that I can use a smaller aperture and have a better depth of field, and it also allows me to take pictures where there is less light than is ideal.

The above picture is one of my early attempts at a moving night shot. Taken at Loughborough station in August 2009, it shows 47501 slowing to stop at the station with a railtour. The estimated speed at this point would be about 15mph. The shot was taken with a Nikon D300 using a 35mm f2 prime lens set at f2.5 @ 1/100th sec shutter speed. Even at this slow speed, 1/100th sec hasn't quite stopped it, and there is a slight amount of motion blur on the front of the loco. The image has been processed from RAW and then noise reduced in Neat Image.