AutoMagic ISO

Eagle vs Eagle

As of this weekend, I’m back to shooting eagles on the Mississippi River. These guys are hard enough to capture and track as they fly above and then dive below the skyline – without having to worry about the correct ISO settings. But the drastic change from light sky to darker waters requires it – or else my shutter speeds would drag to a halt. Maintaining exposure compensation with gloves on is hard enough – adjusting ISO on the fly to be sure I don’t run out of shutter speed is just more mental load then I can handle. Enter Auto ISO mode.

Now, not all cameras have this available – but if your’s does (check your manual) it’s worth playing around with. Here’s the routine I run with:
  • In setup, I cap my ISO max setting at 3200
  • Set ISO to “Auto”
  • Shoot in Shutter Priority (Typically 1/1000th of a second for birds in flight)
  • Set initial Exposure Compensation to work for a sky shot

With this setup, my aperture almost always drives as low as it will go (f/5.6 in this case) and my shutter stays constant. So basically I’m locked in at f/5.6 and 1/1000th all the time. As more light (or sensitivity) is needed, my ISO automatically starts to increase.

As usual, this may not be the right or best way – but it’s working for me! It allows me to focus on the two things that are most important, framing the shot and adjusting exposure compensation for correct metering. Give it a try and see what you think.

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