The best ISO settings for Canon Video DSLRs

May 1, 2011

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My twitter buddy Andrew Schär made this informative test, which shows you the best ISO settings for your Canon DSLR in video mode. He used a Canon 60D with an APS-C sensor (the same sensor is in the Canon 550D (T2i), Canon 600D (T3i) and Canon 7D).

If you are shooting video with your DSLR you should use the following ISO settings:
160, 320, 640, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1250, 125, 250, 500, 1000, 1600, 2500, 2000, 3200, 4000, 5000, 6400

I’ve always used these settings. I start at 160 ISO, then 320, 640, 1250, 1600…

You can follow Andrew Schär on twitter and Vimeo!

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32 Responses to “The best ISO settings for Canon Video DSLRs”

  1. I have a 550D and it doesn’t allow me to got to iso 160 and was wondering if you know a way to do that.

  2. Sebastian Wiegärtner says:

    Sorry Francis, it doesn’t work with your 550D!

  3. Marc says:

    Would this apply equally to FF sensors like the 5D MK II?

  4. Radu says:

    You can use them by installing magic lantern on your 550d, it’s a great piece of software, #magiclantern

  5. Marc says:

    OK thanks. I had no idea about this a few days ago, thanks for taking the time to do this comparison.
    ISO 125 seems to be a proper achilles heel!

  6. Kirk gillon says:

    Great info! Keep up the good work!
    Kirk Gillon

  7. T says:

    Nice video! What’s the title of the background song, btw?

  8. I have been trying to reproduce this same effect on my 7D, and I am having a hard time making such a convincing video. The effect exists on the ‘lenscap’ version, so on an clip with no light at all the ISO 320 has less noise then the 200 version. On every experiment that I have done with more ‘real’ situations, the results are less obvious. For one ISO 200 @ 2.8 does not match ISO 320 @ 3.5 etc.

    On the other hand, I can not say that the noise on iso 640 is worse then iso 400…

  9. [...] music is quite catchy! The test, valuable video shootin’ knowledge. [Wiegaertner Films] Tagged:canondlsr [...]

  10. [...] The music is quite catchy! The test, valuable video shootin’ knowledge. [Wiegaertner Films] [...]

  11. Tarek says:

    Amazing!
    thanks for that, really valuable info

  12. [...] As a response to Technicolor’s recommendation, Andrew Schär conducted this test: [...]

  13. Vlad says:

    I have to agree with Laurens. I only use multiples of ASA160 (in fact my settings are set to start at ASA320) and I could never get the same results in real life situations. Last night I shot a short piece on the street at 1250 with the Cinestyle profile and with a wide angle F2.0 and the thing was so noisy it was painful to watch.

  14. Dave Gibson says:

    Laurens,

    Andrew has this note on Vimeo where he has posted his test. Did you account for this additional boost in your test as well?

    NOTE* For the purposes of this test, I boosted Curves to make the noise more observable, so it won’t be this bad in the real world! I’ve also added two pictures of screenshots from low to high noise.

  15. Now this is the type of real-world data I love to see! The part about the ISO settings was the most interesting for me. Thanks for sharing the video.

  16. CameraRick says:

    It’s a sad sad thing that everyone only looks on noise, and not on Dynamic Range or anything else…

    You can Reduce noise, but not create Dynamic-Range…

  17. Tobygray says:

    The one thing he’s forgotten to mention is that this guy is using the 3rd party Cinestyle Technicolor picture style, and the iso settings specifically refer to that. Cinestyle recommend using multiples of 160 for their picture style.

    Same video posted here.
    http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/content_page.asp?cid=7-11532-11537

    Also note at the bottom of this post there’s an advert for Cinestyle by Technicolor, he just hasn’t mentioned it in the actual post.

  18. Sebastian Wiegärtner says:

    Hi Toby,
    I’m using multiples of 160 ISO a very long time. We also used it on Lucasfilm’s RED TAILS. It’s true, that the multiples of 160 ISO is cleaner than the multiples for example of 100.

    Best,
    Sebastian

  19. Hey Francis. I´ve the 550D too and at first i did´nt could set the ISO at 160. Then i find and installed the Magic Lantern firmware and now the camera can be set at 160, 320, 640, 1250, 5000, etc. G´luck

  20. [...] 1. This is mostly for Canon folk.  If possible constrain yourself to ISOs 160/320/640/1250.  This is due to how the camera "comprehends" the setting (natural ISO, or 1/3 ISO with 1/3 image adjustment)  In many cases 320 will give you less artifacts (i.e. bad stuff like grain and other crap) than 100.  SOURCE [...]

  21. Brad says:

    Thanks for doing this ISO test! It has made a huge difference in my Canon 60D picture quality! I was so disappointed with my camera until I found this. I was ready to sell it and buy a 7D. But now I see much less noise in my videos!

    Thanks a million!

    Thanks to your chart I can see the which ISO settings work best for video but I still don’t understand the reason why the lower the number is not always the better.
    Anyone care to explain?

  22. joe says:

    hey, i was just wondering how to set the video ISO for a 600D to 320? i can’t figure it out haha.

  23. McOffsky says:

    But you can! Google Magic Lantern and have fun.

  24. Saomba says:

    awesome stuff!cheers

  25. Jamie Hamilton says:

    I have a 600D and can’t seem to access iso multiples of 160, 320, 640 etc? Can only access 100, 200, 400, etc? Anyone know how to access the in between ISO on a 600D?

    cheers!

  26. Quevedz says:

    Hello Sir, I just bought a my very first DSLR, a Canon 60D. I would like to ask you for the right setting for my camera. I like taking pictures of nature and my family. I know , I should be reading more about the camera features and play with my camera. I just want your honest, professional opinion about the right settings. Thank you very much.

  27. Rogier says:

    Does this mean it’s also better to use 160 steps when taking fotos? or is it just for film? (canon 5d and 1100d)

  28. [...] more sensitive your camera’s image sensor is to light. However, if you raise the ISO too high, the image can also deteriorate (i.e. “image noise”). Test your camera and decide for yourself what is optimum. You can always [...]

  29. Dan says:

    Does this apply to still as well? I flick beween video and still on a 7D – it’d be nice to know if this info is transferrable between the two

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