Star Trails- Comparison between ISO 3200 and 6400

Overview

There are a lot of articles out there where each one has a different opinion around the correct setting for ISO. Thus I decided to do two tests with regards to ISO 3200 and ISO 6400. I am well aware that ISO 6400 create a lot more noise in the photo, but it picks up as well a lot more natural light from the stars. Thus I set out with this challenge to see what the clear distinctions between these two ISO settings are.

Note: Please refer to my article on How to photograph Time-Lapse photos to learn how to perform this technique: http://skyclik.blogspot.co.za/2016/02/how-to-do-time-lapse-star-trails.html

 

ISO 3200

The first test was taking a Time-Lapse Star trail staked photo with ISO setting 3200. The photo consists of 203 stacked photos (I wanted to see if a longer time-period will have an effect on getting more star lines). The photos were staked using the StarStax application.

The following image shows a cross section from the ISO 3200 Star Trail. When you count the lines from the brightest line (Jupiter) to the left you get 6 star lines.

Setting
Value
Exposure Time
1 Hour 50 Minutes
Aperture
f/8
ISO
3200
Exposure Bias
0-step
Lenses
18mm
Camera
Canon
Model
760D

 

ISO 6400

The second test was taking a Time-Lapse Star trail staked photo with ISO setting 3200. The photo consists of 143 stacked photos, and the photos were staked using the StarStax application.

The following image shows a cross section from the ISO 6400 Star Trail. When you count the lines from the brightest line (Jupiter) to the left you get 14 star lines.

Setting
Value
Exposure Time
1 Hour 18 minutes
Aperture
f/8
ISO
6400
Exposure Bias
0-step
Lenses
18mm
Camera
Canon
Model
760D

 

And the winner is:

The clear winner is the Time-Lapse Star Trails taken with ISO 6400. The biggest draw-back that I can see with this method is that there is a lot more of Noise/Grain in the photo. But the positive side is that your camera will pick up a lot more stars! In the ISO 6400 you had 14 Star Lines, and in the ISO 3200 photo you get approximately 6 lines, thus the amount of Star Trail lines is almost double – WOW!

In my opinion you can use some of today’s photo-editing tools to normalize the noise levels, without affecting the quality of the star trails too much. I must admit I am changing my mind of using a lower ISO in Time-Lapse Star trails, to using a higher ISO level to capture more stars in the star trails photograph.

Hope this article was informative, and as always if you have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact me.
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