ISO Expansion on the Canon 5D Mark II

December 6, 2011 · 12 comments

in Equipment,Travel,Tutorials

If you have a Canon 5D Mark II, you will notice the ISO range is impressive – from 100 ISO – 6400 ISO. This ISO range can be further expanded in your Custom Settings to an effective 50 ISO to a whopping 25600 ISO.

You may be thinking who on earth wants to shoot at 25600 ISO; it will produce so much grain! Well, yes, there will be grain, but I have shot at this setting and it wasn’t too bad – for travel and holiday shots and when you don’t have a speedlite handy. I’d never shoot any commercial work on an ISO setting higher than 400 ISO.

How to expand your ISO:

1. Go to the Custom Functions Setting

2. Select C.Fn I: Exposure

3. Scroll through the Exposure options to Option 3: ISO Expansion, and select 1:On

As explained above – shooting on extremely high ISO setting WILL produce grain. But when I’m travelling, most of the images I shoot are “memory shots” and I’d rather have them grainy than ruined by camera shake.

View of Hong Kong from The Peak, shot on an excessively high ISO!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Julian December 9, 2011 at 9:47 am

Really handy tutorial. I like this content :)

Diaan December 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Yup, I have to agree. ISO expansion is super handy in emergency situations where I want a shot badly, but there simply isn’t enough light and long exposure isn’t an option. Like when I stupidly forget my tripod at home.

ISO 50 is also quite handy for when I want to open up my lens just that extra bit in bright light and I don’t have an ND filter with me.

rikki hibbert December 19, 2011 at 11:54 am

Absolutely, and ISO 50 is so silky smooth, no grain whatsoever!

Emmy July 17, 2012 at 11:14 pm

I know this is an old post but thank you!! Found it through searching, so helpful

rikkihibbert July 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Thanks for your feed back Emmy, much appreciated!

nustafa July 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm

thanks rikki

Ian Ballie October 24, 2012 at 5:24 am

Just bought a 5D to work along side my 7D, wow! The iso 50 and the Zeiss 21mm f2.8 Distagon are a dream made in heaven. Thanks for reminding me of the iso expansion.

rikkihibbert October 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Hi Ian, hope you are enjoying the 5D!

Yuliya Christensen December 10, 2012 at 12:45 am

Thank you for info about ISO expansion!!

Sonja February 26, 2013 at 1:59 am

This helped me quite a lot, thanks!

Mike Byrne November 10, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Rikki, I found this accidentally while snooping around for some high ISO information on the 5DMkII. Haven’t played with settings that high yet on my 5DMkII but your cityscape example is stunning and has given me some composition ideas. Thanx for the tip and posting it where it was easy to find. Cheers!

Robert July 22, 2017 at 9:20 am

Thanks for the heads up… even this late in the game looking ton but a 5d meio

Didn’t know about the ISO 50. Look forward seeing that in action

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