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ISO in Digital Photography

What is ISO?

It is the indication of how sensitive a film is to light. It is measured in numbers e.g., 400, 100, etc. The higher this number is, the more sensitive the film is and this in turn equates to finer grains in the shots you are taking. This is the definition of ISO, according to traditional photography/ film photography.

In digital photography, ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. The same principle used in film photography also applies; the lower the number, the lesser the sensitivity of your camera to light.

Higher ISO settings are generally used in darker settings to get quicker shutter spends. An example is when you want to freeze the action in lower light while in an indoor sports event. The higher ISO settings lead to noisier shots.

Greatest ISO in Photography points

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Very many people opt to keep their digital cameras in Auto-mode. Such a camera chooses the appropriate ISO settings depending on the conditions you are shooting in; the cameras try to keep it as low as possible. However, some cameras will give you the opportunity to choose what ISO settings to use.

When you use the manual ISO settings, you will notice that it also influences the shutter speed and aperture needed for a well exposed shot. For instance, if you change your ISO from 200 to 600, you will notice that you can shoot at a higher shutter speed and/or a smaller aperture.

Key considerations when choosing ISO

  1. Grain: Do I want a grainy shot or shot without noise?
  2. Light: Is the subject well lit or not?
  3. The motion of the subject: Is the subject stationary or moving?
  4. Tripod: Am I using a tripod or not?

If there are lots of lights, you want little grain, are using a tripod and your subject is stationary, you need to use a low ISO.

If it is dark, you want some grain, are not using tripod and your subject is moving, you need to increase your ISO so that it will enable you to shoot at a faster shitter speed and also expose the shot well.

Some situations that need very high ISO settings are:

  1. Indoor sporting events- your subject may be moving fast and you have very limited light available.
  2. Churches, art galleries, etc.- most galleries have a no-flash policy and also being indoors limits the amount of light available.
  3. Concerts- there is low light and most often a no-flash policy.
  4. Birthday parties- a person blowing out some candles in a dark room gives you a nice and moody shot although it could be ruined by using bright flash. Increasing the ISO can help you capture the scene perfectly.

Look also this video:

ISO is a very important aspect of digital photography. You have to understand its importance to get a better understanding and control of your digital camera. Experimenting with different settings gives you more exposure and also helps you understand ISO better.

 

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Author: Mark
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