Understanding ISO in Photography

Understanding ISO

Mitzi Ilagan | Fotograpiya

Among the numerous settings in a camera, the term ISO is one of the least understood, especially by beginners. And because they are not fully aware about its use, they could not maximize its utilization as they shoot.

ISO means International Standards Organization, which is the governing body that standardizes sensitivity ratings for camera sensors. This is one of the factors which determine the exposure of a photo, as well as its aperture and shutter speed. The aperture controls the depth of field while the shutter speed controls the motion. ISO basically refers to the camera’s sensitivity to light. If you really want to capture the best photo, you should be able to correctly adjust the levels of these three, the exposure triangle.

Most of the time, you don’t really need to adjust the ISO to be able to get the ideal results for normal conditions. However, there are certain conditions when there is a need to adjust it. If you are to capture a fast moving object, you could set your camera’s mode to AP or Aperture Priority, choose an f-stop of 5.6, shutter speed of 1/160 and an ISO of 800 to be able to capture the object without motion blur. If you want to capture the night sky, with the stars as clear as you see with your naked eye, you could set your camera’s aperture to f/8 and ISO to 12,800. As you increase the ISO, it would reduce the camera’s shutter speed making the stars look clearer. Here’s another tip: if you want to use a faster shutter speed, you could increase the ISO without changing the aperture.

Here are the basics: the higher the ISO, the more sensitivity which means less light is needed. The lower the ISO, the less sensitivity which means more light is needed. You must also remember that when you increase the ISO, chances are, the photo would be grainy or would have more noise.

ISO 50-200: Used in daylight or outdoor and gives the best output when tripod is used

ISO 200-400: For slightly dim areas, such as indoors or shady locations

ISO 400-800: Used in shooting indoors with flash

ISO 800-1600: Used in low light conditions, especially when you don’t use flash, it could also be used for sports

ISO 1600-3200: Used in extreme low light conditions, also when shooting at night or astrophotography

ISO 3200+: Used for artistic effects such as candid photos and extra low light conditions

You may also opt to use the full auto mode, so that you don’t need to worry or mess up and get confused in adjusting the settings. The camera will decide for the appropriate settings depending on the environment of what you are capturing.

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