ISO sounds scary at first, especially if you are new to photography. What do all of these numbers mean? Is turning it up or down bad? I always forget to change it!
These are some of the top comments I hear when either teaching people about ISO or helping them figure out what they are doing wrong. And I’m not going to lie, it’s SUPER TRICKY. For the longest time when I first started shooting in manual, I never even touched it. Which honestly is a HUGE issue. Have you ever tried to take the photo and it’s just too dark for you to capture it? It’s because you are using the wrong ISO.
Don’t have a DSLR but still want to improve your photography? Check that link out!
P.S. For my photo examples for this post…I decided to use a cupcake that I made for my birthday…so sorry if it makes you hungry!!!
So first, what is it?
To start, it’s the last of the three pillars of photography, the other two being aperture and shutter speed. If you are missing one, your photography is going to struggle to get off the ground and look like you want it to. In short, ISO is how sensitive your camera is to light. The lower the number, the less sensitive, the higher, the more sensitive you camera is to the light. When you increase the sensitivity, you can capture images in low light environments without having to use a flash. Using a higher sensitivity comes with a price, though, it adds grain to your pictures and makes them noisy.
The key is to always have the lowest ISO that you can while still exposing your photos correctly and capturing the image without it being blurry. On my Nikon, I typically stick to ISO 100 as much as possible, but as mentioned, that isn’t always possible.
When to Use a Low Sensitivity:
You should ALWAYS use the lowest ISO possible in order to try and keep the most detail and to have the best image quality. If it’s a low light situation, you’ll probably have to up your ISO to around 800, but if you can help it, don’t push it higher than that.
When to Increase ISO:
You should bump up your ISO anytime the shutter speed will be too slow for you to actually capture the image quickly. Often times, you need to boost it in order to keep an image from getting blurry. If you need a super fast image-such as a runner-you also might have to increase your ISO slightly, but probably not too high. On many of the newer DSLRs you can set it to Auto ISO and set a maximum to try and prevent mega grain.
And that’s about it. I mean, obviously I could talk about anything photography related for hours, so if you want to learn more, leave a comment on one of my photos on Instagram!