Photography Basics: ISO

ISO is one of those strange electronic settings.  In the olden days before digital cameras, film was rated by an ISO number.  There were ISO numbers like 100, 200, 400, etc.  As the number got bigger, the film was more sensitive to light.  This meant that your could shoot at faster shutter speeds that lower number ISO film.  With that higher ISO speed film came noise. (grainy dots)

Now that we are in the digital age, ISO is the amount of sensitivity your camera has to light. The lower the ISO number the lower your camera’s sensitivity to light.  The higher the ISO number means your camera will be more sensitive to light. ISO is an important factor to understand. It can allow you to shoot in low light and still get readable images.  Which is awesome when you need a boost in light but don’t want to or can’t use your flash.

The problem can arise when the ISO number is too high, your camera will produce noise, or purple colored dots in your image.  Where your upper end ISO limit is really depends on your camera.  Depending on the age and type of your camera, ISO is handled differently.  Newer DSLRs can really push ISO high and still have acceptable images.  Other cameras cannot push the ISO up very far without producing too much noise. Play around with your ISO settings by shooting in low light to see where you are comfortable with pushing the upper limits of your ISO number

That is the basics of ISO, go your there and try to different ISO settings on your camera and see where your noise limit is in your camera.  Practice truly does come in handy in this situation.


What is your biggest photography problem?  Please leave it in the comments below. Need more help or more confidence?  Why don’t you go over here and download our free eBook?  We go over some the basic introductory things you will need to know to shoot DIY senior pictures.  It is free!  What have you got to lose?

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