ISO stands for International Standards Organization. However, in the world of photography, it is essentially a setting on your camera that brightens or darkens your image.
It’s a common misconception that ISO is a unit of measure of how sensitive Your camera sensor is too bright. In fact, ISO looks more like a “gain”Setting that allows you to lighten or darken a photo.
ISO is part of the so-called exposure triangle. The combination of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings affect the resulting exposure of images.
These three settings go hand in hand when setting up your shot and getting the right exposure. Learning to master these three settings at the same time can be overwhelming for many beginners as they learn to shoot in manual mode.
Instead of being intimidated by all the numbers, rules, and options, it’s easier to familiarize yourself with each setting first.
That way, you’ll get a better understanding of how they all correlate with each other when you take the plunge into full manual mode.
It becomes second nature after doing your research, practicing a lot, and having a real understanding of each setting.
The smaller the ISO number, the darker your image will be. This means that when shooting at low ISO values (e.g. ISO 100) you will have enough light available or you will need to slow down the shutter speed to get the picture properly exposed. Otherwise your image will be underexposed. The less light you have to manipulate, the higher your ISO may need to be.
If you are working with higher ISO settings, you should note that the higher these are, the greater the risk of image noise.
This is because increasing the ISO also increases the noise ratio in your images. Just like increasing the gain of an amplifier. It increases the volume but also increases the general noise level and artifacts of a sound.
In general, you’ll want to shoot at the lowest ISO setting you can get away with.
The digital camera industry has made many improvements to noise. However, depending on the camera you’re using, this can be a problem if your ISO hits a certain setting.
Example of various ISO settings
The following picture shows how different ISO settings affect the general lightness or darkness of an image.
When all other settings are the same, a low ISO will result in darker images, while a high ISO will result in lighter images.
Remember that small aperture settings and slower shutter speeds let in more light. So it’s up to you to find the balance between the three settings.
For example, if you’re shooting in a setting that requires fast shutter speeds to freeze motion (possibly a sporting event), you may need to increase the ISO depending on the lighting.
This makes up for the lack of light hitting your sensor due to the fast shutter speed. The same applies to the aperture settings. The smaller the f-number you shoot with, the more light you can hit the sensor. So you could probably get away with lower ISO settings.
There may be incidents that you find yourself in forced to shoot with higher ISO numbers. For example museums or churches with little light that prohibit the use of flashes. Or let’s say your child blows out the candles on their birthday cake and you don’t want to spoil the natural candlelit atmosphere in the room with a flash of lightning. As you increase your ISO, the “gain“In your picture and enable your camera to better capture the natural light around you without using a flash.
Everything about balance
When learning the art of recording in manual mode, don’t be overwhelmed by mixing these three settings at the same time. The better you understand the three settings individually (ISO, shutter speed, and aperture), the more conveniently you will learn to find the right balance between them as a whole.
Research each setting. Learn what they mean, how they work, and how they affect different aspects of your image. Of the three, ISO is probably the easiest to understand and understand. It really only affects the lightness / darkness of your photo. As long as you consider the level of noise / grain in your images, you’re good to go.
On the other hand, the shutter speed affects the movement of the subject and the aperture affects the depth of field, but both also affect the exposure.
Invest the time to get a real understanding of all three, practice … and then practice more.
Learning to shoot manually doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task! Just take your time and be patient to learn your camera from the inside out. If by performing your settings you can create well-executed images, you’ll be glad you invested the time and energy in the craft. Nobody turns pro overnight.