Photography is not just about looking into the view finder and pressing the shutter button. To get a perfect shot, you may have to tweak the ISO (The word ISO comes from the International Organization for Standardization) settings depending on ambient illumination. So, in this post we’ll take a closer look at ISO and see how it is tweaked.
ISO denotes the sensor’s sensitivity to light. If the ISO number is high it means the camera can take good pictures in low light condition. But of course high ISO does have a disadvantage. When taking photos using very high ISO, they will have lots of noise. Your photos will appear grainy and blurry too in some cases. So if you want to take high quality photos, it is not recommended to use high ISO unless it is necessary.
As a rule, photographers shoot at low ISO when shooting in daylight or well lit indoors. When you shoot at minimal ISO say 100, the camera speeds-up the shutter allowing the light to hit the sensor for only an instant.
For shooting in low light, photographers increase the ISO which causes the shutter to work at low speeds. When you shoot at higher ISO, the shutter remains open for longer duration and camera shakes tend to show-up on image quality. So, it is always advisable to use a tripod when shooting at high ISO. It is also important to avoid shooting moving objects at high ISO settings as it leads to poor quality photos.
While it is advisable to keep ISO low when ambient illumination is good and high when ambient illumination is poor, photographers do make exceptions. For instance, shooting a waterfall in broad daylight with ISO set to 500 makes the waterfall appear milky white. This effect is produced by the blurring of the waterfall’s movement on the camera’s sensor.
Some pictures are best shot without flash, for example the candle blowing event at a birthday party. Capturing such scenes at high ISO settings results in fantastic photos, provided you hold the camera firmly or use a tripod.
The general rule of thumb is to shoot at 100 ISO in broad sunlight or when using a powerful flash. Under low light condition, ISO may be set in the range of 400 to 800 depending on the degree of ambient lighting. It helps to experiment at different ISO settings before commencing the shoot.
We hope this brief tutorial on ISO will come handy on your next shoot. In future articles, we’ll be giving out many more tips and tricks, so stay tuned.