ISO for Photography

This is my third week experimenting with my DSLR camera — I am learning how to actually use it beyond the point and click setting!  This week we are talking about ISO for Photography.

If you’re new to this photography series, it is a great idea to start with Aperture! Then once you’ve mastered that step, try your hand at Shutter Speed, and then you’ll be ready to learn about ISO!

If you’re ready to learn about the 3rd element of exposure, then let’s get started!

What is ISO:

ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization.  What does it do?  In digital photography, ISO correlates to how sensitive the image sensor is to light. ISO is measured in increments  such as 100 ISO or 3200 ISO.  The higher the number, the more sensitive the camera will be to the light, and the lower the ISO, the less sensitive to light.  Most cameras on auto setting will default to 100 ISO, which will give a clear crisp picture.  Another important thing to note: as ISO increases, so does “noise” or the graininess of the photograph, which could impact the quality of a print,  if blown up.

In most settings, a low ISO will be suitable, and the photographer can adjust the Aperture and Shutter Speed to get the appropriate exposure.  However, there are some times where it is useful to be able to adjust the ISO.  Such as an event where you can’t use a flash, like a recital or a concert. A higher ISO will allow you to take pictures in a dark room and still let a good amount of light into the picture!

How to set ISO:

ISO can be set in various modes, including Aperture mode (A or AV), Shutter Speed mode (S, SV, or TV) or Manual mode (M). Right below the Main Command Dial is a little button that says “ISO”.

Canon Rebel t2i

To adjust the ISO, hold down the button and turn the main command dial left or right, while looking at the display.

ISO Display

Easy enough, right?! Now it’s time to practice! Take out your camera, and I suggest shooting on A or AV mode, so you only have to set your aperture and ISO.  You can take pictures of the same subject while adjusting the ISO to see the subtle differences:

Christmas trees are another great place you can adjust your ISO to capture a unique photo!

christmas lights 007

If you’re ready to learn more, check out the next post on Metering!

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