ISO setting on a Digital Camera: How to utilise it


The ISO setting on a camera can lighten or darken a picture. Your pictures will become brighter as you raise your ISO setting. Because of this, ISO enables you to take pictures in low-light conditions or adjust your aperture and shutter speed more freely.

But increasing your ISO has drawbacks. When the ISO is set too high, the image will have a lot of noise, often known as grain, and may not be useful. Therefore, using ISO to brighten a picture always involves a cost. It would help if you only increased your ISO when you cannot brighten the picture using the shutter speed or aperture.

What is ISO speed?

The sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to light is referred to as ISO Speed. It becomes more light-sensitive as the ISO speed increases. This implies that you can either use a faster shutter speed, which is helpful in low-light situations for sports photography, or a smaller aperture, for situations where you want a shallow depth of field. But when you gradually raise the ISO speed, the amount of “noise” in the image likewise increases, lowering the quality of the image overall. So, there is always a trade-off when using ISO to brighten a photograph.

When hand-holding your camera, most digital cameras can automatically increase the ISO setting to produce a tolerably sharp image. However, you will frequently require more control than this, therefore it’s critical to understand how your images are affected by camera ISO.

What is Base ISO?

Base ISO is the lowest setting your camera comes with from the factory, also called “native ISO.” The lowest to the highest ISO settings your camera has out of the box is called the native ISO range. This is a crucial feature since it enables you to get the best possible image quality while limiting the appearance of noise. In order to achieve the best image quality, you should always attempt to stick to the basic ISO. Unfortunately, it is really not practicable, particularly when working in low light.

ISO standard values

There are a variety of ISO values (also known as ISO speeds) that can be used with each camera. The different ISO levels are ISO 100 (the lowest), ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600, ISO 3200, ISO 6400 and even higher.

The camera’s sensitivity to light increases with increasing values of ISO. These values are compared to one another, therefore ISO200 is more sensitive than ISO100 by a factor of 2, ISO800 is more sensitive than ISO200 by a factor of 4, and so on.

How do you choose which ISO setting to use?

Despite understanding ISO, many photographers are confused about the best ISO setting. Especially when it comes to shooting outdoors. Your camera has a wide range of ISO settings.

One of three factors—along with f/stop and shutter speed—that affect exposure is the ISO setting. Most of the time, all you must do is manually select the f/stop and shutter speed or use one of the camera’s automatic exposure options (such aperture- or shutter-priority). For example, when you choose Auto ISO in Automatic or Scene modes, the camera will set the ISO value to what it determines is appropriate for the scene. You can adjust the ISO settings in the Semi-Automatic modes or choose the Auto ISO option if your camera supports it.

Your camera’s model will determine how you change the ISO setting. However, when a small depth of field is required, a wide lens opening and/or a quick shutter speed may not be enough to let enough light into the sensor. Additionally, the slowest hand-held shutter speed and widest lens opening may not be able to capture enough light on the sensor when photographing an event. Increasing the ISO will make the sensor’s sensitivity to light better in both situations.

When to Use Low ISO – ISO and Exposure

Always utilise the lowest ISO setting on your camera—typically ISO 100 or 200. If there is sufficient light, you can reduce the appearance of noise by using a low ISO. You might be able to use a low ISO even when it’s pitch black outside or there is little light.

For instance, if your camera is mounted to a tripod or is still resting on the table. In that scenario, you can use a low ISO to brighten your shot without risk because there won’t be any camera shake. However, keep in mind that anything motion will appear hazy if your camera has a long shutter speed.

When to Use High ISO – ISO and Noise

Although utilising low ISOs is advised, there will be many instances where using a high ISO is required to first produce an excellent photo. The obvious response is that motion blur is typical, requiring you to choose between taking fine pictures at a high ISO and taking blurry pictures at a low ISO.

When there isn’t enough light for the camera to take a sharp, stunning picture in any other way, it would help if you increased the ISO. The automatic ISO setting found on the majority of cameras performs well in low light conditions.

Minimizing Noise and Maximizing Image Quality

Some photographers think that the best way to take high-quality photos is to use Base ISO most of the time. But you have to choose a higher ISO if you’re in a dark place. Use basic ISO only when the lighting is enough. Pushing ISO 100 will produce very dark photos in low light. Using a quick shutter speed to capture activity is the same as taking pictures in low light.

You should follow the following four steps to maximise your image quality:

  1. Select an aperture that will provide the field depth you want.
  2. Keep your ISO at its default setting and adjust your shutter speed to the amount that gives the best exposure.
  3. Use a faster shutter speed and a higher ISO to reduce motion blur if your subject is out of focus.
  4. If your ISO is getting too high, open up your aperture until the ISO decreases to a more manageable level.

ISO settings, when the image is well exposed

Of the three exposure factors, ISO is merely one. You may always increase the aperture or decrease the shutter speed if your photograph appears too dark. (And in fact, before considering increasing the ISO, I suggest thinking about if you can adjust the aperture or shutter speed.) Nevertheless, this is not always possible because enlarging the aperture would reduce the depth of field (see my discussion in the next two sections). Furthermore, dropping the shutter speed will make issues of losing clarity unless you utilise a reliable tripod and the right technique.

There is really no way around it: you must increase the ISO if you assess the circumstances and determine that you cannot widen your aperture or decrease your shutter speed.

Summing Up

In order to ensure you obtain the shot, you must set your ISO speed at a level that is both high enough to prevent camera blur and low enough to maintain the highest level of quality. As a result, after reading this article, you should have a better understanding of what ISO is, how many ISO levels there are, when to raise your ISO, and when it’s preferable to keep your ISO low. If you are still unclear about the settings or practice of ISO control on multiple levels to result in a better objective of shot, we (Vadzo) will assist you.

We don’t really need you to pick the wrong device and end up fighting with it rather than working on your task. Vadzo offers auto ISO control, a feature that maintains a specified range of shutter speeds and more unique camera solutions.

Feel free to Contact Us