Beginners guide to ISO in Photography

ISO refers to the sensitivity of a camera to light. “Camera sensor” is the component inside your camera that is responsible for the light sensitivity. The ISO sensitivity directly affects the quality of image that is being produced by the camera sensor. The cameras with low ISO range are less sensitive to light while cameras with comparatively high ISO range shows that the camera is highly sensitive to light. Lower ISO ensures smooth images with fine grains whereas higher ISO adds grains and noise to the picture.

Image sensor

Image sensor

Presently available consumer level cameras have a base ISO or better known as lowest ISO range of “100”. In order to achieve highest quality image one must stick to the base ISO. High ISO is mostly used while shooting in dark situations. Higher ISO allows the user to capture images at a fast shutter speed.

While shooting most people prefer to use the ‘Auto Mode’ that automatically sets the most suitable ISO setting according to the conditions you’re shooting in. The Auto Mode tries to keep the ISO as low as possible. On the other hand the user also gets an option to manually set the ISO range of its camera.

When to use low ISO?
As mentioned above one must stick to base ISO whenever possible. When shooting at situations that have appropriate light we must set ISO setting to the lowest in order to achieve highest quality image. There might be some situations where user might have to select low ISO even at dim or dark condition, in such case one must keep in mind that the subject needs to be stable for a notable time as the shutter speed of the camera will be low.

image courtesy: JC+A

Image courtesy: JC+A

When to increase the ISO?
One must increase the ISO when he finds that the condition he is shooting in does not have appropriate light. Every time you shoot indoor without a flash, you must increase the cameras ISO. Other cases that require high ISO include while shooting fast moving objects as it requires high shutter speed. Apart from all of these, the user must keep in mind that increasing ISO will also increase the noise in the image.

Image courtesy:  DeusXFlorida

Image courtesy: DeusXFlorida

Reasons to use high ISO:
Earlier while shooting at high ISO the user has the only option to compromise with the picture quality but in the modern cameras user get option to shoot at high ISO with certainly good image quality. However the main reason to shoot at high ISO is to avoid camera shake effect and motion blur.

Image courtesy:  Vicente Pantoja

Image courtesy: Vicente Pantoja

Tip for users shooting at high ISO: #SHOOT RAW

If the condition forces you to shoot at high ISO always remember that you must shoot RAW. There are several tools for reducing noise after capturing. Some of the most common plugins for photoshop include Nik’s Dfine and Adobe Camer RAW. Professionals say that applying noise reduction on RAW is far effective than applying it on JPEGs.

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