ISO SENSITIVITY: All you need to know

by | Jul 14, 2023 | Uncategorized

What is ISO sensitivity?

ISO sensitivity is one of the three key elements in achieving correct exposure with your camera, along with shutter speed and aperture.

ISO controls the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to light. The higher the number, the higher the sensitivity, and the brighter the image. This setting is a useful tool to help capture images in low-light environments when you cannot adjust the other settings.

However, increasing the ISO has consequences. “Grain” or “noise” starts to appear in your image, resulting in a decrease in quality and loss of details. This phenomenon is called digital noise.

For this reason, it is preferable to keep your ISO as low as possible and prioritize adjusting aperture and shutter speed. Of course, this is not always possible, and increasing the ISO becomes inevitable. It is essential to know which values to use in different situations.

Each camera has a different range of ISO values that you can use. For example, you may find values such as 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, and 25600. Some cameras can even reach ridiculously high levels like 3,280,000.

What happens when I increase my ISO?

By changing from one value to another, you multiply or divide the amount of light received by your camera’s sensor by two. Therefore, a photo taken at ISO 400 will be twice as bright as a photo taken at ISO 200, but half as bright as a photo taken at ISO 800. Each change in value is called a “stop.” For more precise adjustments, many cameras offer intermediate values such as 125, 160, 250, and 320, which are one-third stops.

What is the base ISO sensitivity?

The lowest native ISO of your camera is referred to as the “base ISO.” This is a crucial parameter because it provides the best possible image quality (no digital noise).

Some older digital SLR cameras and a few newer ones have a base value of 200. However, most modern digital cameras have a base ISO of 100.

How to adjust ISO sensitivity?

The method for changing ISO varies from one camera to another. However, on most mid-range and high-end cameras with a top display, it is easy to adjust the value using a dial.

Familiarize yourself with the process of quickly changing your ISO settings. It is an adjustment you will frequently make if you are taking photos in low-light conditions without a tripod or flash.


What are the steps to adjust the ISO sensitivity of your camera?

Here are the steps to properly adjust the ISO sensitivity on a camera:

  • Access the settings menu of your camera.
  • Look for the “ISO” or “ISO Sensitivity” option.
  • Select the desired ISO value. Most cameras allow you to choose ISO values such as 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, etc.
  • If your camera has an automatic mode, you can choose “Auto ISO” to let the camera determine the ISO value based on the lighting conditions.
  • Take a photo to see the results and adjust the ISO sensitivity accordingly if necessary.

It is important to note that higher ISO sensitivity can introduce “noise” in the image, which can affect the quality of your photo. Therefore, it is best to use the lowest ISO sensitivity possible and suitable for the lighting conditions to achieve the best results.

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