ISO Levels – Explained

{ Posted on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 8:30 am by Steve }
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Categories : General, Photography

Many people starting photography may not fully understand the importance of the right ISO level when taking a photo, so I have decided to write this brief article about it.

When you see ISO in terms of a camera most people probably think film speed. Back when film cameras were the standard you bought certain film depending on the type of pictures you were going to take. Many of you probably remember the old Kodak boxes saying 400 speed film: Get great pictures in sunlight or low light, action or still. Or some probably have seen 200 speed film by Fuji for example…Designed for versatility and ease of use…all-around Film perfect for outdoors, or indoors with flash.

 Most of you are probably wondering what all this has to do with anything. Basically the ISO level is the sensativity to light. For example, ISO 200 is twice as sensitive as ISO 100, but is usually associated with about twice the noise. Noise is something you don’t want in your photographs, but in some instances it really is not avoidable.

Many digital cameras also provide an Auto ISO setting. It will automatically select the ISO that it considers necessary to best accomplish your shot based on the available lighting. Remember, the lower the ISO setting the more light your photo will need so be carefull when using low ISO levels in a dimly lit area. (unless you are using a tripod of course)

As I just mentioned, the lower the ISO setting the more light you will need. There are a few ways that your camera can accomplish this. One way is to lenghten the exposure time by slowing down the shutter speed. This could be a disadvantage in a low light area due to the fact you can only hold a camera steady for so long. Another way is to allow more light into camera by changing the aperature, or f-stop, on the camera, but these examples are more suited for an entire new article.

Anyways, I hope this article helps you understand a little better what effect the ISO settings have on your photos. Just remember whenever possible use the lowest ISO setting on your camera. It will help make the best quality photos that your camera can produce.

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