The team here at Kirk’s Cameras understand that many of our customers are first-timers when it comes to DSLR cameras – and we would like to assist you in understanding ISO sensitivity. Be sure to look out for more of our simple, easy DSLR and Digital Camera tutorials and educational blogs!
ISO (‘International Organization for Standardization’) sensitivity expresses the speed of photographic negative materials. Prior to ISO, this was expressed as ASA – standing for American Standards Association. ISO denotes how sensitive the image sensor is to the amount of light that is present at the time of photography. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the image sensor and therefore the possibility to take pictures in low-light situations. In simple terms, ISO will help you to take images in the best lighting conditions at the best quality possible as per you settings.
In the past, ISO was a far more technical matter. Prior to digital SLR cameras, a photographer would have needed to physically change to a different roll of film if they required a different ISO speed. With the dawn of digital technology, you can simply dial the ISO straight in comfortably and easily – meaning that all of your images are on the one memory card.
The most common ISO speed settings are 100, 200, 400 and 800. Depending on your digital camera model you may also have them in the range of 64, 100, 160, 200, 400, 640, 800, 1600 and perhaps beyond. Some general tips to remember as a beginner would include:
- Use an ISO of 100 or 200 when taking photographs outside in sunny conditions.
- If the sky is overcast or it is evening time, then use an ISO within the range of 400 to 800.
- Night time or in cases of low light you might need to set your digital camera ISO to 1600.
The lower the ISO number, the slower the speed, the higher the ISO number, the faster the speed. A lower ISO will provide better image quality, however a higher ISO will capture the image you desire in low-light conditions. It is all about practice, trial and error in order to get your ISO settings perfect – we recommend you spend time getting the ISO perfect prior to taking your ideal photos. Good luck, and don’t forget to come into Kirk’s Cameras today for all of your camera needs!