Explain it: ISO

You may have seen this term, ISO, on your camera before, but what exactly does it do? Essentially ISO is the level of sensitivity of the sensor in your camera to the available surrounding light. A lower ISO number means that it is less sensitive to light whilst a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your sensor.

How may you use this to your advantage?

Well when shooting in low light conditions, raise the ISO to compensate for the lower light, meaning that the sensor captures more light. Your camera sensor can see more light than your eyes, which is incredible when taking milky way photos. The trade off at higher ISO is that it adds noise to the photo, which is just grain and makes the image look less sharp and crisp. Like those old vintage cameras. Normally you would want to shoot at the lowest possible ISO to reduce this grain and noise, one way to bypass this is to use a flash. Most Cameras have a base ISO of 100 and top out at around 6400. However newer and more expensive cameras can go way higher and lower, which make them really good for low light photography.

What do the ISO numbers mean?

Well the numbers are actually a progression of the power of two. The progressions are 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 and 6400. Each step is twice as more sensitive as the previous number, so the sensor sensitivity grows exponentially. This also means that we can shoot at a faster shutter speed which is good for lower light indoor sports photography. ISO is very handy for many different reasons, such as keeping your aperture high to keep more things in focus and having a faster shutter speed.

What ISO to use?

It is optimal to use the lowest ISO as possible, this way you will get a sharp, crisp and clear image every time. I would play around with the camera in manual to see how everything affects the photo and remember, practise makes perfect!

Leave a comment below for suggestions on what I should cover next!

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