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What is ISO?

What is ISO?

ISO is short for International Standards Organization and it represents your camera’s sensitivity to light. A low ISO number means there is less sensitivity to light, and a high ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera to light.The image sensor is the most important part of your camera and it gathers light and transforms it into an image.


When you increase ISO settings on your camera, you can shoot images in low-light without a flash. But keep in mind, with higher sensitivity comes added noise or grain to the final image. A lower ISO will produce a more accurate and colorful image.

Here is a guide to help you choose when to use certain ISO settings for a variety of shooting situations:

ISO 50-100 Bright light and outdoors on a sunny day.

ISO 200 Overcast or cloudy days.

ISO 400 and 800 Dim light situations.

ISO 1600 and above Indoor or night images and to freeze action.

There are times when you may want to use a higher ISO. If you are going for a vintage style image, bumping up the ISO will add grain to the final image.

Bread and Dip

ISO: 800 Exposure: 0.017 sec (1/60) Focal Length: 28mm Aperture: f/2.8

Examples of ISO speeds and what they mean:
ISO 100 – 1 second
ISO 200 – 1/2 of a second
ISO 400 – 1/4 of a second
ISO 800 – 1/8 of a second
ISO 1600 – 1/16 of a second
ISO 3200 – 1/32 of a second

Understanding ISO is important if you want to gain control over your photography. As always, experimenting and practice will help you see improvements in your picture taking.

Want to learn more? Check out the following:

What is Shutter Speed?

Four Tips for Awesome Food Photography

Photo Composition: Rule of Thirds

Understanding Aperture and Depth of Field

How to Find Your Photography Style – Part One

How to Find Your Photography Style – Part Two

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