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What is ISO in Photography?

If you’ve just started out in photography or you’re simply still trying to learn the different elements of your craft, you might have heard of ISO. It can be confusing at first to understand exactly what it is and how to use it, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it can make a big difference to your images.

At ClickASnap we’re here to help you improve your skills and get more out of your photography, so if you want to learn more about ISO, you’ve come to the right place.

What does ISO mean?

ISO is one of the three pillars of photography and it can make or break your imagery. It is essentially a setting on your camera that will help you to brighten to darken a photo, depending on your needs. So, if you’re shooting in the dark, ISO could help you to continue capturing quality images.

ISO actually stands for International Organisation for Standardisation, and it was originally used to define film sensitivity before being adopted by digital camera manufacturers. It now helps to maintain similar brightness levels as film.

What are ISO values?

Cameras have different ranges of ISO values, also known as speeds, which are measured in numbers. A common range of ISO values includes 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 and 6400. As the numbers get higher, your image will get brighter. In some cases, more advanced cameras will offer additional ISO values that are much higher.

Your camera will typically have a base ISO, which is the lowest setting. This is usually 100 or 200. It’s recommended to stick to this as much as possible, as this will deliver the highest image quality.

Changing ISO on your camera

The method of changing ISO can vary depending on the type of camera you have. Firstly, if your camera is set to an Auto mode, you need to exit this and enter a mode that lets you select your own camera settings. Look for a dedicated ISO button on your camera to change the setting, or if there isn’t one then look through the menu to find the ISO section.

If you’re struggling to find ISO settings, it can be helpful to refer back to the camera manual, or head to our helpful forum where plenty of other photographers will be able to help you.

Low vs high ISO

Understanding whether to use a lower or higher ISO can be tricky at first. Try to use a low ISO wherever possible, even in dimmer conditions. You can brighten your photo by using a long shutter speed instead, which might help you to create a better quality of image.

You should increase the ISO when there’s simply not enough line to capture a sharp, bright image any other way. You can also raise your ISO when photographing a fast-moving subject, like a bird in flight.

Once you’ve mastered your ISO settings, don’t forget to share your photos on ClickASnap and see what everyone thinks of your improving skills!

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