Understanding ISO – A Beginner’s Guide

It is challenging to take good pictures without a good understanding of how ISO works and what it does. Camera ISO is one of the three pillars of photography (the other two being Aperture and Shutter Speed) and every photographer should thoroughly understand it, to get the most out of their equipment. Since this article is for beginners in photography, I will try to explain ISO as simple as I can.

Before we go any further, you should first understand how DSLR cameras work.

1) What is ISO?

In very basic terms, ISO is the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to the light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera. The component within your camera that can change sensitivity is called “image sensor” or simply “sensor”. It is the most important (and most expensive) part of a camera and it is responsible for gathering light and transforming it into an image. With increased sensitivity, your camera sensor can capture images in low-light environments without having to use a flash. But higher sensitivity comes at an expense – it adds grain or “noise” to the pictures.

Take a look at the following picture (click to open a larger version):

ISO 200 and ISO 3200 Comparison

ISO 200 and ISO 3200 Comparison

The difference is clear – the image on the right hand side at ISO 3200 has a lot more noise in it, than the one on the left at ISO 200.

Every camera has something called “Base ISO“, which is typically the lowest ISO number of the sensor that can produce the highest image quality, without adding noise to the picture. On most of the new Nikon cameras such as Nikon D5100, the base ISO is typically 200, while most Canon digital cameras have the base ISO of 100. So, optimally, you should always try to stick to the base ISO to get the highest image quality. However, it is not always possible to do so, especially when working in low-light conditions.

Typically, ISO numbers start from 100-200 (Base ISO) and increment in value in geometric progression (power of two). So, the ISO sequence is: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 and etc. The important thing to understand, is that each step between the numbers effectively doubles the sensitivity of the sensor. So, ISO 200 is twice more sensitive than ISO 100, while ISO 400 is twice more sensitive than ISO 200. This makes ISO 400 four times more sensitive to light than ISO 100, and ISO 1600 sixteen times more sensitive to light than ISO 100, so on and so forth. What does it mean when a sensor is sixteen times more sensitive to light? It means that it needs sixteen times less time to capture an image!

ISO Speed Example:
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

In the above ISO Speed Example, if your camera sensor needed exactly 1 second to capture a scene at ISO 100, simply by switching to ISO 800, you can capture the same scene at 1/8th of a second or at 125 milliseconds! That can mean a world of difference in photography, since it can help to freeze motion.

Take a look at this picture:

Black Skimmers

Black Skimmers, 1/2000th of a second at ISO 800

I captured these Black Skimmers at 1/2000th of a second at ISO 800. My camera sensor only needed 1/2000th of a second to fully capture this photograph. Now what would have happened if I had ISO 100 on my camera instead? My sensor would have needed 8 times more time to capture the same scene, which is 1/250th of a second. At that speed, I would have introduced motion blur into my picture, because the birds were moving faster than that. In short, I would have ruined the picture.

2) When to use low ISO

As I’ve said above, you should always try to stick to the lowest ISO (base ISO) of your camera, which is typically ISO 100 or 200, whenever possible. When there is plenty of light, you should always use the lowest ISO, to retain the most detail and to have the highest image quality. There are some cases where you might want to use low ISO in dim or dark environments – for example, if you have your camera mounted on a tripod or sitting on a flat surface. In that case, bear in mind that your camera will most likely need more time to capture the scene and anything that is moving is probably going to look like a ghost.

Oh No! It's a GHOST ATTACK!

Oh No! It's a GHOST ATTACK!

Just kidding, of course! That’s my lovely nephew being the subject of my long exposure test. I set the camera to the lowest ISO to retain the detail, which also resulted in a long exposure of 5 seconds. My nephew sat still, while my friend stepped in for a brief moment to introduce the ghost :)

3) When to increase ISO

You should increase the ISO when there is not enough light for the camera to be able to quickly capture an image. Anytime I shoot indoors without a flash, I set my ISO to a higher number to be able to freeze motion. Other cases where you might want to increase ISO are when you need to get ultra-fast shots, like the bird picture I posted above. But before increasing the ISO, you should think if it is OK for you to introduce noise to the image.

On many of the newer DSLRs, there is a setting for “Auto ISO”, which works great in low-light environments. The beauty of this setting, is that you can set the maximum ISO to a certain number, so when the ISO is automatically increased based on the amount of light, it does not cross the set barrier. So, if I want to limit the amount of grain in my pictures, I typically set the maximum ISO to 800.

If you have any questions, comments or feedback, please post them in the comments section below. Please note that the above explanation of ISO is given in very basic/simple terms, similar to film sensitivity. Correctly defining ISO in digital cameras can get fairly complex. If you want to find out more about ISO in digital cameras, including the ISO 12232:2006 standard, please see this article from Wikipedia.


Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. This is an excellent explanation for beginners like me!
    Now I understand the ISO speed by your very detailed example.
    I will be looking forward for your further explanations on photography :)
    Thank you.

    • Thank you Dilorom, glad you liked the article. I will be posting more tips and tricks for beginners in photography very soon.

      • 141
        ) Ross

        Thanks Nasim so much it sure helps me with my new Nikon D-90 I hope to follow you in the future

        • 146
          ) Ross

          When I set my camera to shutter priority speed of 1/1000 it keeps clicking then it takes several pics at the same time?This is the proper speed to freeze action for soccer game play?
          thanks so much I have a Nikon D-90

      • 142
        ) eddy meneses

        this is really awesome for beginners like me, understanding the proper use of ISO.. i was experimenting on ISO use and the difference it will give you in your shot.. thank you so much

      • 168
        ) milton7

        Hi im lost why do photographers say 1/100th or 1/2000th? what’s that mean?

        • 288
          ) Jeffrey

          This is a reference to the shutter speed of the camera. It is how fast the shutter opens and closes when you take the picture. Imagine you are taking a picture of a helicoper flying overhead. The rotor on the helicoper is spinning at 6000 rpm (if you do the math that is 100 times per second) If you were to take a picture of this helicopter at say 1/8 shutter speed. The shutter will remain open for 125 ms (milliseconds) or 1/8th of a second in which time the rotors on the helicopter would have moved around approx. 12-1/2 revolutions giving you a blurred picture of the rotors. Now if you were to take that same photo with 1/2000 shutter speed would practically stop the rotors motion all together. So the helicopter would appear to be just suspended there in the air with no motion showing via the rotors. In essence you can stop motion by going to a higher shutter speed. To stop the speed of a basketball being shot towards the hoop might require a shutter speed of 1/25 where as to stop the wings of a hummingbird in flight might require a speed of 1/1000 (note I am not particularly familiar with how fast a humingbirds wings move exactly) But this is the basic concept of shutter speed.

          • 311
            ) Rob

            Nice explanation of shutter speed with the example of Helicopter rotors. I never really understood the shutter speed concept until now.

          • 318
            ) Rajesh Dharmaraj

            nice explanation towards shutter speed with some kind of applications, i never got the meaning of shutter speed even after reading two-three pages.

      • 251
        ) sugu

        thanks bro.for such a simple explanation for the beginners,,, and i wanna ask a qstn,,in your point of vie CANON is best or Nikon??? and how abt the image result between CANON 600D & NIKON 3200

        • 260
          ) Christi

          Amen, brotha

          • 264
            ) Godfrey

            #youknowit

        • 261
          ) Broseph

          Swag

          • 304
            ) 44 swagnum

            Sweg

    • 86
      ) Charles

      I´m new to photography and your site is proving invaluable. I´ve been looking for a basic understanding of common terms and it´s helped a lot.

      Thank you.

    • 209
      ) A.K

      Thanks a lot,, Great explanation.

    • 216
      ) Harshad

      Thanks a lot….
      I m a fresher photographer & I had confused because of iso but u explained excellently …
      Nc…

    • 290
      ) slgh

      Really appreciate you buddy.This description excellent, more logical explanation..simply i learned from this

      thanks.! :)

    • 306
      ) june zamora

      very, very clear explanation… tyvm.

    • 308
      ) Mae Winx

      me too! These statements helped me understand about iso.. Thanks a lot! ;-)

  2. 3
    ) JD

    Got here by a link on dpreview. Excellent stuff. Very good explanation. Your site is bookmarked now. ;)

    • JD, thank you for visiting us! I will be posting more info and pictures later this week, so stay tuned! :)

      • 9
        ) Cece

        Nasim, thanks for your knowledge! Why can’t you just increase shutter speed in low light, and make the aperture large? And, does increasing SS automatically increase the ISO? I wasn’t sure if it was a two-way thing.

        • Cece, you are welcome!

          In low-light situations, if you max out on aperture (every lens has a specific limit on maximum aperture), you can only go so far on shutter speed before the image gets darker (depending on the amount light). For example, let’s say you are shooting in aperture priority mode and set your aperture to f/1.4 on your 50mm f/1.4 lens. Let’s say the camera meters and wants to use 1/25th of a second shutter speed at ISO 100 to expose the image properly. At 1/25th of a second, you have a chance of introducing camera shake, because the shutter speed is too low and if your subject moves, you can also cause motion blur. By increasing ISO to 200, you essentially make the camera double the shutter speed, so this time it would need 1/50th of a second to correctly expose the image. Increasing ISO to 400 would make it 1/100th of a second and increasing ISO to 800 would make it 1/200th of a second. So as you can see, by increasing the ISO from 100 to 800, you can essentially increase the shutter speed from 1/25th of a second to 1/200th of a second, which is sufficient to freeze normal motion.

          As far as the second part of your question “does increasing SS automatically increase the ISO?”, it depends on the camera mode you are using (in auto mode most cameras have “Auto ISO” turned on, which causes ISO to automatically increase/decrease depending on light conditions). If you are shooting in other modes, then the camera might not have “Auto ISO” turned on. In that case, just go to your camera settings and set it to on yourself.

          For more information, please read my article on camera modes here.

          Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  3. 5
    ) NanOnaN

    Thank you,
    very informative.
    I like your series of “A Beginner’s Guide” articles.

    So in low light condition using high ISO one can take sharp (of course with noise) images without a flash and a tripod?

    Just curios, why they call it ISO speed, when ISO refers to the sensor sensitivity?

    • NanOnaN, you are welcome!

      That’s correct, as long as it is not too dark. Increasing ISO to a higher number allows you to shoot at higher shutter speeds. In low-light conditions, even a slight increase in shutter speed can help to get a sharp photograph. There is a huge difference between 1/25th and 1/50th of a second shutter speed, while there is only one stop of ISO increase in between. For example, if in a low-light condition your camera is set to ISO 100 and your shutter speed is 1/25, simply increasing ISO to 200 gives you 1/50 shutter speed, while increasing ISO to 800 gives you 1/200 of a second!

      I will write more about this in my next article where I’ll mix shutter speed, ISO and aperture altogether.

      As far as why photographers sometimes say “ISO Speed”, it is because back in the film days, photographers used to say “Film Speed” when they referred to films with different sensitivities. ISO does increase the speed of the camera by increasing the sensitivity of the sensor, which in turn, increases shutter speed.

  4. 7
    ) Donald

    I am really enjoying the articles on your website. I have been doing a lot of photography reading on the internet and i must be honest your articles are among the best for their clear and simple explanations, especially to beginners like me! Keep it up.

    • Donald, thanks so much for your feedback! I’m glad that you like the articles – I wish I spent more time on these, because I know I can do better :) I’m hoping to go back and update these later with more information and write some more new guides for beginners.

      If you have a hard time understanding what I write, please let me know and I will be more than happy to explain it in more detail.

  5. 11
    ) R. Shank

    Thank you. Very well done for beginners. Concise and clear.

    • Thank you for your feedback, you are most welcome! :)

      • 244
        ) Jules Moyaert

        Nasim,
        I really respect you for hard word to educate non-pro photographers.
        Thank you!
        Jules

  6. 13
    ) Huang TL

    i go through all your articles on aperture, shutter speed and ISO, still not really understand even you describe in a simple words, but better than before reading your articles. thank you, really good for beginner like me. i just bought a NIKON SLR D5000, still learn how to use, will continue trying and read your article.

    • Huang, what exactly are you having a hard time understanding? Let me know and I will do my best to help you out.

      • 16
        ) Huang TL

        thanks again for your kind offer. first- facing problem to apply all this in real condition especially in manual mode, combination of shutter speed, aperture and ISO to get the desired result, like freeze motion, flying bird, night scenery etc. second-facing problem understanding the camera user’s manual(nikon D5000). this 2 combine together confuse me a lots, will spend more time to understand all this.

        • Huang, I recommend using Aperture Priority mode instead of Manual mode. You should shoot manual only when the camera cannot properly meter the light and when you have special situations (like shooting panoramas).

          Try reading my “understanding shutter speed, ISO and aperture” article where I talk about how you can combine the three to create an exposure.

          The best you can do right now is to photograph more. Take lots of pictures outside and experiment with camera settings. That’s how most photographers learn…so for the start, set your camera on aperture priority and take plenty of pictures. Understand what depth of field is and how you can control it with your camera. Within a week or two, you will start to understand how shutter speed works in different lighting conditions and once you have a good grasp of shutter speed, aperture and ISO, then you can experiment with Manual mode.

          Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

          • 19
            ) Huang TL

            thanks and i will definitely follow your suggestion – set on aperture priority and take lots of photo in different situation.

            • 55
              ) Huang

              Hi, any suggestion for macro lens (Nikon D5000), with limited budget. Thanks

  7. 15
    ) monty

    on a d700 would you go up to 6400 iso in dark conditions, or would that be to grainy? Specifically on the auto iso feature, should I do 200-3200 or 200-6400. The reason I ask is because I had it on 200-6400 and I was taking some pictures in my house without the flash in a room lit by lamps and the auto iso was going all the way up to 6400. I was thinking going up to 6400 would be in almost pitch black conditions.

    • Monty, it really depends on what noise levels are “acceptable” to you. I personally set my Auto ISO to 200-1600, but in some situations increase it to 3200 (if my shutter speed is too low). I rarely increase it to 6400, because the noise starts affecting the sharpness of the image and I do not like it.

      Hope this helps :)

  8. 20
    ) Brenda

    Awesome !! Thank you so much!!! You are now bookmarked and I will be visiting everyday! Again Thank you

    • Brenda, you are most welcome! Thanks for stopping by and dropping a comment :)

  9. 22
    ) Ilhom Rasulov

    Excellent, simple explanation of ISO. Had no proper idea what it is, and the difference between the low ISO and higher ISO.
    Great job!

  10. If I take pictures in Manual , what ISO should i use. When I use 200 there is this flicking on ISO 200

    • When you say “flicking”, do you mean that the exposure is too long that you hear several clicks in the camera? What is your shutter speed and aperture?

  11. i love this site.
    helped me a lot. im a newbie with a d3000. i regret it that i got it over the d5000. :(
    will be visiting you more often. :D
    thanks so much

    • Jin, do not regret and just shoot pictures! :) Cameras are just tools, it is the person behind the camera that makes awesome photos!

  12. 28
    ) Nina

    Love your site!!! I took out my note cards and got busy. I really understand your information clearly. Thanks so much, this is my favorite site!

    • Nina, you are most welcome and thank you for your feedback :)

  13. 30
    ) Lawrence Hans

    Hey Nasim
    What an excellent explanation, I just recently received a Nikon D90 for my birthday and i am loving it and now i will love it even more, just by following your simple steps I have captured some lovely picturs, thanks you so much, defiantly bookmarked and will be visiting everyday for more tips

    • Lawrence, thank you so much for your feedback! That’s a nice present you got for your birthday, the D90 is a superb camera.

      Please let me know if you have any questions!

  14. 32
    ) Lawrence Hans

    Hi Nasim, I have a client and he wants images taken in low light, I have read your article on how you should take pictures in low light by adjusting your ISO to a high than normal, I have tried it and i still cannot get the shoot perfect? do you have any suggestions how i should take the pics and do i need special equipment and on what setting do i use the camera to take the pics.

    ps I do not have a tripod or any special lense I only have the D90 body and the lense that came the with camera Nikkon DX (AF-S Nikkor 18-55 1:3.5-5.6G)

    really looking foward to your response

    • Lawrence, if increasing camera ISO does not help and you are still getting blurry images, it means that the amount of light in the room is not enough for the camera. When you shoot in aperture priority with the largest aperture (f/3.5), what kind of shutter speeds are you getting? If your shutter speed drops below 1/30th or 1/15th, the only solution is to use flash. In that case, the best thing is to buy an external flash like Nikon SB-600.

      Hope this helps.

  15. 34
    ) Michelle

    Today has been a good day….I just got a D5000 a few days ago and today was the first day that I was able to take a shot, realize what was wrong and knew what settings to change to make it better, then to top it off, I found this amazing article which makes it even more understandable! I still have a loooooong way to go in learning all of this and thanks to you it is already seeming a little easier! I can’t wait to explore your site and see what else you have to say!

    • Michelle, thank you for your feedback and I’m glad that my article helped you. Please let me know if you have any questions!

  16. 36
    ) Russell Olaguer

    Hi Nasim, I just got my Nikon D5000 with Nikkon DX (AF-S Nikkor 18-55 1:3.5-5.6G)last week. Im so happy with it.

    This is my first DSLR camera and I am still learning how to use it.

    Your site is one of the best and easy-to-understand site that I stumbled.

    I’m sure I will be spending more time here and will read all your articles.

    Keep them comming. Great site!

    Have a nice day!

    • Thank you for your feedback Russell and congratulations with your purchase! You got a great combo, now you need to take lots of pictures! :)

  17. 38
    ) Noorjan

    hello there!!!thx alot for sharing such great n wonderful tips with us…i’m still new to DSLR..n i’m currently using D5000….hope to learn more on how to capture nice n memorable moments….i’m always not too sure on setting up the ISO, shutter n aperture level…

    • Noorjan, I recommend reading my articles in the photography tips for beginners page. If you cannot understand everything, I recommend buying a good book like Bryan Peterson’s “Understanding Exposure”.

  18. 40
    ) Tom Patton

    Nasin – Your website on DSLRs is, by far, the easiest to understand and most informative! Thanks for sharing your jewels of wisdom!

    Refering to the “Black Skimmers” photo above, do you have any rule of thumb for using a tripod when shooting wildlife scenes at different times of the day or, is it a matter of preference? Will a tripod help eliminate any unwanted motion blur or, will my camera’s shutter speed be fast enough to make this a non-issue?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Tom, thank you for your valuable feedback, I appreciate it!

      The image of black skimmers was taken hand-held. If you use fast enough of a shutter speed (preferably above 1/1000th for birds), you do not need to use a tripod to freeze action.

  19. 41
    ) tristen s

    thanks for the tips i really want to get into photography. THis has been a great help. How long have been a photographer for? thanks a bunch :)

    • Tristen, you are most welcome!

      I have been shooting for about three years now. Started when my son Omar was born…

  20. salam,
    thank you for explaining it in an easier way !it is great help for a beginner like me.seems like i shouldn’t look further more to find a great and helpful site since yours is more than enough.i’m going to stick to this helpful site!

  21. 46
    ) citra

    hello Nasim,
    I’m really thankful that I found your site while I was googling.
    you make beginners like me know more enough to take good pictures.

    thank you for sharing your knowledge to us. it’s extremely helpful =)

  22. 47
    ) james

    Wow thank you for the simple explanation of the settings.

  23. 50
    ) Anil

    Brilliant…Nasim…

    Your articles are itself pictures …explaining practically..

    I am on of the fan of your photography techniques and the way you explain complex things in few simple words..

    Keep the momentum going on

    Anil

  24. 51
    ) Lessa Noorsheda

    Hye Nasiim,
    brilliant. and very clear explanation. thanx for sharing with us..appreciated it so much.

    p/s – already bookmark your page as my own reference.

  25. 54
    ) Zamsyari

    Hi Nasim,
    Thanks for your effort on this website. The true expert is somebody who can really simplify things and your articles are all easy to understand and very informative.
    I have a D5ooo. I can set the ISO noise reduction to low, normal, or high. Which would be your preference if shooting at high ISO between 1600 to 3200?

    • Thank you Zamsyari!

      In terms of noise reduction, I would just leave it on low or normal. Setting it on high might affect the image quality and make images appear softer.

  26. 57
    ) Matthew McElroy

    Nasim,

    Let me commend you on two things. First, you have a very professional, classy and pleasing website to look through. Second, I’m amazed at how much time you spend responding back to everyone that has written here. I’m sure they must all appreciate you taking the time out of your presumably busy life to share with them. Bravo!

    And now, a question. I’ve been a Nikon fan for years, having started shooting purposefully with a N70 (35mm) camera several years ago. Most recently I’ve purchased a D90 and I’ve really been able to grow and expand my photography through this wonderful tool. While I completely understand the relationship between shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings, I’d love for someone to explain to me what exactly changes in regards to how the sensor operates when the ISO is pushed up? If this is too technical of a question to post here then I completely understand. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    Matthew

    • Mathew, thank you for your feedback!

      In terms of what changes when ISO is increased, in very simple terms, the sensitivity of the sensor is boosted by electronics, which then allows the buckets/cavities on the sensor to collect the incoming photons faster. The noise that we see as a result of this boost is due to various errors that happen in this process. The higher the sensitivity, the more the errors. Larger sensor buckets allow more photons, which is why full-frame cameras with larger pixels have less noise than cropped-sensor cameras.

      Hope this answers your question :)

  27. 58
    ) Pankaj

    Hi Nasim,
    You really did incredible work for beginners like me. I have one question, I am trying to take my nephews pictures. he is 3 moths old. i tried all your tips for shutter speed, aperture and ISO also. it works well but pictures are not sharp enough. shows some blur when he move is hand. and My problem is i cant keep him stable. I am using Nikon D3000 18-55 VR lens. i have 70-300 lens and tripod also. all pictures taken inside.

    Let me know if you have any solution for it

    Thanks

    • Pankaj, if you are seeing blur while the child moves, it means that your shutter speed is still too slow. The only option is to either increase the light in the room (by opening doors/windows) or using flash.

      • 61
        ) Pankaj

        Thanks Nasim, That really helps me…..
        Really doing a great work by complete photography techniques………
        all the best to you …….

  28. 62
    ) John

    Many thanks for all this tutorial Mr Nasim!! It is easy to understand for a beginner like me, and I will continue to follow your post.

  29. 64
    ) kiran

    Hi Nazim

    Your articles are all good and impressive. I have already read many articles which contains photography tips. This link is very useful and simple. Thanks a lot for posting this. Have a great year…

  30. 65
    ) Robert Mc Donnell

    Best explantion I’ve seen. Thanks.

  31. Terrific Blog the best photo blog I have ever read, I have picked up many books to compensate for your teachings. Please continue posting, I just purchased a D7000 and you are giving so much to look forward to.

  32. 67
    ) Cher

    Hello,
    I just had to say that Mr Manseur, you are a genious and the best educator I have come accross pertainign to photography in all aspects. I have a mentor who is a dcotor but used to teach photography at university. He told me to set my f stop to 2.8 in order to get best depthj of field but I find that this is not so for me. After reading some of your articles (I am working my way thru them) I have concluded that you are quite sepcial not only in your scope of knowledge but in the detailed aspects of photography in general and your abilty to commnicate things to us at a very in depth yet simplified manner is very unique. You are the best. IO am so happy to have found your site. I wish I had a NIkon or Canon now, but I do not; I am using the E series Olympus four-thirds lens system cameras specifically the E1 and E5. I hope I will be able to take partin these classes although I do not shoot with Canaon or Nikon. Everything I have lerned here so far does pertain to my system as well. I raelly enjoy learnign and reading your material. You must have a vey postige outlook onlife as it shows. I have thus far not read very mcuh material that allows me to smile while learning. IOne book I am rading and your site are like this however so I hope to stick aroun for as long as you can provide such generous time and well thoguht out lessons. I say lessons as you rinformation and articles ar much moer than just informative. They enable us (just look at the feedback to know this) to put to use whatever you suggest immediately, and people do, they do not just read and move on. You are making a huge impact and I hope that you are recognzed for this by the magazines who give kudos to many who may be experienced but whose articles are still, confusing. Thank you. PS Your family are lovely! Cher Boston USA

    • Thank you for your feedback Cher, I truly appreciate it! Happy New Year!

  33. 72
    ) Seher

    Just curious…By raising the ISO, Why would anyone want noise in their photos to begin with? is there a way of getting rid of that grain? How were you able to capture that image of that bird at a higher ISo and not see the grain?

    Thank you

    • Seher, I apologize for such a late response – I somehow missed your comment. It is not that one would “want” noise in their images. Everybody obviously prefers to have noise-free images. I would not mind being able to shoot in the dark and have grain-free images :)

      However, even the most advanced sensor technology cannot yet reach noise-free levels. We have gotten very far with today’s technology, which has already surpassed film by a huge margin, but there are limits to everything, including sensor’s ability to collect light quickly without any artifacts.

      As for the bird image, there are many programs you can find online that can “clean up” noise from digital cameras. Adobe Lightroom, for example, has a built-in capability to do this.

  34. 73
    ) dexter

    Hi,

    I want to buy a semi-pro dslr mainly for birds in flight . I am a bit confused between some choices which I have set as per my budget. Firstly , do nikon d90 fits in a semi-pro category and will I be able to get good quality pics (to sell) with that ( with a good lens), I mean if its good at birds in flight / action shots ?
    Secondly , is canon 60d also holds good for this , as I saw many reviews on internet not recomending it for BIF ,but featurewise it has all plus points.I really didn’t understand why it is not recommended fir BIF.It has good focus points , good css /fps and iso .

    Lastly, how about d7000 ? Are there any negative reviews/complaints about it and will it be good enough for BIF ?

    Which one should I go for ? I want to shoot professionally.

    Thanks .

    dexter

  35. 74
    ) Wesley

    I am wondering what calculation is used to determine Shutter Speed?

    Assuming is a fantastic day and you have PLENTY of light, and you are in Av mode,

    does it simply pick the lowest possible ISO and then calculate the Shutter Speed based Metering of Neutral Grey and assuming 18% Reflectance..

    I am not sure if that question is more technical than it should be or if i am just exposing my ignorance.. Sorry!

    • Wesley, I apologize for a late response. The calculation of Shutter Speed depends on many variables, such as exposure mode (Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc), metering mode (Evaluative, Spot, Area) and aperture + ISO values. If your camera is equipped with an “Auto ISO” feature, the camera will change the shutter speed based on pre-defined values in the camera menu. If you do not have such a feature, then the ISO value will be whatever is set on the camera (normally base ISO such as 100) and the shutter speed will be automatically determined by the exposure meter on the camera.

  36. 75
    ) Edgar Vs

    Thanks Nasim for really nice and simple explanation of ISO!!! Will do some tests tommorow…)

  37. 76
    ) Dana

    thank u so much sir Nasim… gained so much knowledge by merely reading your articles. I do keep on reading more of your articles everyday after work.. and im learning day by day! thank u sir!

  38. 77
    ) Narasimhan

    Wow…Wow…very excellent article for beginners like me…Great Job. thanks Nasim

  39. 78
    ) Mi Amore Villa

    Thanks for sharing this excellent article! It helped a lot for a beginner like me understanding about stuffs like ISO…

  40. 79
    ) Karen Woitas

    Many thanks to you……. I am slowly beginning to understand the lingo of “Photography” Well done!!.
    So…I just purchased my first DSLR (Nikon 5000) and am trying my best to understand the art of photography as opposed to simply pointing and shooting without truly understanding how all of this works. I am currently trying to take good quality photos of my son on his skateboard and YES all the images are coming out looking like a ghost. Does this mean I should increase the ISO to 800 or higher?

    Any feedback on how I can correct this would be greatly appreciated. I appreciate your expertise and knowledge . Thanks for sharing it.

    • Karen, I apologize for a late response. If your images have motion blur in them (ghosts), then it basically means that your shutter speed is too slow. The only way to increase the shutter speed without darkening the image is to increase your camera ISO. So try increasing your ISO to 800 or higher and see if you get better results.

  41. 80
    ) Bob

    Sorry Nasim, this article is wrong in several fundamental ways. ISO is not ‘the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light’ and the sensitivity of a digital camera’s sensor never changes. The ISO Exposure Index, which is its proper name, only describes a relationship between scene brightness and final image brightness, and has no connection to the sensor’s ability to collect light. A sensor does not have an ISO rating at all. By increasing the ISO setting on your camera, you do not enable it to capture more light. In most, you don’t change the way it captures light at all, all you change is the way the raw file is converted into an image (JPEG) file. In some, raising the ISO results in less electronic noise being added to the image. The noise you see in images taken in low light is not caused by the ISO setting, it is caused by the small number of photons making up the picture.
    Bob.

    • Bob, thank you for your feedback! When I wrote the above article, I knew one day someone knowledgeable would point out the mistake of how I defined ISO. I just did not think it would take almost two years :)

      The above is an over-simplified explanation of ISO, to make it easy for beginners to understand the exposure triangle. Please note that the above article is tagged for “beginners” and I make note of simplifying ISO several times. It is easier to explain ISO in “sensitivity” terms, because many photographers worked with film before and they get it right away. I don’t think REI, SOS and ISO standards would really stick with those who just picked up a digital camera…

      This is exactly the same reason why manufacturers decided to stay with the term ISO in first place. Otherwise, it is not relevant to digital cameras today at all :)

      Thanks for dropping by.
      Cheers from Orlando!

  42. 85
    ) SAJID

    Peace be with you Nasim
    Its very easy to understant about three pillars of photography by reading your article. I have been learning it from long time, but after reading your article its made me to take more intrest in photography. I just brought my Nikon 70-300 afs vr lens.
    Going to London next week, and try to get some more beautiful picture.
    I thankyou for a such a beautiful and encourge article, and because of it, it gives me a kind of push and confidance that I can do and learn more about photography.
    Have peaceful and wonderful time ahead.

  43. 87
    ) Lyla Onpailin

    Thanks you so much for your article, as I am a beginner it help me a lot :)

  44. 88
    ) Mohamed Malik

    Nice and very informative…but the lowest ISO setting on the nikon D5100 is ISO 100….so shouldnt that value be the base ISO….I own a nikon D5100!!

  45. 89
    ) welcomesaleem

    Iam a photographer.I could knew about photography more from here.Your instruction is very usefull for beginners.because Your instruction is very simple and powerfull.i congratulate.”god bless you” for long life.

  46. 90
    ) Sukesh Kaul

    Hi Nasim,
    I am Pretty New to photography and Have been trying to get some good results out of my D90. While shooting outdoors i am getting gr8 results but recently i took some pics of a Party which was held indoors but the Pics that were captured were very Pale and yellowish. It looks like iv taken the pics in yellow light while the same situation pics taken by point and shoot camera are coming out very bright and nice. Kindly suggest what could be the problem and what needs to be done to improve the same.
    P.S My wife is continually nagging me for investing wrongly in a DSLR due to this outcome :-)

  47. 91
    ) AW

    hi there!

    im such a novice and while i gained some understanding from your article, i still am a little fuzzy…literally :-) i took a portrait and it has been chosen to be the cover of a magazine (8.5×11). the problem is that when they try to blow it up, it is blurry. im outdoors so im not low on light. i have a canon rebel xt1, along with the kit lens and a 50mm. how can i get a sharper image that remains sharp when blown up?

    • AW, you can get sharp images with your camera. You just need more light so that your camera can focus better. Shoot the same thing by a large window and make sure that your shutter speed is fast enough not to cause camera shake.

  48. 92
    ) Keith K.Y

    Nice site, good explanation and clear.. it helps me alot, I am using a nikon d5100 and I’m still new. Can I ask? why in P,A,S,M mode the ISO cannot be set to auto? Is it i have to set the ISO manually everytime i use PASM mode?

    • Keith, that’s not true – you can Auto ISO in any custom mode. Just navigate to your camera menu and set it from there.

      • 95
        ) Keith K.Y

        Ok, thanks! I found it. anyway I still have a question. In night photography (without flash) I know setting the ISO value higher can make the shuttle speed faster, in the situation that I did’t set up tripod. How about aperture? Does Aperture needed to be large or small? Does it affect the depth of field in night photography?

  49. 96
    ) Theresa Block

    I take pictures for a small town football team and I love what I do and I get great action shots. I had just recently went to a night game. The lights on the field were just not enough light to get great shots. I might be picky but I like my crisp clear action shots. Is there anything more I can do, I use a D3000 with a 55-200mm lens and all night long I was playing with my settings to try and get decent shots. Any Ideas for me to try or help me out?

  50. 97
    ) Jas

    Hi Nasim,

    I am reasonably new into DSLR and have purchased a Nikon D5000 to explore what photography has to offer as a hobby.

    I find your website amzingly helpful for amateurs like me and must say you have a great way of explaining complicated stuff to beginners like me. I have recently tried to successfully implement some of your tips into photography and is doing wonders to my confidence.

    My question is, On my Nikon there is a button indicated with the letter i. when I go into the menu it lets me select a wide range of things like Iso, AE-L etc.. There is an option called Exposure which ranges from -5 to +5 which dramatically changes image quality. Can you elaborate on this for me? What is this used for? What scenarios should this be altered?

    Thanks

  51. 98
    ) dilshan

    very valuble information….. Hoping to see more tips n techniques…
    Cheers!

  52. 99
    ) kautilya save

    thank you for suck valuable information again……..it really helps by putting sample pictures……for understanding the topic……
    1 think great abt your website is “NASIM MANSUROV” which is you of course tries to reply every comment on his article thats really awesome that u take so much time just for replying…….
    thank you replying to our queries…….!!!
    kautilya
    india..

    • 100
      ) kautilya save

      *such spelling mistake…..apology…

  53. 101
    ) Melvyn Thum

    Hi Nasim!
    I enjoy reading your articles because they are simple and to the point … with examples thrown in.
    I am not a beginner but I do enjoy the way you explain things. Patience is a virture … more so when explaining to beginners. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with all of us.

    Melvyn Thum, Singapore

  54. 102
    ) Maz

    Hi there – love your work and your articles!
    I’m a brand new user of DSLR camera’s and I’ve got a Nikon 5100. I’m struggling with taking sharp pictures in low lights situations. Since I dont know much about photography I have been experimenting in the Manual mode – mostly by increasing ISO and increasing shutter speed. I only have the built in flash and I still have not been able to find the right balance of ISO and shutter speed that would still make the colors look right and outlines look sharp. I would really appreciate some advice.
    Thanks

  55. 103
    ) kaieka

    your tone of writing is very beginner friendly! good job!

    i am now a little confident with getting myself a dslr.
    i used to get intimidated with the “dslr” term because it seems it is only for professionals
    and then i became bitter about it after it became a fad around town, people bring intimidating gears but still producing so-so pictures… so i thought this was just overrated.

    your articles has really made me change my mind!

  56. 104
    ) JP

    Hi Nasim,

    I have a Nikon D3100 and started photographing a lot lately. I did some potrait photography of my son outdoor suring noon time and partly shady.

    I used the A priority mode and set it in Auto like suggested and the Max ISO= 800, Min Shutter speed = 1/500.

    The photos cmae out good, but i found a lot of noise which i had to remove in Lightroom following your “removing noise in lightroom” article.

    1) Would there be lot of post proessing involved if we shoot in higer ISO? or does it depend on the Camera model and sensor?
    2) Your above images seem to be exceptionally sharp considering being shot @ ISO 800. Was the post processing involved?
    3) Is it a bad idea to keep the ISO @ 100 0r ISO 200 for getting low noise and good images.

    • JP,
      1) It depends on how comfortable you are with noise. If it bothers you, then yes, there would be plenty of work involved.
      2) When you resize images for the web, they tend to show much less noise. If I showed you images at 100%, you will definitely see more noise. In addition, the image you are referring to was shot on a full-frame camera, which handles noise much better than a DX camera.
      3) No, that’s actually what you want to do – try to keep ISO low all the time, to get the best images. However, in some low-light situations you have to increase ISO or your images will be blurry.

  57. 106
    ) Dilpreet

    Me and my wife arey trying night street photography, but kept on getting too much of graininess in all the shots. All we knew before reading your article was if we are shooting in low light situations, we should increase ISO. We always used Tripod. I am excited to try out some new settings today… will keep ISO at around 400, and 10 secs exposure. Hopefully wont see grains. Thanks a lot for putting up this article

    I also wanted to know more about video shooting on DSLR. What would be ISO Settings your would recommend when capturing video at Night. I would like to do following things when capturing the video. I am using D90 with default 18-105mm lens that comes with the kit.

    1. Motion blur moving objects, like streaks of light in video, and keeping stationary objects well in focus and no grains in the video. What settings would you recommend?
    2. Getting Bokeh effect without grains and with good light!

    We were able to get bokeh effect, but it was too grainy and moment we reduced ISO the video gets too dark to see anything.
    This is getting little tricky for ametures like us. Probably you could help us!!

    Thanks
    Dilpreet

    • Dilpreet, set your ISO to 200 when shooting on a tripod. As for video, you cannot do streaks of light in video as you can do in pictures, since video means 30 frames per second. You will need a slow motion camera to be able to do that.

  58. 108
    ) Marcelo Martinez

    Hello Nissan, thanks for posting all the tips for best quality phots, my question is, I am opening a massagem service at home, and i would like to have some picture taken so i can post in my new massage web site, i want to take an indoor picture in a room with a lot of candles with low natural light, (i do not want use flash ), and 2 friends of mine wil be my models, they will be pretending to have massage (they willl be stand still when i take the picture), i got a camera ISO up to 6400, please tell me what you think, should i use 6400 ISO or less..? Thank you for your advice

    P.S. I hava a Nikon L120 :-)

  59. 109
    ) Bilal

    Hi Nasim…

    Your articles are awesome……
    Great job man… Keep on with the good work for beginners like me…

  60. 110
    ) Shaibal Nath

    Outstanding Article.

  61. 111
    ) Eric

    Hi Nasim,

    I know this is out of the topic but I need to haveyour comment on this, Im planning to buy a micro lens, do I need to buy a close up lens to compliment the micro les

  62. 112
    ) Eric

    Hi Nasim,

    What I mean is close up filter lens.

    Thanks

  63. 113
    ) Ishti

    Hi Nasim,

    After reading your post, I was playing with my D90′s auto ISO feature. I have a concern, though.
    Let’s say, I turn auto ISO ‘ON’ and select maximum ISO 800 and minimum shutter speed 1/60. Then I come across a situation where I want to use higher or lower ISO only for that one shot. Is there any way to change ISO manually? I found out when I set auto ISO to 800, I am not able to change ISO anymore. If I manually change it to 3200, auto ISO still kicks in and camera still takes shot at 800. I tried A, P and M mode.

    Thanks in advance :)

  64. 114
    ) april

    thank you. God bless
    i have learned a lot

  65. 115
    ) Muhammed Thasneem

    This article is very helpful for me……I am very happy to read this…coz I always made the problem on ISO settings…Now I understood about ISO….Once again …thank you very much……

  66. 116
    ) ramesh

    You have a great site for beginners, Mr. Mansurov. The fact that u read and respond to comments is much appreciated.
    A couple of doubts:
    a) In the picture “Oh No! It’s a GHOST ATTACK!” you have stated that the lowest ISO (presumably 100) resulted in a long exposure of 5 seconds. Why is the exposure so long?? What were the lighting conditions like? From the picture, it appears that there was some light source present. Aperture? No flash, I assume.
    b) Is the ‘ghost’ a result of motion blur?
    c) Would it be possible for you include some more pictures with brief description such as ISO, Aperture. SS, lighting condition? That would provide beginners invaluable insight

  67. 117
    ) Ken Nolasco

    Hi!

    Can High ISO damage my CMOS Image sensor?

    because I read that high ISO makes your sensor more sensitive to light…
    will that damage or shorten the life span of my camera sensor? or am I just paranoid?

  68. 118
    ) Jeff

    Love your work Nassim, the way you explain everything is so simple and concise!! Thanks!!!

  69. 119
    ) Sid

    Simply excellent. Thank you for having this website and sharing your valuable knowledge and keeping it simple.

  70. 120
    ) zdenka

    Hi, this is an amazing explanation. I am a beginner in photography and after your explanation I understand it the best. :-) Thanks

  71. 121
    ) ramy

    Nasim, I have a question about exposure settings and usage of flash.
    If for any reason, I find that my live picture is a little dark then does it make sense to simply use a flash to brighten it or should I use my exposure settings (EV) to increase the brightness? Which setting makes it more practical to use? I am not able to figure out.
    Also it would be great if you could throw some light on ‘Analysis of histograms’ by means of an article later on.
    Thanks

  72. 122
    ) zdenka

    Hi Nasim
    Your descriptions are so great. The best I ever read.
    I am learning how to take portraits photos, and I tried everything includes high key lightning, but I still get shadow behind the subject. Only way i don’t have a shadow is when my camera is in horizontal position, or when i turn the external flash bounds over the wall. But I am editing the photos and I need crispy clear photos for that and without the flash directly to the subject I won’t get crispy clear photo even if I use ISO 100. What else I need to do to have a crispy clear photo with no shadow behind the subject and be able to use the direct flash? I set the lights so many ways and nothing is working.
    And I also would like to ask if it’s ok to have some shadow behind or if there is a shadow you know that amateur took the photo???
    Thanky ou for your answer.

  73. 123
    ) John Olivo

    Thank You. Do you have any articles on lighting set ups for portrait photography?

  74. 124
    ) natalie

    This is fantastic!
    I just got an Olympus E-600 and had no idea what ISO was even when i tried changing,
    big thank you!
    You’ve helped out a lot,
    Thanks again, ill be reading other articles by yourself!

  75. 125
    ) Dr Nas Naqvi

    Excellent. Very clear explanation. Very informative indeed.
    Thanks for your time and efforts.

  76. 126
    ) Cordellaia

    My husband got me a camera for my birthday and he got a NIKON L120. It is a very basic camera but I cannot set anything manually. My pictures are always blurry and I take pictures of children. I really like how you explained the ISO specs.

    Thanks

  77. 127
    ) Rosemary Flores

    What is the best ISO setting for Nixon D5000 for a night shoot? I have a Pre-Deployment shoot coming up and its at night but still want my photos to be clear and sharp. thank you for your help.

    -Rosemary

  78. 128
    ) The Red Artist

    This is a great start for me as I have been trying to gain more control over my camera by using the manual mode. Thank you much for this understanding.

    ~ARTS
    Facebook :: The Red Artist

  79. 129
    ) Elizabeth

    All I can say is Thank you!

  80. 130
    ) Hareesh

    thanks for your article… i am new to this… but sure that i can become expert with the help of people like you… :-)

  81. 131
    ) sancheev

    Excellent. Very clear explanation. Very informative indeed.உங்கள் கட்டுரை நன்றி … நான் உங்களை போன்ற ஆட்கள் உதவியுடன் திறமைசாலியாகிவிட முடியும் என்று நான்

  82. 132
    ) Swetha

    Love your article on ISO Nasim! I am going to experiment the ghost shot today ;)

  83. 133
    ) Shaun Bedford

    Hi there,,

    thankyou for that understanding about how the ISO works ok..

    Shaun

  84. 134
    ) Lexi St

    So does that mean that a simple flash fixes the low light problem? Therefore no need to switch to a higher ISO in order to capture a ‘freeze motion’ picture??

  85. 135
    ) Giri

    I am beginner, after reading the article on shutter speed and ISO, I am bit confused between two, can you please elaborate between two.

    Thanks in advance.. :)

  86. 136
    ) Masoud

    Thanks dude.
    It was awesome, indeed.
    I’m a beginner and I’ve recently bought a Canon Powershot SX40. Cool, but… I just wish I had bought a DSLR. This SX40 is an ultrazoom (35x), but its sensor is small and it’s not capable of producing good bokeh. Its ISO range is 100-3200, but I can’t use ISO values more than 400 without introducing lots of grainy noise. It’s so frustrating not to able to capture the moments the way you like!

  87. 137
    ) Shriram

    This is an excellent explanation for beginners like me!
    Now I understand the ISO speed by your very detailed example.

    Thanks you for this …
    Shriram

  88. 138
    ) Shriram

    This is an excellent explanation for beginners like me!
    Now I understand the ISO speed by your very detailed example.

    Thanks you for nice details…
    Shriram

  89. 139
    ) Joseph karama

    Thanks Nasim for the great subjects on your website , i am not able to leave my laptop away , i am reading all your reviews and guide ( My wife is going to kill me sooooon ,….. LOL)

  90. 140
    ) Merlotti

    Thanks…I’ll definitely revisit your articles as I’m playing with my new Nikon 3200! Simple and easy to understand for beginners. Perfect!

  91. 143
    ) starman

    thanks, CCD is clearler now ,its probably good to also mention
    “ISO stands for International Standards Organisation and it refers to the industry norm for sensitivity of emulsion based film, with 100 ISO being not so sensitive (and the standard ISO used by most people) to 1600 ISO which is extremely sensitive to light.”

    OC that implys you should also use higher numbers for analoge CCD ISO as you do for chemical film but as you imply artificial pixels are produced in CCD before their digitised as the temp of the sensor rises over time (10 seconds+) when exposed to photons and so why they cool the CCD sensor

    “CCD Noise
    CCD cameras have come a very long way in last five years. Thermal, or dark current, noise has basically been eliminated with
    deeply-cooled thermoelectric peltier devices installed in cooled
    CCD cameras. CCD chips heat-up as exposure times exceed 5-
    10 seconds. Without cooling, “hot”, or white, pixels begin to cloud
    images beyond 10 seconds of camera integration. Cameras
    cooled beyond –20 degrees C can overcome exposure times greater than 5 minutes without significant hot pixels appearing in
    the image. ”

    http://www.uvp.com/pdf/fp-114.pdf

  92. 144
    ) Mary

    Thank you so much.. it helps me with my new canon ))

  93. 145
    ) Venkat Divya

    Dear sir,

    Thank you for your value article on ISO. I am using Nikon D90 camera for wedding photography. Some people asking me to take candid photographs. How can I take candid photographs using Nikon D90 Camera with 18 – 105 lens and how to take good photography using 3200 ISO without flash.

    Venkat Divya

  94. 147
    ) Chang

    I would like to say thank you very much for all of the infomation in this site not just this page. I have been using DSLR for about 3 years now and have never seen so much useful information like this site has. This site is one of the reason why I’m still holding my DSLR and trying to push myself harder than ever. Thanks again.

  95. 148
    ) Jandre

    Okay, so to sum this all up… If in low light and you’re taking a picture of lets say graffiti on a building use low ISO. And if in minimum light and shooting for example fireworks at night use high ISO?

    If shooting in broad daylight for example that bird or a fast moving object such as a basketball player, ISO of about 800?

    Thanks heaps, going to buy my first digital camera Nikon D7000 in about a few weeks. Just need to learn the basics haha, i don’t want to use Auto all the time :D

  96. 149
    ) Pankaj

    Every time, when I used to see ISO in DSLR camera configuration, it always threatened me for being a technical term, this article of yours improved my knowledge, it is simple and to the point, and the best thing is, I didn’t get any doubt from this article.

    thanks again.

  97. 150
    ) Nermin Glibanović

    Thank you very much. You helped me a lot. Im new in photography, and few days ago I bought myself a Nikon D60 18-55. And I’m avoding P and Auto mode.
    My lowest f point is 5,6 and it cant go anymore down. Is that enought/to much?

  98. 151
    ) adelle

    This may be off topic, but I have a canon eos 50D camera and I recently took some photos for a family. First I took pictures of their kids and they turned out great and the quality of the photos were beautiful. But when I took photos of the whole family together they turned out very grainy and horrible quality. It was in the exact same lighting and my camera settings were set the same so I don’t understand why the pictures turned out different.

  99. 152
    ) Ricki

    Hello, I just wanted to thank you for the article. The only question I have now is how does this apply to working with film on an SLR that has predetermined ISO?

    Thanks

  100. 153
    ) Michael

    Hi, I took images of the total solar eclipse but think I used a too low iso 200. I cannot see any images after play back. I used a dslr D40 Nikon. Is there a way of getting my images via any software or dslr camera manipulation. I think i should have chosen iso 400 or 800.
    Look forward to your reply,

    Thanks Michael.

  101. 154
    ) karen arnold

    Hi, I’ve been photographing for a good many years, but have always used Auto settings and find that too often I have too much grain in my shots, I’ve got to be honest and say I’ve been too ”lay back” about learning the technique’s about good photography, or should i say really trying to understand it. I have been told many times that I have a special eye for photo’s but I know deep in my heart that I could do much better ,and then get out and try to become a professional. But that needs work and dedication and I have decided to do that. The first step was to google my question what is ISo in photography. I found you… and I appreciate what you have put up here, now to get going. Thanks for your care to be willing to put time and effort into sites such as yours. I appreciate it.
    Kind regards, Karen.

  102. 155
    ) annette

    Hi, I was wondering how exactly you did the “ghost” pic?

  103. Great article, thank you very much for sharing this info.
    Would you say that high ISO has an impact at the overall saturation in photography? I work alot with high ISO sensitivities, and I’ve noticed that the images are less saturated than that produced with a lower ISO. Not that this is something that can’t be corrected in post-processing, of course.

  104. 157
    ) David S

    I think that when discussing ISO it would be useful to explain that at ISO 3200 you are building your image using 32 times fewer photons (which means 32 times less information – and less saturation). If all you discuss is exposure time some people may not get it. There is no free lunch. The same story for all cameras…..

  105. Hi Nasim,

    Have been enjoying and learning from our articles. Thanks!! Recently was discussing ISO with a friend who was increasing EV (exposure compensation) up to +5 stops. My question to her was why not increase ISO and she wrote back, ” Regarding your suggestion about upping the ISO on the barrel racing shots, I already had my exposure compensation cranked up to +5. I’ve found it has the same impact as increasing the ISO but without the noise problems. As a result, I normally don’t even consider changing the ISO, although I’m constantly adjusting the EV.”

    My question is, will the noise level be less in the EV method than increasing the ISO?

    Thanks in advance!
    Harsh – Hershy

    • When you are in AV mode and use exposure compensation, there are two scenarios: 1) your ISO setting is a fixed value, in which case you are not affecting it at all, but rather changing the shutter speed, and 2) your ISO setting is “Auto”, in which case you shutter speed may remain untouched and ISO go up. In the first scenario, there will be no noise increment, of course, but you have to be careful, because the resulting shutter speed may be too long so that you won’t get a sharp photo. In scenario 2 the result is the same as increasing the ISO manually.

  106. 159
    ) roberto

    Hi, I am new to all of this and have thought on buying a camera DSL. I have notice that the regular cameras have a problem when taking pictures in the dark and in regular the image is not as in high quality. I never have put mind to the nikon cameras since the reviews have not that being great and the cannon seemed to have less bad reviews. I went to a photo studio once and remember what you mention about lighting in dark places which was done there but when I ask the type of camera where using I was just told you have to spend a pretty penny on it. I saw several camera like the cannon 7D, t3i. Of course the t3i is more economicall. There is a part I don’t understand clearly. T3i has this discription “”Improved EOS Full HD Movie mode with manual exposure control, expanded recording [1920 x 1080 Full HD video at frame rates of 30 (29.97), 24 (23.976) and 25.0 frames per second] with new Movie Digital zoom and Video Snapshot features for enhanced movie shooting options. The 7D has this discription “8.0 fps continuous shooting up to 126 Large/JPEGs with UDMA CF card and 15 RAW.
    What is the purpose of this discription and what is the difference between both…Another question I have is the photos taken on the photo studio I notice had good print outs is there a company that prints them or you need a license for that. The company wallgreens, cvs, are not the same. JC penny comes close to what I want but did not give me any information since I was advised that they have their own. Anyway whatever information I can get I will appreciate it.

  107. 161
    ) chinmay d

    well i read ur article and got a good idea as to what i this ISO thing, which before i hardly knew. well sir i dont have any preofessional camera, i am just using a digicam of panasonic company, and as of now i am trying to manage things from it only. so will try experimenting by changing the ISO number. i want to know as to what is the difference between ISO and exposure (+/-EV). kindly provide me the details!!!

  108. 162
    ) Yogesh K

    Am planning to buy my first DSLR camera. And currently unsure what to choose among D3200 & D5100. My little study of specs of these models tells me D3200 has Hi-1 (ISO 12,800), while D5100 has Hi-2 (ISO 25,600). What will be your advise for a beginner like myself .

  109. 163
    ) Pallavi

    HI Nasim,
    I am facing trouble shooting at ISOs 400 and above. My pictures get noisy and I don’t wish for that. This when my aperture is open to the max (70-200mm, 2.8,VR II). One picture was shot at 500 ISO, 145mm, 2.8, 1/80 and it was noisy. And this was just one of many. Could you tell what I could be doing wrong?
    It was also the case with my 50mm, 1.8 lens. One iamge was shot at 640ISO, 35mm, 2.8, 1/50. I know the speed was too low in this case. Could that be the reason, here? And when I had shot with the speed up at 1/125 it was still noisy. Uh.
    Please help. My camera is Nikon D90.
    Thank you.
    p

  110. 164
    ) Mike G

    Nasim,

    Two questions relating to Auto ISO. First, is there a reason to set the minimum ISO at 200 rather than 100? Second, I have take a number of shots in my house during the day, cloudy but still decent light. The Auto ISO was turned on and set at 100/6,400/Auto shutter speed. The pictures all had fairly high ISO, in the thousands. I would have thought it would select values in the 100′s instead? Also, when I use the pop-up flash the ISO jumps up tremendously. For example, a shot in a well lit room would have ISO 250 or 400 with the flash off, but go up to 1,600 with the flash on. This seems counterintuitive?

    Mike G

  111. 165
    ) David S

    OK, pay attention closely. You need to think of ISO as building a picture using bricks. At ISO 100 it may take 1000 bricks to make an image. At ISO 200 you halve the number of bricks to 500. At ISO 400 you halve the number of bricks again to 125 bricks to make that image. etc. etc. By the time you get to 3200 you have very few bricks to work with so there is no possible way you can get the detail or saturation even with “interpolation”.

    There is no free lunch here! You are just trading resolution, detail, contrast, and saturation for shutter speeds or fstops.

    Set your camera to ISO 100 or 200 and leave it there if you want maximum resolution, detail, contrast, and saturation. Don’t be lazy. Use stabilization where necessary!

    I take people walking in the woods all the time as a guide. Many have expensive SLRs. They may look down their nose at my Canon G12 (how wrong they are). Many figure that their pics will be better if they have a more expensive camera. WRONG! It’s dark in the woods. I see them set to auto everything. When their walk is over my pics are always better than theirs. How does that work? I know photography and I know my camera.

    Learn the basics. Even with the magic cameras we have now, a camera is still just a box with a lens, an aperture, and a door that opens and closes. These relationships are necessary to understand if you want to become truly good. Cameras don’t take pictures! People do!

    • 166
      ) Mike G

      David,

      I appreciate the response and the excellent tutorial on ISO and the importance of basics. Actually I have been shooting for many years (too many, I’m 58) but not with a camera with Auto ISO. I’ve shot MF, range finders and digital SLR’s, most recently a Canon 1Ds Mark II. The reason for my post is that I have a new Nikon D800 and that there are a million settings and so far I haven’t figured out how they all work. That’s especially true with Auto ISO, which seems very convenient but perhaps too unpredictable. I’m really trying to decide whether to turn the thing off and handle ISO manually like I’ve always done.

      Thanks again.

      Mike

  112. 167
    ) David S

    Mike,

    I am not a believer in auto ISO. When you set your ISO to one speed, your shutter speeds and fstops will change in a way that is easy to understand and control. When you go with auto ISO you will have 3 variables flying around in ways that become hard/impossible to understand and control. It’s no wonder so many are confused.

    When I’m using a 10 meg camera, I want pictures that are really 10 meg and not dumbed way down by having my ISO shoot up to 3200 for an image that is steady and sharp but horrible. There is hardly any point to having an expensive DSLR if you are going to do this.

    Frankly, I think for most people DSLRs are a waste of money. If you shoot action sports a lot or do technical work I can see it but for all else just something to make you feel good like you are a “real photographer”. Set everything to A and you definitely are not. It’s an “old school” con job. Owning a DSLR doesn’t make you any more of a photographer than owning a guitar makes you a musician.

    DSLRs are big and clunky with bags, accessories etc. etc. Do you bring your camera everywhere you go? I take a lot of pictures all year round. I always have me G12 with me. If I forget it at home I go back. Seriously. When I see something that makes me look twice, I get the picture most always. I see people who own DSLRs and usually need to ask “Where’s your camera?” “Oh it’s at home, I didn’t want to bring all that stuff”. They may feel superior for having a DSLR but I get the images (I don’t need to apologize for). I illustrated my book on mushrooms using a point and shoot. Everyone comments on how good the pictures are. I have uploaded over 3000 images to Facebook in the last couple of years. I certainly have followers….. (I used to be a pro photog in the days of film so I know all about suitcases full of stuff to carry). Ain’t buying a DSLR any time soon. I’m free……..

  113. “In very basic terms, ISO is the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to the light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera. The component within your camera that can change sensitivity is called “image sensor” or simply “sensor”. ”

    Sensor sensitivity is constant. When the camera ISO setting is changed only the sensor signal amplification is changed (in analogue and/or digital domain).


    Best,
    Iliah

    • Iliah and David, please see my comment #81 that I posted two years ago. This article was written for beginners, to make it easy to understand ISO. It is in no way scientific or factual. Most people do not understand terms like “signal amplification” or “interpolation”, so I had to make it easy to comprehend using the term “sensitivity”.

      Perhaps I should do an article for advanced photographers that focuses on the image sensor and how it actually works…

  114. 170
    ) David Spahr

    Don’t make a mistake interpreting the meaning of sensitivity. Film has constant sensitivity too and can make usable images at different exposures than the optimum. With higher ISO any way you cut it you are using less light to build your image.

    You can’t show any example of where a picture at higher ISO is equal in quality to low ISO. There would be no point in having ISO settings in that case.

    It may be close at very high illumination but that’s not the point. In that case you may also have gone beyond the point where a narrower aperture has any advantage. Welcome to the world of lens diffraction. With higher shutter speeds you run into the law of diminishing returns eventually.

    Look at test results for any camera with any sensor and decreasing picture quality with higher ISO will be true. Don’t perpetrate a myth. Understand that amplification means interpolation. Same thing as over developing an underexposed film image. There is no free lunch.

    David Spahr

    • Dear David,

      Before anything, was your message to me?


      Best, Iliah

    • Dear David,

      Since it seems you missed my message, two things for your consideration. Noise directly depends on the amount of light, and not so much on the ISO setting. Amplification is not interpolation, because interpolation is calculating missing values in-between the given set of discreet values.


      Best, Iliah

  115. 173
    ) David Spahr

    OK, I can accept that amplification and interpolation may not be the same thing but I think you made my point. Less light equals noise. With noisy shadows or blown highlights you have a no digital info problem. Obviously, well exposed images and advanced software can mitigate that somewhat. Maybe a lot. Still, you can’t show any camera where image quality does not decrease as ISO goes up. Still a function of less light. Certainly sensors will become more “sensitive” as time goes on but looking at ISO and image quality it’s still mostly analagous to film. There were fast/sensitive films too, but you still paid in image quality. If your ISO goes to 1600 or 3200 you will still pay dearly.

    • Dear David,

      Point is – sensors do not change sensitivity.

      > you can’t show any camera where image quality does not decrease as ISO goes up.
      The way you put it it is an incomplete statement. ISO by itself has very little to do with noise, amount of light does.

      Film does not have constant sensitivity, film sensitivity depends on film development.

    • David, please see comments #81 and #175.

  116. 177
    ) Milan Chatterjee

    Hi
    I liked your article for the lucid explanation very much. I now know atleast a basic of photographic.

    Keep up your work. It will be a progressive work.

  117. 178
    ) David Spahr

    OK Iliah, I was going to give you that you may be an expert. You have been unmasked. Digital ISO is based on equivalency to film ISO (which used to be asa). You are wrong about film.

    Film ISO is based on how much light is required to make an image the equivalent of an 18% gray card at the film manufacturers baseline development. Period. X number of photons is required to make that image.

    Obviously you can change development but that has nothing to do with film speed (with certain exceptions that probably helped put companies out of business). Changes in film speed were/are not just changes of development. Different speed films had different size silver crystals and different emulsion thicknesses. TMax100 and Tmax 400 are not the same film.

    David

    • Dear David,

      Your freshly gained knowledge have not sinked into you yet. Please devote some time to study before making hilarious statements. Point is, again, sensors do not change sensitivity, contrary to what is stated in the article (a misleading statement with huge consequences, by the way); and that sensor sensitivity is not measured in ISO units.

      Film speed is much more complicated than what you gathered today. Look at film data sheets and see several types of development being recommended by the manufacturer, difference being grain, resolution, contrast and speed.


      Best regards,
      Iliah.

  118. 180
    ) abizer

    hey Nasim i tried to implement what you said but still having sum problem figuring the exact settings required to take outdoor photos …..

  119. 181
    ) piku

    A great read. Explanations are wonderful. Now i know how to use ISO in more effective manner. Thanks a lot man. You simply ROCK!! :)

  120. 182
    ) David Spahr

    Iliah,

    I know sensor sensitivity is not measured that way. Sure, you can say the higher the ISO number the more sensitive the sensor is. A higher ISO number means that a camera will be able to shoot images in conditions with less light. You still use half as much light to make an image at ISO 200 as 100 and the higher the ISO the lower the picture quality so any comments about “higher sensitivity” do not come without a price.

    If you don’t know that film ISO is a fixed value then nothing else you say means anything. Your condescending comment about freshly gained knowledge also reveals who you are. You assumed. I have been photographing for over 45 years. I studied photography in college and worked as a professional. I’m working on illustrating my second book now. I did not just fall out of a tree.

    And let’s be clear here. Where the rubber meets the road, higher ISO values whether with film or digital mean more grain/noise. Period. ISO 100 still uses more light to make an image than 200. Until you can demonstrate that is not true, I will not be taking you seriously. You may know a lot about sensors but actual photography? Functionally, on your camera, the settings mean the same thing they always did. If you change your ISO from 100 to 200 it still affects your fstops and shutter speeds the same way.

    http://digital-photography-school.com/iso-settings

    David Spahr

    • Dear David,

      > you can say the higher the ISO number the more sensitive the sensor is

      You can’t. ISO speed is relevant only to processed image. Sensor generates an unprocessed image.

      > film ISO is a fixed value

      Prove it with an experiment. Until then, nothing to talk about.

      > higher ISO values whether with film or digital mean more grain/noise

      Not always.

      > ISO 100 still uses more light to make an image than 200.

      They use the same light. Light does not depend on the camera settings.

      In your own words, “You have been unmasked”.

  121. 184
    ) Milan Chatterjee

    HI
    I have a question here. I would like to know more about High Speed photography, like they show in “Time Wrap” on Discovery Channel. I would be pleased, if you cloud re-direct me to any article regarding it or you have any write-up regarding it.

    With my basic P and S camera, is there any way I can go about it?

    Thanks in advance

  122. 185
    ) Frank

    thanks for sharing that with us, I found it very informative. I look forward to seeing more great tips

  123. 186
    ) Ken

    how to set the maximum of ISO for canon 1000D?

  124. 187
    ) Lise

    the best way to explain ISO.
    Thank you!

  125. 188
    ) luke

    hi sir, i have great confusion to get whether D3200 or D5100?
    can u please suggest?

    • 197
      ) Indrashis

      go for the higher model…. if money permits :)

  126. 189
    ) Brit

    This was great and finally helped me understand what ISO was a little better or at least how to use it! Thank you!

  127. 190
    ) Eli Mousa

    Thank you very very very much,

    What a great info.

  128. 191
    ) Kenny

    Can you give more details on the photo of your nephew and the ghost shot? Where did your friend come into the photo at and how long did he stay in the photo? How is it that you captured a single image of the ghost and not the blur of him coming and going?

    thanks,

    Kenny

  129. 192
    ) Budi Asmarawati

    Dear Nasim Mansurov

    I just have a minimum knowledges about photography, just basic knowledge, from my father long time ago when I was very young. I rather use my feeling to shoot. It’s not easy for me to explain about the theory.
    Thank you very much. You are very kind to share the info. May God bless you and your family.

    Best regard

  130. 193
    ) Barry Gow

    I have a problem with very low light levels reaching the sensor and the desire to use liveview to monitor the location of the subject. A Nikon D90 has been converted for infrared use. The subject is a metal component illuminated by light (940 nm) from an infrared light emitting diode . The itemcan be seen clearly using 8 seconds exposure with maximum sensitivity setting. Is there a camera setting which would allow me to take sequential shots with that shutter speed and allow me to follow the movement of the light source a bit like one uses a torch to find something? Such an application would be similar to using a video camera and CCTV for the same purpose.

  131. 194
    ) rebecca

    I just came across this article, as I’ve been doing some research on ISO and aperture. If I were to take a photograph of an active child during the day what would you recommend? If the ISO is better lower to get a sharper or more clear image during the day, but should be at around (800?) for a faster image woudl I just find a happy medium?

    • 196
      ) Indrashis

      I suppose, you can take some pictures in different ISO……….yourself, U can get the best one

  132. 195
    ) indrashis

    for higher ISO, do I need to lower the shutter speed??

  133. 198
    ) Elyse Cunningham

    If I’m reading this correctly, would I be correct in thinking that a Nikon with Base ISO 200 would be a better value than a similarly priced Canon with a 100 ISO? I guess my goal, like most, is to find out what company produces the best price/value compact cameras.

  134. 199
    ) Essben

    Great explantional article – im definerly going to read your other articles.

  135. I have been reading all of your articles trying to enhance my skills. Soon I will be leaving for S. Africa using a Canon with a low ISO of 80. In bright light, what will be the best settings for a safari drive for both still animals and those in motion? (Yes, I have a lens filter for the sun). Thanks in advance.

  136. 201
    ) Bec Stanley

    I’ve been searching all day for explanations on ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speeds and your 3 articles have been the easiest to understand! Thank you!!!!!

  137. 202
    ) Mandar

    thank u Nasim Mansurov…. for all the detail info…one thing I want to say.. can u do me favor?… i am going to buy fujifilm S8500 which is launched in India this week..cost 23000 Indian rupees…. and I was thinking to buy nikon p520 which cost the same… I was preferring fuji s8500 because of its light sensitivity is grerat it is upto iso 12800 but after reading ur deep theory now I am thinking to buy nikon p520 is it ok?…do me favor…do reply… thank u in advance…my e-mail id is mandarbsnl@gmail.com and I am from India…

  138. 203
    ) Kristen

    I’m a definite beginner and only a hobbyist, so please don’t make fun of me! But, I am confused. You say that ISO is the sensor’s sensitivity; okay, that sort of makes sense. But then you measure it in seconds, thus indicating that it is actually a speed of something happening. What exactly is ISO the speed of? What is happening that is being measured in seconds? I have referred to ISO as being the film speed; how does that translate to a digital SLR though? What is it the speed of now? Also, how can ISO freeze or blur motion? I always thought that was the shutter speed that was responsible for doing that…somebody please help a beginner out :)

  139. 204
    ) Manoj Narayan

    Hey……I am a total beginner and am confused abt takin low light photos
    wht do u do to take pics in night and lowlight without noise ??
    Plzz help me…

  140. 205
    ) Ricky

    Hi Nasim, What max do you set in auto iso on your d800? I imagine you would go a little higher than 800 ?

  141. 206
    ) Nanda

    Hi,

    I have a Nikon D3200, I do lot of outdoor and indoor phtography. Please tell me what should be ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed for outdoor and what should be for indoor lets say dance photography.

    Thanking you

    Dr. Nanda Kishor, India

  142. 207
    ) Debayan (Dean)

    Hi Nasim,

    I have a Canon compact camera , but it shoots quite decent pics , but unfortunately it doesn’t provide me shutter speed or manual aperture…so i got to set those up with manual ISO and exposure meter respectively !! Nyway, I know that ISO fastens shutter speed but pulls up noise and becomes more sensitive to light , so what do i do when i need a fast shutter speed on a bright day ?? For example that picture of the bird that is posted above in the article , if i had to click a pic of that sort on a bright sunny day with ISO 800 it would spoil the picture with too much light as it gets more sensitive to light……So what do i do ??
    Please Help !!

  143. 208
    ) kdogseven

    Thank you for all of these wonderfully informative articles! I’m learning my way around our Nikon D70s and am currently trying to prep for a specific photography project: capturing images of my newborn. Can you offer tips on how to achieve a portrait of a newborn?

    So far, I’m thinking I will use the A mode and set my ISO to a higher value (800?). I then need to adjust my aperture to a larger setting (I think my lens has the largest setting of 3.2). Am I on the right track? I will be photographing indoors and would like to get a great close up of his face.

    Thanks!

  144. 210
    ) Caroline Ablett

    Hi i came across this website from google as i was wanting an article in simple terms and this is a great article…its clearly explained and no over technical…perfect for me as im only just learning to use my camera..thank you, look forward to reading more articles!

  145. 211
    ) Julia

    I discovered your website recently, and I am a photography newbie as well.
    I love your explanations because they are simple and include information on all the important issues.

    However, I would include another issue here. Just consider that some photographers use a high ISO deliberately. High ISO does not necessarily mean “high” quality, for there are plenty of picures, which have a lot of noise in them and which are great nevertheless, with the noise adding to their moods or meanings.

  146. 212
    ) Kishore

    wow! The best explanation I have ever read on ISO. I was searching and reading some articles but this article cleared my concepts.

    Thanks for posting it.

  147. 213
    ) Akin

    Thanks so much for this article. I use a Pentax k30 but i have real issues setting my camera to manual mode. Any advice on a standard setting that will give me best and glossy shots?

  148. 214
    ) SARATH

    Hai,

    The information you have provided is very good , Its too important that to understand the basics about ISO. Its easy to understand.. Thank you

  149. 215
    ) alessio

    Great explanation thanks.

    Now i have another doubt, when you can go up to 250k iso on really good dslr’s , it mean that those ones has something different or it just mean that you can use them only with extremely good lenses? Or it’s just an extreme help for darkness?

  150. 217
    ) Sayif

    oh god! Um being tired to hv such a helpful website of urs! Its really wndrful. Hwevr, i hv my new nikon d5100 nd i m a novice photogapher, so hop that u may help to use the best way of photography of nikon dslr. R’nt u?? :)

  151. 218
    ) Eleanor

    Hi, I wondered if you could help?

    My camera appears to be firing too slow in P and auto mode. When using a flash (ring) the shutter speeds are too slow, The ring lights up to meter the shot before the flash fires. there is motion blur and the shot is over exposed. I don’t know if i’m doing something a bit daft? Surely I should be able to get good crisp shots at ISO 100 using flash? Im not sure if there is a problem with the cameras metering or i’ve got something wrong. any advice very gratefully received.

  152. 219
    ) Farabi.

    I just started using Nikon D5200 and I want to know that if I want to shoot in indoor futsal stadiums and capture all the right moments including the players shooting and the keepers diving, which ISO should I use?

  153. 220
    ) Farid

    thanx alot for ur helpfull feed back :)
    it really helped me.

  154. 221
    ) nowfal

    very useful, thanks.

  155. 222
    ) srinivasa sekaran

    that’s a excellent explanation for the beginner like me nd i have bookmar’d it too. but got a small doubt, that in black skimmer pic there are no grains or noise neither eventhough you have increased the ISO

  156. Nasim, could you please let me know what actually happens mechanically or electronically inside the DSLR when ISO setting is changed?

    Thanks in advance.

  157. 224
    ) vimal rajpurohit

    Thanks MR Nasim for your ISO description. Thanks tommorow i am buying canon eos1100d.

  158. 225
    ) Hari

    Great explanation of facts. Its really easy for a beginner like me to understanding things better. Thank you… :) :) :) :)

  159. 226
    ) Aryan

    Hi, I’m a 14 year old who is insanely interested in learning how to use a dslr camera. I currently own a basic Nikon point and shoot camera which I mess around with in the settings. This article really helped, and I’m going to try fiddling with the ISO settings on my own camera. Thanks once again. If anyone can recommend a sufficient dslr that would cope with an amateurs needs (and is perfect for landscape shots) that would be awesome.

  160. 227
    ) vinod rodricks

    very simple and great.

  161. 228
    ) Sibu

    Thanks……………very simple

  162. 229
    ) Drtom

    Am so happy to read ur article and response to comments. So educative. Now my question is, what role has ISO got to play in making of videos using the DSLR. I use a D5100. Thanks.

  163. 230
    ) Neer

    Awesome artical for a beginner like me.there couldn’t be a better and neat explaination then this.
    Thanks a lot for writing such a wonderfull article.
    Oh I am planning to explore my inner artist .Hope i have some talent insde.:P

  164. 231
    ) NHD

    Thanks for the very clear explanation of ISO in photography.

  165. 232
    ) vikas

    Thanks, that was really helpful….

    planing to buy a DSLR …. whch one wud u recon ?

  166. 233
    ) Elie

    As all mentioned it’s an excellent article…I want your advice on buying the fujifilm finepix sL1000. And what Is the point of having a 128,000 iso… Thank u for ur time

  167. 234
    ) Abdul Rehman

    Thanks really u ve been simple staight n been a great teacher of photography tried these
    Articles on other sites but they been very hi fi nit simple thanks again

  168. 235
    ) Rahul

    Hi ..
    I want to buy my first DSLR and cant choose between Nikon D3200, Nikon D5100 and Canon 600D.
    all are in the same price range. please help me decide.

    • 236
      ) Joey

      The Canon, believe me. If anything for a first DSLR I would recommend the Canon 1100D, perfect for beginners.

    • 238
      ) HDRguy

      I recommend the Nikon D3200, its a very easy-to-use DSLR camera..

  169. 237
    ) SREEJITH.S

    REALLY GREAT ARTICLE.. its the first time am visiting this website. I am a photographic enthusiast and a beginner, i love to learn photography and till this moment i was actually unaware of what this ISO means and its importance, but you really helped me a lot. Keep posting this kinda articles for beginners like me, thanks a lot.

  170. 239
    ) Sebin

    GREAT ARticle….. !!!
    benefited me a lot

    Thank You

  171. 240
    ) sravan

    great article….can anyone suggest me tips like settings apart from lenses to take sharpest photo possible , i am using nikon d7000 — thank you

  172. 241
    ) aldrin

    I just got my first slr camera–a mirrorless from olympus. Your article helped me understand ISO easily! :)

    Thank you!

  173. 242
    ) Danny

    Hi! Pls i would like to know which one of this two cameras, Nikon d90 and d3200 is better, and why?

  174. 243
    ) seldou

    Hi…this is a really good post… I’m a beginner with a very basic dslr, canon eos 600d.. I’m very confused with the iso settings and this article really helped me a lot… Thanks.

  175. 245
    ) Kumar Saurabh

    Hi……..
    I am newbee in the photography…. doing lots of reading over internet but I should say ur article is the best illusteated with examples and photos….. to-the-point explaination of what anybody wants…..
    Thanks a lot

  176. 246
    ) Lena

    Hello! First of all, thank you very much for such a detailed explanation about ISO. You made this topic very easy to understand.
    I want to buy a camera, with the following specs (no DSLR camera if possible):
    24p
    Great zoom – around 40-50x
    HDR
    Rapid fire – greater than or equal to 13 fps
    **Supports an external flash vs ISO
    Panoramas in-camera
    GPS
    High speed movies – >= 240 fps
    Macro capability
    Resolution >= 461 k dots
    Decent wide aperture
    Full HD

    The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS has many of the specs listed above, but it lacks of some of them.
    **I have a question: If the camera allows an external flash, does that mean that I don’t necessarily need the ISO to be super high?

    Thank you very much!!!

  177. 247
    ) Wayne

    Hello Sir…Awesome explanation….I have one question….Is it possible to take great pictures with a nokia 620 with a camera of 5 mp using tips of your explanations?

  178. 248
    ) Sheily

    I am new to photography and have gained immense understanding of the workings of the D-SLR by following your posts! Thank you for a breaking it down into layman terms!

  179. 249
    ) Nitin Sharma

    Dear Nasim,

    Honestly, i didn’t understood your statement

    “ISO is the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light. ”

    Specially connection between level of sensitivity and available light

    Regards
    Nitin

  180. 250
    ) Ehsan

    Hi Mr. Mansorov,
    At first I will say thank because of your useful articles, though I become confused a bit after reading
    As I understood from the article when the ISO is high, the time of capturing a picture will be less so our camera will not be able to get much light from environment!
    So why we should set the ISO to high values during night shots?
    Thanksm

  181. 252
    ) vipin

    i like your post
    but i have one qus… i try to use low ISO but with High ISO i think I take a good shot with good lighting

  182. 253
    ) Karthick

    This is really an awesome explanation about ISO, I just experimented my Sony Xperia phone with the above said statement the same & exact said result I felt.

    I like your post……..

  183. 254
    ) Niteesh

    Hi Nasim,
    This is really great explanation ever i got from….all posts are very informative and in simple language It’s very helpful for beginners like me.
    I am searching for more Tricks for indoor photography
    Thank you..!

  184. 255
    ) Niteesh

    Hi Nasim,
    This is really great explanation ever i got from….all posts are very informative and in simple language It’s very helpful for beginners.
    I am searching for more Tricks for indoor photography
    Thank you..!

  185. 256
    ) Yashil

    THIS IS AWESOME . Thank you a lot :)

  186. 257
    ) Mary

    Hi Nasim,

    So my camera is doing something really strange and I am hoping you can shed some light. When shooting in Manual mode (D3100) I am using one ISO (ex: 800) but when I look back at the photo’s info, it is telling me the ISO was 100. Or it is giving a few random readings like ISO 500 (which is not an option on my camera). Any idea what might be going on? Thank you!!

  187. 258
    ) Kuldeep

    Thanks for the detailed ISO info. This qill definitely help me. Thanks for such an informative details.

    :)

  188. 259
    ) skar

    Nice article. Today I clearly understood the ISO for photography. Thanks a lot…

  189. 262
    ) khan

    Hey hi I have a question here hmm if I shoot my pics with high ISO and there is much noise in the picture than how can I reduce the noise, can it be done with editing or no? I know a blurry picture can’t be edited so if I have a noisy picture can I edit it or no?

  190. 263
    ) Jivanti

    Hello there Sir,

    Got to say this blog is really AWESOME- Two Thumbs up- Language is simple, clear and very direct.
    I’m an art enthusiast who’s self taught. This is a gold mine. :)

    Thank you very much for sharing such high quality resources.

  191. 265
    ) Mir Bashir

    Hello Nasim Mansurov, Thank you very much for this very very helpful article. Today I first time learnt what is ISO and when and where to use it. Information is simple and easy to understand. Will you please help me in understanding the Stitching of photogrpahs (Building of 360 opanoramas). Regards.

  192. 266
    ) Naven

    I baught a D7100.
    I would like to confirm if ISO setting was my problem or was it maybe something else.
    I set the max ISO to 6400 at auto shutter speed.
    I took some portraits with my camera on auto ISO and my SB700 speelight. It was an outdoor shoot and most of the photos came out with alot of noise. :-(
    I am so unpahhy and disapointed.
    What did i do wrong?

  193. 267
    ) Liz

    Thanks a million!!! You explained very well!

  194. 268
    ) Kal El

    Thanks. I know this will help me a lot when a get my first SLR camera.

  195. 269
    ) Anila

    Great article!! Its a must read for a beginner like me!! Thanks!!

  196. 270
    ) Anitha

    Thanks for ur hard job of explaining very basic things

  197. 271
    ) Will

    Thanks, good article; easy to understand and I learned something. Thanks.

  198. 272
    ) Tim

    You say that “each step between the numbers effectively doubles the sensitivity of the sensor”. Is it possible to explain how this occurs? What does the camera do to the sensor that makes it more light sensitive? Since noise increases with rising ISO this increasing of sensitivity obviously happens only with a price. Also, when using a tripod with longer shutter speeds, do digital cameras have any problems such as reciprocity failure with film?

  199. 273
    ) Akshay

    Very good explanation… Thanks s lot now i can tweak my phone camera for best possible shot….

    Thanks you for your article.

  200. 274
    ) Jackie

    Excellent explanation, easy to understand and very informative for a beginner like me. Keep up the great work on your site. I’m loving it!

  201. 275
    ) Arslan Khan

    Sir, your article is aweaome and I learned lot of things.
    I read all three components (piller).
    It is request to you please give explanation about and uses of Lenses.

  202. 276
    ) Kamal

    Perfect Post! Well Done. Tx heaps.

  203. 277
    ) Rasheed

    two words for you – simply awesome

    your explanation about iso is as simple as any 2nd grade text book thanks for that.

  204. 278
    ) saurav mukherjee

    Dear sir,
    Its an great explanation……..thnx for the support for the biggenners………we really need peoples like yu to make our passions into reality………..phtography is every thing for me and your explanation will make me more accurate…..thnx for every thing sir……

  205. 279
    ) Kannan

    Thats a lovely blog. I had spent a fortune and bought a DSLR and had gone through various where i got confused only. But rightly landed here. Very simple and more informative.

    Keep up the good work.

  206. 280
    ) Nithin Das

    Thanks Bro
    its a lovely advise for the beginner like me

  207. 281
    ) Jai

    two words for you – simply awesome.

    Planning to buy DSLR soon. Your explanation helped me to understand lot of things.

  208. 282
    ) Raj

    Hi. I I really like the explanation above. However i got some doubt. Can u explain me the difference between ISO and shutter speed.

  209. 283
    ) Elle

    This has really helped me with my A-level photography and my understanding of what ISO is, the pictures made it really easy to understand as well, keep it up thank you!

  210. 284
    ) Mohamed Ali

    Dear mr. Thank you first of all for the beautiful explanation of ISO ! I am a beginner and I had a lot of questions about it. I was trying to find courses about photography and I believe you explained a part of the most important steps to get a good photo. Please forward me any link about how to take excellent photos tips, courses or anything ..
    Once again thank you for your efforts

  211. 285
    ) Sandesh J.

    hello

    Thank you for such simple explanation of ISO .I need a favor from you ,can you please recommend me some book for beginner in photography I am using Nikon 3200

    Thanx once again for your info

  212. 286
    ) Waqas Ahmed

    This article really helped me understand the ISO and other topics too posted on this website. Great Works.

  213. 287
    ) Bhushan Desai

    Thank you soo much. This is the simplest way one can explain ISO. Much Love n Regards

  214. 289
    ) zeeshan mehraj

    i just wanna say thanks …your artical help me alot to understand photography .. i am doing photo journalism and you articales help me alot . thanks

    wasalam

  215. 291
    ) arzooshaikh

    hey i have been reading your articles since i have bought my camera. its an high end compact camera (Nikon P520). I tried using the similar setting of the bird, but the image appears just a pitch black screen.
    Can you suggest why it happened

  216. 292
    ) Jay

    Thank you for making photography easy to understand … It all looked so complicated before I found your articles.

  217. I’m in the market for a DSRL camera (my first) and learning about the 3 pillars of photography, aperture, shutter speed and ISO setting, has given me a greater understanding of what camera / lens I will need to accomplish my goals. The current plan is to rent a few body / lens combinations and to try them out in the field to see how it goes. So far, leaning towards a Nikon 7100, but the comparisons are going to help. Thanks for the great and easy to understand information on these basic terms and functions!

  218. 294
    ) Carol

    Dear Sir. I am a beginner in photography, and trying to understand my camera. I have Nikon D60. I took a workshop, and was overloaded with information. Your explanation of ISO is great. I can understand it so much better now. I have a question for you. I am most interested in taking pictures of wild life, specially birds which in most cases are far from me. I am told that my camera is not good enough, and need to invest in a better camera. What camera do you recommend? I would like to enlarge the picture to large poster sizes, example 32X40.
    Thank you in advance for your response.

  219. 295
    ) Shahid Farid Chishti

    Your way of explanation is very easy to understand for beginners. You explain, even most complex ideas, in a very easy to understand way. I suggest you must write a book on photography – simply edit your articles to publish in book form :).

    The most admirable part of you is that you reply to every comment left on your page, indeed you are a good human. I love that habit of you.

  220. 296
    ) Dan

    I will soon be traveling to Europe for a 3-week vacation in France, Austria, and Switzerland. I’m currently contemplating the purchase of a Cannon SX50 HS or the updated version the SX60 HS set to come out very soon. My intention is to use it to take landscape photos of the Alps and city features, etc. I like the idea of having a lens that zooms out to 50X for this purpose. Have you had any experience with either of these cameras and do you have any idea when the SX60 HS is due to hit the shelves we’re leaving the end of May. What exactly do you think of this camera??

  221. 297
    ) Brijesh

    hi Nasim

    I have seen most of your videos n found them very informative and easy to understand. I have just started photography though it was my long desired passion.

    I need your guidence on the basic difference between macro lence and wide angle lens. Both has wide aperture and in many a case same focal length.

    How do i choose???

  222. 298
    ) John

    Your explanation of ISO is perfect.

    I had my eye on a Fuji Hs35EXR. While reading comments in a review, someone mentioned the larger CMOS sensors in other models. I quickly sifted through to the Fujifilm XS1 which has the 2/3 inch sensor (50% larger). The image quality is much, much sharper with the XS1.

    Now with your fine explanation of ISO, I believe I can get the crisp details in my pictures that I have been searching for in a relatively inexpensive D-SLR.

    Thank you, again.

  223. 299
    ) Jer

    Hi there, I was wondering how you turn auto ISO on if it’s on one of the M, A, S, or P modes? Is that an option? Does it automatically change if the camera is shooting?

  224. 300
    ) neil

    Nasim .as i regularly go to trekking.above 20000 feet.wich camara i use.like nikond5100 or nikind5200.

  225. 301
    ) karthik

    Your article is very nice and thanks. But why the black skimers image is not blur?

  226. 302
    ) Manisha

    Great explanation for ISO. Please add more content on photography ..

    Thank you

  227. 303
    ) faye

    Hey!

    Thank you for this post. So helpful. Your explanations are very simple and direct so they’re easy to understand especially for beginners like me.

    Thanks! Thanks!

  228. 305
    ) Queen B

    Hi thanks for that info but what about when you are filming with a camera like a 6D and exposure outside is good and where the subject is seated there is low light even after being under white lights ? Is ISO increase a good option then?

  229. 307
    ) yocki

    Hi..
    Nice to read your article..
    I have a question. Why cant i shoot a moving object properly ? My camera has shutter speed of 1/1600. It should be very good at capturing moving object without blurry…

    My camera : http://www.cnet.com/products/sony-cyber-shot-dsc-wx7-digital-camera-series/specs/

    thanks

  230. 309
    ) Khashayar

    Thank you so much Nasim.
    This post is really easy to understand.
    I hope to read more of you.
    And here in Iran, we have the name Nasim by the way.

    Good Luck

  231. 310
    ) Tharindu

    Wow..thanks a lot

  232. 312
    ) Eric Pint

    I found this to be a great article. I’ve shooting a lot of hands and I’ve been dying to figure out a way to capture the artists and the lighting. I’ve found using a flash destroys the scene and floods it with light and you lose the ambiance. I can’t. Wait for the next show to try this.

  233. 313
    ) Amir Hayat

    Thank you brother , you’ve done a very good job.

  234. 314
    ) jibreel martinez

    wow, this is a very good guide and it’s very simple and easy to understand. Hey would it be possible to also add a metering beginner’s guide too? it would be awesome! I just started to take a liking on photography and it was quite addicting if I do say so myself, but I don’t have the money to buy an expensive camera so I’m using my phone instead with a sony sensor. I’m trying to unlock it’s full camera potential and I truly truly truly like your guide. Hope to see a metering guide too!

  235. 315
    ) Dhruv

    Hi,

    This article is amazing!

    Can you tell me how to set the maximum ISo settings in Sony Alpha A58 ?

    Thanks!

  236. 316
    ) Shami

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful article.
    I had so much wrong assumptions about ISO and was never able to figure out why was there much noise in my photographs.

    Now after experimenting with my shots at different ISO levels, I finally managed to get the right understanding of this.

  237. 317
    ) diwakar

    Awesome Explanation. Thanks

  238. 319
    ) Satya

    Thanks a lot for sharing a wonderful article with spoon feed Explanation

  239. 320
    ) marwa khanji

    hello thx for the article but i have quest.
    PLZ can you tell me when we use ISO 6400??

  240. 321
    ) Suresh Giri

    Thanks so much for useful info.

  241. 322
    ) Katherine

    THIS IS AMAZING!!!

    Thank you so much for all the great and simple tips. I tried it on my niece while she was sleeping and did a comparison on the different results. I felt so pleased. haha

  242. 323
    ) Anuj

    thanks a lot,sir.i have a question,if i shoot a twilight scene, what should be the ISO ?it’s, for me,a difficult situation because the light changes each seconds.

  243. 324
    ) Benjamin

    I don’t understand, if you need 1/8th of a second to take an ISO of 800, then how did you photograph of Black Skimmers at 1/2000th of a second at ISO 800?

  244. 325
    ) zilan

    thank yeww very much much for providing this information

  245. 326
    ) Amr

    Thnks man…got to know iso in details after reading your article,,,It couldnt have been any better..just 10 mins….all doubts cleared…

  246. 327
    ) Rajendra Tiwari

    i got nikon d5200. i have a question- can’t we set iso higher and low shutter speed? if not, why?

  247. 328
    ) pinakjeet das

    it ws rely nice readin ur explaination about iso…it ws vry simle to ndrstnd.

  248. 329
    ) Mohit

    Thanks for explaining this in such a simple way..

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