Before I go into what ISO is I think it’s best if I mention a few points about your the importance of learning how to navigate your camera. You must learn to be able to adjust the settings intuitively. Even if at the moment you have no idea what these settings do. You should be fully aware of where the settings are and how to change them when called upon to do so. This will make learning how to use each setting less frustrating.
When I first got started I was clueless and frustrated. I think it was because I was always expecting this magic setting that was going to solve all my problems. Photography is an art. There is no right or wrong way to take a photograph. It’s only wrong if you say it is. So take the pressure off of yourself. If the image is not what you wanted the first time you’re one frame closer to getting there. If you’re just getting started the best advice I can give you is to take your time! I’d go as far to say to try and take one good photo
Well what is ISO first of all. I always like to assume you know nothing at all about photography so please bare with me if you know the answer. I know there are a few of you who will appreciate an explanation so this is for you. Well on the nerd side of things ISO is derived from the International Organization for Standardization. To put it in plain english it’s simply a standard used to measure the sensitivity of film to light. Film rated at ISO100 is less sensitive to light then film rated at ISO 800. Since film rated at ISO 100 is less sensitive it requires more light to be properly exposed than the ISO 800 film. Well film is practically a thing of the past to most consumers so the ISO rating has been carried over to our digital cameras of today. Instead of film your digital camera has a sensor that you can now change the sensitivity or ISO by simply pressing a button or dialing a knob or both. Now is a great time to grab the manual to your camera and find out how to change the ISO setting in your particular camera. Seriously go get your manual if you have not already.
Set the ISO to 100. Once you’ve done that practice changing the sensors ISO from 100 to an ISO of 400. If you had to go into a menu to do so I suggest turing your camera off and back on again. Then go back into your menu to check the ISO. Did the ISO save at 400? If so your doing well. If not maybe you forgot to hit save settings at the end? Whatever the case keep at it until you become familiar with changing this setting.
As a general rule and the best way to learn is to go out and shoot as often as you can and learn from the results. Remember there are other settings that will affect the correct exposure.
See what happens when you set the ISO at the lowest ISO rating and then shoot in an auto mode of your camera. Then without changing anything else. The point of this exercise is to see the affects on the image. Don’t worry about taking a nice photo during this exercise. Just concentrate on watching whether the image gets lighter or darker.
Least sensitive to light. Low ISO 100
ISO 100 to 400 generally good for the daytime on a nice bright day. The sensor is least sensitive and requires more light
ISO 400 to 800 best for early evening and shady overcast days. The sensor is more sensitive to light and requires less light.
High ISO 6400 Very sensitive to light.
Try the highest setting your camera will allow. See what happens.