Understanding Digital ISO Settings
October 11, 2013
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You've mastered how to set your digital camera's shutter speed and aperture. Now it's time to stop using the automatic film speed setting. The perfect exposure can give your photos a desired look and feel, so why not take control of this camera function, too?
If you haven't thought about film speeds (also known as ASA or ISO settings) since you last loaded a roll of film into a camera, take note: digital film speed equivalents affect images, too.
Slow ISOs: 50-200
Choose a slower setting (lower number) when you want sharp, fine-grain images. These slower ISO settings work best in ample light, whether you're outdoors or in a studio. Slow ISO settings are perfect for images that will be enlarged or heavily cropped or when capturing close-up macro images where every detail will show.
Midrange ISOs: 200-400
Select a slightly higher ISO setting for everyday shooting. When using film, these speeds are reserved for still-life scenic shots on bright days. But digital ISO settings are more flexible, making midrange ISO settings great all-purpose speeds for snapshots of children playing outside or indoor pictures of slow-moving subjects, such as someone opening birthday gifts.
High-Speed ISOs: 400-800
If you'll be photographing something in a low-light situation, like a sunset, choose a higher ISO setting to get a brighter image and more visible foreground. With film, an 800 ISO rating can produce a grainy or soft-focus shot, but with a digital camera set to 800 ISO, pixels appear sharper and images clearer.
Super High-Speed ISOs: 800-1600
Shooting sports? Nighttime football games or a round of basketball in a dim gym will turn out best when shot at a higher ISO setting. The trade-off, though, is a slightly grainy appearance in the shadow details. But if you're not enlarging the pictures beyond the size of your computer monitor, you'll probably never notice.
Extreme High-Speed ISOs: 1600-6400
When you plan to camp out in the evening and shoot with natural available light, boost your digital camera's ISO setting as high as it will go. This eliminates the need for an obtrusive flash. And if you're looking for a rustic, gritty look, shooting in dim light at a high ISO will do the trick. This style is popular for late-night cemetery photography or nightclub and band photography that you want to have an edgy feel.
So what is your go-to ISO setting for everyday shooting? Tell us in the comments below.
Image Source: Morguefile.com