Get Your Camera Out of Auto...NOW! Pt. 4
Be prepared to have your mind blown! BLOWN! Or at least I hope you think so after all these helpful hints. ISO. What is it? ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. I know, backwards, but that's what it means. When people used film it was called ASA, short for American Standards Association. To make a long story short ISO was the indication for how sensitive film was to light. ISO is measured in numbers- 100, 200, 400, etc. The lower the number the less grain you have in your photos and therefore, the less sensitive to light your film is. So what does this mean for digital photography? ISO measures the sensitivity of your camera's sensor. The same rules apply as in film photography, the lower the number the lower your cameras sensitivity to light. Higher numbers are typically used in low light settings to brighten a photo. However, when you increase your ISO, you are increasing the grain, or noise, in a photo. Let me show you an example.
These photos were taken on our trip to Nashville a couple of months ago. This photo was taken in Coyote Ugly. (I know what you're thinking, but I had never been to one and saw the movie and made Richie and Drew go with me) Anyways, because I was in a dark bar with low light, I was able to use my ISO settings to create enough light to take a photo. Notice that my ISO is set at 6400!! That's really high! To give you a reference, when I do sessions, I rarely go above 500. You can really see the grain, or noise on Rich's shirt. It's OK to boost your ISO, you just need to be careful to not make it too high unless you are trying to achieve the grainy look. Here is another example where the grain is less noticeable.
While in Nashville we visited Antique Archeology, the place from the show American Pickers, and at the back end of the building was this brewery. They made all kinds of liquors. I thought this one was pretty funny, Ryemageddon. You can sorta see some of the grain around the bottom of the bottle and in the reflection on the bar. My ISO is set at 1250 because even though we were indoors, there was light coming in from the windows so it didn't have to be quite as high as the one in Coyote Ugly. Here is another example.
This last photo was taken outside Coyote Ugly. There was full sun so I didn't need any help from my ISO settings which is why it's set at 100. Normally when outside and it's sunny, I have it set at 100, or 125. Pretty much all of this photo is crisp and clear. No noise in sight. You'll need to play with your ISO because each camera is different. What I mean is that my 5D Mark II doesn't really start to see noise until around ISO 1250, but other cameras could start to see grain earlier. It's not that big of a difference, but this is where knowing your camera inside and out comes in handy. I hope I was able to shed a little light on ISO for you. As always, if you have any questions, please ask! Leave me a comment or shoot me an email. I would love to help you.