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Tips & Tricks

Understanding Camera ISO & Retaining Image Quality | Minute Photography

By Pye Jirsa on May 5th 2017

Have trouble capturing image color and detail? Learn the basics of your camera’s ISO and how to retain the highest image quality possible in 60 seconds with the video below.

Only have a minute? We teamed up with CreativeLive to help you master manual mode and other photography basics from our Photography 101 Workshop! Stay tuned for more from this series here!

WHAT IS ISO?

ISO is the last step in the Exposure Triangle and refers to the film’s sensitivity to light. When using a digital camera, ISO doesn’t refer to film but how sensitive the camera’s sensor is to light. The higher the ISO number the more light sensitivity and the less ambient light is needed to get the same exposure. Easily understand the Exposure Triangle in an excerpt from Photography 101:

ISO CONTROLS IMAGE QUALITY

In addition to sensor sensitivity, ISO also controls how much color, dynamic range, and detail that an image can capture. As we boost ISO, we introduce more grain and noise into our image, and the overall image detail and quality decrease.

[REWIND: HOW TO GET PERFECT EXPOSURES IN ONE SHOT ]

Set ISO For Proper Exposure

If we are trying to create scenic images with amazing color and tone, we like to keep ISO as low as possible. However, shooting at 100 ISO isn’t always feasible – especially for low-light photography. Avoid shooting at a lower ISO and expecting to adjust in post. Not only will your images show more banding and noise, but your colors may appear blotchy.

Getting a sharp image is always going to be more important than making sure you have absolutely perfect detail, color, dynamic range, and so forth. Set your ISO at the proper exposure in-camera, rather than trying to correct in post. Make ISO work in your favor and adjust only in native ISO increments. Learn more tips about retaining image quality and native ISO in our tutorial.

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About

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

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