When choosing the ISO setting I should generally ask myself the following four questions:
- Light – Is the subject well lit?
- Grain – Do I want a grainy shot or one without noise?
- Tripod – Am I using a tripod?
- Moving Subject – Is my subject moving or stationary?
If there is plenty of light, I want little grain, I’m using a tripod and my subject is stationary I will generally use a pretty low ISO rating.
If it’s dark, I purposely want grain, I don’t have a tripod and/or my subject is moving I might consider increasing the ISO as it will enable me to shoot with a faster shutter speed and still expose the shot well.
Of course the trade off of this increase in ISO will be noisier shots.
Situations where you might need to push ISO to higher settings include:
- Indoor Sports Events – where your subject is moving fast yet you may have limited light available.
- Concerts – also low in light and often ‘no-flash’ zones
- Art Galleries, Churches etc- many galleries have rules against using a flash and of course being indoors are not well lit.
- Birthday Parties – blowing out the candles in a dark room can give you a nice moody shot which would be ruined by a bright flash. Increasing the ISO can help capture the scene.
ISO is an important aspect of digital photography to have an understanding of if you want to gain more control of your digital camera. Experiment with different settings and how they impact your images today