6 Tips for Using ISO Effectively With Your Camera

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Tip 2: Use ISO 400 for clouds or dusk

Do not hesitate to move the ISO up to 400 (or even higher depending on your camera) when the need arises. If you are outdoors and there are any clouds, or if the sun is starting to move toward the horizon, go ahead and move to ISO 400. You will find there is very little increase in digital noise in most cameras at this level.

Even though this was a bright, sunny day, the need for a super-fast shutter speed meant that I needed to increase my ISO to 400 to get this shot. Exposure info: 1/8000th, f/2.8, at ISO 400

Tip 3: Crank it up to stop the action

Previously, you faced a dilemma when trying to stop the action. Should you:

  1. Increase the ISO and risk having the picture ruined by noise, or
  2. Keep the ISO low and risk having the picture ruined by blur because of the slower shutter speed you would be forced to use?

Obviously, neither choice was ideal. But now, with better cameras and noise reduction tools, there is no reason not to increase your ISO when you are photographing action (assuming you are not trying to blur it). In that case, start by moving the ISO up to 800.

Tip 4: Start with ISO 1600 indoors

As soon as you move indoors, increase your ISO to 1600 if there is reasonably good light. Move it even higher if the lighting is poor. There is a lot less light indoors, even though it often doesn’t look that way to you (your eyes adjust very quickly).

It was not possible to use a tripod in the Opera Garnier in Paris. Hence, ISO 3200 for this picture (actually pictures, since it is many pictures stitched together)

Note: If you have, and can use a tripod then keep your ISO lower if possible (there is no moving subject).

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