Defining Camera ISO Setting (and How To Use It)

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Posted: 30 August 2017

Have you ever seen an ISO setting on your camera and skipped over it on your way to the auto setting because you didn’t know what it was? You’re not alone. You are also missing out on a powerful tool to help you capture the moment through your lens. For the record, ISO does not mean “I’m So Ordinary”. On the contrary, knowing how to properly use your ISO can pull extraordinary results out of an ordinary frame.


Simply put, the ISO setting determines how sensitive the image sensor in your camera is to light. The most common ISO settings are 100, 200, 400, and 900. Depending on the model of your camera you may have settings of 64, 100, 160, 200, 400, 640, 800, and 1600. The lower the ISO, the less light comes in and the deeper the color saturation. The higher the ISO, the more light comes in and the more grain will appear in the photo.

As a general rule you want to set the ISO as low as possible, but sometimes you will have to jump out of the box and see what happens. If you set your ISO to 100, the resulting photo will be of better quality than one taken at a setting of 1600. Outside on a sunny day, you should be able to get a good shot with an ISO setting of 100 to 200, but if it’s cloudy out or evening time then your range would be more between 400 and 800. You may need to set your ISO to 1600 in situations where you have very low light or it is night time. If you don’t, your photo will appear too dark if at all.

iso difference

The best way to truly understand your ISO settings is to get your camera out and jump on in. Take several shots of the same thing at different settings. You may just be surprised at how easy it can be!

Camera ISO Setting


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