What is ISO in Photography?

The acronym ISO (International Standards Organization) represents how sensitive your camera sensor is to light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to light.

Why is Light Sensitivity Important?

If your camera is more sensitive to light, you can take higher quality photos in low light environments without having to use a flash. For example, you can take better quality pictures indoors, on a cloudy day or even at night to capture stars, fireworks or the moon.

What are Common ISO Ranges?

The lowest available ISO on digital cameras is around 80-100. The highest ISO settings on some of the most expensive cameras, offer ISO settings of 3200 and beyond.

Drawbacks of a High ISO

With a higher ISO, there is more “noise” or graininess in pictures.  On most digital cameras, you can adjust the ISO levels according to your preference. Generally, using a lower ISO is better, because there is less graininess in the photos. Advancements in photo processing programs such as Noise Ninja or Adobe Lightroom is helping to create better photos at higher ISOs, pushing the boundaries further and further.

Practical Implementation Example:

When a low ISO is used, a slower shutter speed may be necessary to deliver light to the sensor for a longer period of time, or the lens aperture needs to be adjusted to help get more light to the sensor.

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