Tackling Manual ISO Settings Like A Boss!


My first blog post that will dip into the realm of photography as we know it.  I'm hoping that any of you that have reached me here will gain some new knowledge out of this.
Let me know how I do :).

Alright, here's the deal:
I've been noticing a lot of newer photographers that are having a hard time tackling their ISO settings.  I've seen a lot of people concerned about photos with "too much noise" or "too much grain".

YOU'RE IN LUCK!  I'M HERE TO HELP YOU OUT!

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I'M READY TO HELP YOU TAKE YOUR PHOTOS FROM THIS:

Kansas City Photography Resources

 

Baby Stevie: New to the photography world...age 16... Thinks that any time you're outdoors and it's overcast that you need to have a high ISO to make up for it.  This was out in my front yard on a gloomy day.  My ISO was set at 1600, you guys...1600!!!  THIS IS TOO HIGH. 

TO THIS

Kansas City Photography Resources

 

A few months ago in my friend Paula's studio when she lived in the states before moving back to Germany.  
P.S. I MISS YOU, PAULA!

Here, my ISO was set at 400, and I was indoors with a small window light.  This ISO is way less than the photo I took outdoors with a ton of light.  The photo, however, is tack sharp, and her skin shows no signs of noise or grain.  WHY?  Well, I'll tell you my super easy system here in a second!  You have to get past some boring past-life stuff first :)

ISO - INTERNAL STANDARDS ORGANIZATION

Basically, this is a fancy definition for measuring the amount of sensitivity your camera will have towards light.
More Sensitive = Higher ISO = Higher Chance of Grain
Less Sensitive = Lower ISO = Lower Chance of Grain

When I was new to photography and taking classes in high school, ISO was something that I never really wanted to learn, and I never realized how crucial it can be to the overall quality of your photos.  I remember thinking that anything that looked somewhat dim needed an ISO of at least 1600.

THIS IS A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT.  I REPEAT...THIS IS A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT!!!

So here I am...taking photos...guessing at what setting to have my ISO at based on the total light around me.  I honestly made it way too complicated for myself with no good reason whatsoever because I never had clear photos in the end.  I have a trick for tackling this, though, and I want to help all of you because it's seriously so confusing at first!

Here's the trick, and please bear with me because it might not make too much sense with the first read through.
 

  1. If you're outdoors in daylight, set your ISO to the absolute lowest it can go (I think my camera's lowest is 200).  Never go above 800 if you can help it.  Right after 800 is when the grain starts to show up unless you have a camera that works extremely well in low-light.
  2. Set your camera to the desired aperture and shutter speed that you're needing
  3. If your light meter still doesn't end up near the center with your shutter speed and aperture the way that you want it, turn up your ISO once more (maybe this time at 400).
  4. Continue increasing your ISO from that point on until your light meter reaches the center/maybe a half stop under or overexposed depending on your preference.

I'LL TRY TO LAY THIS OUT A LITTLE EASIER :)

  • Outdoors on a bright dayISO 200
  • Outdoors on a cloudy day: Start with ISO 200 and maybe go up to 400, but only if you really can't get that light meter centered with the other settings you have.
  • Indoors: ISO 200 if at all possible or 400-800
  • Night time: If you have to exceed an ISO of 800, do it.  This might be the only way you can get the shot with the shutter speed and aperture that you've already set your camera to.

SO HERE'S A GOOD RULE OF THUMB:

Adjust your ISO LAST, and if you're unsure where to start, always start at 200 with your current shutter speed and aperture settings.  Then, dial the ISO UP from there if you can't center that gosh darn light meter.
This way, you won't jeopardize the quality of your photograph with a lot of unwanted grain.

YOU'RE ALL SET!

FEEL FREE TO LEAVE ANY COMMENTS IF YOU'RE STILL HAVING QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS TRICKY CAMERA SETTING, AND DON'T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE TO MY EMAILS! 

Stevie HaasComment