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Video:Photography: ISO Overview

with Chris Davis

Adjusting the ISO setting on your digital camera will change the look of your photograph. Watch this About.com video to learn how ISO will affect your photos.See Transcript

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Transcript:Photography: ISO Overview

Hi I'm Chris Davis for About.com.  Let's review how ISO effects your images in digital photography.

What is ISO?

ISO originally stood for the sensitivity of film to light and came in a variety of film speeds.  Lower ISO numbers created a finer grain in an image.

In Digital Photography ISO represents the sensitivity of the image sensor to light.  The concept is still the same.  Low ISO numbers create a finer grain to the image.  A setting of 100 ISO is generally considered normal, producing photographs with little or no graininess.  So why would you change this setting?

When to Change the ISO?

In a low light situation a higher ISO will increase the cameras sensitivity to light allowing you to capture an image.  Furthermore, increasing the ISO will also allow you to use faster shutter speeds which comes in handy when you want to freeze action, or allows you to use a smaller aperture which can change the overall look of your image. However, there is a trade off.  A higher ISO setting creates grain.

In this first photo an ISO setting of 100 was used.  Notice how the image feels crisp and smooth.  This second photo the frame remained the same, however, the ISO was set to 3200.  Notice how the image has become grainier.  
In general you will want to start by using the lowest ISO possible for the lighting situation you are in.  It will yield the cleanest image.  But don't be afraid to bump up the ISO.  Indoor activities and events will be easier to capture with a higher ISO setting.  And sometimes graininess is good.  Interesting artistic effects can be created giving your images an old film feel with a high ISO.

Experiment with the cameras ISO setting and see what it will bring to your images.  To learn more check us out on the web at About.com. Thanks for watching.
 

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