ISO – Beginner Photography

ISO – Learn Photography

ISO is the digital equivalent (or approximation) of film speed. If you remember, back in the day, you will get 100, 200, 400 or 800 ISO. This still applies to digital photography, but it’s called an ISO instead of ASA. It’s still the same, 100 and 200 for outdoors with a lot of light and 400 and 800 for indoors with less light. The same rule that the higher the number, the more light comes in still applies.

General rules for ISO settings

ISO 50, 100, and 200 are the lowest settings depending on the camera. It is for FULL SUNSHINE. (some high-end cameras have 50)
ISO – 400 – overcast cloudy, not so much sun.
ISO – 800 lower light – sunset time and so on.

Digital Noise and ISO

The noise level depends on the camera – You can see noise generally starts around 800 and is apparent at 1600, depending on your camera. The bigger the sensor, the more digital noise.
The downside to using a high ISO is that digital noise or grain will appear. Below is a picture of the grain. Many despise grain and avoid it at all costs. Some artists use grain as an artistic effect. It’s up to you. I do everything I can to avoid grain, except when I am ghost-hunting.
High ISO settings are the most significant contributors to photographic noise. The rule is always the same: the higher your ISO, the more noise you get.
Start by shooting outside with your camera and changing from a low ISO number to a higher one using each increment in your settings. Watch as the picture goes from light to dark. You must remember that the lower the number, the less light will come in. The higher the number, the more the light will come in.
Grain or Digital Noise
In the world of photography, grain is a common occurrence in many images, especially those taken at night. Darker areas in photos tend to reveal more digital noise or grain than brighter parts. You’ll need the right tools to edit your photos effectively and achieve high-quality results by reducing grain. There are editing tools to help with that, discussed later.

Grain or Digital Noise Examples

Here is an example of grain in a picture. On the left. The stuff on the right is what you will need to edit your photos, and we highly recommend everything we advertise in our magazine.  Back to learning; the darker parts of images is where you will see more digital noise or grain. Grain is very common in night photography. Let’s talk about ISO and night shots.

Old Tennent Church Ghost Hunting Photography

Using ISO at night.

When shooting still photos in the dark with a tripod, the ISO should always be set to 100 or the lowest available number (except for milky way shots and times you need to let more light in). This is because increasing the ISO will result in noise. A tripod gives you two other ways of allowing more light into your photo: decreasing the shutter speed and adjusting the aperture. Reducing the shutter speed is an excellent idea since we can keep it open for a long time without blurring due to camera shake when on a tripod.
When using a tripod, we can keep our shutter open for an extended period when the subject is motionless, and there isn’t much light. Holding the camera in our hands won’t work for this, as any exposure below 1/40th of a second or so will produce blurry images. We can take crystal clear night photos by securely mounting our camera to a sturdy tripod. When you feel confident with your tripod set-up and shooting technique, check out our How to Shoot Night Photography Section.
Here is an example of ways to use ISO on a tripod.
ISO 1600, 1-second exposure, f22 (milky way)
ISO 100, 5-second exposure, f22
beginner photography camera picture
ISO - Beginner Photography
ISO - Beginner Photography


Here is your homework. Look at the ISO settings on your camera and see the different increments.  If you have read shutter priority, Set your shutter speed for 1/200th of a second and take a shot at 100, 200, 400, 800 and all the increments to the end. Watch as your picture gets lighter and lighter.