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Saturday, 28 January 2012

What Is ISO And How You Can Use It To Take Better Photos?

Donna Feldman
First of all, what is ISO. ISO stands for International Standards Organization, it used to be the American Standards Association also know as the ASA and is a term that comes from the days of film photography. Basically, everyone wanted film that acted the same so technically you could buy one brand of film with a speed of 200 and buy another brand with the same ISO and get the same results. Speed refers to how long it takes for the film to process the image in front of it.

Digital photography has put a new twist on all of this. At one time if you went from shooting out doors to indoors you had to compensate for the type of film that you had, or possibly waste what was left of a roll and put a lower speed in. Now with digital photography you simply press a few buttons and you are set with your new ISO settings.

What does all of this mean?

Speed refers to the sensitivity of the film. The chemicals in a high speed film would react faster and thus need less time with the shutter being open to take the photo. This was great if you were doing sports or low light photography, however there was a nasty little trade off. The chemical compound on the film would many times make it grainy or have what is commonly referred to today as "noise." This works well in certain photos where it's dark or foggy and you wanted to create a certain ambiance; however a clear day where you may desire sharp images you will want to use a low speed.

Reon Kadena
ISO Application: The following is a list of speeds and where you want to use them.

100-200 Daylight
400-600 Multipurpose/Indoor
800-1200 Indoor/Low Light

A veteran photographer once gave me 2 of the best pieces of advice that I have ever had.

The first one is to know your equipment. Make sure you read the owner's manual so you can make the full use of your camera.

The second is to play around with your camera, take "risk," at one time taking "bad photos" was costly, however now offending images can be forgotten simply by hitting the delete button and doesn't cost anything but time. So don't be afraid to press that shutter button, look for new angles, and try to find different ways to incorporate the basics. It is the only way to  get better at this wonderful hobby.

Author: Mark M Wilson

An easy to follow, step by step course in mastering the art of digital photography is Learn Digital Photography Now.  If you would like to further your knowledge in digital photography, I strongly recommend that you aquire this digital book.

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