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Jun 10, 2019

There are many different ways to approach your ISO setting. In rare cases, some photographers will deliberately use high ISO settings to achieve an old-fashioned, grainy look. On the other end of the spectrum, you have photographers like Edward Henry Weston. He has been called one of the most influential photographers of the early 20th century, and he was famous for using revolutionary films with speeds that would have been equivalent to ISO 16 by today’s standards.

Most photographers, myself included, tend to take a middle path. If you want to open up your aperture for extreme clarity or slow down your shutter speed to create motion blur in bright light, you’ll want to drop your ISO speed to balance the exposure.

But what if you want to use a fast shutter speed or a narrow aperture at night? In that case, you’ll need to raise your ISO to get a clean shot. However, you’ll also need to think about the amount of noise you’re willing to accept in the final image. Choosing your ISO speed becomes a series of trade-offs based on the amount of noise produced by the sensor, the clarity or narrow depth of field from different aperture settings, and whether you want to use fast or slow shutter speeds to freeze or blur motion.

The key to using ISO correctly is to experiment with your camera. Not all cameras produce the same amount of noise at the same ISO speeds. Small or cheaply made sensors tend to produce a lot of noise at all but the slowest ISO settings while cutting-edge full-frame DSLRs are capable of shooting at extremely high ISOs with very little noise. Learn how your camera performs at various ISOs, and you’ll be able to minimize the amount of sensor noise while creating a balanced exposure in any light...

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