How to Master ISO in Digital Photography as a Profession

Last Updated on March 10, 2022 by Peter Wood

Have you ever noticed photos containing one object clear and others blurring? These images are unique if you catch someone moving at high speed. You will feel that you can stop time to shoot them. Moreover, you can move as fast as them freely. The blur environment will show you how quickly you can achieve. These images use ISO settings among digital cameras. Though ISO is just a small part of photography, you cannot ignore ISOs by valuing it into something to catch high-speed movements. You need to learn many tips and rules to take a photo with the correct ISO as a Pro.

If you search ISO directly on Google, you will get numerous ISO definitions. The International Organization for Standardization is the frequent answer to ISO. It is the official group to develop ad publish international standards. To some degree, ISO settings in digital cameras are similar to ISO standards. ISO is the standard to measure light sensitivity in film photography. Moreover, Camera ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed are the three aspects every photographer should know before taking photos with digital SLR equipment.

Master ISO in Digital Photography

Part 1: What does ISO mean in digital photography

First of all, the higher the ISO setting is, the more blur photos you will get. ISO is the measure of an image sensor like film photography. You can adjust the image sensor to catch high-speed objects. For example, if you want to shoot running animals in the plain, you can set a high ISO number. As a result, your photography will not be as sharp as images in a low ISO setting. In addition, a high ISO mount will cause noise and film grain. As for low image ISO numbers, you can get higher image quality than high ISOs. Or you can also regard ISO values as standards to test photo quality. Low ISO number represents high image resolution. Though every DSLR has its own Basic ISO, you can use the lowest ISO number for daily image shootings.

You should also know some popular ISO numbers. ISO sequence varies from ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600, ISO 3200, ISO 6400, etc. You may have found the rules between those ISO values. ISO 200 is twice higher sensitivity as ISO 100, and ISO 200 is twice faster as ISO 100. The ISO speed of 100 is 1 second. Thus, you can know that ISO 200 is 1/2 second. ISO 400 is 1/4 second compared with ISO 100. Therefore, you can capture the same images many times based on ISO speed.

ISO Adjust

Part 2: Differences between low ISO and high ISO

After reading the above ISO meaning Description, you should have the basic framework of ISO camera settings. However, it is far from enough ISO definition before applying ISO value as a Pro. You make it sharp that the certain ISO number is in various situations. Low ISO and high ISO are relatively opposite.

If the surrounding lights are bright, you need to use a low camera ISO, ISO 100, or ISO 200 is enough. The lower ISO setting you insist on, the better and sharper images you can get. When you mount your camera or use a tripod to support DSLR, you can take creative photos with low ISO sensitivity. Leaving more time to shoot somebody or something with the lowest ISO enables you to shoot with translucent images. Some ghosts are in this way. It will require a low ISO number if you take a picture of flowers or something immovable.

High ISO aims at a dark environment. If you take images indoors, you need to improve the ISO number. Many latest digital cameras offer the “Auto ISO” feature, which can help you shoot without enough lights. As a higher ISO setting will lead to too much grain, you need to lower the ISO number to a degree.

ISO Camera

Part 3: Important factors to influence ISO settings

Choosing a suitable ISO setting is not as easy as it pretends? You may adjust ISOs according to light and image quality. There are other ISO influences to consider. Whether to use a tripod or the kind of lights and moving speed is also necessary. I list situations where you can copy or follow to use ISOs correctly.

1. If you watch basketball games indoors, you need to use a higher ISO speed. Because the environment is not bright enough, high ISOs are beneficial to high-speed moving objects.

2. You are limited to using flash somewhere serious. For example, you cannot use flash in concerts and galleries to disturb others. Thus, high ISO sensitivity is a good choice.

3. During picnic time or hiking with good sunshine, using ISO 100 or 200 is enough. If the sky is overcast or the time is late, you can apply ISO from 400 to 800 to figure out.

4. For those who prefer to take pictures in dark areas, for example, you can use high ISOs too if you want to give someone a surprise.

5. Sometimes, you may need to shoot with artificial lights. It is wise to use a low ISO setting. There are many light burbs around you to create a bright atmosphere.

6. When you put your digital camera on a tripod, there is no need to choose a high ISO number. Using a tripod is more suitable to record stable objects.

You need to be aware that high ISO images may look quite good from LCD screens. However, once you print high ISO camera images out, you will know the differences compared with low ISOs. Moreover, you need to reduce noise if you do not like too much grain in your photography. WidsMob Retoucher is always your first choice.

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Part 4: How to adjust ISO cameras with different parameters

ISO system is the rule to measure the sensitivity of digital imaging systems, which is similar to film speed. Nowadays, you can set ISO numbers from ISO 50 to ISO 204,800. So you can balance exposure more in aspects. As you know, low ISOs are proper in bright areas or whenever you use a tripod to stable. For instance, ISO 200 with 1/250shutter speed is similar to ISO 400 at 1/500 shutter speed. Thus, higher ISOs need less light. As for people who shoot moving stuff at high speed, you had better improve into ISO 1600 or later, which can freeze motion more effectively.

Methods to Adjust ISO Cameras

As you have read so much ISO knowledge, it is time to apply the new skill. Many digital SLR have different ISO icons. The steps to adjust ISO cameras are similar. You can set ISO with two main steps by pressing the ISO icon to choose ISO numbers. I will show you methods to get ISO value on Canon digital cameras.

Step 1. Click the ISO icon around Set you will see all ISO numbers on your digital SLR. Use the ISO arrow to choose.

Step 2. Adjust your DSLR into P (Program) mode and go outside to shoot. It is the way to test your ISO camera quality. After that, you will have a clear realization of ISO settings. Upload ISO images to your computer to view.

Step 3. Apply your DSLR into Shutter Priority mode and take more pictures. Do not change other settings. You need to take the same photos with the same lights. Import to your computer to compare.

Step 4. However, it does not mean that once you need to freeze motion. You need higher ISOs. You can handle the exact ISO speed difference by daily practice and shooting experience.

Because high ISOs can work faster, thus, camera shake does not influence very much, compared with lower ISOs. Though your images may be noisy with high ISOs, your ISO photos will be sharper than normal ones.

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Part 5: Tips to link ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed for a good exposure

ISO is just 1/3 of photography’s exposure. You can combine aperture and shutter speed to get the correct exposure value. Aperture controls the depth of field, and shutter speed represents exposure duration. ISO sensitivity links with noise mentioned. Thus, it is time to make the aperture and shutter speed clear.


In brief, the aperture is the hole that controls the pass of lights. But do not just regard aperture in such a simple way. Aperture does not have affairs with the lens. It is the place lights can travel through DSLR directly. To be more specific, you can divide the aperture into several f-stop values. You can call it focal ratio. Stopping down or opening up your lens means increasing or decreasing the f-stop value. The common f-number is f/1.0, f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6 and f/8.0. The higher aperture is, the smaller depth of field will be.

Shutter Speed

You can get information just from its name. Shutter speed is the time a DSLR sensor exposing to light. The slower the shutter speed has been, the more the camera sensor will collect lights. People often apply slow shutter speed in dark places, such as night sky photos. Shutter speed has some connection with ISO speed, both of these two exposure points can freeze motion to a degree. They frequently use a shutter speed as 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, and 1/125. In addition, high shutter speed can protect digital cameras from shaking, which can maintain sharpness.

How to Combine ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed to Get Good Exposure

Though Auto mode can help you solve normal daily photos, you still need to use manual mode to get images with specific specials. As soon as you change into M mode, you will see the exposure list. After that, turn the aperture and shutter speed to make exposure to 0. Now it is time to check ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed.

  • Change the aperture dial according to your need. If you prefer photos to be sharp, you need to get a higher aperture, such as f/16.
  • Operate the same steps for shutter speed, as well as ISO sensitivity. Adjust into the combination you like.

The relationship between aperture setting and shutter speed is that the higher aperture has shown, the slower the shutter speed will be. Increasing ISOs can also cause high shutter speed. In addition, if you cannot decide how to balance exposure, you can turn back to Auto mode to seek answers.

Aperture ISO Shutter


Choosing ISO sensitivity does not influence people who take photos on iPhone. You may often use photo editors to modify or shoot. However, things are different when using true digital SLRs. ISO is just 1/3 of exposure, and exposure is also a small part of photography. But do not be worrying that it is too difficult to shoot when you are a beginner or amateur. The shooting experience is the most severe part of improving your DSLR skills. You can also regard digital cameras to record your life more delicately. As you practice frequently, you will handle ISO skills naturally.

Though ISO volume has many divisions, it can not fix the high ISO and low ISO. If the lights are bright, using ISO 100 is enough in most cases, of course, not including something moving at high speed. Film grain and image resolution are two factors that cannot avoid. If you want to remove them, there are many available denoise software you can select.

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