Camera ISO

ISO is one of three crucial settings in the exposure triangle and is critical to understand as you start. It cannot be apparent for beginners, but we’re here to help!

We will explain what ISO is, how to use it, and the best practices for getting great results. We’ll also answer some common questions about ISO so you can start using it like a pro!

Camera ISO is a part of the exposure triangle that includes Camera Shutter Speed and Camera Aperture.

Let’s dive in.

What is camera ISO?

ISO stands for “International Organization for Standardization.” It is a measure of a camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive the camera is, and the less light is needed to capture an image.

It can be adjusted to make your photos brighter or darker, depending on the look you’re going for. Increasing the ISO will make your picture brighter and increase the amount of noise in the image.

On most cameras, ISO values are displayed as a number (100, 200, 400, 800 and so on) on the screen or in the viewfinder. Depending on your camera model, there will be a dedicated ISO button on top of the camera, or through the settings on your camera screen.

The benefits of ISO

  • Allows you to control brightness and exposure
  • Increases shooting flexibility in low-light situations
  • It can help you capture fast-action shots

The struggle with ISO: Noise/Grain

Noise and grain are the everyday struggles with high ISO in images. Increasing the ISO will make for a brighter image, but will also increase the amount of noise or grain in the picture. This can be a struggle for some photographers, as too much noise can make an deteriorate the image quality.

Too much noise or grain in a photo can render it useless, especially when enlarging the photo for print displays or digital presentations.

Film vs. Digital ISO

The main difference between film ISO and digital ISO is that film is measured in a unit of measurement known as “stops,” while digital is measured in a unit known as “dB.”

The other difference between the two is that digital iso can be adjusted while film iso cannot.

Film Camera ISO

Film ISO can’t be adjusted because it’s a physical property of the film itself. In other words, you would have to purchase a specific film with the required ISO–also known as film speed. For example, if you wanted to do low-light or night photography with a longer shutter speed, you would have to buy film canisters with an ISO of 1000-1800.

Digital Camera ISO

dB is a unit of measurement for digital signals. It stands for decibels and measures the power or intensity of a sound, electric current, or another signal. In the case of your DSLR, we are measuring the intensity of light on the camera sensor.

ISO Best Practices

When setting your camera’s ISO, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Try to use the lowest ISO possible to avoid noise in your photos. The higher the ISO, the more noise you will get.
  • If you need to increase the ISO to get the correct exposure, try only to increase it as much as necessary.
  • If you’re shooting in daylight and don’t need a high shutter speed, try using a lower ISO (50 or 100) to get a cleaner image.
  • You’ll need to increase the ISO if you’re shooting in low light or at night. Try starting at 400 and adjusting accordingly.

Last Exposure Setting You Change

When working on getting the best exposure for your image, you’ll want to first make adjustments to either the shutter speed, aperture, or both before making adjustments to the ISO.

When you’re at the limit of what is acceptable for shutter speed and aperture, you can start adjusting the ISO to fine-tune your image exposure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does ISO mean on a camera?

ISO is a camera setting that controls the sensor’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive the sensor will be, and the brighter the image will be. However, increasing the ISO also increases noise in the picture, so it’s crucial to find the right balance for your needs.

What is a good camera ISO?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on the specific needs and preferences of the photographer. However, a good starting point is to experiment with different ISO settings to find what works best for you. You may want to start with a lower ISO and increase it as needed, or vice versa. Remember that higher ISOs will result in brighter images but also more noise.

Is higher ISO better?

Depending on your needs, you may find that a higher ISO setting is better or worse than a lower one. Remember to experiment to find what works best for you!

How does ISO affect a photo?

ISO affects the brightness of an image by controlling how sensitive the sensor is to light. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive the sensor will be, and the brighter the image will be. However, increasing the ISO also increases noise in the photo, so finding the right balance for your needs is essential.


When it comes to understanding iso, there are a few things you can do to make the most of it:

1. Choose the correct ISO speed for the situation.

2. Use a tripod when necessary.

3. Shoot in RAW format whenever possible.

4. Experiment!


The key takeaways are that you should use as low as possible ISO to reduce the amount of noise/grain in your image quality. If you have to adjust your ISO, ensure you’ve first adjusted the aperture and shutter speed settings.

Camera ISO

Dustin Olsen

Mastermind behind When no one is telling me what to do or where to be, you'll find me outside (hopefully flying my drone) soaking up some sun.