What Is The Equivalent Of Film Speed In Digital Cameras?

What Is The Equivalent Of Film Speed In Digital Cameras?
Arif H Fahim

When we talk about film speed, we refer to the measure of photographic film’s sensitivity to light which is determined by various scales.

While most people love to use modern digital cameras to take pictures, it’s important to know what is the equivalent of film speed in digital cameras.

The equivalent of film speed in digital photography is the ISO system. It is used to define the relationship between the exposure and lighting within the images in digital cameras.

Just like the film speed, different ISO numbers are the best suited for different types of photography and environment.

If you’re interested in this modern film speed scale, you’re going to enjoy reading the full article.

So, let’s start with it!

What Is The Equivalent Of Film Speed In Digital Cameras?

What Is Film Speed In Photography?

Film speed is the measure of the sensitivity of the film you’re using. The term “Film Speed” was commonly used for older generation film cameras. You’d always see a number on the box of the film that represents how much sensitive it is to light.

While the term film speed was used for film cameras, ISO is used for the same purpose in digital cameras. There are not many differences between them based on their functions.

However, now that you can change the sensitivity of the sensor anytime you want by simply rotating buttons, on film cameras, you wouldn’t be allowed to do that so easily. If you would want a different sensitivity, you’d have to purchase a film with a different speed or sensitivity. 

What Is an ISO on A Camera?

Now that we know that ISO replaces the film speed in digital cameras, let’s find out what is camera ISO.

ISO is a standardized set of numbers that determines the sensitivity of the film to light. To get a good exposure, you need to adjust the aperture and shutter speed as well along with the film speed. ISO lets the camera set what other settings will be to get a good exposure.

ISO speed ranges from 20 to 6400 for high-end cameras. A low ISO speed indicates the film is less sensitive to light, while a high ISO speed represents a fast film that is more sensitive to light.

Low Speed

Low-speed films usually range from 20 to 200 ISO ratings. These films are used mainly when lots of light is available while taking pictures.

The slower speeds allow the lens to capture more details of the photo. In fact the lower the ISO rating, the finer the grain will be. That’s why if you’re planning to enlarge a picture, you should shoot with the lowest possible ISO number.

Low ISO camera ratings are excellent for outdoor photography, especially on a bright sunny day.

Pros Tip: If you shoot photos at lower ISO ratings, a tripod is recommended to use to avoid camera shake.

Medium Speed

The medium speed of the film is referred to as ISO 400 film. This is probably the best ISO setting for general-purpose usage. It can handle both outdoor daylight and indoor lighting conditions.

However, the setting doesn’t suit extreme conditions and isn’t perfect for specialized photography.

High Speed

High-speed films usually range from ISO 400 to 6400. These films provide you a lot of flexibility in low light conditions. Also, if you want to shoot fast-moving subjects or capture an action, this ISO speed is a perfect photography choice.

However, you’ll notice significantly more grain in photos that are snapped with high-speed films. The reason behind the increased grain is the larger silver crystals in the band. These crystals attract more light due to the fast ISO and get more visible within the image. The higher the ISO range, the more grain will be present in the photos.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is ISO the same as film speed?

Digital cameras incorporated ISO which represents the sensitivity of a specific film to light. It is referred by a number such as 400. This is the same as the film speed chart which also represents the sensitivity for different lights. Higher ISO numbers represent greater sensitivity to light.

Is ISO the same as ASA film speed?

While older film cameras used “ASA” which was an American standard of measuring light sensitivity of films, it has become an international standard, known as ISO.
So, there’s no difference between ASA and ISO and the numbers have the same speed. For example, ASA 200 film and ISO 200 film have the same sensitivity. However, modern films are less grainy than previous ones.

Final Words

Determining film speed is really important in photography in order to get the best output in any situation. I hope now you know what is the equivalent of film speed in digital cameras.

That sums up the article here. Thanks for reading up to this. Do comment below if you want me to cover more interesting facts about photography.

What Is The Equivalent Of Film Speed In Digital Cameras?

Arif H Fahim

I, Arif H Fahim is a proud camera enthusiast, come with CameraGuider. Here, I write detailed reviews about different camera gears including cameras, lenses, flashes, and tripods.