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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

DSLR Tutorials – Low Light and ISO

DSLR Tutorials – Low Light and ISO

When filming wildlife photography in the early morning or in the late afternoon, you are shooting in low light situations. When you're shooting in low light situations or when you need a faster shutter speed, a boost in ISO is the way to go.

ISO measures the sensitivity of a camera's light sensor.

Higher ISO (ISO 400 or 800) = The light sensor is working harder and needs less light to record an image. This is used to get a faster shutter speed (to avoid camera shake) and to freeze a moving target. Higher ISO can cause "noise," where the image looks grainy. "Noise" may also cause the overall colors to look dull.

Lower ISO (100 or 200) = The light sensor is not working as hard and there needs to be more light. TIP: Unless you are shooting in low light, your subject is moving, and/or a tripod is impossible to use, then go with your camera's lowest ISO number (100 or 200).

ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/350 s
(click on image for larger version)
ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/4000 s
(click on image for larger version)

Comparison of both images.
This is a crop of a small section of
each image displayed at 100%.
The top portion was shot at 100 ISO,
the bottom portion at 1600 ISO.

A good rule-of-thumb to follow with a Digital Camera is to try not to go over ISO 400.
For DSLR cameras you can usually go higher, with some models showing good results even up to 1600. This all depends on your camera. I would suggest to go out in the early morning or late at night and test your camera's ISO by taking multiple pictures at different ISO and then comparing them.

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