ISO Hunt

So last week, we learned about ISO settings. Basically, telling the camera how to react to the light. A low ISO setting (ISO 80, 100, 200) tells the camera “There’s plenty of light, so don’t worry about it”, while a higher ISO setting (ISO 600, 800, 1600) tells the camera “There’s not much light, so try to be speedy about taking the pic”.

Unlike Aperture, which will let in more or less light through the camera lens, ISO simply tricks the camera into reacting much quicker. There are pros and cons to this, and choosing which one to play with is a science that I’m only just starting to understand.

Our assignment was to take three different ISO shots in two different light settings. I took a few shots at a local aquarium shop (Riverscape Aquiarium) and a few more in a park not too far from home with some friends.

ISO pro:

Bumping up the ISO to get more light maintains a quicker shutter speed (the time it take to actually take the picture), making it possible to capture your kid’s dance recital without using your flash (which isn’t allowed anyway). The fact that the picture is still taken quickly means that what you on the picture is a kid dancing; not a fuzzy blur. In my case, I got pictures of fish, not grey blurs on blue backgrounds…

IMG_2136 IMG_2143IMG_2142

Above are the difference between a slow speed/low ISO shot, a high speed/high ISO (800) shot and a high speed/higher ISO (1600) shot. Of course, these can be worked with to get a better looking fish, but these initial shots are untouched.


This is the middle shot, but retouched to get fishie’s true colour… I’ll get those as original shots soon enough… And when I’m “allowed” to use my flash!
ISO cons:

Having a very high ISO tends to give grainy pictures. The camera is trying to react so quickly to light that it gets periodically confused and may add a few colourful pixels or smudges where they don’t belong. Works wonders to make portraits look like their subjects have really weird and patchy skin tones… Or make my fish models (seen below) look like it’s emanating light.


This is a high speed, high ISO shot (1600) with a lot for the camera to take in… As you can see, the background colour gets grainy around the bottom fish and substrate… A lower ISO would’ve gotten a much more crisp shot; but sadly, the light condition wouldn’t really allow for that, especially without my flash.

I’ll get there eventually… For now, I’m just glad the fish look like fish and not blurry messes!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s