Camera Photography ISO


ISO Photography definition is explained as one of the third components of camera shutter speed explained, defined aperture photography in Camera Photography ISO.

Camera Photography ISO


After checking out my other two posts “Camera Shutter Speed Explained” and “Define Aperture Photography” this is the third and final component that is affected by your settings for controlling the amount of light to take quality photographs.


ISO = Sensor Sensitivity


The ISO is how sensitive your image sensor in your camera is to light. The higher the ISO value, the more sensitive the camera’s sensor will be to the light requiring less light. Just as we have the higher settings you also have the lower the ISO; the less sensitive your camera’s sensor is going to be to the light so the more you will require.

On digital cameras, ISO refers to an artificial boost to the signal of what the sensor has for light. There is not a pure light but rather an amplified light that simulates the same kind of response as a film that gets exposed to light when creating a negative. Both forms of cameras eccentrically operate the same to accomplish the result to reproduce an image. So even though we capture the method differently, the concept is the same.



You could look at ISO as:


Lower Numbersphotograph of camera photography ISO


  • Will give you much richer colours for any photograph reproduction
  • You will also find less noise with a cleaner nicer blending or crispness of colours.


Higher Numbers


  • Dull colours will usually result as the ISO numbers increase
  • The result of these higher numbers will create more noise the higher you go



When to use High or Low ISO


During bright days or well-lit areas, your camera will require a lower ISO than darker indoor or outdoor time of day going into the evening where you would require more ISO. Ideally you would try to take all your pictures with an ISO of 400 or less. The problem usually arises that you will need to increase the ISO when dealing with photographs when taken indoors and while losing daylight. The Higher ISO causes a graininess from letting into much light that is called noise that reduces the picture quality and causes the dulling effect on colours do to the lower light conditions.


When using your camera on auto, you can set the max ISO number that you will allow your camera to go. Of course, this would be something you would experiment with as each type of camera would allow a different number of settings according to the kind of model and quality of the camera that you’re using. By this, some cameras would be able to offer a good quality photograph at a much higher ISO number compared to others.


You can use auto ISO depending on your camera in a couple of ways for setting up your ISO number. Even though the digital cameras these days are pretty good at choosing all the settings for you to get your shot a lot of auto ISO settings for indoors and darker lighting have a tendency to be off.


photograph of photography ISO comparison


Manually setting your ISO


  • Nowadays a lot of digital cameras give you an ISO button you can simply click on and see your ISO setting in the control panel, from there to change your setting you just rotate the command dial to the left or right to raise or lower your ISO setting.
  • You can go into the menu for most cameras where you can call up the ISO to manually adjust the settings for your number selection through the cameras monitor.


In the manual, you will usually find you can get better results from your camera due to the control you have over your camera when you adjust your settings.


To get a more detailed look at where and how some of the different camera models will allow you to access to change for the ISO you can go to my site at Best Nikon Cameras.” Here you can choose different models to see videos that will feature different models for the parts of the camera and many other features that you would find in a high-end manual.



As mentioned at the beginning of this post about the three main components, when you increase your shutter speed you will also need to increase ISO to have less light coming in to avoid your pictures from getting overexposed. Below is a chart that shows the relationship of these three components working together.


photograph of ISO photography chart


So as you can see from the picture above the camera photography ISO works in correlation with the shutter speed and aperture settings in the creation of your photographs. As you change the value of one it will reflect on the other two, so whether you work your camera manually or us auto these three settings will always be tied together to control the amount of light you let in the cameras sensor. To get more on ISO photography definition and other photography tips and tricks showing you everything you need to know about using your camera, you can go and receive hundreds of free tutorials from my website.


Click here to go to “Free Photography Courses Online.”



” Hi once again, I’m Travis Smithers author of Say It With Photographs where you will find tutorials on photography, editing software, cameras and accessories. The use of post production equipment and their operation to the creation of fantastic gifts for you, friends and family, enjoy. Comments and questions always welcomed here!




  1. I love this site. Myself and my husband recently started to do a little travelling and I was given a new camera for Mothers Day. I am still trying to figure out how to use it. The information on this site is helping tremendously. I will be coming back. Just trying to figure out what all the symbols mean has been overwhelming.

    • Travis Smithers

      Hi Brenda and thanks for the visit, glad to hear how much this site has been able to help you. There are many you how to get the most from your camera. You will find that from the lessons for cleaning and proper care of your camera to understanding the full capacity of what your camera is capable of, will help you become a better photographer and make your time taking pictures so much easier and fun.

  2. I didn’t know about this functionality in my digital camera before. I just click here and there. Lol. I am glad I came to know about this. Now I understand its use. I wish I could have know this before, my pictures would have been a lot better. Thanks for this info. – Chris

    • Travis Smithers

      Well the good news Chris is know you know and knowing is half the battle. As you refresh with what you know and learn more you will be able to take better photographs every time. With technology today the cameras keep getting better but the basics are still the same so you will be able to get as good as you want. I have free courses if your interested for Photography Tips & Tutorials

  3. ” Say it with photographs” just says it all. the layout and presentation is good Mr. Travis. it even teaches people how to make money with photographs. someone who is interested in cameras and pictures will find this website very inspiring. it is really good and says it all in photographs. good work

    • Travis Smithers

      My goal is to help anybody looking to get better at photography right up to the post production stage where they can create fantastic gifts for friends and family if they like. Some one can jump in at any stage along the way depending on what they want or may want to learn, the choice is always there to come and go and learn what they want.

  4. Francesca Etheart

    Hello Tsmithers Francesca here. First of all I’ll like to say I love your website! The idea of telling your story with pictures is truly engaging. I love to take pictures and express myself. You have some beautiful pictures on your site. It makes me want to go out there and take some beautiful pictures. Furthermore I like that you have tutorials on how to take pictures. I’m sure some people could truly benefit from the training. Yes myself included. Overall I love your site. Good luck to you in your business endeavors.

    • Travis Smithers

      Why thank you Francesca glad you liked the site, always looking to help others out and if others can have as much fun or more than I have with what you can do with photographs and photography thats great. I like the idea of having a bit of one stop shop where you can find all the key components from taking pictures to the end results of post production with special creations from ones photographs. That was the motive behind the site to share the fun of creation that can be had by all to whatever level you choose to take it.

  5. TheDopestMatrix

    SO when you use low ISO in daylight the pictures come out a lot better, and reverse for nightime right? Just trying to make sure I comprehend what I’m learning!

    Does every camera have ISO settings? What about smartphones/ iphone? I would love to be able to shoot higher quality photos from my iphone 6 if I could,even though it’s already quite magnificent!

    Matt TheDopestMatrix

    • Travis Smithers

      You are correct with what you are learning from the post about how the ISO works.

      All cameras today will use an auto feature for ISO some better and more settings depending on the make and model but not all offer you manual control to make your own settings.

      Todays cell phones also use an auto feature for ISO and yes you better phone you are using also has an option to manually set your ISO. On my Samsung III once I’m in camera mode it is located top left in settings. Each phone that is capable will have all its features that you can change in the settings will in camera mode.

      Happy photo shoot!

  6. ISO is a very important tool in photography. I always try to keep my ISO on the lowest setting witch is usually ISO 100. However with low lighting this is sometimes impossible to do.

    In my many years in photography I found that another way to make a subject lighter or darker is by using the exposure compensation button. By doing this instead of using a larger ISO number you will get a clearer image no increase in noise.

    Do you have any opinions on this?

    • Travis Smithers

      I definitely agree with you about keeping the ISO as close to 100 for keeping the photographs as clear as possible as a lot of Photographers usually like to do.

      Camera flashes have become so important to increase the amount of light by designing the flashes with pivoting heads so you can try to have better control with where you introduce the light in respect to your subject to help off set when in the darker situations. In most cases you do not have the time or luxury to set up lights or adjust a mountable flash for most pictures.

      Your concept of exposure compensation tends to work better in most cases for this situation so long as you can take a picture see the results then make your adjustment to re-shoot and see it you have the effect you want. Chances are once you’ve got your setting if there is no major light sources altering the area you are in, you could now take multiple photographs and the same setting should be good for that time period. But I do find you have to make periodic checks as you go to make sure the overall lighting is still good for your setting your using.

      Now a days with digital cameras having the exposure compensation feature I think its great.

  7. I was really interested in this site as I am in the same niche. I was really taken by the amount of information you have. You have most bases covered and give in- depth coverage of each of the subjects. Overall, a great site, but I just wonder if there maybe is too much going on overall..

    • I have heard from some people like yourself that feel there is a little to much information and have some that what more. Most people like the amount and look for further updates. It really comes down to what you want to know and I have separated the main tutorials into 5 different sub domains so far to make it easier for people to pick and choose the areas that they want most.

      When I use to work in the shop creating photos and taking them to the final post production phase there is a very large learning curve to encompass everything the way the shop was run. So most people can learn what they want when they want in the order they want for what they would like to do. Hope that helps clarify a few things for you for what this site is about.

  8. Hi there,

    I came across this post doing a search on lighting for my camera. I am wanting to get started in possibly taking classes on photography but anything I can learn on my own or by doing research is always welcome.

    Thank you for sharing this informative article. I believe this will help me get started.

    • Hi Tanya and glad this article was of some help to you. I also have some free online courses that you can certainly check out if you like. They cover a full range on everything from how to clean your gear to how to take photos for many different occasions at tips and tutorials.

  9. Hey! Great post you have created here.
    Thi is very nice info on photography, many of us don’t know how to properly set up our cameras and we get some horrible photos, especially my wife:)
    I’m sure many people will find this article useful and interesting as I did.
    Thanks for sharing this and have a great day!
    Cheers and good luck

    • That’s the great thing I like about the Internet where you can track down and find the information you may be looking for. I created this site to start bringing as much information to one spot as I can within reason to help others find what they are looking for without having to spend so much time surfing when it comes to photographs for post production and photography.

  10. Hey Travis,

    Great article, who knew there was so much that went into taking pictures!

    I usually take pictures with my cellphone, is the ISO setting adjustable on cell phone cameras? Or would there be an app that you could use to tweak it? I always see a lot of cell phone reviews that go into camera specifics, not good in low light or colours are too bright etc, perhaps that would be a million dollar app idea to create an app that could alter that, or is that fixed into your camera software as well?

    Thanks for the informative post!

    Freedom Weight Loss

    • You can actually make adjustments to your cell phone when taking photos. The big thing to remember is that the camera in your cell phone does not have the quality that is found in actual cameras sold for the sake of just photographs. Also at present cell photos only take pictures in jpg format and not raw. I would have to say though, with all the advancements in technology a lot of people could simply just use there cell phones for taking pictures. The cell phones being made today can take very nice pictures in a lot of different situations.

      Cameras will take pictures in more locations and better quality if you need them.

  11. Hey! Great post you have created here.
    I have bookmarked it and will be coming back for more:) I have photography based business and this type of info is what I just needed. I make photos on wood for costumers.
    I’m sure many people will find this article useful and interesting as I did.
    Thanks for sharing this and have a great day!
    Cheers and good luck

    • Good hearing from you and I really like the fact that you do post production with photographs on wood. I have seen some really great looking transfers and imprints with photos to wood and they make fantastic gifts and items to have in your home etc. that really make a statement. Good luck with your business and thanks for stopping by.

  12. Hi Travis! You explained this perfectly, I understood everything and I consider myself a real beginner. I love photography, I don’t have some good machine but it is great to have this information since one day I will get one 😀 Thank you so much, great lesson! I saw you have some courses, will check them out!

    • It is always good to hear when a post can help somebody and by all means the tutorials are for anyone who would like to check them out. You will actually see that you get access to all five sub-domain sites for free tutorials to check out and learn from anything you wish to take a look at. Hope you enjoy!

  13. I don’t know much about photography, but I have worked with several photographers over the years. I used to be a sponsored skateboarder and I would travel a lot and work with different photographers from different places. I really like their approach to photography and how passionate they all seemed to be. I was never the man behind the lens, but the man in front of the lens. I gotta say though I was always interested in photography and how to work these cameras because it seemed very complicated, however you made it seem a little less complicated with this post. Much appreciated!

    • I find with most things, that when you’re on the outside looking in, things can look to be complicated. When you, actually get into doing it yourself, or learning how to do it, you tend to find it gets easier. Things I find, always seem complicated when we have no understanding of how they do it. Once we take the time to learn about something and how it’s done, we tend to find it’s not so complicated after all.

      So take your time and check out whatever you like on the site, You’ll soon discover that photography doesn’t need to be all that complicated once you start learning what the pros know.

  14. I love how far you go into discussing ISO and how it works. The photos are beautiful and thank you so much for posting a way to take photography courses for free.

    I have always loved to take pictures, but have never been all that great at it and I have always wanted to learn how to take better photos. This site is a perfect place for me to go to get that started and to find out more about photography.

    Thank you

    • Photography can certainly be a lot of fun and you can do some great things with the photos you take to create some fantastic things and products. You’ll find from the newsletter all the latest updates and get full access to the tutorial websites that will show you videos from photography to post production and everything inbetween.

      So have fun and enjoy what you’re capable of doing with photography.

  15. Good morning,
    This is such a great detailed explanation on ISO! I had no idea. I have a Nikon D40 entry level DSLR which I love, but so far am only brave enough to use it on auto! Maybe I need to get it out and muck around with the settings a bit as I can see the benefits in getting your ISO levels just right!
    Thanks for the info!

    • Travis Smithers

      Glad you like the post and you’ll find that your camera does and will take great looking photos.

      he beautiful thing about having digital cameras over the older film cameras is you can spend lots of time changing up your settings to experiment without having to pay lots of money for development. Load the pictures on your computer and check the results out.

      So take your time and have some fun experimenting and there are plenty of other posts and videos to show you more features on what and how to do things with your camera.

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