What is ISO in Photography

ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed form the Exposure Triangle which plays a vital role in creating the desired photograph.

Exposure Triangle

ISO sensitivity is a measure of the camera’s potential to capture light. One of the photography basics, ISO helps to darken or brighten an image.

It is displayed as ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600, ISO 3200 and ISO 6400. As you increase the ISO number, the brightness of your images will also increase and vice versa. However, the highest and lowest ISO number will vary depending on the DSLR camera you are using.

But, remember – using a very high ISO can affect the quality of the photograph; the resulting image can be grainy/noisy. Most of the photographers set ISO at 100 (standard ISO) to create great pictures with little to no noise. Although, latest DSLR cameras allow very little noise even at a higher ISO number.

We bring you ‘Jo & His Camera’ Comic Strips wherein a Magical Camera gives DSLR photography tutorials to Jo.

To understand ISO, Click on the Image below to see the Comic wherein the Camera explains Jo, the concept of ISO.


Wondering how to decide on the ISO settings? Here’s how.

ISO 100/ ISO 200: Under clear skies and bright day.

ISO 400: Under cloudy skies and for bright indoor scenes.

ISO 800: Early evening and for dimly lit scenes.

ISO 1600: Outdoor scenes at night and for dark indoor scenes.

ISO 3200/ ISO 6400: For photographing city streets at night.

To understand ISO Settings, Click on the Image below to see the Comic wherein Jo experiments with different ISO Settings and succeeds in mastering ISO.


For example, in case of Bird Photography – if you are using a faster shutter speed of 1/1000 sec (to freeze the movement) and a smaller aperture f/9, then less light will enter the camera’s sensor; so, to balance the exposure – you will have to increase the ISO from 100 to 400.

Moon Photography

In case of Moon photography, if you are using very slow shutter speed to capture the image, then a tripod is recommended to avoid camera shake. But, if you aren’t carrying a tripod, and if you are using a faster shutter speed of say 1/400 sec and a smaller aperture f/11, then less light will enter the camera’s sensor; so, for correct exposure – you will have to increase the ISO to 400 or above.

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When you do photography: Remember the 5E’s – Explore, Experiment, Experience, Enjoy & Express.  

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