Home > Photo Tips > 02- ISO- The Confusing Third Variable- Part 2

02- ISO- The Confusing Third Variable- Part 2

Now that we understand the quality drop that comes with high ISO settings why would we bother with them?

Well, we don’t always have the option of shooting at low ISO. Let’s say we are shooting our son’s hockey game and the arena is a little bit dark. We are shooting at ISO 100 with the aperture opened up as far it goes to let in the most light possible but it just isn’t good enough. In order to get the proper exposure the shutter has remain open for too long. Since our kid is clearly the fastest skater on the ice he is always blurry. What now?

We need a faster shutter speed. That means we need to keep the shutter open for less time. In this case the faster the better. How do we do this?

Higher ISO.

Sure this means we get more grain added to the picture but there isn’t much point in having a really high quality picture if it is all blurred out. So we compromise.

Here is a sample of how ISO affects the shutter speed and therefore the action in the photo. I shot this series in Aperture Priority Mode and left the aperture constant. As I raise the ISO you can see the action get clearer.

ISO 100- Very little grain but you can’t see the ball.

ISO 400- getting better

ISO 800- not quite there yet

ISO 1600- grainy but we can see the ball

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