ok…so…how you doing with ISO?

So, you’re thinking about taking some pics? And you want them to be good. And we’re working on it, one. step. at. a. time. ok?

Ready for a few more ISO tips?

The higher you raise your ISO, the grainier the picture will be. That’s not always bad…it’s just something to know and be aware of. So, on your SLR camera, there will be a difference between and ISO of 200 and an ISO of 1600. Nothing awful but just more grain in your picture and not quite as perfect and clear.

Here are a couple of examples. This picture below was taken at an ISO of 640. At 640, there is very little grain in the picture. It’s pretty clear and sharp.

This picture below was taken inside at an ISO of 6400. Pay attention to that number, it’s not the same one as the picture above. There’s an extra zero there. 6400. Now look at the grain in the picture. Grain is not a bad thing. Sometimes it adds a fantastic effect.

Do you see the texture, or grain, or little tiny dots in the picture? That’s due to a high ISO. Now I’m shooting with Canon’s 5D Mark II and truthfully, it does a fantastic job with grain. I’m not sure how grainy your images will look on your camera that you’re using. But play around with it. I like some grain in certain situations. And I sure like being able to shoot in low light without a flash. That’s fabulous!

So, ISO affects two things really… (in my brain and in my camera, not anything from webster’s dictionary)…

One, it can allow your pictures to be brighter or darker. The higher the ISO, the brighter your picture will be.
Two, it can add grain to your picture. The higher the ISO, the more grain (texture) your picture will have.

The reason I feel this is a good thing to be aware of, is because you don’t necessarily always want to shoot your ISO up high. It does help and is a good thing to learn to adjust your ISO. But I don’t always shoot at 6400 ISO. My pictures would always have grain in them. Sometimes that’s not the look I’m going for.

I’m curious, how high does the ISO on your camera go up to? And what camera are you shooting with? Leave it in the comment section.


  1. Candi Lapa on January 26, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    I have a Nikon D50. ISO goes to 1600. I’ve been playing some with this, but plan to do more this week-end. Still not real comfortable off auto! I’ve taken some really awful pics…!!!

  2. Jamie Leach on February 4, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Canon Powershot SD790 IS Digital ELPH and Powershot S5 IS -both ISO up to 1600. Getting a little more brave in manual mode, glad u explained the graininess of higher ISO, thought I was doing something wrong:)

  3. Kirsten on February 18, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    I have a Nikon D70s. The ISO goes to 1600. Thanks so much for your blog! I am a photo student taking a portraiture class in OC. I’ve learned more from your blog than 3 weeks of class. You photographed my neices, Claire and Ruby. Very inspiring!! They were gorgeous photos!!

  4. Amelia Freshwater on April 25, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I have a Canon Rebel. I’ve had it for 6 years now and am excited to finally learn how to use it to it’s full potential! My ISO goes up to 1600.

  5. Lisa on January 25, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Looks like my Rebel T1i goes to 3200. Looks like I have some learning to do ~ so much fun!

  6. R.J. on January 26, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I have a rebel T2I and if I use ISO expansion i can go as hi as 12,800. It adds A LOT of noise to the picture though.