Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Want to talk about ISO? No? How bout now? Part 1 of Manual Camera Settings.

In the interest of helping those around me, I'm going to try to explain some of the knobby-dos and buttons on your camera. Yea, it's all been done thoroughly on the web, and there are some places I love to reference. Just ask me and I'll be more than happy to tell you who I like.

First and most importantly ... your camera's manual is your bestest friend. Read it. A lot. Over and over. Keep it handy for reference.
After that, you just have to practice with your camera. try stuff out. go nuts. play. One camera is good at 100 - 600, while another starts to give noise at 400 or 500. You have to see what works with your camera, and ALL it's settings. Just one setting is not going to make your life easier. Unless you're happy with full auto, but if you were, you wouldn't think about manual at all now would you? No reason to spend money on a big DSLR if you're just going full auto all the time, now is there? Of course not. NOW.

When you play with the ISO, you will have to adjust everything else. This is just part of the puzzle.

Who wants to talk about ISO? Show of hands? yeah, that's what I thought.
Me either. BUT, it's one of those things if you're going to go full manual on your camera, you're going to have to learn about sooner or later.
First off, lets see what the holy Hades it is first.
In traditional, old fashioned photography it was how sensitive the film itself was to light. Most of us would buy 100 or 200 ISO when we would load up the old 35mm. The higher numbers were more expensive, if memory serves. The lower the number, the less 'noise' or grain was in the picture.
SO, if you have plenty of light, you're looking for crisp pictures, you have a tripod and your focus is on something/one that is still ISO 100 is perfect.
You'd go for a higher number if you wanted  a little grain, it was darker, no tripod or your little model won't quit moving.
I remember my Dad explaining it to me that if you were taking action shots, you'd use a higher ISO, or a 'faster' film. Worked for me pretty well in the past. However, with the new digital cameras, the capabilities are so much more. your ISO is just a tiny part of an incredibly advanced piece of machinery. And it makes me dizzy sometimes thinking of what this little camera is capable of. Awesome stuff.

So, there's my quick thoughts on that setting.

ISO is a very integral part of the manual setting. You can't over look it, you'll regret it if you do.
Keep it in mind, know how your camera works, and try a few different settings on the same picture. Just practice when it doesn't count so that when it does, you'll have a better handle on what you're doing.

If you want sharp images, keep it as low as possible.
I would live in 100ISO if I could, but you need to turn it up from time to time. Just remember that your frame will have a lot more noise in it when you do.
Here are a few places I've been forced to turn up the ISO:

Kid's birthday parties -- gotta turn it up a titch to get that special moody dark background and the candle lit glow.
Indoor Sporting Arenas --- MSU Stallion EXPO is a great example. What a great venue -- but flamin' hell was it darker than I thought it would be once I snapped the shot. Sure seemed light enough, but then .... on review, it was NOT. Still ended up with some neat shots of that one though. Just remember, because it seems bright enough for you does NOT mean your camera 'sees' it the same way. Thank GOD for digital
Deer Blind - - yes, I've taken my digital love out in the woods. Here's the kick, I hate a flash anyhow, but when it has the potential to scare off deer, I hate it more. Oh, and the woods get dark quick when you're in a  'hole'.

Here is a visual on the grain for you.

On the left, is 100 ISO. On the right is 3200 ISO. NOT my photos. I was too lazy to take my own of this one. That, and the kids were bouncing off each other.

Next time .... Aperture!