Have You Discovered The Power Of Auto ISO Yet?

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Have You Discovered The Power Of Auto ISO Yet-
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Exposure In Photography

Exposure, it's the most important factor in any photo. End of statement.

For many of us, our exposures are made up of a combination of shutter speed and aperture. Of course, there is one other important factor exposure and that is ISO.

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It's often neglected as we are looking for the ultimate quality and that leads us to set our ISO at base – usually 100 or 200 – and try to forget about it. The thing is though, modern cameras are so good at controlling noise that we can get great images all the way up to 3200 ISO with very little noise in them.

Because of this, we should be considering ISO as an important way of controlling exposure. There is a way we can control ISO automatically, like shutter priority and aperture priority. It’s called, not surprisingly, Auto ISO and it can be a brilliant addition to our exposure armoury, especially when shooting in tricky or low light conditions.

Getting your light-skill fundamentals down to (almost) perfection, you're going to have to study some and practice a lot! Fear not, our friends over at Photzy have a remedy to ease your worried mind. This CourseUnderstanding Light” is a resource to share with you how to unleash powerful images, incorporating light seamlessly & effectively into your photography.

What Is Auto ISO?

Auto ISO allows us to set specific parameters on how ISO interacts with shutter speed. It is present on virtually all modern cameras and as well as having a fully automatic setting it also allows us to set a both a minimum shutter speed and maximum aperture.

How It Works In-Camera

When shooting in one of the automatic modes, shutter or aperture priority or program the Auto ISO function will monitor your exposure. If the light levels start to fall, so will your shutter speed, if that shutter speed reached the minimum that you have set, it will start to increase the ISO to give you the correct exposure.





It will do that all the way up to the maximum ISO that you have set then warn you that you need to change.

Auto ISO is very useful in rapidly changing light conditions. By Aurimas

Why Would I Use Auto ISO?

There are times when the light is changing so fast that it's just impossible to keep up. For example: You might be shooting a wedding where the bride and groom are constantly moving in and out of shadows, or a sports event where one side of the stadium is in deep shadow.

When your subjects are in that shade, either your aperture or shutter speed is going to have to let more light in. Your aperture will only open up to its maximum aperture and if your shutter speed falls too low, you could introduce camera shake or too much motion blur to action shots.

In these situations, you would set the minimum shutter speed suit the lens you are using so that you prevent camera shake. You would set the ISO to the highest that you are comfortable using.

Carl Downing

How Do I Set Up Auto ISO?

On most cameras, there is a setting within the shooting menu that allows you to predefine the Auto ISO criteria. You will find on most cameras you can access the general ISO settings either from a dial or a combination of button and dial. As well as the standard ISO settings, 100, 200, 400 etc, you will also see the option for Auto ISO.

Some cameras go one better than this and add Auto ISO to their custom settings. This means you can set up a number of different shooting styles each with their own Auto ISO settings.

Examples For Auto ISO Usage:

  • A low light wedding option using a 24-70 f2.8. Here you might set the minimum shutter speed to be 1/60th of a second to counter the weight of the 24-70 and a maximum ISO of 800 to maximise image quality.
  • For a sports, action setting you might be using a 300mm 2.8 and so set a minimum shutter of 1/500th but allow a much higher ISO of 3200 to ensure you get the shot. Assigning these to custom settings allows you to quickly switch between modes.

Auto ISO allows you to concentrate on getting the shot. By Soe Lin

To Summarize: Should I Use It Or Not?

That’s entirely up to you and the way you shoot. I personally leave it off in general but have it set to custom modes for when I am shooting a low-light shot without a tripod. Leaving it on all the time you are at risk of getting noisier images even if you were aiming for the best quality.

Auto ISO is an extremely useful addition to the tools we use in our photography – often not fully discovered.

It is not the be all and end all of shooting, but in low light and tricky conditions, it can remove one of the decisions we have to make and allow us to concentrate on getting the composition right.

Getting your light-skill fundamentals down to (almost) perfection, you're going to have to study some and practice a lot! Fear not, our friends over at Photzy have a remedy to ease your worried mind. This CourseUnderstanding Light” is a resource to share with you how to unleash powerful images, incorporating light seamlessly & effectively into your photography.

Further Resources

About the author

Jason Row

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here

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