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When to up your ISO!

24 March 2013

ISO, aka, the potential to add grain and noise to your photos. Ha! I bet you can tell how much I love ISO! Just kidding, there is a far greater purpose for ISO, it is just such an over used, misunderstood setting! I hope by the end of this post, you will learn when to use ISO so it enables you to get get a shot you NEED to.

First of all, what is ISO? ISO is actually a measurement of the sensitivity of the image sensor to light. For a more detailed explanation, hop on over to Digital Photography School.  They explain it way better then I ever could!

If you want to skip all the boring details and just want to know what this has to do with YOUR food photos, read on!

I think the golden rule where ISO is concerned is this: keep it as low as possible. The lower your ISO, the smoother the picture will look. Check out these shots:


Do you see the first picture is actually AWFUL! All that noise and grain, yuk! And how SMOOTH the lower ISO picture is?


Here is a close up comparison. Ah - the high ISO makes the first two pictures look ghastly!

Seeing these pictures may make you think - heck, I never want to set my ISO up - EVER! Truth is, ISO can be a good thing! There are some situations where you will need to turn you ISO up.

But when?And how much?

Well, since ISO has to do with the cameras sensitivity to light, when there is not a lot of light around, and you need to get a shot, push your ISO up as far as you need too ( if you have a camera like mine, I don't recommend going over 600 / 800) and take your shot!

HOWEVER, there are better ways to combat low light that will preserve your photo. Like using a tripod or an external flash. I would recommend these over upping your ISO.

Sometimes you just have to weigh your options - is it better to have a lightly grainy picture, or miss that shot because there is not enough light around and you forgot / don't own a tripod? I think it all depends on you, and what you think. I think, when it comes to family and friends,  its better to preserve a memory then to worry about ISO and grain (but I really do feel too much grain and noise ruins a picture and you will proably not use it anyway!), but when it comes to blogging and food, go and get your tripod!

These Chocolate Mugcakes were taken with a rather high ISO, and together with the yellow lightening, make this whole post look a little dull. Looking back I should have just made them and photographed them when there was enough light available. Light can make or break and entire post, a clean, fresh looking photo gives the impression that you are a clean, fresh baker! Your photos are what people see of you!

This is one of the reasons I recommend people don't use the AUTO mode on their camera, as this will most probably adjust ISO to compensate in a low light situation.

So, in conclusion, keep your ISO down and your pictures beautiful!

Till next time!
xxx