What is ISO - Yeah what is that thing? 

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My prefered settings File Format Color White balance EXIF ISO What is ISO High ISO Equipment

ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. For photographers it really means nothing unless you look at the ISO/TC 42 photography page in the ISO web site. If you are an egg head, by all means google it and have a blast.

For regular folks like you and I it is a simple number that tells us what a film was capable of in term of sensitivity. It was a strict definition and it worked regardless of the film manufacturer.

If I type the above there is a reason: ISO means, well, who knows. It is a scale whose definition differs depending on the camera manufacturer. This in turns means that the old hand-held light-meters and flash-meters need to be calibrated to reflect the changes. I am not saying 'good luck with that' but I am typing it.

The ISO number indicates that you are using your camera in a sensor sensitivity setting that can go from 25 to more than 1m* in some models. Because we are dealing with sensors that uses photons in order to create electons that in turn are used to create a binary number, this gets complex real fast so why trying to bother understanding that stuff anyway?

I most certainly do not but a minimal understanding is needed as your capture quality depends on it.  Each sensor has an optimal ISO setting.  Too low a number photons get lost and too high and the sensor starts creating ghost photons**!!! (Not mentioning the pixels that fail in both cases)

The only way for you to know what the optimal setting is to experiment. For my Nikon D800e I get my best optimal results at about 200 ISO. Since it is hard to see a difference between 100~800 let's just say it is within that range.


* As per the new Nikon D5 and D500

** For lack of better word like signal noise

Last page update: 04/07/2016

It is not what you know that is important, how you use it is.

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