Saturday, June 12, 2010

“What is the best ISO”?

I came across a question on several forums on the internet and I thought I’d have my say! The question, “What is the best ISO”?

I think the question can be best put in context by using the phrase “The Exposure Triangle”. The first time I heard this phrase was on a podcast featuring Syl Arena from PixSylated.com . The relationship between shutter speed, aperture and iso has been an issue serious photographers have been dealing with as long as there have been cameras. Personally I never had a name for it until now.

Like so many aspects of photography I think it’s all relative. Relative to what effect or look you want to achieve. When I shot weddings with film years ago I carried two 35mm cameras, one loaded with iso100 and the other with 400. I also had with me a Mamiya with two backs one with iso100 and the other with 400. I’d shoot iso100 if I could but if I needed a faster shutter speed or a little more dept of field then I went to the 400.

I do agree that the best iso is the lowest but you have to go with the iso that gets you the shot! Take for example,

Harbour Twilight

I had to increase the iso on my 5D2 until I got the shutter speed I needed to still the boats. Had to go to iso2000 and got it with a 0.5 sec ss. I did bracket and tried lower iso’s but this combination of iso and ss worked best. I’ve been down this road before and don’t want to be making the same mistakes of using the lowest iso available. I used to be like that but thankfully I’ve changed.

Here’s another example of setting the iso to give me the shutter speed I need!

the Singer

This was at an indoor show where the lighting was constantly changing and using flash out of the question! I had to go to iso3200 and shoot wide in order to get the shot. I needed a shutter speed to ensure the image was sharp and not blurred. I went with 1/125 second.

In my opinion the best iso is the (lowest) one you can use and get the shot!

All the Best
Brian Carey
Brian Carey Photography