29 Jan 2019

Auto ISO: The Thrill of Victory

by Pat Graham (Course Tutor)

One of the most exciting things to learn about photography when you're starting out is how shooting in manual mode can give you some stunning results. Using a wide-open aperture will result in a beautifully blurred background, while shooting with extremely fast shutter speed allows you to freeze a child in flight bouncing up and down on a trampoline. These techniques are extremely fun to experiment with, so let's take a look at how they're done.


How is it possible to capture a fast-moving subject, or a spontaneous moment in a creative way?

The answer is simple: auto ISO.

Digital cameras allow us to shoot at an extremely high ISO setting. With this in mind, the ISO setting becomes less critical to the actual image being taken. If we look at the exposure triangle, we realise how aperture and shutter speed can both add something very interesting to the image. However, ISO doesn’t really do much apart from add a bit of digital noise, perhaps, or a grain if it’s turned up too high.

When shooting in auto ISO, your camera will appear to be in manual mode. You can adjust the shutter speed and aperture while the camera automatically chooses the ISO to give the optimum exposure.


Know your camera

It’s good to know what the maximum ISO of your camera is. For example, my camera does well up to ISO 3200. With this in mind, I set my auto ISO so the camera can’t exceed 3200. Now I can adjust my aperture and shutter speed without worrying whether the exposure will be correct or not.

Knowing your camera's abilities is amazing. Some cameras force the user to dig deep within a complicated menu simply to switch apertures. This is not helpful especially when you’ve been hired to photograph a concert or fast-moving sporting event. By using auto ISO you will give yourself time to capture the shot and ensure that it not only lives in your memory but in your camera too.


No regrets

I’ve used the auto ISO technique hundreds of times when shooting bands, football, dogs, fast-moving children. If you’re shooting anything that moves quickly or don’t have a lot of time to fiddle with your camera, try using auto ISO. You will not regret the creative freedom it gives you.

Let us know how you get on using auto ISO in the comments section below.