Thursday, July 10, 2014

ISO Sensitivity (for the Nikon photographer)

I've been a happy user of the Nikon D7000 camera for a couple of years now.  I love learning how to take better photos with my camera.

Most of my learning has come from trial and error as well as reading numerous web pages.  If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have seen my photography boards where I pin web pages that I have read or that I want to read.

The best paid resources I have used and that has been the most help to me is found at Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke.  She has two books (both print and ebook form) for the beginner and intermediate photographer as well as a video workshop.  I have purchased all three and they have been a big help to me!  (I also had the privilege of meeting Kristen and her kiddos when they came through Memphis last week!)

One particular screen in my camera menu has always confused me.  Here it is:


I understand what ISO is for (sensitivity to light -- the higher the number, the more sensitive it is to light) and that it's part of the so-called exposure triangle (along with aperture and shutter speed) used to generate properly exposed photos.  The more available light you have, the less sensitive the ISO needs to be.  For example, if you're outside in bright light, you can most likely use an ISO of 100; the less light you have, the higher the number should be.  The Nikon D7000 has a button marked ISO which you press and then rotate the Main control dial to change the ISO.  Which one is the Main control dial? The one that changes the number.  It's either the front (Aperture) one or the back (shutter speed) one.  Try both and see which one changes the ISO.  (I think it's the front one.)

In the ISO sensitivity settings menu, as shown in the graphic above (which I totally copied from another web page since I don't know how to get screenshots off of my camera),  I couldn't figure out what ISO sensitivity meant in conjunction with the Auto ISO sensitivity control.  "Does that mean it will change the ISO in increments of 100 or whatever number you select?"  The ISO sensitivty selection goes from 100 all the way up to the highest setting available (Hi 2 which is equivalent to ISO of 25600.

The Auto ISO sensitivity control is easy enough to understand.  This setting allows the camera to take over and change the ISO when the current settings will not take a properly-exposed photo.  You can set the maximum sensitivty (the highest ISO that you will let the camera to set) and the minimum shutter speed (the slowest that you want the shutter speed to go).

Well, my confusion was for nought.  I was basically over-analyzing what the menu setting was for.  This webpage explained it to me.  The ISO sensitivity is simply another way of choosing the ISO setting.  That's it.  You can either press the ISO button and turn the Main control dial OR you can go to this menu and select your ISO setting.  I feel kinda dumb that it's that simple, but I also figure there's probably at least one other person in this world who is confused by that as well.

Last week, our family went on vacation to Birmingham to visit with family.  We did lots of fun things, and I actually managed to shoot in manual mode the whole time. (Shooting in manual is not very difficult in theory, but it does take careful observation of several things including ISO and the exposure meter.  I usually prefer to shoot in Aperture mode which is easier for me.)  I have not yet uploaded my photos to my computer, but I am looking forward to seeing how they turned out.  One of the places we went to was the McWane Science Center which is a great museum for all ages.  The only bad thing (from a photography point of view) is that most of the lighting was garbage.  Too dark and wonky white balance.  We also went to the Birmingham Zoo (where I rode a zip line for the first time!!), and I'm confident that (most of) these photos turned out well.

If you want to see any of my photo sessions, please visit my Facebook page for my photography business Over the Mantle Photography.
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1 comment:

  1. I couldn't take indoor photos at all until I figured out how the ISO worked! :) I haven't yet used the Manual mode, but I use Aperture most of the time.