Your guide to mastering ISO, aperture size, and shutter speed.
The three pillars of exposure are ISO, aperture size, and shutter speed. Learn how to use your camera’s manual settings to capture the best image.
Modern digital cameras provide sophisticated automatic modes for use in a variety of scenarios. While auto-mode is a great place to start capturing great shots right away, learning to control exposure manually will open creative options that auto settings can’t match.
Many newer cameras offer aperture priority and shutter priority modes if you’re not yet ready for full-manual mode. These semi-automatic modes allow you to control either the aperture or shutter manually while the camera chooses the appropriate setting for the other control.
ISO, which stands for International Standards Organization, originally referred to the light-gathering ability of film. For digital photography, ISO refers to the signal gain of the camera’s sensor or the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor to light. When your shot calls for a shallow depth-of-field and a large aperture with a fast shutter speed, adjusting the ISO setting may be necessary.
Like the pupil in a human eye, the aperture in a camera adjusts to control how much light passes through. A large aperture will allow more light to pass through and decrease the depth of field — the range within which objects will be in focus. Conversely, a smaller aperture will create a large depth of field.
To avoid a blurred picture, your camera’s shutter speed should match the speed of what you are shooting. Most sports photography, for example, is shot at a high shutter speed — often 1/500 and higher.
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