When to use low ISO settings: ISO 300 and lower.

Learn more about ISO sensitivity, how it’s measured, and how low ISO values will affect your photos.

The more comfortable you are with your camera, the more you can experiment with new and creative shots. This means switching to manual mode and taking the controls into your own hands, including ISO. Let’s dive into what ISO is and what it means to shoot with a low ISO value.

What does low ISO mean?

ISO is your camera’s sensitivity to light as it pertains to either film or a digital sensor. A lower ISO value means less sensitivity to light, while a higher ISO means more sensitivity. It’s one element of photography’s exposure triangle — along with aperture and shutter speed — and plays an essential role in the quality of your photos.

How is ISO value measured?

Every camera has a range of ISO values, with the lowest number identified as the base ISO (usually around 100). From there, each ISO value on the scale is typically double the previous one, such as: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600. These numbers, however, can vary — your camera might have a base ISO as low as 50 and additional values such as 150 and 300, or 140 and 280.

How does a low ISO affect my photos?

When you use low ISO values such as 300 and lower, generally the result is a higher quality photo. Bright conditions — like shooting outdoors on a sunny day — benefit from lower values. Landscape photography, for example, is very well-suited to low ISO values. They keep photos from looking overly-exposed or washed out.

Another benefit of a low ISO is the lack of graininess or noise in your photos. Every time you raise the ISO, it results in a similar decrease in image quality, which is why photos shot with a high ISO can produce an unwanted grainy effect. Discover great photo tips as you begin to shoot with low ISO settings and more.

Then, explore everything you can do with Adobe Lightroom to help you edit raw images into stunning photos.