Why a Low ISO Isn't Always the Right Choice for the Best Photos

A lower ISO means less noise, greater dynamic range, and better image quality. As such, a lower ISO is almost always preferable — almost. ISO is only one of the three exposure parameters, and if you do not consider it in tandem with them, it can seriously affect your image quality. This excellent video tutorial will show you why you should not be afraid to raise your ISO when the situation calls for it. 

Coming to you from Jan Wegener, this great video tutorial will show you why being willing to embrace high ISOs is so crucial for a range of scenarios. A common mistake beginners make is keeping their ISO too low in an attempt to raise image quality and, as a consequence, using too slow a shutter speed for the action at hand or the focal length in use. This then results in blurry images. The important thing to remember is that while you can do a lot to reduce the noise in a high-ISO image (especially with modern software), there is not much you can do to save a shot that is blurry because of camera shake or subject motion. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Wegener. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Milan Svítek's picture

Remember kids, noise is usually easier to clean up than blur.

Mike Shwarts's picture

I don't mind blur in the wings of a flying bird. If body is pretty sharp, then the blurred wings give a sense of motion.

Milan Svítek's picture

I also like a bit of blur in the wings. You still usually have to get the shutter speed high enough to freeze the body though. And that's tough for some birds at base ISO even on a good bright day at f/2.8 😅

Patrick Hall's picture

Unless I have to use ISO for a very specific purpose, I rarely if ever consider the consequences of raising it up "too high" now. Back in my dad <insert old man voice>, anything over ISO 800 was pure crap even with flash. Now, you can literally shoot near the max limit of your camera and it looks fine. If you have good lighting, it's even less of an issue now.