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Selecting the Proper ISO

A lower ISO setting generally translates into cleaner images and more accurate color reproduction. Shooting at the native ISO of ISO 100 whenever possible will ensure the best quality. But there will be times when you will need to increase your ISO to get a properly exposed image—particularly in low-light situations such as shooting landscapes or streetscapes at night. Be aware that higher ISOs can add noise that can detract from both the color quality and the finer details of an image. While you always want to preserve as much detail as possible, shooting in low light often comes down to a tradeoff between noise and sharpness. You’re looking for the best compromise (Figures 8.4 and 8.5).

Figure 8.4

Figure 8.4 This handheld shot of the Empire State Building at sunset was taken at a moderate ISO of 800 to prevent camera movement.

ISO 800 • 1/60 sec. • f/5.6 • 35mm lens

Figure 8.5

Figure 8.5 When the image is enlarged, it remains sharply detailed without apparent noise.

Even with continual improvements to in-camera noise reduction, using the lowest ISO possible for landscape photography is ideal. With a good tripod in tow, you’ll find little need to shoot above ISO 100.

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