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Exposure

ISO Sensibility

The third way to increase the amount of light captured in the image is by telling the camera to use a higher ISO sensibility, so the sensor reacts more to the light that it receives.

Most cameras allow you to change this parameter in full stops. Defining quantity of light = 1 with ISO 100 in a completely arbitrary manner, the following table shows how much light is allowed in with some common ISO options:

ISO 10020040080016003200
light1 2 4 8 16 32


The problem with increasing the amount of light captured in the image by increasing the ISO is that this amplifies the noise in the image: whereas at ISO 100 or 200 images are usually quite clean, with higher ISO values you'll get progressively more noise, specially in shadows and in plain color areas (like a wall or a night sky). How bad this is will depend on the camera, so do your own tests and evaluate how much you can increase ISO before noise becomes a problem for you.




With my current camera, looking at a 100% crop of the image,
the amount of noise at ISO 100 and ISO 1600 is the following:
  



But we hardly ever look at pixels one by one. If I first rescale the image
to 1920x1280 and then I do the 100% crop, the difference
is still visible but much smaller:
  




(if you see no difference between the first two images, you probably have your monitor badly set up; the best option would be to use a monitor calibrator, but if you don't have one at hand you can start with this)

Usually, higher-end cameras, cameras with bigger sensors, and more modern cameras, will allow you to increase ISO to higher levels with smaller noise problems.





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