Photography Nitty Gritty: ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed

Since my Samsung s8 got broken, I’ve relied heavily on my Sony RX100, which unexpectedly turned out to be a blessing that I finally picked up a real camera and learned some photography instead of relying on built-in parameters on my phone. While surfing YouTube for some photography basics, I stumbled across a guy called David Manning; he explained three major components of photography that are ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.

Skip the intro at 0:56.


What is ISO?

ISO is the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor. The higher the number, the more sensitive to light the camera’s sensor will be, vice versa. However, best to keep the ISO as low as possible because the higher the ISO, the more noise and artifacts will be on the image.

Expensive cameras vs cheap cameras

Good cameras’ photos still look amazing with high ISO. In general photography, you pay more to get more in light. Outside with plenty of light, David will have it to 100; under the shade, 200; and when he comes indoors, he will bump it to 400, maybe 800, or 1600 even.

 ISO = Camera Sensor’s Sensitivity

Higher ISO = More Light = More Noise

Keep Your ISO LOW


What is Aperture?

Aperture is the size of the opening in your lens. Your lens has blades inside that actually open and close to create a smaller or larger hole.  That hole size is the aperture. The smaller the number, the bigger the hole and more light come it, vice versa. The number is written in f/stops. Practically, aperture mainly controls the depth of field. It’s basically how much is in focus in front of and behind the actual spot you focus on. The lower the f/stops number the smaller the depth of field, vice versa. After setting up the ISO, the second thing to do is the aperture based on the subject. For example, one-person portrait, f/2 – f/2.5; a group of people, f/3.5-f/4 to make sure everyone in the line is focused; landscapes, f/16 – f/22, something where everything will be in focused and there will be nothing blurry.

Expensive cameras vs cheap cameras

Cheaper lens might come with your camera like Canon 18-55 kit lens that it goes from f/3.5 – f38; Sony’s kit lens, f/3.5 – f/36; with more expensive cameras’, ranged $1500 – $2500, like Sony’s 85mm f/1.4. That super tack sharp landscape images usually take around f/16.

Aperture = Size of Lens of Opening

Lower F/stop = More Light

Aperture Controls DEPTH of FIELD

Low F/stop = Small Depth of Field

Shutter Speed

What is shutter speed?

Shutter speed is the amount of time, measures in seconds, the shutter is open, ranging from 1/50 that goes all the way up to 1/8000 depending on the camera. On the other hand, you can also slow down the shutter speed from 1″ to 30″. If you’re on a tripod shooting a landscape or a waterfall to make it smoke-like or shooting a three-minute exposure of a milky way shot, you use low shutter speeds; for moving objects like sports or pets, vice versa. For shooting portraits, to avoid motion blur in the images and make images nice and crispy, 1/250 – 1/500; if subjects start to walk or run, 1/800; low light and extra light in need, 1/100 and get the objects still.; for sports, 1/800 – 1/1000+.

Slower Shutter Speed = More Motion Blur

Take Away & Trouble Shoot

Image Too Dark

  1. Slow shutter speed
  2. Lower aperture
  3. Raise ISO

Image Too Bright

  1. Lower ISO
  2. Raise shutter speed
  3. Raise aperture

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 1.00.32 AM

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