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Quick Exposure Settings

This is just a quick overview of Shutter Speed, f/stop and ISO. By no means is this an in-depth review.

There are three basic settings for exposure control, and yes, you can make a picture lighter or darker by adjusting any of the three.

But there is a balance, you can adjust any one darker, and adjust either of the other two lighter, and get the same exposure (brightness) but with different effects on the photo, such as more in focus, blurry backgrounds (low f/stops), frozen waterfalls (high shutter speeds) or old timey looking grainy poor quality photos (high ISO)

So here are the three, and what they effect:

  1. Aperture, the f/stop, this how much light comes into the lens, and effects the depth of field; how much of an area in front of and behind your focus point is clear in the pic.
  2. Shutter speed, this controls how long the sensor/film is exposed to light. You can freeze motion with high shutter speeds. Moving people with low shutter speeds makes blurry pics.
  3. ISO, the sensitivity to light of your sensor (in digital, its the amount of electronic amplification of the signal) Best ISO for quality is your lowest setting on your camera, such as 100.

I made this chart to show all three items at one time. Choosing any item left will make your photo brighter, and choosing any item to the right will make it darker. Also on this chart it shows the effect of each of the three.

So if you did a shot at f/4, 1/500, ISO 400 and it was too dark, you can adjust any of the three to the left to brighten it up, and you will know the effect on the photo.

  • If you choose f/2.8, less with be in focus in front and behind.
  • If you choose 1/250, you will most likely be fine, but not if photographing race cars or rockets.
  • If you choose ISO 800, your photo will have more noise and be lower in quality.

My little chart:

Exposure: ISO, Shutter Speed, f/stop

Mike Bradley

Author: Mike Bradley

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