This Mama is Going Manual: ISO Camera Setting

simple manual camera tips

Let’s get this party started!  We are now going to go to the M setting on your camera. Yes, you can do it! The only way to improve your shots is if you practice in the manual setting.

I have had so much fun playing with my manual settings these past two weeks.  Seriously, after you play with it for an hour you start getting the hang of what you’re doing.  Remember I am learning this along with you so you can’t say well you’re an expert and that’s why you’re saying that.  I am not. I am just a mama who wants to improve her pictures for her family and her blog.

So set your dial on camera. If you need help with the setting look at this post and the images should help you figure out how to set it up on manual.  My Canon camera has the letter M up at the dial and the lens has M and A switch. So I switch both of those to M when I go in manual mode. To figure out how to change your ISO pull out your instruction manual for your camera but the easy way I do it is by clicking on Quick control and then I click on ISO and I use my dial to keep changing it as I take different pictures. See diagram below (details found in this post).

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canon camera diagram


ISO is basically the pictures sensitivity to light.  If you  have lots of light, from either the sun or its bright, you don’t need your ISO to aid your  lighting much, so you can set your ISO low.   ISO can help your camera absorb more light.

Try to remember that typically if you are outside shooting then you can have a lower ISO such as 100 or 200.  If you are indoors with low lighting you may want to increase your ISO to around 800.

Remember: Lower ISO = less light / Higher ISO = more light

Now set your shutter speed on 1/640,  f-stop 4.5 and ISO 100 take about 5 pictures of the same object on different ISO’s and notice the difference.

shooting in manual: ISO setting

Do you see how my first few pictures the background was blurry and dark? The higher I went up the more light came in. Remember what ISO does?  If not, read my note below.

This is an outdoor picture and it was a sunny day so setting my ISO high was not giving me the shots I wanted.  Remember ISO comes to the rescue when you have low lighting situations. If it’s a well-lit situation keep it set low 100/200.

An easy way to remember this is ISO to the rescue.

super hero letters

And what does a super hero do when they rescue you? They whisk you, up, up and away. So your ISO needs to go up and set higher when you have a low lighting situation. I know cheesy but the cheesier the easier it’s to remember. You don’t need rescuing when you are outside the sun is out. As you can see from my pictures above I didn’t need to be rescued and the higher the ISO the brighter it got.

The picture above with the ISO set at 200 was close to perfect but it needed something else so I adjusted the shutter speed and lowered it to 1/400 and now look at the difference. The settings for this picture are: shutter speed 1/400, F4.5 and ISo 200

shooting in manual: ISO settings


~If you need the best possible picture, you need to keep ISO at 200 or lower so that the picture doesn’t turn out too grainy because the higher the ISO the granier the picture turns out. And either adjust lighting or adjust your lens opening (f-stop) so there is more light coming into the picture.

~For outdoor shooting set it lower 100 or 200 but for indoor shooting you might want to start it on 600 on up.

~Where ever you camera is set, that’s the focal point, it will be the clearest. The rest will be blurry depending on your settings. In the pictures below my focal point in the first picture, was the flower so everything around it was blurry. In the second picture, my focal point was the statue so the flower which is in the front is blurry.

Shooting in Manual: ISO setting

~Did you know that you don’t have to use a flash for indoor shots?  Yes, I was shocked when I first learned this but it has made all the difference in my shots.  When you go manual you can manipulate your settings so that you don’t use your flash and get awesome pictures. So, don’t use your flash for indoor shots.

~The more you lower your shutter speed you may need a tripod.

indoor lighting

For this photo Censational Girl slowed the shutter speed to 1/5, changed the F-stop to f/5, then increased the ISO Sensitivity to 400. Believe it or not she shot this in the late afternoon on a cloudy day.

Your homework:

1. Take 5 pictures outside on a semi- sunny day with these settings Shutter speed at 1/640. Fstop on F 4.5 or 1 lower (if your camera can lower) and ISO at 200.

2. Now go inside or in a lower lighting situation and use the same settings and see what happens.  Now play with your ISO to see if you can get a better lit picture. If you’re comfortable play with your shutter speed and see if lowering that makes a difference.  Don’t worry next week we will touch on shutter speed.

Previous Lessons:

Getting to Know Your Camera

Shooting in Manual the Easy Way: AV mode

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