The Advantages of Using Auto ISO on Your Camera

Understanding and utilizing camera settings to their fullest potential is crucial to ensuring you get the shots you want. Among these, auto ISO plays a pivotal role, especially in challenging and quickly changing lighting conditions. This helpful video tutorial will show you what you need to know.

Coming to you from Peter Forsgård, this educational video delves into the misconceptions surrounding Auto ISO, often shunned by professionals in favor of manual control. Forsgård argues that ISO isn't the primary culprit for noisy images; rather, it's incorrect exposure, particularly when it comes to modern camera sensors. This perspective challenges the traditional insistence on always using the lowest possible ISO. Peter illustrates this with examples showing how images shot at lower ISO but incorrectly exposed possess more noise than those taken at higher ISO with correct exposure. The key, he suggests, is to aim for "correct" exposure, avoiding the clipping of highlights while maintaining the image's overall brightness. This approach, combined with post-production techniques like adjusting midtones and highlights or using noise reduction software, can significantly enhance image quality.

Further, Forsgård addresses the practicality of Auto ISO in dynamic shooting scenarios like street and wedding photography. He highlights that while shutter speed and aperture are essential for creative control, ISO sensitivity can be efficiently managed through Auto ISO without compromising artistic intent. This automatic adjustment to lighting conditions, coupled with exposure compensation, offers photographers a balanced approach to achieving the desired exposure without having to constantly manage settings. It's a tool that simplifies the process without diminishing control, allowing photographers to focus more on composition and less on constant manual adjustments. Be sure to check out the video above for the full rundown. 

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Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Auto ISO, combined with Sony's "Minimum Shutter with Auto ISO" feature has been a game-changer in my event work, particularly when I'm frequently changing focal lengths. I set Minimum Shutter to "Fast", which selects a shutter speed that's 1/(2x focal length), to avoid motion blur with moving subjects. The feature even factors in the longer effective focal length when using APS-C Crop Mode. With shutter taken care of, motion blur banished, and ISO automatic, all I have to think about is aperture and, if the EVF image indicates it's warranted, Exposure Compensation. I don't even really have to think about EC, as I shoot RAW and, thanks to the ISO-invariance of my cameras, I can adjust image brightness in post over a 4-stop range without noise penalty.