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Take photos like a pro with your mobile (II): ISO

ISO sensitivity, what is it?

First of all, what is ISO sensitivity? It is basically the ability of a sensor to capture a certain amount of light. We can modify the ISO sensitivity if our smartphone gives us the option. The higher the sensitivity, the more light it will capture. Thus, ISO sensitivity is key when it comes to capturing a photo with the right level of light. Remember that light is the key to any photography, and that is why all aspects that have to do with the amount of light that the camera captures are so important. ISO sensitivity is one of those key values, and in any camera it would be something relevant and something to take into account. On mobile it is no less.

How does a photo vary based on ISO?

A priori, it’s easy to determine how a photo varies based on ISO, right? The higher the ISO level, the more light the mobile will capture. So the conclusion could be simple. If we say that light is the key to any photo, and the higher the ISO level, the more light we capture, setting the maximum ISO level we will obtain the best photographs, right? Well, it’s not like that. In fact, it is the opposite for a specific reason, when we tell the sensor that it has to capture more light, we are actually making it work a little above normal. Depending on the level we set, the sensor will work more easily or less. The more we force the sensor, the more noise will appear in the image. That is why it is key that we work with the lowest ISO possible whenever this is a possibility. The lower the ISO, the less noise there will be in the image, and the better the quality of the photo.

When we want to get a higher light level because there are low light conditions, then we will have to use a higher ISO. Of course, the better the smartphone, the better ISO levels we can reach without much noise. Generally, the higher the ISO level that a smartphone is capable of reaching, the higher the level at which it can work in a useful way.

How to choose a higher or lower ISO level?

Now, it remains to be determined when to use a higher ISO level, or when to use a lower ISO level. As always, it depends on the other two things the photo’s light exposure is involved in, the shutter speed and the aperture. If we need a fast shutter speed, because we are going to shoot a moving subject, then we tend to use a higher ISO. Of course, always trying to find the balance between the level of noise generated by a photograph at high ISO and the level of light that we want the camera to capture.

The general idea is that the ISO, the lower the better, but if we need to increase the ISO level, we will add noise, something that must be taken into account. Better is a photo with noise than a photo that is not seen, of course.