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Understanding Auto ISO

Auto ISO can simplify shooting under changing lighting conditions

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ISO Control

For digital photography, ISO refers to the sensitivity of the camera's sensor. The ISO setting is one of…

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Motion Detection

Motion Detection helps you take sharper pictures

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Introduction to ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed & Other Advanced Settings for HDSLR Video

Advanced settings for HDSLR video

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Capturing or Freezing Motion in Photos

Learn how to freeze the motion in an action scene or capture a blur to show…

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Understanding ISO Sensitivity

Photography is built on the three pillars of exposure: shutter speed, aperture and…

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How to Take Pictures of Water Using Long Exposures

Getting that "silky" look when photographing moving water isn't…

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A Basic Look at the Basics of Exposure

The relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO is the basis of every…

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Cherie Steinberg: Capturing the Wedding Vibe

For Cherie Steinberg being a wedding photographer means wearing more than…

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Photographing Dogs: Capturing Action

Tips for taking better photos of your dog in action.

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4.6 Rating
Action and People Photography

For those who want to take better people and action photos

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4.7 Rating
Using Auto FP High-Speed Sync to Illuminate Fast Sports Action

Dave Black on using high-speed flash sync for sports…

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Jim Richardson: Why Fast Lenses Make All the Difference

When You’re Constantly on the Move, Fast Glass Makes Tough Shots…

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4.8 Rating
A Light in the Forest

Rod Planck on photographing critters in the field with a Speedlight

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Bright Idea: Adding Star Power
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Bright Idea: Adding Star Power

Creating a starburst in your photographs

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Exposure Bracketing: The Creative Insurance Policy

Get creative with your photography by using this age-old technique.

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Prime Lenses

What is a prime lens? Well, it's a lens that isn't a zoom. A prime lens has a fixed focal length which means…

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4.6 Rating
Underwater Photography

Tips for getting started shooting underwater with David Doubilet

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Photograph Family and Friends During the Holidays

The holidays are prime picture-taking time. Get some great tips on…

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4.9 Rating
A New Sharp Shooter

Mike Corrado on shooting with the Nikon D810

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Marketplace: A #1

Shooting with the COOLPIX A

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Versatile Views of the World of Wildlife:

Ron Magill field tests the AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens

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Vibration Reduction

Vibration Reduction (VR) is an image stabilization technology that minimizes blur caused by camera…

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Mothers' Days: Good Timing and Great Locations Result in Memorable Maternity Photographs

Beth Wade discusses tips for…

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You’re the Guest: How to Capture Unique Photos at a Wedding

Abby Liga discusses getting great photos when you're a…

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A Pro's Tips for the Best Children's Photos

Tamara Lackey on taking great pictures of kids

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Hands On: Range Rover

Lindsay Silverman on the many moods of HDR

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Understanding Maximum Aperture

Learn how aperture affects the end-result image.

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Getting Started: How to Hold Your D-SLR Camera

Getting sharper, more in-focus pictures can be as simple as learning how…

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How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse

Learn the techniques needed to shoot solar eclipses from Mr. Eclipse, Fred Espenak

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Lighting Techniques: Light Painting

Using the technique of light painting allows you to add depth and dimension to your…

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Halloween & Autumn Harvest Photography

Take better photos during the colorful fall season

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Photographing the US National Parks

Chris Nicholson on photographing in the US National Parks

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Polarizing Filters Add POW to Pictures

An Easy to Use Accessory, Polarizing Filters Bring out the Color and Definition in…

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Balancing Photo Exposures with Nikon's Active D-Lighting

Bring light to the shadows with Nikon's Active D-Lighting

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The Challenge of Bird Photography

Moose Peterson tells why photographing birds in the field is well worth the challenge.

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3.1 Rating
Shooting Wirelessly with Nikon Digital Cameras and Wi-Fi Adapters

Enjoy wireless transfer of images with Wi-Fi compatible…

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3.8 Rating
The Versatile Appeal of the D600

See what makes the D600 an appealing camera

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3.4 Rating
3D Focus Tracking

3D focus tracking automatically shifts the focus point to follow the movement of the subject. With the…

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Shooting a Rock Concert

Whether you're taking photos at a major rock concert or at your child's school performance, these…

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Tool Talk

Mike Corrado on the gear that shapes the light.

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4.7 Rating
COOLPIX Cameras and Cool Lighting with Speedlights

Lucas Gilman shows you how to use Speedlights with COOLPIX cameras

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Camera Support Tips for Shooting Steady Video

Five tips for steadying the camera when shooting video

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Photographing People Using Wireless Lighting Techniques

Tom Bol's images inspire new ways of taking a portrait photo.

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How to Choose Your Next Nikon 1 Lens

Go beyond your Nikon 1 camera's kit lens

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Taking Better Photographs of the American West

When you get a chance to visit the open prairies, and photograph ranchers…

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Taking Better Photographs on the Water

Harbors, bays, oceans and rivers all have one thing in common—interesting and…

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Better Sports Photography

Which settings should you use depending upon which sport you're photographing

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Understanding Auto ISO

Changing ISO on the fly

A photographic exposure is dependent upon three variables: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. For photographers shooting film, the aperture and shutter speed might have changed from frame to frame, but ISO was always a constant—at least until you finished the rest of the roll of film (and at 24 or 36 exposures that was usually a ways away).

Skip ahead to digital—and now, not only can you change the shutter speed and aperture with each image, but you can also change the ISO—on the fly—for each image you shoot. This is a great convenience when you’re shooting under constantly changing lighting conditions, such as when you’re going from indoors to outside, or if the sky is partially cloudy or if you’re shooting in the shadows and then going into bright sunlight.

Nikon makes it even more convenient for you to shoot in changing light with Auto ISO. Auto ISO allows you to set a maximum ISO that you’re comfortable shooting at—in effect setting a “ceiling” for ISO, so if the light is constantly changing while you’re shooting, the camera can automatically adjust ISO as necessary without going over the “ceiling” you set. Likewise, if the light gets brighter, the ISO is automatically lowered.

By automating the increase/decrease in ISO, you can focus more on your subject and worry less about the exposure.

Let's say, for example, that you’re shooting a party and its being held both indoors and outside. You may find yourself constantly going from low light to bright sunshine and shady areas outdoors. Rather than having to manually set the ISO along with shutter speed and aperture every time you walk into a different lighting scenario, you can set the Auto ISO. The Auto ISO feature will automatically adjust the ISO setting to obtain the correct exposure for each new lighting condition. As the lighting diminishes, the camera will continue to increase the ISO until it reaches the “Ceiling” or maximum ISO that you’ve chosen as the highest ISO you’re willing to shoot at.

Within the Auto ISO settings, you can also set the minimum shutter speed where this “jump” to a higher ISO will occur. If you are don't mind handholding the camera to 1/60 sec. shutter speed, set that as the minimum shutter speed. Want to minimize the possibility of camera shake—then set the minimum shutter speed to 1/250 sec. The Auto ISO feature tells the camera to change the exposure based on the changing light. As the light in the scene dims, the shutter speed will drop to let in more light, to ensure a correct exposure. When it hits the "minimum" shutter speed that was set, the ISO increases to keep the exposure correct.

Although most Nikon digital cameras with Auto ISO allow you to use the feature in all shooting modes—Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Scene modes—the effects may be more noticeable when you’re in Manual or Shutter Priority modes.

Aperture + Shutter Speed + ISO = Exposure

The three variables that make up a photographic exposure are shutter speed (how much time it takes to make the exposure), aperture (how big the hole is that lets light through the lens, and into the camera) and ISO (how sensitive the digital image sensor or film is to light).

You might want to change these variables depending upon a photographic effect you’re after, or because of the lack of light in the scene.

A slower shutter speed lets you blur moving subjects. For example, in an image of moving water, taken with a slow shutter speed, the moving water blurs, taking on a soft white, dreamy look. A fast shutter speed, on the other hand will let you freeze action, such as a bird in flight.

A wide aperture means you’ll have a shallow depth-of-field, where the subject is in focus and the background has a pleasing blurriness. This is what is referred to as bokeh. With a small aperture, the depth-of-field will be much greater, with everything from the foreground to the background in focus.

ISO is the sensitivity of a film or image sensor to light. A low ISO needs a lot more light to make a good exposure, whereas a high ISO is more sensitive to light and needs less light for a good exposure. When you’re shooting in bright daylight, you would use a low ISO. When you’re shooting in low-light, an increase in ISO will make the camera’s sensor more sensitive to the lack of light in the scene, however when you increase the ISO, it sometimes will increase the “noise” or graininess in the photograph. Turning on the High ISO Noise Reduction feature will minimize the noise.

Auto ISO and Flash

Auto ISO can also be used when you’re shooting with a flash, whether it's the built-in pop-up on your camera or an accessory Speedlight. When you are using a flash, the minimum shutter speed parameter is ignored—and the flash sync speed is used instead.

However, if your D-SLR/Speedlight combination offers Slow Sync Flash, the camera will then use the minimum shutter speed that was set in the Auto ISO menu, preventing the camera from selecting too slow of a shutter speed. It does this to ensure that the correct exposure is chosen.

How to set the Auto ISO

The Auto ISO setting can be found in the shooting options menu of newer Nikon digital cameras.


Manual Mode

In Manual mode, the aperture and shutter speed values are fixed by the user. ISO Auto will change the ISO when the light levels change.

*When using the ISO Auto function in manual exposure mode the electronic analog exposure display of the camera will continue to indicate correct shutter speed and aperture settings when light levels change within a four-stop range. The ISO Auto system increases or decreases the ISO value to maintain the correct shutter speed and aperture value the user has chosen.


Shutter Priority

In Shutter Priority mode the shutter speed is set by the user and the aperture is determined by the camera system. If light levels change, the aperture will change as determined by the camera system. When the aperture determined to achieve the correct exposure is beyond the aperture range of the lens used, then ISO Auto will increase the sensitivity value.


Aperture Priority

In Aperture Priority, the aperture value is set by the user and the shutter speed value is determined by the camera system. If light levels change and the shutter speed required to achieve the correct exposure is beyond the shutter speed range of the camera, ISO Auto will increase the sensitivity.

*As the shutter speed range of a D-SLR is very large, it is rare that a shutter speed beyond the range of the camera (i.e. 30 sec) will occur under normal lighting conditions.  


Program

In Program, Auto or any of the Digital Vari-Program modes the aperture and shutter speed values are determined by the camera system. As light levels change, the camera will alter shutter speed and aperture values to ensure the correct exposure. When the shutter speed required to achieve the correct exposure is beyond the shutter speed range of the camera and the aperture cannot be adjusted any further by the camera system, ISO Auto will increase the sensitivity.

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