Adjusting your ISO setting higher is the easiest way to get more light into your camera. Your camera sensor needs light to properly expose images. The lower the ISO setting (ISO 100), the less sensitive your camera is to light. The higher the ISO setting (ISO 1600+), the more sensitive your camera is to light. That means you can shoot in lower light situations without using a flash by adjusting your ISO higher.
There is a trade off. The higher your ISO setting, the more digital noise you will get in your photos. Digital noise is like film grain. Most point and shoot cameras struggle with image quality when you boost the ISO past 400. Some of the new point and shoots do OK at ISO 800, but not the cheap ones.
Most of the newer DSLR cameras do a good job handling noise, even up to ISO 1600. All the new Canon Rebels and their Nikon equivalents are good at handling noise in this range. There are some software solutions for reducing noise. We'll talk about them in the next photo tip.
There is another cool thing about boosting your ISO setting. It makes your flash throw further! Experiment with this. You'll be surprised at the difference between ISO 100 and ISO 400 when it comes to your flash distance.
When it comes to landscape photography, especially HDR photography, low ISO is the name of the game! I always shoot landscapes at ISO 100 when I can so they are super clean. For HDR, ISO 100 is a must! That's why having a tripod for landscapes is so important. Since your camera is not very sensitive to light at ISO 100, your shutter has to stay open a lot longer to expose the photo....especially if you shoot at an aperture of f/10 like I usually do.
In the next Photo tip, I'll introduce you to some noise reduction software. Later in the week, I'll introduce you to my favorite low cost, portrait lens. This thing is a steal!
Have fun practicing with ISO! Keep those photo questions coming!
Back in the film days, you would buy different ISO film...ISO 100...ISO 400...ISO 800...for different