What is ISO

What is ISO & How it Works?

Who doesn’t want to look their best in a video? With photos, it’s entirely a different story, but with videos when you are recorded in motion, it’s more likely you would want to look very natural and authentic. In such cases, it is mandatory to have proper lighting to capture the alluring beauty with impeccable attention to detail. When it comes to detail, the most evident attribute of a video is its ISO. 

What does ISO mean then? ISO is said to adjust the camera’s sensitivity to light perfectly and it works the same way for both photographs and videos. If you are a video creator and looking for ways to enhance the quality of your video, it is vital to know about ISO, whether you are a seasoned video creator or an aspiring artist, this blog will help you master the nuances to set the right ISO for your videos. 

What is ISO?

The term ISO stands for International Standardization for an organization that sets international standards for global experts who come to agree on the best way of doing things. In the case of video, ISO represents the factor of sensitivity to light as a numerical value. So, as a video creator, seeking a solution to tune the video quality, make sure to learn how ISO works and why ISO matters in video production. 

How Does ISO Work?

ISO works based on the light availability while performing a video recording, live streaming, shooting a video, or taking a photograph. So, what does ISO do ?,  If you want to achieve a good-quality video, a standard amount of light should hit the camera’s image sensor. The brighter the light, the lower the ISO will be the best combination, on the other hand, if there is less light, then you need a higher ISO to compensate for the perfect image quality.  Low ISOs are said to make the image look better in low-light scenarios, and higher ISOs tend to increase the camera’s sensitivity to low-light situations. With ISO you can redefine your video experience and deliver higher-quality videos. 

Now that we know how ISO works, let’s discuss how it works in a digital camera, and what are the things that you have to look up to while you do the ISO setting.  When you ramp up the ISO level, which is also termed as “ gain” in your camera, you will most probably be adding noise to your image. It’s crucial to note that this noise differs from the film grain associated with fast film. It’s important not to confuse the two phenomena.

Let’s imagine that an ISO or gain in digital filmography or photography, is an audio volume control for instance, so when you turn on the volume too high? There will be a distortion that might ruin your audio, won’t it? Similarly, when you increase the value of the ISO, your picture tends to get distorted, so at its core, when you adjust the ISO, you are trying to amplify the signal received by the camera, which finally affects the pixel readings of the sensor. 

Why Is It important to Increase ISO?

Ok, So you might be wondering,  if this is the case,  then why do we need to increase the ISO? It is important because, you can’t avoid shooting in low-light scenarios, especially shooting at night, or inside a building, and you may not find natural light peeking into such an environment. In such situations, the camera will automatically elevate the ISO level, brighten the image, and maximize the gain, and the video file is completely loaded with digital noise, which is unavoidable. 

Along with the ISO, there are 3 other main settings that we need to think about, when we want to set the correct exposure, besides, aperture and shutter speed. These three array of elements are called an exposure triangle, ISO aperture and shutter speed make the three sides of a triangle, these three work together to produce a great picture, that is correctly exposed.

  • ISO
  • Shutter Speed
  • Aperture 

 Each one of the elements adjusts itself to maintain the correct exposure.  Let’s discuss each of the elements in detail for better understanding. 

Stop of Light 

In the case of  ISO for photography, the stop of light signifies altering the light by either doubling up or dividing it into two halves, which makes up the exact exposure. If you double the exposure, it will brighten up an underexposed image, and, in contrast, if you decrease or half the amount of light, it will darken an overexposed image. So to add or decrease the stop of light you need to simultaneously adjust and change the aperture and shutter speed. 

Shutter Speed

The term shutter speed implies, the length of time, the light is allowed to hit the camera’s sensor. The length of the time is measured in seconds. If you want to add the amount of light, the length of the exposure will be doubled as well. 

For instance, imagine you recording a basketball match, and you have to capture the player making a goal by dropping the ball into the basket. To capture the moment without a blur, you need to use shutter speed.  A  shutter speed of 1/900s opens and closes the shutter so fast that the light hits the camera sensor only for a short moment. This shutter speed very effectively captures the player handling the ball and making the goal very precise, by portraying the object in crisp without a blur.

In case you want to change the shutter speed or move to a different shutter speed, like moving from 1/ 80s to 1/40 s will use the stop of light,  because the shutter will have to stay open twice as long. So the stop light will be based on the shutter speed that you add. 


Now that we have gained insights into the two elements, let’s move on to the third one, Aperture. Technically speaking, Aperture refers to the size of the hole, that lets in the light to reach the sensor, so the bigger the size of the hole, the more the light that passes through to the sensor.  similarly, if the size of the hole is reduced to half of its size, so will the amount of light hitting the sensor. So finally, it will reduce the exposure to light by one stop.

What’s the difference between ISO and Shutter Speed?

Both ISO and shutter speed are related to image exposure or brightness. While ISO  juggles between capturing the right light for an image under the right environment, Shutter speed primarily focuses on capturing fast-moving objects in photography. While this is the major difference between the both, listed below are some of the other differences that will make you understand, how each of the elements contributes uniquely. 

CriteriaISOShutter Speed
DefinitionMeasures the  amount of light that hits the camera’s  sensorMeasure the duration of time the camera’s shutter remains open while taking a  picture
AimAdjusts exposure by affecting sensor sensitivityControls motion blur and freezing of fast-moving subjects
RangeISO value Typically ranges from 100 to 6400Measured in fractions of a second like 1/1000s, 1/30/1/60, etc
Image qualityHigher ISO increases sensitivity, and brighter images in low light but may introduce digital noiseA faster shutter speed freezes motion, slower speed captures motion blur
UsecaseUseful in low-light conditions or to achieve specific exposure requirementsEssential for capturing action or controlling motion blur
Exposure TriangleInteracts with aperture and shutter speed to achieve proper exposureWorks in conjunction with aperture and ISO for balanced exposure

What Is the best ISO setting for video?

Standard guidelines to set the best ISO setting for video in low-light or indoor shooting will be between the range of 100 to 400. For bright or outdoor shooting, you can set the ISO range between 100 to 200, and for mixed artificial or unnatural lighting, like LED, tungsten light, etc,  the range can vary between,  200 to 800. For an artistic purpose or creative video shooting like a product shoot, you can switch the ISO between the range 800 to 3200. 

A video platform like GUDSHO will help you go live stream or upload videos with HD, 4K video quality with promising quality on ISO based on your needs. 

Final thoughts

You’re already a video creator seeking resources to enhance your video quality. By now, you’ve likely gained valuable insights to help you capture beautifully exposed photos. As a video creator, achieving fantastic visual results is crucial. We hope this blog proves useful to you, providing answers to your questions about ISO. Just get in touch with a powerful video platform like GUDSHO to host, manage, market, distribute, and stream premium content online and earn without limits.  Best of luck in mastering ISO settings and creating stunning imagery!

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Srinivasan is a Digital Marketer who is passionate about video monetization based solutions and video on demand platform ideas. He believes in spreading the latest tech trends. He is an avid reader and Loves to share views on the latest technologies, tips, and tricks.

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