Does ISO Really Matter Anymore?

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

ISO graphic

102,400. 819,200. 3,280,000. The ISO capabilities on our cameras get better and better all the time. Should you start ignoring your ISO setting in favor of shutter speed?

It's an interesting debate. Though modern cameras do have an undeniable ability to produce 'clean' images at high ISOs, optimal image quality will always be produced at the lowest setting. How do you choose between the two options? To understand, you need to take a trip back in time.

It used to be that if you really needed a fast shutter speed, you would always sacrifice your ISO in favor of sharp images, and if you could use a low ISO and maintain a crisp shot, then was no need to alter your settings. Using a high ISO would result in a sort of colorful thunderstorm ravaging all but the brightest parts of your image. If your dropped that setting, however, your shutter speed would quickly become too slow.

Now, there's much more distance between these extremes for photographers to play with, but the old rules still apply, mostly in our brains. We're scared to use that setting of 50,000 or 100,000, and in doing so, we miss potential shooting opportunities. Have you considered photography after dark? Action images at 1/16,000th of a second? Take advantage of modern technology and unleash your creativity.