Is Lower ISO Always Better? Here’s What You Must Know

Wren Photography is reader-supported. When you buy through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional costs to you. Learn More

How does our camera ISO affect our photography? Such question often intrigues one to know more about cameras, lenses, and photography. In this blog post, we will discuss ISO, one of the three pillars of photography. The other two important factors are shutter speed and aperture.

ISO or International Organization for Standardization can be simply referred to as a camera setting that either brightens or darkens the photo. It is a more flexible property than aperture or shutter speed settings. Raising ISO has certain adverse consequences on the photos. It is because of this reason that there is a wide trade-off in brightening the photo with high ISO.

Range of ISO Values: Every camera differs based on a range of ISO values between:

  • ISO 100
  • ISO 200
  • ISO 400
  • ISO 800
  • ISO 3200
  • ISO 6400 (Highest)

Low ISO Settings: ISO in the range of 300 or lower can be considered as lower settings. ISO in such a lower range pertains to the sensitivity to the light for either film or a digital sensor.

How does low ISO affect photos?

If you use low ISO values such as s 300 or lower, then you may see a higher quality photo. The bright conditions like shooting outdoors benefit from such lower values. The second benefit is the lack of grainy appearance or noise that is perceived in photos.

Lowest ISO

The lowest ISO range in a digital camera is 100. A question that arises is why is the lowest limit always capped at 100? The answer is the use of camera sensors that are regarded as the individual elements of the sensor. Such buckets have a maximum of photons that are captured.

Thus, the lowest range of ISO at 100 corresponds to the unamplified sensitivity range. It increases the ISO results as detected from the sensor and gets multiplied.

Decreasing the ISO for most digital cameras may often result in a decrease in dynamic range, compressing the total range of sensor levels that are recorded in the image’s range at 100 has a fixed minimum sensitivity to light regardless of the ISO range.

Decreasing it further can only be done after the recorded values are taken into consideration.

High iso vs Low ISO:

It may often appear confusing to us regarding the usage of higher and lower ISO.

When to use High ISO?

Higher ISO increases the sensitivity to the camera light. Depending on this it may be stated that a higher ISO is ideal for indoor shooting.

For example, for the ones shooting at night, too much brightness is often not required. In this context, it must be mentioned that ISO with a higher range is better than a lower range ISO.

When to use a low-range ISO?

If you are in the brightest environment ever, then a low-range ISO comes in much handier than a high-range ISO. Similarly, on occasions of outdoor photography, a lower ISO range is used to capture a sunnier day.

It results in a clear picture with clear, organized colors. Higher range ISO is also better for moving subjects captured in a slight blurry.

Is lower ISO better?

To answer this question, first, let’s explore the benefits of a lower range ISO:

Benefits of a lower range ISO:

A digital camera with a lower range ISO produces a higher quality and a much clear photo. It helps in keeping the photos. For example, landscape photography is very well suited to lower the ISO values. It also helps in maintaining the photos from looking overtly exposed.

The second benefit, as already mentioned earlier, is the absence of any graininess or noise that is expressed in the photos, in contrary to this, ISO with a higher range often produces an unwanted grainy photo.

Is higher ISO better?

Although lower range ISO s are widely preferred, there are certain benefits of higher range ISO too that must be noted.

Benefits of a higher ISO range:

First is the point where a higher range ISO helps in imaging a low light situation where one needs the camera for capturing more light. A camera with a higher ISO setting refers to the fact that the camera’s sensor will be more responsive to the light where the photograph is being taken.

It also helps the photographer to either increase or decreases the brightness of any photograph that affects both the grain and noise levels within a dynamic range.

At its lowest base, it can be considered that the images will possess the least amount of noise. At the same time, a higher dynamic range is flexible in post-processing.

Low ISO Photos- Synopsis:

When one uses a camera with a low ISO range at values of 300 or less, it gives higher quality photos. In places where the light is too high, and the brightness creates blurry, low ISO range photos often provided the needed clarity. Often lower ISO values produce images with the best quality.

ISO at such a lower range for producing the best image quality uses two key exposure variables that include exposure variables: aperture and shutter speed component. It must strike a prominent difference for capturing a dark image.

Even in places of decent light, boosting the ISO may be extremely beneficial. For this, the photographer often needs a shutter with an ultra-high-speed.

It must be kept in mind that instead of just enhancing the shutter speed, on occasions the IOS range may also be adjusted accordingly.

Low ISO photography, therefore, produces less noisy pictures. If the photos are compared minutely then it is observed that there is a presence of unpliant noise and grain in higher range ISO. On the contrary, the lower range of ISO s gives many clear and detailed photos.

The following image summarizes the points:

Despite the fact, certain points must be considered by the photographers even while using lower range ISO. They are:

  • While shooting motionless pictures, the camera must be mounted on a tripod camera.
  • For imaging portraits, there must be the presence of good light.
  • In case of capturing any event, the photographer must have an affinity to sufficient window light mainly by using splash. In the case of capturing products, they must be bagged by an artificial setup in lighting.
  • For wildlife photography, the two tomes of early morning or evening are the most ideal.
  • For capturing fast-moving objects must have ultra-speed light.
  • For a deep depth of the field, the tripod stand must be used for capturing such images.
  • For imaging dark concerts, the ISO often needs to be raised for picture-perfect clarity.


After reading this much, you must be able to decide for yourself whether Lower ISO is always better or not. Well, in my opinion, I always prefer to use a lower ISO. The main reason is that lower-range photos prevent the image from overtness and provide a naturalistic touch to the images. Secondly, it is cost-effective too.

Thirdly, lower range ISO has wider usage than higher range ISO. However, it is worth noting the wide usage of low-range ISO comes with several limitations or conditions that must be considered. So pick up a camera and make the best decision!

Leave a Comment

Please Note: We are reader supported. If you buy anything from our links, we may earn a small commission from the same at no additional cost to you.