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One of the great advantages of digital cameras over film is that you can change the ISO on your camera from shot to shot. As you increase ISO, the image sensor in your camera becomes more sensitive to light, which means you can use faster shutter speeds and smaller apertures. Now, you will most often increase ISO when light levels drop low enough that your shutter speeds go too low for handheld shooting. But you might also increase ISO if you want to use smaller apertures to capture deeper depth of field.
If you are not clear on when and how to effectively use ISO, check out my Foundations of Photography: Exposure course. To change the ISO on your D800, press the ISO button and then turn the main command dial. You can see that as soon as I press the ISO button, I get an ISO readout here on my status display. I also get this ISO readout here inside my viewfinder. So I can actually do this change without having to take my eye off of the viewfinder, as long as my fingers can find the buttons. So cycling up, I get all the way from 100 to--climbing up here--into ISO 6400.
After that, things get a little weird. It changes to something called H0.3, H.07, H1.0, and these keep going. These are higher ISOs. They are kind of couched in this strange jargon, because Nikon is kind of giving you the hint that once you're into this range, you're into something a little bit experimental maybe. You're going to be really facing a lot more noise. These settings get you to ISO 8000 through 25,600, so they're ideal for shooting in extreme lowlight, but you are going to possibly be getting images that are very grainy. That said, the D800's high ISO performance is exceptional.
You're going to want to experiment with some of these, see what you think is an acceptable level of noise, and then make decisions about whether you want to use those higher ISOs based on what you find. Going the other direction, once I drop below 100, I get the same thing. I get low 0.3, 0.7, 1.0. Those are three very slow ISOs. They get you down to ISO 50 through 80. So if you're shooting in really bright light, you can push your ISO down and get very, very clean images. You know that there's probably not going to be any noise in your shadows at all.
So, that picks you up some extra ISO latitude. There is also a very powerful Auto ISO feature that can be configured in some very interesting ways, and we'll look at that in the next movie.
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