Do not fear ISO!

Michael Laubscher All Authors, Michael 4 Comments

I have decided to write this blog on the fear that most photographers have of ISO. I did chat about it on my Instagram and Snapchat stories so if you missed it, here it is!

What triggered me to write it is after watching a few videos on youtube a couple of days ago.

Why would this make me write a blog you’d ask?

Well, its simple! The internet is a great place to learn. You can do research to find out about things, how somethings work, what to do, what not to do, the best way to, there are many tutorials and therefore you can learn from it all.

Don’t believe everything you hear on the internet until you have tried or tested it yourself or you have heard it from someone who you know is in the field on a regular basis!

This blog is not about the exposure triangle or sheet below;


Exposure triangle


Exposure sheet

The exposure triangle/sheet lays the foundation of photography. Understand this you good to go but this is a discussion for another time.

What put me off while watching a video about the exposure sheet is what a gentleman in the video had to say about ISO (International Standards Organisation).

What is ISO?

In very basic terms, ISO is the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to the light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera. The component within your camera that can change sensitivity is called the “image sensor” or simply the “sensor”. It is the most important part of a camera and it is responsible for gathering light and transforming it into an image. With increased sensitivity, your camera sensor can capture images in low-light environments without having to use a flash. A higher ISO comes at a bit of an expense, it adds grain or “noise” to the images you capture.

In that particular video this gentlemen mentioned, images taken with a ISO more than 3000 is un-usable!


There are many different genre when it comes to  photography and each have their own tolerance to noise.

Noise is something you can fix, in fact it is easy to get rid of!

Don’t be scared to pump up your ISO, thats what its there for. If it means capturing the special moment, which is the case many a times in wildlife photography, DO IT!

Here are some examples of images I took using a high ISO. The first image is the RAW file and the second is the one I have post processed to lessen the amount of noise.



This male lion came to drink late on a very cloudy afternoon just as the sun was touching the horizon. In order to capture this image I used a ISO of 3200.



As the sun was setting we followed a female leopard who eventually lead us to her young cub. It was already quiet dark and due to the age of the cub we could not make use of a spotlight. To capture this moment of a very excited and playful cub I had to use a ISO of 4000.



I captured this shot during my favourite time of day. After the sun had set with beautiful light being reflected off the clouds. Late afternoon baboons are already in their roosting areas and this particular female was sitting in a tree over hanging a riverbed, therefore not much light and dark shadows, so in order to capture this I had to use a ISO of 6400.

So there you have it! Picture proof that images shot with a high ISO are useable! It can be challenging to not only capture that image in low light but also to work that image to make it useable. I always think to myself, if there is no challenge involved their is no point, no fun and no excitement at the end of the day!

So next time someone tells you your ISO is too high, show then the processed image you captured that they wish they did!

Thank you for taking time to read this, I hope it helped you!

Until next time!

Happy snapping!

Michael Laubscher

About the Author

Michael Laubscher


Haunted by the allure of spectacular wildlife and African sunsets. I am a hunter-gatherer of natural light and candid moments, an appetite whet with a taste of the unknown and the smell of home; “This Is Africa”! I look forward to sharing life long experiences with you and helping you capture them. Please feel free to go check out my Instagram account

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Comments 4

  1. Pingback: Do not fear ISO - Africa Freak

    1. Post
      Michael Laubscher

      Thank you Piet!
      I do 98% of my editing on Lightroom. Settings will vary between all images depending on the amount of “noise” in your image.
      Do not go crazy on noise reduction because this will result in your images looking waxy.
      Keep well!

  2. Pingback: Back to Basics: ISO - Wild Eye

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