carlos24's blog

Aperture, ISO and White Balance, what is it

posted by carlos24, Jun 11, 2007 10:07 PM — 24 comments

White balance (WB) is quite an important fact when taking a photo. You normally get choices like 2200k, 5600k 9900k etc, with more choices in between. If you have quite a low number, like 2200k, you will get a 'cool' picture, which means thatís its quite blue. If you have the opposite, ie 9900k then you will get a very 'warm' picture, which may look brighter, but quite red or yellow, like this;



(If any images dont show up, dont please come another time)Obviously these are extremes, so you may either want to let the camera decide, or you can manually chose. The images are slightly fuzzy since you can not use a flash and they were taken indoors, if you use a flash you will get this result, what ever the WB you tell the camera to use

On to ISO. This can determine two main things, the graininess of the picture, but also how bright/dark the image is. ISO on film cameras is the speed of the film, but on digital cameras, you obviously donít get a film. But basically the higher the ISO number, the more grainy the image, but the brighter the image. This is useful if you are in a low lighting condition, and donít want to use flash, or if out doors maybe the flash may not be strong enough. The lower the ISO, the less grains on the picture. Most new compact cameras will go from about 50 up to maybe 800, maybe more. Mid< DSLRís will range from about 50 or 100 up to about 3200.

Right, aperture and shutter speed, they could be said to be the most important things when taking a picture if you donít include what you are taking a picture of.

Aperture is the amount of light that is let through the lens at a given time, a low aperture will have a high 'f' number, and a high aperture will have a low 'f' number. For example;
This is a small aperture (f32), therefore a small amount of light

And this is a large aperture (f4), therefore a large amount of light

There are many different ways of avoiding bad pictures. For example try and use the flash the least amount of times possible, or if you have a flash gun/flash head make sure you point it away and bounce of walls if possible.

If there is too much exposure, for example on a sunny day you can do somethingís, but mainly these 3 in this order:
Decrease the ISO to the lowest setting, ie 50 or 100. Increase the shutter speed, ie from 1/200th second up to 1/1000th of second. You can also decrease the aperture from something high like 5 to something a lot lower like 15 or 20ish. This is assuming you want the best quality, because you might want to be taking photos that look like you took it on an old camera, so you would have higher ISO, to make the picture grainy.

Hope this has helped; if you have any questions just leave a comment

Comments | RSS

1. posted by cooljinny, Jun 13, 2007 10:07 PM

Thanks so much for this tut. I havent ventured into manual settings yet, but will now. Great use of photos as examples, just how I like to learn - thanks again!!!!

2. posted by defazn, Jun 18, 2007 8:36 AM


3. posted by sebiv122s, Jun 21, 2007 8:44 AM

wow. this was so much more simple than reading the camera manual. I just invested in a DSLR, so this is a gold mine. Thanks so much

4. posted by 13754, Jun 21, 2007 5:51 PM

As a photo newbie Fuji Finepix S9500, I was struggling the manual, excellent though it is. This tut is just what I needed. Thankyou Carlos 24

5. posted by herdesign, Jun 21, 2007 8:53 PM

Nice introduction but not always quite to the point.

First of all the ISO setting has nothing to do with the brightness of darkness of the image as a matter of fact nor has shutter speed or aperture UNLESS you use FULL manual mode and don't look at any metering.

Higher ISO settings do increase noise which is somehow similar to grain and they do allow you to make pictures at faster shutter speeds or higher aperture values given the same light. Unless you intend to add noise, you should use the lowest ISO value.

Wider aperture (lower F values like f/4 or f/2.8) again low you to make pictures at faster shutter speeds but at an expense: the Depth Of Field (DOF) becomes smaller. Controlling DOF is actually quite importanat as it can make a background look very blurred and thus make the main object standing out from the background. Do try to understand DOF if you dive into photography!

Now about different conditions:
1/ if there is a lot of light don't compensate for that with aperture as you will impact the DOF. Determine whether you want a dof that stretches from your feet to the horizon (small aperture, high f-value like 16 or 22) or a smal DOF to isolate your model from the background. Just let the shutter speed do the rest. Oh yes and do use ISO 100 or less.

2/ If the light is low, you ought to try a tripod first and increase shutter speed :) Then incease ISO at the expense of ugly noise effects and/or open the aperture (low values like f/4 or f/2.5).

- controlling shutter speed is mainly important if you want to control motion. Including shaking hands!
- controlling aperture is about DOF and isolating objects from their background.
- controlling ISO is about ... wel introducing noise which is not quite the same as grain. Grain can be added much better with Photoshop or so. Most of the time you should only increase noise beyond say ISO 200 if you have no other option.

Have fun!

6. posted by RamsesXV, Jul 19, 2007 1:44 PM

I found the article really useful and I thought it was actually quite to the point. A bit confused about herdesign comments but nevermind Thanks Carlos24.

7. posted by quazzie, Sep 9, 2007 9:56 PM

Many thanks to you for taking the time to do this, and for making easy to understand.

8. posted by Outre, Jul 27, 2007 2:46 AM

I would have loved to see the images in this since that is what is missing in most "manuals", or they're in black and white which is not the way I "see" so mean little to me. Is there any way to get the images posted back up? I'm bookmarking this to check at a later date, I'll reserve rating until I can follow along properly.

9. posted by lowezra, Jul 29, 2007 4:27 AM

Actually herdesign is correct but these details could be overwhelming to most novices. It took me quite a while to grasp the concepts, and that was not long ago.

For the whole ISO thing, what about boosting exposure instead of increasing ISO for low-light pictures? How does that whole -2.0 - +2.0 eV thing work?

10. posted by mepradip, Sep 2, 2007 11:50 AM

WoW it hepls a lot. Thanks.

11. posted by selson, Sep 10, 2007 11:49 AM

Its very Helpful. ThanQ

12. posted by qbahamutp, Sep 24, 2007 4:46 AM

This has been VERY helpful, both your own tutorial AND herdesign's comments about DOF. I just happened to stumble upon this article by accident, but I'd actually been wondering about this for quite some time now.

Thanks a lot!!

13. posted by elbandito, Sep 28, 2007 4:32 PM

Thanks a lot! I didn't know about all this for a long time and was too lazy to study about it!

14. posted by lenzzy, Nov 21, 2007 5:05 AM

its really help me alot..

15. posted by jlum81, Jan 4, 2008 11:42 PM

HERDESIGN, I guess you wanted to say: "Unless you intend to add noise, you should use the HIGHEST ISO value."

I think that confuse people a little bit.

HIGHER ISO: more noise
LOWER ISO: less noise

16. posted by Coldmoon, Mar 19, 2008 4:06 AM

Thank you, I'm much less ignorant now :] I can try improve myself now adjusting properly and that all thanks to you !!

17. posted by tktarun, Jun 26, 2008 11:35 AM

Thanks Thanks Thanks I love you

18. posted by carlos24, Jul 9, 2008 12:54 PM

thats nice to know

19. posted by amyebomar, Jul 16, 2008 9:14 PM

This is the best description of ISO, WB, and App that I have found. You are a genius!! THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH!

20. posted by carlos24, Aug 12, 2008 10:00 PM

thanks :-D

21. posted by mizuno12, Jan 19, 2009 6:59 PM


22. posted by eddyhaze, Jan 26, 2009 8:05 AM

whats a good setting for taking pictures of water were you get that nice effect ,don't know how to say it maybe blured effect on the wave that look great with waterfalls.i have a powershot a630.

23. posted by carlos24, Jul 6, 2009 5:17 PM

try a slower shutter speed

24. posted by careersB, May 27, 2013 3:54 AM

AWESOME. thank you for taking your time to teach us! I really learned a lot. WOW.

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