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Watch Examples Why to Never Use Auto ISO - Photography Quick Tip #14 on YouTube

Friends don't let friends use Auto ISO...End Rant. (Watch the video!)

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+7 # Arie 2012-03-06 09:37
I noticed your pictures are all stationary subjects in static lighting conditions. In those cases,it would not make sense to use auto-iso; however, when you are trying to maintain a minimum shutter speed in changing lighting conditions auto-iso can be a valuable tool.

Let's say I want to capture a runner in the woods where I want to keep a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 to prevent blur, but one second the sun is on them through the leaves of the tree at f/10 and the next the next it's barely f/2.8.

I COULD just pick ISO 1600 and put it on shutter priority and have everything be at 1600 even in the bright light, or I could pick Auto-ISO, manual or shutter priority, and let the camera give me ISO 200 in the sunlight and 1600 in the shade. I can't pound my chest and say "I shoot everything in manual every single time", but I bet the end result would have much less noise.
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2012-03-07 09:11
Its Greg not 'Craig'.

Your idea of maintaining a minimum shutter speed works much better with manual iso settings. I do it all the time with indoor sports or events, set my iso high (say 3200) and on aperture priority at 2.8. Then I watch my shutter speed to be sure it is where I want it.
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+5 # Arie 2012-03-07 09:58
Sorry about the name mix up Greg,
I don't disagree that there are various ways of maintaining a high shutter speed and if I was in a constant lighting condition like a gym, then of course I would manually set the ISO.

My point is that if the lighting condition is constantly changing (I gave the example of a runner going through the sun and shadows in the woods or maybe a concert with spot lights moving on and around the subject), your way will always yield pictures at ISO 3200 whether there was enough light to go down to 400 or not. Using Auto-ISO however will guarantee that no matter what exposure mode you're using, you will always have the lowest ISO possible and thus less noise.

Maybe for a D3 or D3s, 3200 is not a big deal, but on my D90, there is a big difference between 800 and 3200.

I do agree with the premise of your post, but I just wanted to make a case that Auto-ISO is not completely useless :)
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0 # Olaf Kleemeyer 2012-03-06 12:03
I must admit that this video confused me more than to intensify my gotten-thougt new expertise concerning Auto-ISO. But I bet, that´s just my problem and not the problem of the video. As you always say, Greg: "Keep shooting!" And that´s what I´ll do next weekend. Same settings and then with and without Auto-ISO. I´ll report you guys about my experiences. :roll:
Best regards
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0 # Sebastian Bereś 2012-03-06 14:28
The only photographic case I can see auto ISO being useful is sport photography where we want keep certain shutter speed at moderate quality costs
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2012-03-07 09:08
I use aperture priority when shooting sports...I usually prefer a blown out background....
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0 # Perla Adams 2012-03-07 10:16
Hello Mr. Cazillo:

Please, share, why your pictures with those high ISO do not look grainy? I have a Canon T2i, I have fast lens, but I am afraid to raise my IS0 more than 400 because the noise.

I shoot JPEG, do you think shooting RAW will help with the noise? It is easy to blame the gear, I know, there are better cameras, but I suspect that in my case, I am the one doing something wrong.

Thank you
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2012-03-07 13:12
Shooting RAW can help, as will making sure your exposures are good, see this vid I also have pro bodies and pro glass, plus using Adobe Lightroom to edit my photos helps. All of these factors allow me to use higher iso and still have a minimal amount of noise.
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0 # Kenton 2012-03-07 21:56
I started out with a Rebel XS and ISO 800 was fine. 1600 was usable still, but yes a little noisy. Your T2I is a better sensor than my XS. If I am not mistaken, it is the same sensor as the 7D, and I have had images that look fine at 3200, and even 6400 look O.K. My opinion is you can push your ISO more than you think. You should be able to use 1600 and not think twice. Better to push the ISO and capture an image than not take the picture at all, because you are worried about noise. When in doubt, convert later to black and white. My two cents, for what its worth
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0 # Perla Adams 2012-03-08 23:17
Thank you very much.
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+2 # Remco van de Sanden 2012-03-07 13:41
I understand the thinking of Greg, but I do not completely agree with him all the way in this matter. A-ISO can be a very helpful setting when working under pressure. You do not always have the time to set up aperture, shuterspeed and ISO. Unless you take pics as the ones shown above, yes you have time, you are working in a "controlled" environment. Working outside as say a press-photograp her, doing weddings in my crappy weather country, doing fast indoor sports in changing light situations. Then A-ISO can be a big help.
If you have the time to setup it all in manual, go for it. But we do not all work the same way and shoot the same things. This doesn't mean using A-ISO makes you a crapy photographer, nor does it mean M-ISO makes you a good one. Capturing the shot you need, or your paying client needs is what makes you a good photographer, not the way you get to that point. Why do Americans drive automatics? Cause they can't drive stick shifts, is that bad? No just different...
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-1 # Gregory Cazillo 2012-03-09 11:41
You may have missed my point...its more about driving the car vs letting it drive you.
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+2 # JMK-NBSC 2012-03-10 01:41
Hey Greg:
Well I don't expect that any of us will be able to convince you that using Auto ISO is ever acceptable to "you". But, to many who have yet to learn all the ins & out's it may be a good option for them.

Haven't you heard the old saying "never say never"? Look I understand what you're saying but & I agree for the most part, but a photo taken is still better than one forgone because of inexperience. Once you have the photo you can see what might have gone wrong with the exposure & then learn how to correct it with post processing. This might lead to learning how to set the ISO correctly the next time. It's called learning the hard way, but it's still "learning.

Using your "driving the car" analogy: "you wouldn't "ever" use your cruise control while racing, but you might like to use it while cruising the highway".

Like your work & videos a lot, keep'em coming.

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0 # Andy 2013-06-09 12:01
Great description! Using manual is about driving a car and using auto is like letting the car drives you. Can't agree more. But if you only know using manual, not manual and auto together, then you have not use your car to its highest potential. My description is that you only know the basic of your car but not what its capable of doing.
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-2 # Olaf Kleemeyer 2012-03-09 14:19
Hi Remco, my dear european neighbor :-)
Maybe we all should make aware the purpose of all the videos, Greg is producing. He makes them to help us to improve our photographical skills, right? So he has to give rules and hints to follow. Maybe some of us are right with these "buts" and "what-ifs" concerning Auto-ISO. But this assumes that we already know the rules and are just looking for exceptions. Gregs videos target people, who don´t.
Best regards
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0 # JIMMY MAC 2012-06-04 12:30
Hi Greg,I am confused but fairly uneducated too,my question is if i shoot sports in aperture priority mode,say I want a shallow dof,my lens is 3.5 at its lowest so I use this,does the camera not set the Iso in av mode.In other words if i shoot av mode i have no control over Iso or shutter speed??
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2012-06-04 12:36
I don't recommend using auto iso which is a separate setting in your camera from the exposure mode. Does that answer your question?
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0 # JIMMY MAC 2012-06-04 13:25
Im still confused Greg ,am I right though in saying that you cannot change ISO in Av mode.Love the quick response.And the videos,best and easiest to follow on the www, just watched your vid on histograms,wow, you have just solved a heap of problems for me,keep up the good work.

Jimmy Mac
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0 # Gregory Cazillo 2012-06-04 13:54
Quoting JIMMY MAC:
Im still confused Greg ,am I right though in saying that you cannot change ISO in Av mode.

no metering mode should only affect aperture and shutter speed. You need to turn off auto iso separately.
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+1 # alan 2012-06-07 07:17
Greg, like your videos but wanted to join in on this one,

I often shoot auto iso (70% of time)with nikon at weddings. I set my camera up so it automatically keeps the ISO as low as possible until the shutter speed drops to 1/35th - 1/100th) using a D800 and 70-200 VR lens (auto adjusts setting based on focal length setting). when shutter would drop below my settings,at this point ISO ramps up in stages to a max pre set by me before it allows the shutter speed to fall below my settings. I shoot in aperture priority, and i use centre weighted metering on brides face to ensure i get great exposures (exposure lock on half press, then recompose shot), if i need a silouhette i switch to spot metering and meter off bright backgrouund. Adapting the metering allows me to get the shots i want but at all times the camera assists me in keeping the ISO low and the shutter speed high. Thus more captured moments and still can switch to manual mode when time allows or creativity demands. I also find flash works well in centre weighted mode (balanced), but need spot metering with flash if i want a specific look ie not balanced, light strong on bride but background dark.

I agree that manual mode is the best way to be creative and ensure you get the shot you see in your minds eye, but in a relatively fast paced wedding environment, i really think the Auto Iso function can help keep shutter speeds high and ISO;s low for most shots.

PS- like your style and many thanks for these videos, i have learnt lots already from you. Alan.
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-2 # Gregory Cazillo 2012-06-07 09:52
Quoting alan:
Greg, like your videos but wanted to join in on this one,

I often shoot auto iso (70% of time)with nikon at weddings. I set my camera up so it automatically keeps the ISO as low as possible until the shutter speed drops to 1/35th - 1/100th) using a D800 and 70-200 VR lens (auto adjusts setting based on focal length setting). when shutter would drop below my settings,at this point ISO ramps up in stages to a max pre set by me before it allows the shutter speed to fall below my settings. I shoot in aperture priority...

I never shoot auto iso for the reasons in the video ESPECIALLY at a wedding. IMO being creative in photography takes a full, well balanced understanding of the camera, how it works, your equipment and light. Putting the camera on aperture prio and auto iso seems like a recipe for danger especially at a wedding. 1/30th of a second is way to slow to shoot handheld when working a fast event like a wedding. That also scares me because you might not notice your shutter is that slow and you keep shooting then realize it later. Seems like dangerous ground to me.
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0 # alan 2012-06-08 05:42
Fair point, might set my min shutter speed to 1/60th from now on (lens VR HELPS STEADY THE SHOT, and 1/60th should be quick enough to for most slow moving targets. And as mentioned i use manual 30% of the time to get those more creative shots. Bride prep time most subjects are virtually stationary so has never been a problem but appreciate your advice and will adjust my settings.
went through my shot list for a wedding in feb(snow) and found still had fairly high shutter speeds most of the time, only getting down to 1/30th when inside churches, again subjects mainly stationary.

Thanks for reply, Alan.
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+1 # Frans Gunterus 2012-12-20 12:05

I really appreciate your explanation about why to never use auto ISO. Another proffesional photographer who wrote famous book about Canon 60D also suggest the same.

However, I have such a bad experience and got trap into this Auto ISO issues. I lost tremendous amount of memorable moments because I was so excited capturing series of actions but forget my ISO was set at 100. All my pictures were awfully under expose.

For you guys, proffesional, you have set of minds eye (that's how you call it) that integrated into your brain on what and how to shoot an object. You do photography (everyday) for life. But not to us, as week end or holiday photographers. I sometime never use my DSLR for weeks. I used my P&S camera for my daily work.

Since then I always put my ISO setting to Auto on my Canon 60D but set the max ISO at 800 or 1000. May Canon 60D starts grainy at ISO > 1600.

I know and do realize my exposure may not be perfectly accurate. However, I did taking pictures for fun and only to share them with friends and family through emails.

In conclusion, please continue recommending manual ISO but wisely suggest : 'Don't do it if you are not well trained'.

Frans Gunterus
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+1 # Dean 2013-12-31 23:24
Whenever I hear someone say 'never' or 'always', especially when it comes to something like photography, I know they are wrong.

There are circumstances when using a fixed ISO or auto ISO have their benefits. To categorically rule one or the other out is simply wrong and misleading to those trying to learn.

I work in the wedding photography area and regularly use auto ISO. When things are happening quickly and under changing conditions I think fully manual is too limiting. By the time you adjust to the new conditions you may have missed the shot.

There are many. many great photographers that are far better than both you and I and not all of them use the same techniques, so how with one broad comment can you make the case that one way is not just wrong, but wrong in every case is bombastic. It might suit you and that's good and well, but that doesn't mean that any other way than the one you use is wrong.

Of course if you have the time and the constant conditions then by all means go fully manual.

When it comes to the use of flash I think you are use to how Nikon allows you to adjust it. Canon makes it much easier to adjust than Nikon. This is not intended to make a Nikon/Canon comparison, but it does serve to show that different circumstances/e quipment call for different techniques.

Otherwise keep up the good work.
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0 # Rich 2014-01-31 10:35
love all education you give us
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0 # Chris 2014-02-18 22:36
I can see where auto iso would not be ideal for all situations. Especially studio or landscape work. I do, however know there are instances where it would be useful. Say you are using a long telephoto lens,and where you brace is far from where the iso button is. You see an eagle swoop down from a tree to grab a fish out of the water. Light will vary from where the eagle was perched and the open area where he is now flying. So unless you want either under/overexpos ed, motion blur or a change in dof 1 of 3 variables would likely have to be left to automation. In this case I would choose ISO because unlike motion blur or dof. I can deal with additional noise if it is even an issue in pp.

With that said, if you look at it from a particular point of view you don't give up control of iso entirely if it is set to on with manual mode. if I want it to go lower than it is I can simply lower my shutter speed, which is more than fast enough to freeze the movement of flying birds. I also set a pretty safe limit on how high it can go(800-1600).

I will and do, however use manual mode for static more predictable subjects. Just when it comes to wildlife for me auto iso is the way to go.
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+2 # bob 2014-02-22 16:50
I agree with you that autoISO would not be a good choice for in-studio or flash photography. But in the other examples aren't you using spot metering in manual mode to get your exposure solution? If so, I can use spot metering w AutoISO in aperture mode to get the same result. Just dial in the exposure compensation and you have your solution. In both manual or aperture mode, I would select the desired aperture. In manual mode I would then have to dial in the shutter speed and ISO as needed for the exposure solution. Using Auto ISO, I need to dial in just a single item - exposure comp. Why wouldn't that work just as well?
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0 # Ken 2014-09-11 06:13
I have used auto ISO in the past. The reason I have used it, especially at weddings, is that people want to move so fast, take a quick picture and let's get done seems to be people's feelings. Or things go on at an event and having to change aperture and shutter, ecv, etc .. is a lot, and now ISO? how can you get all this done in the little time you have to take a photo because of the quick time you have to take photos and not miss a good one, or people who don't want to wait ??? Thanks again!
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