Best ISO for Video - B&C Camera

What is the ideal ISO setting for video? A more complex question to answer than one would think. Firstly – what is ISO?


ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. What does that mean?



What is ISO?

The sensitivity of your sensor to light is known as ISO. The ISO setting you choose depends on the amount of light in the situation you're capturing. You may lower your ISO if there's a lot of lighting in the shot or raise it when there isn't enough light. 


ISO is one of the essential camera settings to grasp. In most modern cameras, ISO numbers range from 100 to 6400. A few cameras have a maximum ISO of 80, while others can reach 25,000+ (bananas)!


Changing your ISO between different videos you capture is one of the most significant advantages of digital videography. You couldn't change your ISO (or ASA, as it was known) with film, so you had to choose a film based on its native ability to capture light and then take all of your photos at the same ASA rating. Using film made capturing scenes in a variety of lighting conditions difficult.


How to Choose the Best ISO?

Here are some helpful guidelines for choosing an ISO:

On a bright and sunny day, you can use a lower ISO setting because there is so much light. Less light is available on a cloudy day, so you must raise your ISO. Indoor photographs have even less light than outdoor photos, so if you don't want to use an external light or led light, you may increase your ISO to compensate for it.


Best ISO for Video?

A basic guide for best ISO for video:

  • 100 or 200 is the best ISO for a sunny day or bright setting with lots of light.
  • 400 ISO for cloudy days or indoor shots.
  • 800 ISO for indoors without an external light.
  • 1600+ ISO for low light situations. 


However, this is extra tricky to follow because it depends on your camera's capability, which changes from brand to brand. So you'll have to research what your camera can do and then test it. For some cameras, 1600 is NOTHING, and you can get perfect images. For other cameras, 1600 is a maxed-out ISO, and you'll start to see digital "noise" in your picture, and that's a no-no.


ISO in Video Production

ISO is one of the key elements used to control exposure in the video, along with f/stop and shutter speed. Originally, ISO referred to the film's sensitivity and ability to capture images in low-light conditions. However, in the digital age, ISO plays a crucial role in video production. The ISO setting determines the sensitivity of the camera's image sensor to light, and the higher the ISO rating, the more sensitive the sensor becomes. Choosing the right ISO setting in video production is crucial to achieving the desired image quality and brightness in different lighting conditions.


Choosing the right ISO setting in video production is crucial to achieving the desired image quality and brightness in different lighting conditions.


Should you use auto ISO for video?

The answer to this question depends on the shooting situation and the control you want over your footage. Auto ISO can be helpful when lighting conditions are constantly changing, such as when shooting outdoors. However, using auto ISO can also lead to unwanted changes in exposure and image quality, particularly in low-light situations where the camera may automatically increase the ISO to compensate for the lack of light. Ultimately, it is up to the filmmaker to decide whether or not to use auto ISO for video based on their specific needs and preferences.

Is a lower ISO better for video?

Lower ISO settings are generally preferred for video because they produce less noise and grain in the image. However, using a lower ISO also means that the camera's sensor is less light-sensitive, which can result in underexposed footage if the lighting conditions are inadequate. So, while lower ISO settings are generally better for video quality, it's essential to balance ISO, shutter speed, and aperture to achieve the desired exposure and image quality.

What ISO is best for cinematic?

The ISO setting used for cinematic video depends on various factors, including the lighting conditions, the camera used, and the desired look and feel of the footage. Generally, a lower ISO setting is preferred for cinematic video, as it produces less noise and grain in the image. However, a higher ISO may be necessary for low light situations to achieve the desired exposure and image quality. Ultimately, the best ISO setting for cinematic video will depend on the shooting situation and the filmmaker's creative vision.

Related article: How to Make Cinematic Video - 7 Pro Tips

What should ISO be for video low light?

A higher ISO setting may be necessary for low light situations to achieve proper exposure and avoid underexposed footage. However, using too high of an ISO can also result in unwanted noise and grain in the image. The ideal ISO setting for video in low light will depend on the specific lighting conditions and the camera used. Generally, a range of ISO 800 to 3200 is considered appropriate for low-light video, but this can vary depending on the camera's sensor and the desired image quality.

Related article: The 3 Most Important Camera Settings

Does ISO affect video quality?

Yes, ISO does affect video quality. A higher ISO setting can produce more noise and grain in the image, while a lower ISO setting produces a cleaner image with less noise. However, using too low of an ISO setting can result in underexposed footage, while using too high of an ISO can result in overexposed footage or unwanted noise and grain. Ultimately, the ISO setting for video should be chosen carefully based on the specific shooting situation and desired image quality.

What is the best ISO and shutter speed for video?

The best ISO and shutter speed for video depending on the shooting conditions and the desired look of the final footage. A lower ISO setting is generally preferred for video as it reduces noise and produces cleaner images. On the other hand, the shutter speed  is typically set at twice the frame rate to achieve a natural-looking motion blur. For example, if you shoot at 24 frames per second, the shutter speed should be set at 1/50th of a second. However, the best ISO and shutter speed settings for video can vary depending on the lighting conditions, the desired depth of field, and the filmmaker's creative vision. It's essential to experiment with different settings to achieve the desired look for your video.

Related article: Best Shutter Speed for Video


Whether you're a photographer moving to digital photography or a videographer about to shoot a low-light wedding, use your ISO extensively but sparingly. The golden rule is 'add light when you can' and rely on ISO as little as possible. 


Other than that, it's a great tool and an essential side of your exposure triangle.


Happy (and bright) shooting!


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