Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Understanding the Custom Setting: ISO Sensitivity Step Value

ISO sensitivity step value allows you to change the way the camera handles its progression of exposure values (EV) for ISO sensitivity. In other words, the camera’s ISO sensitivity “step” (or stop) increment is set with:

Custom Setting Menu > b Metering/exposure > ISO sensitivity step value

Using this setting, you can control the exposure steps with either 1/3 step EV or 1/2 step EV increments (1/2 or 1/3 stop). If you are concerned with maximum ISO control, then use the 1/3 step setting. It takes a little longer to scroll through the ISO selections if you manually set your ISO value in 1/3 steps. However, the extra fineness of the ISO increments allows you to better control exposure. The 1/3 step setting is the factory default value.

If your camera is set to ISO 100 initially, you will see the ISO sensitivity number in the Control panel, Information display, or Viewfinder change in incremental “step” patterns as you hold down the ISO button and turn the rear Main command dial, or change the value on the Info screen of your Nikon.

How to set the value varies with the type of Nikon you use. Some have an ISO button, others must use the Info (Information edit) menu screens (press Info button twice). Check your users manual to see how to set your camera's ISO sensitivity step value.

Here are the beginning steps in the pattern. It runs from 100 ISO to the maximum ISO your camera provides:

  • 1/3 step: 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, etc.
  • 1/2 step: 100, 140, 200, 280, 400, 560, 800, 1100, 1600, 2200, etc.

Figure 1 – Choosing an ISO sensitivity step value

Following are the steps to change the ISO sensitivity step value:

  1. Select b Metering/exposure from the Custom Setting Menu and scroll to the right (see figure 1, image 1).
  2. Highlight b1 ISO sensitivity step value and scroll to the right (see figure 1, image 2).
  3. Choose one of the three items on the menu. In figure 1, image 3, 1/3 step has been selected.
  4. Press the OK button to lock in the setting.

My Recommendation: I like the finest control I can have over ISO sensitivity step increments. I normally leave this set to the factory default of 1/3 step. This allows me to carefully fine-tune the ISO sensitivity value for precise exposures.

Keep on capturing time...
Darrell Young
See my Nikon books here:

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