How To Change Iso In Photoshop

By | 25/11/2022

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Pushing ISO in Photoshop

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Self Portrait.

Canon Rebel XTi at ISO 1,600. Roll over for pushed 3,200.

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November 2017

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Digital cameras change ISO the same way we can lighten images in Photoshop.

It is trivial to shoot at the equivalent of any ISO. Of course racket gets worse, but highlight rendition is often extended.

I always shoot JPG. You can as well practice this in raw. This procedure doesn’t intendance nigh format.

I wrote this orignally back in 2007. Today I notice it simpler to use Perfectly Clear to do all this automatically rather than to mess with curves as I explain beneath, but it all ultimiatly does the same affair.


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In motion-picture show days, “pushing” film meant underexposing negatives, and then overdeveloping them.

This let u.s. shoot in dimmer light, but boosted both grain (dissonance) and dissimilarity. It besides killed highlights along with the increased contrast.

We also could “pull” film past overexposing and under developing. This was great for decision-making contrast in film.

We tin can exercise the aforementioned thing in digital. Digital pushing, unlike pushing film, greatly improves highlights while keeping contrast about the same.

Doing It

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To push, simply dial in negative exposure bounty earlier yous shoot.

For a i stop ISO push (double the ISO), dial in -one stop. For instance, if your camera stops at ISO 1,600, dial in -1.0 stops and shoot at ISO 1,600, and y’all’re at present shooting at ISO 3,200.

Of course the digital images volition expect too nighttime on your monitor, and the histograms will exist besides far to the left. They are supposed to exist when you lot push it. All we have to exercise is to lighten them later.


This bend lightens about one terminate.

The all-time way to lighten them is to use Curves (Epitome > Adjustments > Curves, or on Mac, command+chiliad). Ameliorate still is to brand this adjustment in a new layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves), which lets us tweak, retweak, and reuse this adjustment on other shots.

Once you lot get to the curves dialog box, stick your mouse in the heart and motion information technology up until your image looks as light every bit you’d like information technology. I find setting a indicate at (input 128, output 185) looks not bad to add one stop. When I did the mouse-overs I saw a slight divergence in the shadows, and added some other betoken at (input 57, output 105) to fix that. Most cameras don’t match themselves this closely when you change ISOs.

This curve isn’t Gospel. Use whatever looks good to you.


Do not use levels, lighten/darken, a linear curve (i point on the top right), or move endpoint sliders around on a histogram.

Doing this clips the specular highlights and loses the benefits of capturing more highlight range. You’ll clip your highlights, and the images will look suckier.

If you lot know what you’re doing of course do what looks best, merely if yous’re not an good, delight wiggle the middle of the curve, which retains all the highlights and shadows, and don’t spiral in levels or histograms, which is the best manner to become bad digital images.


Of course there’due south more than noise at college pushed ISOs. Roll your mouse over to compare crops at 100% from the Insubordinate XTi at ISO 1,600 and pushed to ISO 3,200.

You’ll also see reduced highlight contrast. You can change all this with the Curves as you like information technology, only at its simplest, this technique adds as many stops of actress highlight dynamic range as it does stops of ISO. Use a normal ISO in skilful light and this is the same technique as my Extending Dynamic Range Trick.

Spiral Noise

Feel free to use any noise reduction of your choice in Photoshop. I used Visual Infinty Grain Surgery back in the day when I wrote this.

Gyre your mouse over to compare the ISO 3,200 push before and after Grain Surgery.

It’south not that much different than the ISO 1,600 shot, and if you played with the NR and the sharpening, you’d exist much closer.

Techie Garbage

JPG vs raw

I shoot JPG.

Y’all tin shoot raw, and take your chances in how your particular raw converter does the conversion when you lighten information technology. I won’t accept that chance.

Raw converters use this same technique, or possibly a worse one, to change the credible exposure. Raw converters can’t change the actual exposure; they merely can lighten or darken an image.

The advantage of using JPGs and curves, instead of using raw and tweaking the lighten-darken setting (usually mislabeled as “exposure”), is that no highlights are lost.

Some raw software adjustments may exist every bit archaic as Photoshop’south “lighten darken” command, which does a much poorer job than your good center and curves.

Since you’re underexposing in the commencement place, you lot’re getting that many more stops of highlight extension. Raw converters may clip highlights when changing exposure settings. I would convert from raw with no modify in the exposure setting, and so use curves.

Of course I’d experiment. I’thousand also busy shooting to waste product any more fourth dimension in front of my screen twiddling with raw files and software.

Bit Depths

I don’t worry about bit depths, since the noise levels of current cameras swamp eight-chip JPG log coding. This is a self-redithering process.

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