Top 3 Overlooked Basics: Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO-Explained & Understanding Exposure


Hey guys! Today we're walking you through the top 3 overlooked basics to filmmaking: Exposure.

ISO - Aperture & Shutter speed are the fundamentals to achieving  that cinematic look.

I want to show you how to use ISO, shutter speed and aperture. These are the fundamental rules every shot you see on TV and in movies, but before we get started, I want to tell you a little bit more about myself.

My name is Justin Jones. I've been a cinematographer in the film industry for about ten years. Ive shot everyone from Hopsin to G-Eazy to Zayn to Jaden Smith, and so many more.


All right, let's get started. Iso is the camera sensor sensitivity to light. But where did that come from? Back in the day they had film cameras, but they didn't have a digital sensor.

So the only way to set your iso would be to choose the film you wanted.  Nowadays on DSLR cameras We have a digital sensor this digital sensor will allow you to change the ISO on the spot.

Every camera has a base ISO. For example, the camera that we're shooting on right now; The a73 has a base ISO of 800. Another example would be Canon DSLR cameras that have a base ISO of 100, just depends on the manufacturer.

The base ISO is where you're going to start and you want to try and keep your images as close to this as possible. Obviously, iso is a tool so you can vary from this base ISO depending on if you need more light. You can raise your ISO, but be careful because that will introduce more grain. If you bring it down a little, that's okay, but you're going to lower your dynamic range.

Shutter speed

We have become accustomed to the hundred and eighty degree rule. This means the most Pleasant motion blur happens when your shutter speed is double your frame rate, for example, if you're shooting 24 frames-per-second, you would want your shutter speed to be 1/48 of a second or a hundred eighty degrees. If you shoot lower than a hundred eighty degrees, your motion blur is going to be jittery and sharp.

But remember shutter speed is a tool so you can use this to tell your story. In action sequences and music videos, you can use this to raise the intensity of your scene. If you raise your shutter speed to above 180 degrees you're going to introduce more motion blur.

Say the scene calls for a drugged-out effect or somebody's really drunk. If you raise that shutter speed you can really blur the motion.


Each lens has a set of aperture blades, these blades open and close to allow more or less light into the lens bus hitting the sensor. So the higher the aperture the number on your lens, the less light will be allowed to hit the sensor. 

This also does another thing, It will allow you to have more stuff in focus from close to far. It will spread that distance out so you can have multiple things and focus. On the other hand, the lower the aperture number the more light it's going to allow into the camera. This will also bring your depth of field much shallower. So if you just want to have one person in focus and everything else in the background to be out of focus, this is really handy and telling a story where you want your character to be separated from everybody else, but be careful this is going to allow a lot more light into your lens, and if you're shooting Outdoors, you're going to need ND filters.

Remember guys, if you like this  make sure you follow @SixFortyStudios on Instagram and @JustinJonesDP catch you guys on the next one!