All my pictures taken indoors show very low-light. I guess it should be giving more brightness when I chose f/5.6 aperture, 1/25 sec, ISO 200. And I doubt I might be doing something wrong or if its time to upgrade my camera.

Is there something I can do to improve the exposure in my pictures without using any flash, increasing ISO, reducing shutter speed? Adding a sample image:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/44596796@N08/14223351225/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/44596796@N08/14220994632/in/photostream/

  • Thanks @aj-henderson about the exposure triangle, but I want to make sure it's not specific to my 30D, and if it's time I upgrade it.
    – deppfx
    May 19, 2014 at 19:11
  • see my answer below for the details you need that are distinct from the answer on the exposure triangle. All cameras have effectively the same exposure because of how they define ISO.
    – AJ Henderson
    May 19, 2014 at 19:18
  • Why do you think it should have been more bright at those settings? What was the scene?
    – mattdm
    May 19, 2014 at 21:37

2 Answers 2


Increase your ISO. Typically shots taken indoors without any flash require an ISO setting in the neighborhood of 800-1600 (or higher) in order to get decent handholding shutter speeds. ISO 200 is too low for these kinds of shots.

You could also increase the aperture (if your lens will let you, which in this case it won't much, as the 55-250IS has a f/4-5.6 max. aperture), use a tripod with a longer shutter speed, or add flash, but if you just want to shoot handheld, you need to increase the ISO and watch the shutter speed.

See also: "What is the exposure triangle?"

Also be aware that without stabilization there's an old film-era rule of thumb that your shutter speed should be faster than 1/focal_length to mitigate camera shake blur. So, if you use your lens at 200mm, that would mean 1/200s or faster. ISO can reduce this, but because of the high pixel densities in dSLRS, some folks would advocate throwing in the crop factor (1/320s) or doubling (1/400s) that figure. So, if you're handholding, 1/25s with a telephoto zoom like the 55-250 could well mean you'll get camera shake blur as well.

  • 1
    I'm not sure if it's my 30D, but the image starts becoming grainy at ISO 1000. Let me try to post an image with ISO 1000 like you and aj-henderson suggested.
    – deppfx
    May 19, 2014 at 19:03
  • 1
    Yes, you will see more grain. But you can post-process some of that, while there's no post-processing out motion blur. Newer camera bodies have better high iso performance.
    – inkista
    May 19, 2014 at 19:29

This is nothing specific to your camera. ISO settings are determined to normalize exposure across all cameras. The only major difference will be the level of noise you get at a given ISO. Even if a new camera is far more sensitive to low light than your older camera, they will both have the same exposure at any given ISO. The difference is that ISO 3200 will be applying less gain (and thus have less noise) on the more sensitive camera, where as the lower sensitivity one will end up with more noise due to the amplification.

You can use a wider aperture, that's the only part of the exposure triangle you didn't limit. There is no magical answer, either you let in more light (wider aperture, slower shutter speed) or you increase the sensitivity of the camera to light (higher ISO), or you increase the amount of light (flash or other lighting).

There is no reason you shouldn't be able to increase the ISO past 200. That is a ridiculously low ISO for inside photos. You should have no significant noise issues up to at least ISO 1600.

  • Unfortunately, that's the best the 55-250mm gets to. :( Do you think I should be changing the body ?
    – deppfx
    May 19, 2014 at 18:17
  • 2
    @deppfx - It's going to underexpose at ISO 200 no matter what body you use. Up the ISO, use more light or get a faster lens. In your case, use a higher ISO should be your first step since 200 is very, VERY low ISO. For shooting indoors, even on an f/2.8 lens, I'm typically shooting at ISO 6400 or higher when I'm doing weddings unless I'm using a flash. Even with a flash I'm normally shooting at ISO 1000 to reduce the amount of flash power I need.
    – AJ Henderson
    May 19, 2014 at 18:22
  • As I increase the ISO to 800, the image starts to become noisy/grainy. Is there any way I can overcome this? What does a faster lens mean? Are you talking about a better aperture like f/2.8 or USM ?
    – deppfx
    Jun 2, 2014 at 20:03
  • 1
    @deppfx - a faster lens is a lens with a wider aperture (smaller f/number), so yes, something like f/2.8 or an f/1.8 prime. ISO 400 or 800 is still far better than 200. Upgrading your camera would also improve your noise performance some as newer sensors do have lower noise levels, so you can use a higher ISO before you have a problem with noise. I was also pointing out that even with a faster lens, without higher ISO performance, you aren't going to be able to shoot without other light.
    – AJ Henderson
    Jun 2, 2014 at 20:06

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