Exposure Triangle

What is the Exposure Triangle?

The Exposure Triangle is a fundamental concept in photography and videography that explains how the balance of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture affects the exposure of your footage. Each component of this ‘triangle’ plays a critical role in determining the overall brightness or darkness of your video. Understanding and manipulating these settings can dramatically improve the quality of your videos.

Understanding the Exposure Triangle


ISO is a measure of your camera’s sensitivity to light. A lower ISO number (e.g., 100 or 200) means less sensitivity to light, resulting in darker images. Conversely, a higher ISO number (e.g., 800 or 1600) increases the sensor’s sensitivity to light, brightening the image. However, higher ISOs can introduce more digital noise or grain into your footage.

  • Low ISO: Use in bright conditions to avoid overexposed, washed-out videos.
  • High ISO: Use in low light conditions to brighten your video, but beware of potential digital noise.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed determines the length of time the camera’s shutter is open to expose the sensor to light. A slower shutter speed (e.g., 1/30) leaves the shutter open longer, allowing more light to reach the sensor, but can cause motion blur. A faster shutter speed (e.g., 1/2000) reduces the exposure time, resulting in a darker but crisper image.

  • Slow Shutter Speed: Captures more light but can blur motion, useful for creating a sense of speed or movement.
  • Fast Shutter Speed: Captures less light but freezes action, ideal for fast-paced, high-action scenes.


Aperture refers to the size of the lens opening through which light enters the camera. A larger aperture (denoted by a smaller f-number like f/1.8) allows more light to reach the sensor, creating a brighter image with a shallow depth of field. Conversely, a smaller aperture (a larger f-number like f/16) limits the light, resulting in a darker image with a larger depth of field.

  • Large Aperture: More light and a shallow depth of field, ideal for highlighting subjects and creating a blurred background effect.
  • Small Aperture: Less light and a deeper depth of field, perfect for landscape shots where you want everything in focus.

Mastering the Exposure Triangle is a critical skill for video editors, filmmakers, influencers, and YouTubers alike. By understanding how ISO, shutter speed, and aperture interact, you can dramatically improve the quality of your videos and achieve the exact look you’re aiming for.

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