Welcome to the world of film photography, where the art of capturing moments on analog film is cherished by many. If you’re new to shooting film, you may have questions about ISO and how it works with film. Unlike digital cameras, where you can easily adjust ISO settings on the go, film ISO is a fixed property of the film itself.

In this article, we’ll explore common questions like whether you can change ISO mid-roll, if camera ISO should match film ISO, if point and shoot cameras have ISO settings, how to over-expose film, and the advantages of digital cameras with variable ISO.

So, grab your favourite film camera and let’s delve into the fascinating world of film and ISO.

Key Takeaways:

  • In film photography, you can change the ISO mid-roll by changing the film roll, but you will have to sacrifice all the remaining shots.
  • Matching the camera ISO with the film ISO generally results in well-exposed photos in film photography.
  • Point and shoot digital cameras usually have ISO settings, allowing for flexibility in exposure settings.
  • Over-exposing film can be achieved by setting a non-standard ISO, using a hand-held meter to expose dark parts of the photo, or shooting in well-lit environments.
  • Digital cameras with variable ISO offer advantages such as changing ISO sensitivity after every shot, previewing and adjusting settings before taking a new photo, adding grain for artistic effects, and shooting in darker environments.
  • Variable ISO allows for flexibility in adjusting shutter speed and aperture settings in digital photography.

Can you change ISO mid-roll?

During an on going shoot, you cannot change the ISO in film after every photo, but you can change your ISO mid-roll by changing the film roll. So, yes, you can change your ISO mid-roll, but when you change it mid-roll, you’ll have to sacrifice all the remaining shots. While using film, you can click photos in one roll and if you are not satisfied with the photos, you can change the roll that has a different ISO.

kodak film iso
Kodak Film with 400 ISO

Should camera ISO match film ISO?

With film cameras, there is an ISO setting on the camera and yes, the camera ISO should match the film ISO.

However, you can create different effects with a film camera by not matching the ISO settings on your camera. If the camera ISO and film ISO are matching, it will be able to calculate good exposure, thus resulting in a satisfactory picture.

Do point and shoot cameras have ISO?

Digital point and shoot cameras usually do have an ISO setting. Point and shoot cameras are compact cameras that allow you to take endless photographs without worrying about buying or developing films.

Some point and shoot cameras allow you to change all three exposure settings, some might automatically adjust the ISO settings for you and some even have a special ISO button called “high ISO”, which helps you change the settings whenever it suits you.

For point and shoot cameras, an ISO of 100-400 will work well and give you well-exposed pictures with minimal noise and grain, yet you can increase the ISO settings if you want.

How to over-expose film?

Here are a few ways to over-expose a film:

Set your film at a non-standard ISO

Each roll of your film will have a certain ISO setting. The higher the film’s ISO setting, the more it will be sensitive to light and the picture will be over-exposed. Different film stocks have different ISO settings, so it’s helpful to run a few trial tests at different settings to see what look you prefer.

Use a hand-held meter to expose a dark part of your photo

A hand-held meter will ensure that the darker parts of your image will be over-exposed. But, a hand-held meter is a piece of professional and pricey equipment and if you don’t feel like indulging in this investment, you can also use your smartphone to measure light accurately.

Shooting conditions

Shooting conditions can have a huge impact on your tone. The quality of light or shade in your shooting surroundings also plays a part in over-exposing your pictures. Choosing a film with a high ISO setting for well-lit environments will get you over-exposed photos.

Advantages of digital cameras that have variable ISO

  • ISO sensitivity can be changed after every shot.
  • You can get a preview of the picture before clicking a new one and if the preview is not suitable, you can change the setting and click a new one.
  • Some photographers use the high ISO setting to add more grain to the picture to express different kinds of moods.
  • Variable ISO allows you to click photos in darker environments.
  • Lets you be flexible with the shutter speed and aperture settings.


In conclusion, understanding ISO is crucial for capturing great photos, whether you’re shooting with film or using a digital camera. We’ve covered important topics related to ISO in both film and digital cameras, providing you with a better insight into how ISO impacts your photography.

Additionally, we’ve discussed the advantages of ISO settings in digital cameras, helping you make informed choices when selecting your camera. Don’t forget to consider the ISO settings in point-and-shoot cameras as well. So, armed with this knowledge, go out and confidently enjoy your photography adventures.

Remember, mastering ISO is just one piece of the puzzle in creating stunning photos, so keep learning, experimenting, and honing your skills to capture those picture-perfect moments.