Can you change ISO while shooting film?

You cannot change ISO while shooting film, as ISO is an in-built property of the film. In digital cameras, you can access the ISO setting at any point you want. The ISO in the film is fixed by the film you choose to load in the camera and cannot be changed in any other way except by changing the film itself.

So, if you are shooting in film, make sure you double-check the lighting and then choose the suitable film role that supports your creative ideas.

In this article, I’ll go through a few questions such as, if you can change the ISO mid-roll, should camera ISO match film ISO, do point and shoot cameras have the ISO setting, how to over-expose a film and lastly the advantages of digital cameras that have variable ISO.

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.


ISO plays a very important role when it comes to taking good pictures. Above I have explained a few topics relating to ISO in film and ISO in digital cameras to help you get a better insight into the topic.

I have also mentioned the advantages of the ISO settings in digital cameras to help you choose your choice of camera and a bit of information regarding the point and shoot camera and the ISO settings it contains.

Happy shooting!

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