There will always be situations where you are either forbidden or just don't want to use flash – at a church, or concert, in a museum, or when shooting a night setting. In those cases, you need to become familiar with the ISO settings on your camera and what your camera can and can't handle when it comes to shooting in dim light. ISO speed is a standard used to denote film sensitivity that has carried over to digital cameras. The higher the ISO setting, the more effective your camera will be for capturing images in low light without a flash. But there's a trade-off: The higher the ISO sensitivity, the more susceptible your shots are to "noise," or digital graininess in a photo. So learning your camera's capabilities is crucial, especially before you try to take a shot in the dark.
Fortunately for those with higher-end, interchangeable-lens cameras such as DSLRs, you can now shoot in near total darkness at a higher ISO setting of 6400 or even 12800 and still capture crisp, bright images with little noise. "We're in a fantasyland with what these cameras can do," Steinmetz says. "The new cameras, the ones with the really good sensors, can take sharp pictures by candlelight. It's unbelievable. I've been able to take great pictures just by moonlight while flying."