A closely related ISO system is used to measure the sensitivity of digital imaging systems.
Relatively insensitive film, with a correspondingly lower speed index requires more exposure to light to produce the same image density as a more sensitive film, and is thus commonly termed a slow film. Highly sensitive films are correspondingly termed fast films.
In both digital and film photography, the reduction of exposure corresponding to use of higher sensitivities generally leads to reduced image quality (via coarser film grain or higher image noise of other types). In short, the higher the sensitivity, the grainier the image will be.
The ASA and DIN film speed standards have been combined into the ISO standards since 1974.
The current International Standard for measuring the speed of color negative film is ISO 5800:2001 (first published in 1979, revised in November 1987) from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Related standards ISO 6:1993 (first published in 1974) and ISO 2240:2003 (first published in July 1982, revised in September 1994, and corrected in October 2003) define scales for speeds of black-and-white negative film and color reversal film, respectively.
The determination of ISO speeds with digital still-cameras is described in ISO 12232:2006 (first published in August 1998, revised in April 2006, and corrected in October 2006).
The ISO system defines both an arithmetic and a logarithmic scale. The arithmetic ISO scale corresponds to the arithmetic ASA system, where a doubling of film sensitivity is represented by a doubling of the numerical film speed value. In the logarithmic ISO scale, which corresponds to the DIN scale, adding 3° to the numerical value constitutes a doubling of sensitivity. For example, a film rated ISO 200/24° is twice as sensitive as one rated ISO 100/21°.
Commonly, the logarithmic speed is omitted; for example, "ISO 100" denotes "ISO 100/21°", while logarithmic ISO speeds are written as "ISO 21°" as per the standard.
Courtesy : Wikipedia