It measures the sensitivity of your camera sensor to the light. The higher the ISO number the higher the sensitivity. Too high ISO numbers create an unwanted effect called noise which deteriorates the quality of the image.
By increasing or decreasing this setting you are deciding how much noise your final image will have trading it for more or less shutter speed. Putting it simply:
ISO levels double up each time you increase them: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200…etc. Each time you scale up you will be allowed to take the same image at respectively 1/2nd, 1/4th, 1/8th, 1/16th, 1/32th of the speed you have at 100 ISO.
The above means that by setting your ISO you are indirectly deciding the shutter speed you will have for your photo.
Fortunately modern cameras can handle a high enough ISO level, depending on the camera, up to 1600 or 3200. That should be enough to take you out of trouble when shooting hand held in very dark environments.
Always remember that when shooting in low light situations you should always look for noise and blur (too low shutter speeds when hand-handling your camera).
Low ISO: grander quality of the image, plenty of light, use of ND filters, "low key" creative effects
High ISO: dark environments, no tripod, concerts/indoor sports/etc., high shutter speed required, "high key" creative effects
For an example of high ISO (2000) click here.
Laowa 12mm f/2.8
Nikkor 24-70 Z f/4
Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8
Nikkor 35-70mm f/2.8
Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
Nikkor 70-200mm f/4.0
Sigma 150-600mm Sport
Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 Tripod
Manfrotto MHXPRO-BHQ2 Pro Head
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