The Best Camera Settings for Portrait Photography

1. Best Camera Settings for Portrait Photography

I suggest you set your camera to manual mode to give yourself more creative control of your exposure. Sure, it will take a little extra time to capture your images, but you are a much better judge of how you want the final image to look than your camera.


First choose your ISO, which is usually the lowest setting in natural light, ISO 100 on most cameras. Some Nikon cameras have a lower ISO and allow you to you choose a native ISO of 64. Set your ISO as low as possible to avoid extra noise and that grainy look you will get if you use higher ISO settings.

best camera settings for natural light portraits


Step two, decide which aperture you would like to use. For an out of focus background use an aperture like f/1.4. If you would like more of the background in focus or a sharper image, in most cases using an aperture that is two to three stops higher than the minimum aperture will be the sharpest point of the lens.

For example, an f/2.8 lens will be at its sharpest point at around f/5.6 to f/8. If you are a little confused by that, feel free to post your questions in the comment box below this article.

best portrait settings mirrorless cameras

Shutter Speed

Once you have set your ISO and decided on your aperture your next step is to refer to your in-camera meter and adjust your shutter speed until you get a center reading. Then take a test shot and have a look at your camera’s LCD screen and histogram.

Make sure your histogram is as far to the right as possible without blowing out the highlights in your image. Refer to the video above for some examples of how the histogram should look on your LCD screen.

best camera settings for high speed sync

A general rule is to set your shutter speed two times the focal length of your lens. For example, if you were using a 100mm prime lens then you would set a minimum shutter speed of 1/200th to avoid camera shake and image blur.


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