The Best Camera Settings for Portrait Photography

There are exceptions to this rule. If you are using a tripod or you have in-camera stabilization, as some mirrorless cameras have, or you are using a lens that has built-in image stabilization, then you can photograph at slower shutter speeds.

best camera settings for portrait photography with flash

2. Best Camera Settings for Portrait Photography Using Flash

When it comes to using flash photography, there are a couple of different strobes that are in common use today. There are smaller speedlights that fit on your camera’s hot-shoe mount, and there are larger studio strobes.

There are also strobe units that function differently. Some strobe systems do not allow you to shoot at a shutter speed faster than 1/200s (the camera’s sync speed). Other strobe setups will allow you to use something called high-speed sync mode to shoot with flash up to a shutter speed of 1/8000th.

best camera settings for portraits using fill flash

If a majority of your portrait photography is going to take place outdoors, then I would consider a strobe such as the Godox AD600 Pro, which is what I used to take a majority of the images in this article. The Godox AD600 Pro allows you to use high-speed sync and flash at shutter speeds of up to 1/8000th.

If your current strobe does not allow you to take photos at above 1/200s, you can use a filter like a B+W 3-stop ND filter, which will allow you to shoot at a shutter speed of 1/200s, but also at an aperture 3 stops larger than you could without it.

For example, with a 3-stop ND filter, you can shoot at f/2.8 instead of f/8 for the same exposure.

best camera setting for natural light portraits

Another important thing to keep in mind if you are shooting outdoors is that you will achieve better results if you shoot closer to sunrise or sunset when the sun is less harsh.

The image above was taken one hour before sunset in the shade and provides a nice even light on the subject’s face. If you would like softer light, then avoid shooting in the middle of the day or move to the shade if you do not have the luxury of shooting just before sunset.

3. Practice These Tips and Explore Your Creativity

best camera settings for portraits at golden hour

One last tip I have for you is to set your camera’s LCD screen brightness level to 4 or 5 and to leave it there. Make sure your LCD screen brightness is not set to auto. That is because it will be difficult for you to gauge your exposure level if your LCD screen brightness is constantly changing.

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