What are the best camera settings?

Posted by Kerry 09/11/2016 0 Comment(s) Tips and Tricks,

Pretty much every day someone on Facebook or a forum will ask “what are the best camera settings” which will then be responded to with “it depends”. That generic response is mostly true as it is impossible to say what camera settings will be the best without being in the exact spot at the exact time to be able to figure it out. That said, there are some basic guidelines to use to get started with.

Basic Cameras vs High End Cameras

Most people will be using what we will refer to as a basic camera. A basic camera will allow you to change the ISO speed (the sensor’s sensitivity to light) and the shutter speed (how long the sensor is “open” to take the image). Given only these two options, there isn’t a lot of control over the exposure.

A higher end camera will also give you control over the aperture (how big the opening is that lets in light). This will give you more flexibility in setting your exposure.

Video Settings

In order to get a smooth, cinematic look to the video, you want to follow the 180 degree rule. What this says is that if you are shooting at 30fps, your shutter speed should be 1/60th of a second. If you are shooting at 24fps, you want to be close to 1/48th a second. Since the cameras usually don’t have that exact setting, you will be close enough at 1/50th of a second.

With a basic camera, if you are already at a low ISO setting and are overexposed, you will need neutral density filters to cut down the light in order to get the exposure correct. A Neutral Density filter is a piece of tinted glass that just reduces the amount of light coming into the camera so that you can get the other settings dialed in where you want them.

Photography Settings

For photography, we have a lot more latitude for control and a very fast shutter speed is not a bad thing as you want all motion in the scene to freeze (generally). Again, you want the lowest ISO speed you can get to avoid digital noise in the image.

Low Light Conditions

Low light conditions can be a little more tricky. For video work, once the ISO is too high and is causing digital noise in the image, you simply have to add more light. There is no magic setting that will let you take indoor shots in low light with a low ISO. Physics just doesn’t want to budge on this one. If you are doing video work, you will need additional light sources.

For photography, we can sometimes just roll the shutter the opposite way and get interesting long exposure shots. Now this doesn’t always work depending on the subject matter. If you are trying to take stills, and freeze the motion, you are going to need enough light to achieve a fast enough shutter speed.

Summary

While there is no “best setting” (otherwise why have the ability to change them?), hopefully this has given you a little more insight into how to setup your camera in different conditions.

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