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“What Are The Best Settings For My Camera?”

I cringe every time I hear that question. But, if you are asking it, here is the simple answer.. OFF. Well, at least until you have had a chance to take a class or read enough online information to realize that there is nobody who can answer that question without more information than “I just bought my first DSLR and want to know – what are the best settings for my camera?” 

When you leave out composition, which has nothing to do with camera settings, photography is about light. How much you have and how much you need. That alone makes it nearly impossible for anybody to tell you what settings you need to put on your camera. We are not there.. we can’t see your light! 

The main controls for your camera are aperture, shutter speed, and ISO (sensitivity). Those 3 things need to be set by the photographer, on location, in the moment. All other controls on your camera are designed to make getting the shot easier.. or enhancing the shot you are taking. But in either of those cases, the adjustment of those settings has to do with what you are trying to capture, your style, and your vision. 

Shooting action? Most people will use a sequential setting combined with a continuous focus mode. But some pre-focus to an area and take one or two shots when the action arrives at the spot. Which way is correct? Whatever works for the photographer! 

I tend to leave things like contrast, sharpness and saturation at 0 or lower. I know that I post process my shots, so I do not want the camera to add things I can’t take away. Other’s like their photos straight from the camera, and they want those pictures punchy and vibrant. 

Want to know the best settings for your camera..? Learn photography.. and then study your camera’s manual. Learning photography will give you a good idea of what your exposure should be.. and the manual will show you how to set it. 

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Comment by Tracy DePaola on December 5, 2012 at 8:56am

I love your straight to the point, blunt advice!

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